Common names: Common Kalanchoe, Nentabos, Plakkie (Afrikaans) and umadinsane (Zulu).
Kalanchoe rotundifolia is a brittle succulent plant which grows up to 1m tall under favourable conditions. It is a common, orange-flowering species with a slender stem. It has fleshy, rounded or lobed leaves that are 2.5cm broad and are clustered at the base of erect stems. It must be noted that some of these plants, although with the species name rotundifolia, have leaves that are not round. They were grouped together because they had other similarities. The genus Kalanchoe typically has a tubular flower. Flowers are borne in an inflorescence with a long erect stalk. The flat-topped inflorescence consists of yellow or orange flowers and often become red and conspicuously twisted when old. The flowering period occurs through autumn and early winter (February until June).
It is a delightful little plant that puts up a brave show in clumps among trees and shrubs. The robust red flowering specimens are rewarding garden plants, flowering for many weeks. Kalanchoe rotundifolia is traditionally used by the Zulu as a charm to make one invisible.
This is an easy plant to propagate from both seed and cuttings. The seeds of these plants are very fine and must be collected as soon as they are ripe before they disperse. The best time to sow these seeds will be early spring in order to give them plenty of time to grow before late autumn. Sowing may be done either in seedling containers or directly into the garden.
Ideal cuttings for propagating are semi-hardwood and soft tip cuttings. Cuttings should be planted into river sand and there is no need to apply root-stimulating hormones. Each leaf is capable of producing a new plant when it drops to the ground. The rooted cuttings or seedlings must be planted in dry, shady conditions.
This is a good plant for a low maintenance and waterwise garden. In summer rainfall regions there is no need to water as rain will be sufficient. Kalanchoe rotundifolia will successfully seed itself in the garden and once it is established it will persist for many years.
This plant is a danger to livestock, notably goats and sheep, as it contains the same or similar poisonous substances as the Cotyledon species that cause loco disease or nenta.
Kalanchoe rotundifolia is indigenous to South Africa and widely distributed in South Africa and Zimbabwe.