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Home » Mother Of Thousands

Mother Of Thousands

by Elyssa Goins
This article was fact checked.
Helpful: 100%

Mother of thousands, Mexican plant, Kanaloche, Devils backbone or Alligator plant is a common name for Bryophyllum daigremontianum.

This plant comes from Fiherenana River in Madagascar. All of its parts are toxic and it is said they can even kill if digested by small pets or children.


The kalanoche is very tolerant to temperatures. It can grow in very dry conditions and doesn’t require much care.

Flowering: The Mother of thousands develop small cluster of flowers, arranged on the stems. However, the flowering doesn’t occur on a regular basis and sometimes might not occur at all. If the flowering happens it will take place at the beginning of a warm season and produce small, grayish lavender flowers. After the flowering, the main plant dies and births small plantlets, which can drop and grow new plants wherever it lands. That’s why it is best to keep the kalanoche away from other plants and grow it in separate pots.

Foliage: It has long, fleshy, oblong leaves, which grow up to 20 cm long and 3.2 cm wide. They are green on the top and slightly purple underneath. The edges of the leaves have small bulbs, which contain plantlets. These can turn into roots, while still attached to the plant.

Displaying and growing: Mother of thousands can also be called an ‘evil genius’ because it can not only grow everywhere, but when grown with other cactuses it ‘shares’ the same spine with them. It is best to grow it in a terracotta pot with a drainage hole , not with other plants as it is hard to control it and stop it from spreading. During the warm moths it is fine to display it outside.


Names:Mother Of Thousands, Devils backbone, Mexican Hat, Evil Genius (common names). Bryophyllum Daigremontianum and Kalanchoe Daigremontianum
Max Growth (approx):2 – 3ft.
Poisonous for pets:Toxic to cats and dogs.

Plantlets For Propagation

Mother Of Thousands Care

Temperature:The kalanoche will do well in temperatures of 65 – 75°F (16C – 24°C). It needs a minimum of four hours of sunlight a day. If you grow it outside, bring it indoors before the first frosts, but do it gradually as the sudden change of temperature can cause the plant some stress.
Light:It will grow in direct sunlight, or in bright-light shaded.
Watering:Water only when the soil is dry. Do not allow the leaves to get wet as this might cause rotting. Use room temperature water. During the winter allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
Soil:Commercial cactus soil mix will be enough for this plant. If you use standard soil use some sand or perlite for better drainage.
Re-Potting:Early spring, but only when the plant outgrows the pot. Choose the next pot slightly larger than the original one.
Fertilizer:Every month, between March and September. Use a liquid fertilizer, diluted by half.
Humidity:It does not like high humidity. An average, room humidity is perfect for this plant.
Propagation:Pick some of the plantlets from the leaves. Put the cactus mix soil into a pot. The pot doesn’t have to be deep as the roots won’t be long at first. Put the plantlets on the surface of the soil. Put a plastic wrap over it. Put the pot in a sunny place. Keep the soil moist, but no not overwater. Remove the plastic wrap when the plants are tall enough and slightly touch the plastic. Replant to a bigger pot when the new plants outgrow the pot.

Potential Problems

Mother of thousands is one of the easiest plants to care for, but problems do occur. Remember that the plant is poisonous!

  • Mealy bugs: You can get rid of them by wiping the leaves with a cotton ball dipped in alcohol.
  • Aphids: Remove by hand.
  • Stem rot: As with most succulent plants if you overwater and/or allow the temperatures to become too low the stems will rot. this will kill the plant easily.

If you notice that your plant has been infected by insects/bugs, separate it from other plants immediately.

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