How to Propagate the Devil's Backbone Plant

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Devil's backbone, Kalanchoe xhoughtonii, is a succulent plant that grows to a mature height of up to 3 feet. The toothed, lanceolate foliage is about 10 inches long, with each leaf producing up to 20 plantlets that may be used to propagate new plants. The plant blooms with tubular, 1-inch-long, downward-hanging inflorescences. Devil's backbone is a native of Madagascar and is also commonly referred to as kalanchoe. The invasive potential of devil's backbone often makes the plant hard to control in gardens.

Things You'll Need

  • Tweezers
  • 3-inch pot
  • Medium sized pot
  • Potting soil
  • Potting compost
  • Water your devil's backbone plant well a day prior to removing the plantlets. The plantlets grow on the edges of each leaf.

  • Prepare the rooting medium by filling a small, 3-inch pot with potting compost. Water to moisten.

  • Use clean tweezers to lift off a few plantlets from each leaf. Take care not to ruin the overall appearance of the leaf in the process. Do not take too many plantlets from a single leaf, and avoid damaging the plantlets as you handle them.

  • Lay the plantlets on the surface of the compost, leaving a couple of inches between each to allow room for growth.

  • Water enough to keep the compost moist during the rooting process. Do not overwater. Place in a warm bright area, but out of direct sunlight. It will take a few weeks for the plantlets to produce roots.

  • Transfer rooted plantlets to individual small containers filled with potting soil. Let plants get well established if you wish to transplant to a permanent spot in the garden.

Tips & Warnings

  • All parts of the devil's backbone plant are poisonous, containing an unknown toxin. Even a small amount can poison household pets. Symptoms of poisoning include labored breathing, paralysis and convulsions, as cited by Thomas Fuller and Elizabeth May McClintock in "Poisonous Plants of California." Keep the plant away from small children and pets.

References

  • "Plants of Deep South Texas"; Alfred Richardson, Ken King; 2011
  • "Houseplant Basics"; David Squire, Margret Crowther; 2002
  • "Poisonous Plants of California"; Thomas C. Fuller, Elizabeth May McClintock; 1986
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