Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Plant profile: Kalanchoe tomentosa

Dino and Jason gave us our lovely specimen of this plant, so cute and fuzzy that I want to pet it every time I see it. "Tomentosa" means "wooly," and the plant is indeed velvety to the touch. "Kalanchoe" could mean anything, but it's one of those tricky to pronounce genera I used to mumble when people asked about it. Kallan-KO? KALLAN-cho? Ka-LANCH-o? KAL-an-sho? Finally I figured it out - future embarassment averted!
Latin name: Kalanchoe tomentosa ("ka-LAN-ko-eee toe-men-TOE-sah")
Common name: Panda Ears, Pussy's Ear
Originally from: Southern Madagascar
Blooms: Very rarely – ours is about to bloom now!
Light: Full sun.
Water: Nothing extra required - seasonal rain will do.
Where to see in P. Garden: We have a large specimen in the center back bed.

Regular Panda Ears (like ours) has mostly silvery-white fuzz all over the leaves that makes them appear grey to blue-green, with only a few dots of brown at the slightly serrated tips of each leaf. The cultivar “Chocolate Soldier” has much more brown all around the edges. It also grows a bit faster than the plain form, with more of a clumping habit. Its individual leaves are thinner and longer than for some of the Panda Ears cultivars. Another cultivar is “Golden Girl” with golden yellow leaves.

However, none of them really look like panda ears or cat ears – see illustrative panda, above! In fact they don't look like cat ears either. Maybe dwarf rabbit ears? Fuzzy slugs? I doubt you'd make a lot of money selling a plant called Fuzzy Slugs, it's true...

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