Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
You might not be able to tell from its name. But the panda plant is actually a kind of kalanchoe. Unlike the flowering kalanchoe that is used as a pot plant, the panda plant is a reliable houseplant.
One of my favorite kalanchoes happens to be the panda plant. This eye catching species is very dramatic. Its Latin name (Kalanchoe tomentosa) refers to the densely woolly foliage that is covered with felty white hairs. The fleshy leaves, around three inches long, are noted for the dark brown teeth along the edges of the leaves.
Originally from Madagascar, the panda plant has an erect, branching growth habit. Under good growing conditions, it can reach 2˝ feet in height. It tends to be a vigorous, fast growing plant.
As with the rest of the plant, its flowers really stand out. They’re whitish with stripes of light brown. These open in flat, terminal bunches on flower stalks that can be several feet tall.
This is one plant you can propagate from its leaves. Just lay the leaf on top of sand, and set the pot or tray in a partially shaded area until the leaves begin to develop good root systems. In the U.S., the panda plant is winter hardy only in zones 10 through 11. As an indoor plant, it usually takes a rest period during the summer. So water it less during that time.
Panda plant grows well in partial shade and full sun. This wind resistant plant is very drought resistant. It can even be grown in coastal areas since it is tolerant to salt and salt spray. In warm areas, panda plant is typically used in outdoor beds, and rock gardens as well as in containers. In areas with colder climates, it can be grown outdoors in pots during the summer months.
When you’re watering the panda plant, avoid getting the foliage wet if
possible. The only problem this plant seems to experience is pretty much due
to high humidity, which can lead to outbreaks of leaf spot, a disease. For that reason, gardeners in very humid areas, such as the Upper South, may want to just keep it indoors year-round.