Kalanchoe leaves look healthy but fall off when touched

bmurali(9)January 4, 2012

Hi experts,

I have a kalanchoe that has been doing reasonably well until a month or so ago when it started showing white powder all over. I did some web search and I found out that neem oil based fungicide would work. So I applied it 5 days ago. Everything seemed fine, until today we see that the bigger leaves simply fall off when touched. The plant has become very bare except for the really small leaves!

Any ideas what is happening?



-- Murali

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What kind of Kalanchoe is it? The "pancake/paddle plant" varieties naturally produce a powder which acts as a sunscreen and should not be tampered with.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 4:17PM
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Hi Nancy,

Thanks for your response. I believe what I have is the blossfeldiana variety. Is what you said also applicable to this variety?


-- Murali

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 7:52PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi there,

Can you post a pic? Those are 2 different looking Kalanchoes & I do not believe blossfeldiana has the white bloom (that powdery looking surface) that the other can have.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 8:55PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

blossfeldiana is the most common kind sold in bloom in winter. Many advise that you just toss it when it stops blooming because it is difficult to bloom again. Its a short day plant that requires special treatment in the fall to get it to bloom again. But, if you like it without blooms, you can maintain it. It is a succulent that requires bright light and fast draining soil. It should not have a white powdery coating. You are probably right in thinking that is a fungus, possibly powdery mildew. That is made worse by overwatering and high humidity.

The leaves that are falling off are dead. All of the dead and dying leaves should be removed because they have fungus spores on them. If you can give it brighter light, dryer conditions and good air circulation, it may survive. When spring comes, if it seems a little healthier, you could transplant to better soil, like a good quality cactus mix or one of the soil mixes discussed in the container growing forum.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 3:13PM
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Ohio, I must disagree that blossfeldiana's won't rebloom. It's true many people buy these guys for the flowers, then toss, but there's no need..Especially people who grow various plants, indoors, as house plants.

Without a picture of felled leaves, it's impossible to tell if they're salvageable. If leaves are soft, discard..If firm, they can be rooted by setting atop semi-moist soil.

Murali..if you ever suspect fungus, before applying fungicides, sprinkle Cinnamon on the plant. It's natural, no chemicals, and has been known to work.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 3:33PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Plants that shed leaves at a touch or when jostled have formed a corky abscission layer at the base of leaf petioles (stems). This occurs as a result of a decrease or disruption in the flow of the growth hormone, auxin, across the abscission zone. In most cases, this occurs as either a result of natural senescence (but in this case the leaf usually turns yellow first - even in succulents), as a result of a significant decrease in light intensity or duration, or as a drought response (it takes water for photosynthesis. No water = no polar auxin flow = formation of abscission layer = shedding of foliage).

Has the plant been subjected to a decrease in light or been left to go dry or been kept wet for an extended period? Sudden chill can also shut down photosynthesis and disrupt the flow of auxin, so consider that as a possibility as well.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 3:57PM
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