The South American air plant is also known by the common names of lavender scallops and gray sedum. Botanically it is known as Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi, a member of the orpine family, and is a succulent that originated in Madagascar.
There are over 200 different cultivars of the Kalanchoe so gardeners have plenty to choose from. While not fragrant, it is an easy-to-grow plant that is perfectly nestled in a desert garden. It is both easy to propagate and isn’t too picky about its growing soil.
Lavender Scallops is a perennial that is evergreen and good for indoor container use. It grows 24 inches tall and 12 inches wide with hairless succulent leaves that are blue-green in color. Leaves are approximately one to two inches long. Flowers are purple or red-brown and bell-shaped, nearly a quarter of an inch long. Flowers will bloom on tall stems above the foliage.
Grow a Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi in partial shade if planted in an outdoor location or if indoors put in bright light that isn’t direct light. Feed twice a year, preferably in April and July, with a good water-soluble fertilizer. It will need water during the growing season but does not need supplemental watering while in the winter season. If indoors, plant with potting soil with some sand added.
Propagation and Hardiness
To propagate this plant by cuttings is without difficulty. It can also root from stems hitting the ground and taking root. Try sticking leaves in the potting medium for an easy way to propagate. This plant is hardy in warm weather locations, the USDA hardiness zones of 9b through 12. They are not able to live through a hard freeze.
Gray sedum has great use as a ground cover or in rock gardens. In a desert garden setting the plant rises above the sand and rock to create a light airy feel to the landscape. It makes a great potted plant for those that like to bring a little of their desert garden indoors with them.
The South American air plant can be plagued with scale or mealybugs so keep an eye on the plant throughout the season. Always look for the healthiest plant before bringing it home. It has been shown to remove formaldehyde from the air and is listed as a clean air plant. As a clean air potted plant, it does well in office settings to help filter the air.