Succulents are an excellent option for anyone looking to get into plants for a hobby. With all the different sizes, shapes and textures these plants come in, there’s a type for everyone. When most people consider owning a plant, they’re often quickly put off by the thought of it dying within the first few weeks of bringing them home. That’s certainly not the case for succulents though. These plants are sturdy and don’t need you at every step of the way.
If you’re interested in owning your very first succulent, you may want to start with a Panda plant.
What’s a Panda Plant?
Scientifically know as Kalanchoe Tomentosa, panda plants are a specie of succulent native to the wilderness of Madagascar.
Their green, velvety leaves can identify the plants with reddish-brown edges. The velvet-like texture of the leaves is a result of tiny white hairs that deflect light and help the plant retain water.
The plants are great for the indoors and can grow to a height of 1-2 feet. Their container limits Their size, so they can grow much taller when planted outside.
While panda plants aren’t deadly poisonous, their leaves are mildly toxic, so you may want to keep them out of reach from pets and small children.
How to Care for a Panda Plant
As mentioned earlier, panda plants are among the most natural plants to care of, making them great for first-time gardeners. With that being said, they’re still living organisms and require the right amount of water and nutrients to survive.
Temperature and Humidity
Panda plants are best suited for moderate temperatures. The plants prefer a temperature range of 60 F. – 75 F. the plants aren’t that fussy though and can tolerate temperatures slightly above or below this range Humidity is also another thing this plant isn’t bothered by. It will grow perfectly fine in humid indoor conditions.
One thing to watch out for, though is the cold. These plants are not cold hardy and should be kept outdoors in the winters. Frost can damage the plant’s tissue and end up killing it.
Panda plants love bright light. The plants grow best in full to partial sun.
When growing panda plants indoors, choose a spot that receives a couple of hours of sun from morning to afternoon such as a sunny windowsill.
If you plan on growing the plant outside your house, choose an area that receives the right amount of partial sunlight. The perfect spot depends on the climate and time of year. If you live in an area with hot sunny summers, you may want to choose a shadier place not to burn the plant’s leaves.
Keep an eye out for sunburn and adjust light exposure accordingly. If you’re planning to move the plant outdoors after having it grow indoors for most of its life, be sure to make the transition gradual. This gives the plant enough time to adapt to higher levels of light exposure and avoid being scorched.
Forgetting to water this plant for a week or two isn’t likely to do it much harm. Like any other succulent panda, plants do well in dry environments. Their fleshy leaves with hair-like projections are excellent at retaining moisture.
When you do water these plants, use the “soak and dry” method as with any other succulent. This means letting the soil dry out completely between each watering. Ensure that the water runs down to the draining holes at the bottom of the pot. Excess water is harmful and may result in root rot.in fact overwatering these plants is their most common cause of death.
Also, be very, very careful not to get the leaves wet. Even a small amount of water can cause them to rot. If you accidentally spill some on, be sure to wipe it off as quickly as possible. Be gentle, though. You don’t want to break the leaves off while trying to save them.
As the soil dries much faster during the summer, that’s when they need water most. Water them less in the fall and winter seasons.
Soil and Repotting
Panda plants require soil that is both nutritious and well-draining.
Look for a soil mixture explicitly composed for succulents. There are plenty of different types available to purchase online. You can also save a little money and make some yourself at home. You can do this using regular potting soil, sand and loam.
The only time you’ll probably have to repot this plant is during its growing phase, once every two years. Once the plant stops growing, it can go without changing pots for even longer. Panda plants grow according to the size of their containers and that too very slowly. For this reason, repotting them is an infrequent activity.
You don’t really need to use any fertiliser to grow panda plants successfully.
If you do want to supplement its nutritional needs, you can use a diluted succulent plant fertilizer during the plant’s active growth seasons (summer and spring).
A Sign to Watch-Out for Yellow Leaves
Panda plant leaves should never turn yellow. If you notice yellowing leaves, it’s a classic sign that you’re giving the plant too much water. If the leaves are soft rather than firm and fleshy its an indicator of excess moisture and early rot.
To prevent the rot from spreading, simply pluck the leaves off. Also, to prevent it from happening again, water the plants a little less, making sure the soil is dry before each watering.
Like all succulents, panda plants are susceptible to a mealybug infestation.
Mealybugs are hard to spot on a succulent because they love hiding in any small crevice they can find. They can even be harder to place on a panda plants velvety leaf.
A sign that your plant is infected can include misshaped new growth and a white cotton substance between the leaves and stem which the bugs are known to produce. Fortunately, you can quickly rid your panda plant off these pests through some simple organic methods.
The first method involves spraying the plant with 70% isopropyl alcohol. You don’t have to worry about this causing har to your plant. Alcohol evaporates fast and isn’t going to stay long enough to burn any leaves.
The second method you can opt for is using diluted neem oil. Neem oil messes with the bugs’ hormones, preventing them from reproducing and causing further damage to your plant.
And that’s pretty much all there is to know about caring for these plants.
Panda plants are plants that like moderation and are a little less extreme than some of their other succulent relative’s. They do best in an environment that’s hot but not too hot. They need water, but too much will kill them. They love light, but again not too much may scorch their leaves.
Keep that in mind and you’re good to go!