Panda Plant : How To Care For And Propagate

The Panda Plant is a popular, hardy little succulent that is easy to care for and can be propagated easily. It has fuzzy, velvety leaves and is a relatively compact plant perfect for growing indoors in pots or outside in a shady spot. Panda Plant is great for beginners or anyone who wants a beautiful plant that doesn’t need much work.

In this post, we’ll guide you on how to care for a Panda Plant – how to water it, how much sunlight to give it and how to solve some common Panda Plant problems. Plus, we’ll show you how to propagate your Panda Plant easily to create your own new panda plants!

Kalanchoe Tomentosa Panda Plant Toxic to Cats and Dogs

What Is a Panda Plant?

The Panda plant is a succulent known scientifically as Kalanchoe Tomentosa. You may also see it called Pussy’s Ears but I’m not going to use that name in this article as that name is also used for other unrelated plants, such as Cyanotis somaliensis.

Native to Madagascar, the Panda Plant is one of the easiest succulents to care for. It is perfect for beginners to succulents and busy people who want beautiful plants in their homes but don’t want to spend hours on plant care, watering and maintenance.

It has pale green or greyish-green leaves that are an elongated oval shape. They grow in a loose rosette around a central, upright woody stem.

The leaves are covered in a dense layer of small, silvery-white hairs which give the leaves a velvety texture. The edges of the leaves are slightly scalloped, and the tips of the scallops are brown or a rusty-brown color. The leaves vary in size but are typically 2 – 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) long and about 1 – 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) wide.

How Big Does Panda Plant Grow?

Panda plants are compact, bushy succulents. They typically grow to around 2 feet (60 cm) tall and 1 – 1.5 feet (30 – 45 cm) wide, particularly if grown in a pot. They may grow a little larger if planted outdoors with room to spread.

Panda plant kalanchoe tomentosa

Panda Plant Varieties

Botanists have cultivated a small number of Kalanchoe Tomentosa varieties. These succulents are still considered to be Kalanchoe Tomentosa plants and are also known generically as Panda Plants. They have slight variations from the original variety, usually in coloration of the leaves or the edge of the leaves. These Panda Plant varieties include:

  • Chocolate Solider Plant – darker, chocolate-colored leaf edging
  • Kalanchoe Tomentosa Golden Girl – golden-colored leaves
  • Kalanchoe Tomentosa Nigra – very dark, almost black edges to the leaves
  • Panda Plant Cinnamon – cinnamon-colored leaves with a darker-colored edging
  • Kalanchoe Tomentosa Teddy Bear – shorter, wider leaves with scalloped edges. The scallop tips are rust-colored giving the leaf the appearance of a fluffy teddy bear’s paw

There are a few other cultivars, but these are the most common.

Does Panda Plant Flower?

Panda plants can bloom with small, tubular, bell-shaped flowers on tall stems in summer. The flowers are typically orange or yellow. However, Panda Plants grown indoors are difficult to get to flower, and these plants are chosen mainly for their fuzzy leaves and cute appearance.

How To Water Panda Plant

Panda Plants are similar to other succulents in that they only need watering when their soil is completely dry. They need a loose, well-aerated and well-draining soil that allows airflow around their roots and dries quickly. Panda Plants do not like their roots sitting in waterlogged soil.

When the soil is completely dry, water by soaking the soil thoroughly and deeply with room temperature water. If possible, use the bottom-soaking method and allow any excess water to drain away. Don’t let it sit in a tray of water. Avoid getting any water on the leaves – the fine hairs trap moisture and make it difficult for water to evaporate from the leaves.

Succulents store water in their stems and leaves and have evolved to take up water quickly when water is available and then survive long periods of drought. If you provide your succulent with too much water too often, it can take up too much water, or its roots can rot, leaving you with a squishy, mushy plant.

Water in the morning to allow any excess moisture around the surface of the soil and the foliage to evaporate before the cooler nighttime temperatures set in. Excess moisture on the leaves and stems can result in fungal and bacterial growth and rot.

Kalanchoe Tomentosa is a summer dormant plant and you should cut back on the watering during summer to allow your plant to rest and recuperate. Although Panda Plants are winter growers, they still don’t require much water over winter, particularly if temperatures are low.

Read our full guide to watering succulents the right way.

Kalanchoe Tomentosa Panda Plant

How Much Sunlight Does A Panda Plant Need?

Kalenchoe Tomentosa is tolerant of a range of light levels. It can cope with low light levels, such as in an office with no windows or a bathroom. However, it does prefer bright, indirect light and if you do have your Panda Plant in a low-light area, consider moving it to a brighter spot for a while to give it a light boost.

If your plant is receiving light mainly from one direction, it may start to grow and lean towards that light source. It’s a good idea to rotate your plant pot every few weeks to ensure your plant gets light evenly from all directions and grows straight.

If the leaves start to become very pale and your Panda Plant starts to grow tall and leggy with big gaps between the leaf nodes on the stem, it probably needs more light and you should move it to a brighter location. This process of stretching-out in plants is called etiolation and happens when the plant grows tall in search of more light.

Panda Plants don’t like too much direct intense sunlight. It can cause burn marks and leaf scorch. Try to protect your Kalanchoe Tomentosa from direct afternoon sun, particularly in very hot climates.

Temperature And Humidity

Panda Plants prefer mild, warm temperatures ranging from 60 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15 – 24 degrees Celsius). They are not cold hardy and need to be protected from frosts, cold winds and freezing temperatures.

If your Panda Plant usually lives outside and you live in a climate that experiences frosts and colder temperatures, consider keeping your plant in a pot that you can bring inside during colder days and nights.

Kalanchoe Tomentosa can tolerate a range of humidity levels provided there is sufficient gentle airflow around the plant to allow moisture to evaporate from its leaves and the soil’s surface.

Soil

Like most succulents, your Panda Plant prefers loose soil that drains rapidly, ensuring your succulent’s roots are kept dry and well-oxygenated.

Use a succulent-specific potting mix and pot in a container that is just large enough for your plant. The bigger the volume of soil, the longer it will take the dry out, so in this case, less is more.

For more information, read our guide to succulent soil.

Fertilizing

Your Panda Plant shouldn’t need regular fertilizer, but if you are keen to give it a boost, use a succulent-specific fertilizer and follow the dilution instructions on the packaging. Too much fertilizer can cause chemical burns to the plant’s roots. Fertilize in spring until early summer. Avoid applying fertilizer in fall and winter.

How To Prune A Panda Plant

Most of us will never need to prune our Panda Plants other than to remove any dead leaves or prune away any parts that may be damaged or affected by pests.

However, if your Panda Plant has got too big for your liking, or very leggy, you can prune your plant back. Use sharp, sterlised scissors to cut back any growth you wish to remove.

Is Panda Plant Toxic To Cats, Dogs And Other Pets?

Unfortunately, Panda Plants are toxic to cats, dogs and other pets. The leaves and stems contain a toxic substance that can cause lethargy and digestive symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting in pets. Panda Plant is poisonous to pets, and if your pet loves to nibble on plants, this plant is best kept out of their reach.

Repotting

Panda Plants are fairly slow growers and should not need repotting very often. You may wish to replenish the soil for a fresh mix every couple of years.

Always use succulent-specific soil that is well-aerated and well-draining, and choose a pot with drainage holes.

If your Panda Plant has outgrown its current pot and you are moving up to a bigger container, choose one that is only just larger than the current pot. Excess soil in a large pot can take longer to dry and result in waterlogged roots and root rot.

How To Propagate A Panda Plant

You can propagate your Panda Plant from:

  1. stem cuttings in soil
  2. stem cuttings in water
  3. leaves

The most straightforward method of propagating your Panda Plant is from leaves. This is the easiest and most reliable method for propagating Kalanchoe Tomentosa. Nevertheless, we will show below how to propagate your plant using all three methods.

The best time to propagate new plants is in the spring from a healthy, mature plant that is at least two years old.

1. Propagate Panda Plant From Stem In Soil

To propagate panda plants from stem cuttings, use a sharp sterile knife or pair of scissors to take a 3 – 4 inch (7 – 10 cm) cutting from the top of a healthy stem or cut off a healthy side branch. Cut just above a leaf node (where new leaves sprout from the stem).

Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the cutting and leave the cut end to dry and callous over for a couple of days. Plant the cutting in a pot filled with well-draining cactus or succulent potting mix, and place the pot in a bright spot out of direct sunlight.

Keep the soil moist but not soggy by misting the surface of the soil. Try to avoid getting moisture on the leaves of the cutting. Within a few weeks, new roots will develop and you should see new growth. Once the plant is established, water and care for it as described above.

If you prefer, you can lay the cutting on the surface of the soil instead of planting it in the soil. Once the roots have grown to around 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, plant the cutting upright in the soil.

2. Propagate Panda Plant In Water

Cut a healthy stem from your existing panda plant about 4 inches (10 cm) long.

Remove the bottom leaves from the stem. This will help the stem to absorb more water and encourage root growth. Place the stem in a clean container of fresh, filtered water. Make sure that the leaves are not submerged in the water.

Change out the water every few days to keep it fresh. After a week or two, you should see roots beginning to form at the base of the stem.

Once the roots are a couple of inches long, you can transplant your new panda plant into a pot filled with well-draining potting mix. Be sure to give it plenty of light and water it regularly. Once the plant is established, water it less often.

3. Propagate Panda Plant Leaves

To propagate panda plant leaves, start by removing a healthy leaf from the plant by gently twisting it from the stem.

Allow the cut end to callus for a day or two.

Plant the callused end of the leaf a pot filled with well-draining soil. Insert the leaf about an inch into the soil. Then place the pot in a bright, indirect light location. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the cutting.

Cover the pot with a plastic or glass cover or put it inside a plastic bag to create a mini-greenhouse effect. This helps to maintain humidity around the cutting. Water sparingly, keeping the soil slightly moist but not soggy. Overwatering can cause rot.

After a few weeks, you should see roots forming and new growth emerging from the base of the leaf. Once the new plantlet is a few inches tall, you can transplant it into a larger pot if needed and care for them as you would any other panda plant.

As with the stem cutting, you can lay the leaf on the surface of the soil instead of planting it upright in the soil. If you choose this method, follow the instructions above for misting and watering until you notice roots that are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. At this point, it’s best to insert the leaf into the soil so it is positioned vertically.

Pests And Diseases

Panda Plants are quite hardy and resistant to most pests and diseases. However, they can, of course, fall prey to some common problems. The main issues affecting Panda Plants are:

Mealybugs – Mealybugs are tiny white pests that appear like patches of white cotton wool on the plant. They can be removed gently with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or by spraying with neem oil. You can read more about mealybugs and how to remove them in our full guide to succulent pests.

Root root – root rot is caused by overwatering and poor-draining soil and occurs when fungal spores and bacteria take advantage of waterlogged roots. The roots start to rot, turning black and mushy. The plant will start to weaken, and the rot can spread to the stem and the leaves. The first visible signs of root rot are a wobbly plant (the weakened roots can’t hold it firmly in place) and drooping, yellowing leaves. The leaves will start to turn yellow from the stem end. If you suspect root rot, you need to stop watering your plant and take action quickly as per our full guide to root rot solutions.

FAQs

How Do I Fix My Leggy Panda Plant?

If your panda plant is looking leggy, don’t despair. There are a few simple things you can do to help it bounce back.

First, take a look at your plant’s light situation. Panda plants do best in bright, indirect light. If it’s not getting enough light, that could be the reason it’s looking leggy. Move it to a brighter spot and see if that helps.

If new growth continues to be leggy, your panda plant may be lacking in some nutrients and it’s a good idea to give it a boost with some fertilizer. Use a succulent-specific fertilizer and follow the directions on the package carefully.

Why Is My Panda Plant Dropping Leaves?

If the leaves are brown, wrinkled and crispy, the cause of leaf drop is probably underwatering. Give your Panda Plant a thorough soak of water.

If the leaves are pale, yellow or mushy and brown, particularly towards the stem end, you are probably overwatering your plant. Check the roots for rot and allow your plant and the soil to dry out completely before watering again.

Why Does My Panda Plant Have Brown Spots On The Leaves?

Brown or black spots on the leaves are most likely caused by sunburn. The dark spots are scorch marks. Panda plants like bright light but can burn in direct, intense sun. Move your plant to an area with more shade or diffuse light.

Where to Buy Kalanchoe Tomentosa?

Panda plants are readily available in local garden nursery stores and even in some gift shops. Or you can purchase your panda plant online.

Wrapping Up

The Panda Plant, Kalanchoe Tomentosa, and its varieties, are easy-to-grow, low-maintenance succulents that are perfect for any home. They can cope with a range of light conditions and do not need watering often.

Their velvety, fuzzy leaves, compact shade and delicate markings make them a really popular succulent.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Essentials

Related Posts