The mother of thousands plant, or Kalanchoe daigremontiana, is a unique succulent with an interesting look sure to catch the eye of any plant lover.
Despite being very low-maintenance overall, this plant is susceptible to certain problems, one of the most common of which is drooping leaves.
If the leaves of your mother of thousands plant are drooping, it means that there is an environmental factor causing the plant stress. To fix the problem, you need to determine the exact cause so that you can be specific in your approach to fixing it.
In this article, we will discuss all of the possible causes of drooping mother of thousands leaves, and how to remedy each one. So, if you are currently encountering this problem and you want to learn more, just keep reading.
Why are my mother of thousands’ leaves drooping?
Not enough light
If the leaves of your mother of thousands are drooping or wilting, the most likely reason is that the plant is not getting as much light as it needs every day to thrive.
Aside from drooping, this can also cause the plant’s stem to stretch and grow longer as it tries to grow in the direction of the closest light source. This is called etiolation, and does not necessarily harm your plant, although the elongated limbs will be thinner than normal and thus fragile and easier to break. The long limbs will also disrupt the overall symmetry of the plant, altering it aesthetically.
The mother of thousands likes anywhere between four to six hours of sunlight daily to avoid etiolation, and this can either be full or partial sunlight.
To fix the problem of drooping leaves from insufficient light, simply move the plant to a spot where it will get the recommended number of sunlight hours each day.
If you keep the plant indoors, place it near a window that lets in lots of sunlight. If you live in a place where the winters can get quite gloomy and the plant will not have access to four hours of natural sunlight, you can always place it under a grow light. It will not know the difference between natural sunlight and a grow light; it is just light to the plant, no matter the source.
Another possible reason your mother of thousands’ leaves are drooping is due to overwatering.
This can stem from several causes. You may be giving the plant too much water every time you water it; you may be watering it more often than you should; you may not have adjusted your watering schedule according to changes in the weather or season; or the soil in the pot may not be sufficiently well-draining.
Any of these factors can lead to overwatering. Remember that the mother of thousands is a drought-tolerant succulent and can go several weeks without water, because it stores water in its leaves and stems to use during dry spells.
This plant, when overwatered, will present with negative effects immediately, one of which is drooping leaves. The leaves will then turn yellow or brown and become soft and mushy.
An even more serious consequence of overwatering is root rot. This condition is the result of the plant’s roots standing in waterlogged soil for prolonged periods. Succulent roots need to be able to dry out between waterings so that they can absorb oxygen, which the plant needs to survive. If the roots are not able to dry properly between waterings, they will drown and die.
The dead roots will become susceptible to opportunistic pathogens such as fungi and bacteria, which will cause the rot to spread even more aggressively to the rest of the plant until the entire plant is affected and might die.
If you think that your plant is overwatered, stop watering it immediately. If there are no obvious signs on the leaves aside from drooping, it might be enough to let the soil in the pot dry out completely and adjust your watering schedule going forward.
If you want to check the roots for rot, however, you can remove the plant from its pot and wash off as much soil as you can from the roots. Inspect the roots for parts that have turned brown or black; these roots are rotten and must be removed. Use a sterile knife to cut them off until only healthy, white roots remain.
Then, lay the plant on a dry paper towel and allow it to air dry for several hours.
Prepare a new pot and make sure it has drainage holes at the bottom. Fill it to about two thirds full with well-draining succulent potting mix and place the plant in the middle. Add more potting mix until all of the roots are covered.
You do not need to water the plant immediately; you should give the roots about a week to recover from the traumatic process of repotting.
After a week, water the soil only if the top two inches are dry to the touch. If the top two inches of soil are still damp, wait one or two days before checking again.
Another reason your mother of thousands’ leaves are drooping could be transplant stress.
This stress can either be due to repotting or because you recently transferred the plant from one place to another.
If you have just brought the plant home with you from the store and you immediately place it in your outdoor garden, do not be surprised if the leaves become droopy over the next few days.
When the plant was growing in the nursery, it was living under ideal conditions. In your home, there are different lighting conditions, temperatures, humidity levels and watering schedules.
These changes in living conditions will cause the plant to become stressed, and this will present as drooping leaves.
This is not something to worry about because, as the plant learns to adapt to its new surroundings, it will bounce back to normal. Just give it as close to ideal conditions as you can and it should be fine.
Why are my mother of thousands’ leaves curling?
The most common reason your plant’s leaves are curling is that it is not getting the amount of water it needs.
The leaves in this instance will be curling inwards and the plant will look dehydrated overall.
Succulents can survive well even if they are not given water for a few weeks, because they can store water in their leaves. However, that does not mean you can just forget about watering them all the time. They can still dry out completely and even die if they go without water for too long.
Fortunately, it is much easier to fix an underwatered mother of thousands than it is to fix an overwatered one.
If you suspect that your plant has been underwatered, flood the dry soil in the pot immediately until you see excess water dripping from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Make sure all of the soil in the pot has been soaked so that all the roots can have access to water.
The curling leaves should perk back up a few hours after watering.
The best way to know whether your plant needs to be watered is to touch the soil in the pot. If the top two inches of soil are dry to the touch, water the plant, but if the soil is still slightly damp, wait one or two days before checking it again.
Another cause of curling mother of thousands leaves is a pest infestation.
The most commonly observed pests on the mother of thousands are scale bugs, aphids and mealybugs.
All of these bugs damage the plant and cause its leaves to curl when they feed on the sap from its leaves and stems.
A pest infestation becomes more apparent when there are brown patches or spots on the leaves. These are caused by the bites of the pests, where they suck the sap from the plant’s tissue.
It may be tricky to catch an infestation in its early stages, because spotting just one or two bugs on your plant can be challenging. You may only really consider an infestation when the bug population is extensive and there is noticeable damage.
Move the infested plant to a different part of your house so that the pests do not spread to your other plants, and keep it separated until you are sure there are no pests left.
To get rid of the pests, you can either use a hose or a shower with a strong stream of water to knock them off the plant.
You can also put rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and spray it directly on the bugs, or, if you have neem oil, mix two tablespoons of this into a spray bottle full of water and spray this solution directly on the bugs; it will kill them as well as their eggs.
No matter which method you use to eradicate the pests, repeat it once a week until all of the pests are gone.
In order to avoid full-blown infestations, make it a habit to check all of your plants for signs of pests every time you water them. The earlier in the infestation you catch the pests, the easier they will be to eradicate, saving you precious time and energy.
Why are the leaves on my mother of thousands dropping?
Most of the time, if you see the leaves on your mother of thousands dropping off, it is due to the natural life cycle of the plant.
In this case, the leaves drop off to make room for new, younger leaves, so do not worry if the leaves drop off one at a time, as this is a normal occurrence.
Mother of thousands care
The mother of thousands is relatively easy to care for, which is one of the reasons it is so popular. It is low-maintenance and can handle neglect for a few weeks and still survive.
This plant likes a potting mix that is well-draining and a pot with sufficient drainage holes to allow any excess water to flow out. Water the plant only when the soil in its pot is dry to the touch.
The plant likes bright, indirect light, so keep it under the shade of a large tree, on your patio, or near a window if kept inside your house.
It likes to be in a dry area with low humidity and a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you want to propagate the plant, collect the plantlets that grow along the edges of the leaves or simply wait for them to drop off the leaf and self-root in the soil.
If you do not want any more of the plants and wish to control its growth, simply pick off the plantlets that have taken root around the mother plant.
Does the mother of thousands produce flowers?
Yes, the mother of thousands is a flowering succulent, but if you grow the plant indoors it might never bloom. An outdoor mother of thousands will produce clusters of small, pink flowers.
Is the mother of thousands toxic?
Yes, the mother of thousands is toxic to both cats and dogs, because it contains bufadienolides. If you plan on keeping the plant indoors, make sure you keep it in a high enough place that your pets or small children cannot reach it and accidentally ingest it.
The same can be said for keeping the plant outdoors. Place it in the center of your garden where it is out of your pets’ and children’s reach.
Is the mother of thousands an invasive plant?
Yes, this plant is fast-growing and can definitely be considered invasive. To help control its spread, pick off plantlets that grow at the sides of the mother plant so that they cannot grow into mature plants themselves.
Can I grow a mother of thousands in a terrarium?
Unfortunately, the mother of thousands does not make a good terrarium plant because it is quite invasive and will end up affecting the other plants in the terrarium.
This plant also releases a particular chemical that can negatively affect other plants near it and stunt their growth. Also, the terrarium setting is best for plants that like lots of humidity because the close proximity of the plants inside the terrarium creates a microclimate that the mother of thousands, which is a succulent, will not like.
Remember that succulents grow in some of the most arid places on earth, so they do much better in environments that are low in humidity.
The mother of thousands plant, or Kalanchoe daigremontiana, is a succulent with interesting looking leaves that can thrive as both an indoor or an outdoor plant.
One of the most common problems encountered by mother of thousands owners is drooping leaves. This is an indication that the plant is undergoing stress caused by an environmental factor, and the most common of these are not enough light, overwatering, and transplant stress.
The quickest way to fix the problem is to correctly identify the cause. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can treat the plant and the faster it will be able to bounce back to normal.
Image: istockphoto.com / photonewman