If you’re looking for an interesting, low-maintenance succulent that can add some color to your home in winter, donkey ear (Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri) should be at the top of your list. Native to Madagascar, this fast grower is known for its green, spotted leaves that resemble donkey ears and its long-lasting, drooping yellow and red flowers that appear from late fall into winter. Donkey ear can grow outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11 and can grow up to 2 feet tall and wide.
Things You’ll Need
Insecticidal soap or horticultural oil
Place the donkey ear plant a sunny to partial shady area of the garden. Avoid direct sun in the summer, because this can burn the leaves. Grow the plant in a pot so you can bring it indoors and place it in a sunny windowsill when temperatures might fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water the donkey ear plant every week during the flowering period, allowing the soil to dry between watering. Avoid getting water on the leaves. Thoroughly moisten the soil, but avoid saturating it, because this can trigger root rot.
Fertilize the donkey ear plant every two weeks during the blooming period. Use a 20-8-20 fertilizer at a rate of 1/2 to 1/4 of the manufacturer’s recommended amount. Depending on the type of fertilizer you use, sprinkle it on the soil around the plant and water it in, or dilute it in water and apply it as if you were watering the plant.
Monitor the plant carefully for signs of pests. Donkey ear plants are quite resistant to diseases, but sometimes pests, such as caterpillars, aphids, mealybugs and mites can affect the plant. Handpick the pests of the plant, or eliminate them by spraying the plant with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
East Texas Gardening: Donkey Ear
San Marcos Growers: Kalanchoe Gastonis-Bonnieri – Donkey Ears
All Krismers Plant Farm: Care of the Kalanchoe Plant
The Complete Guide to Growing Windowsill Plants; Donna Marie Murphy and Angela Williams Duea
Colorado State University Extension: Managing Houseplant Pests