The Donkey Ear plant of the Crassulaceae family is a slow-growing, rich-looking plant that can reach maturity in six years and it will be 12 to 18 inches tall by then. The plant has bronze-green, maroon-splotched leaves that are coated with white wax.
This Donkey Ear plant is a Kalanchoe species, also known as the palm beachbells. Keep reading this article, as it will assist you to become an expert in parenting this stunning plant.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- What Is Donkey Ear Plant?
- Donkey Ear Plant Care
- Water Requirements
- Light Requirements
- Soil Requirements
- Temperature Requirements
- Humidity Requirements
- Fertilizing Requirements
- Pruning Requirements
What Is Donkey Ear Plant?
The Donkey Ear plant is a succulent that is also known as Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri. This plant’s leaves resemble donkey ears and that’s how it was named. The plant can produce yellow and red flowers from its 18-inch tall spikes and it will naturally die back after flowering.
Donkey Ear Plant Care
Donkey Ear plants do not require too much attention but neglecting it can cause serious harm to your houseplant. Proper care should be exercised for your plant to grow healthy.
You should use the ‘deep and thorough’ method when watering your Donkey Ear plant. Irrigate the plant slowly until you see the water coming out through the draining holes. In summer, water your Donkey Ear plant once every week. Reduce the watering to once or twice a month in winter because the rate of evaporation is slow due to low temperatures.
You should allow the top two inches of the potting mix to dry completely before the next watering. You can use your finger to check the soil moisture by pressing it into the potting mixture. If your finger feels the moist soil, your Donkey Ear plant is not ready for more water. If the potting mix is dry, consider watering your plant.
Donkey Ear plants are drought resistant so they can tolerate underwatering. Avoid overwatering because its well-being can be in jeopardy. The pot should have drainage holes so that excess water can escape, leaving the plant sitting in well-moistened soil that is not soggy.
Partial shade and filtered light can make the Donkey Ear plant live a happy life. Although the Donkey Ear prefers bright indirect light, six hours of full sun per day will do justice as the plant loves the sun also.
The morning sun is preferable as it is less likely to scorch the plant leaves. The waxy covering also protects the leaves from sunburn if the plant is not exposed to direct sun for prolonged periods.
If the windows of your house are not providing enough light, consider getting a grow light. You should follow the instructions in the manual on how to use the grow light for best results. Do not place the light too close to the plant to reduce the risk of burning the plant foliage.
We recommend you get the grow light that provides a blue spectrum. Your Donkey Ear plant will get enough light from it.
Use light, well-draining soil that is rich in humus. The Donkey Ear plant also grows well in an all-purpose potting mix. You can mix pumice, loam, and sand to create your own potting mix.
A well-draining potting mix will prevent waterlogging conditions and the air will circulate freely.
This will enhance healthy root development. The humus also allows the soil to retain moisture for a relatively long time. Furthermore, note that the Donkey Ear plant prefers soil with a pH level of 5 to 7.
The Donkey Ear plant thrives well in warmer temperatures that are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not expose your plant to cold drafts and frost. You should have a thermometer to test the temperature in the room where you place the plant. Usually, room temperatures are ideal for most houseplants.
Lower humidity levels are perfect for the Donkey Ear plant. The plant can still survive in high humidity levels that are above 70 percent, although the chances of fungal infection are high. The Donkey Ear plant is succulent so you should maintain low humidity levels.
Consider buying a hygrometer so that you can easily notice if the humidity level is now high. You can be able to rectify the problem in time. The humidity levels should be always below 50 percent. Make sure the house is well-aerated to quickly evaporate excess moisture in the atmosphere.
Apply a slow-release or liquid fertilizer in spring and summer. This is the growing season of the Donkey Ear plant so you should add the fertilizer once or twice a month. Do not over-fertilize your Donkey Ear plant to avoid root burn. Dilute the fertilizer to half-strength to neutralize the mineral salts.
In winter, stop adding fertilizers to your Donkey Ear plant. The plant will be dormant so there is no need to boost its growth.
The donkey ear plant can be pruned any time of the year. Use a pair or sterilized, sharp scissors or shear to trim the dead and damaged leaves and flowers, in order to avoid any type of infestation taking place when pruning. Note that the sharp tool will leave a clean cut that can heal quickly. You should trim the Donkey Ear plant starting from its base going upward.
The plant’s growth can be improved by trimming. You can also prune the Donkey Ear plant to minimize leggy growth as well.
The Donkey Ear plant is easily propagated using leaf cuttings and plantlets. The Donkey Ear plant is easily propagated using leaf cuttings and plantlets. Find out more about how to propagate the donkey ear plant here.
– Leaf Cuttings
Cut a healthy mature leaf using a disinfected pair of scissors or garden shear. Then, cut a section of a leaf and plant it in a container. Use the new soil and water the Donkey Ear cutting lightly. After a couple of days, you will see the new growths sprouting.
You can separate the new Donkey Ear plant from the cutting once it dies back. Plant the new Donkey Ear in a new pot and potting mix and start parenting it the way you do to the mother plant.
– Using Plantlets
The Donkey Ear plant’s leaves naturally grow plantlets along the leaf margins and tips. You can use the plantlets as well to multiply the Donkey Ear plant. This method can be effective as the plantlet has roots already. It will not take time to establish.
Take Donkey Ear plant pups from a healthy plant to avoid spreading pests and diseases. The plantlets also compete for nutrients and water so removing them can make your plant grow well. The beauty of the plant cannot be seen if you do not remove the plantlets.
The Donkey Ear plant is susceptible to some common pests and diseases. Check for pests and diseases regularly so that you can control them in time to keep your plant healthy.
– Crown Rot
The Donkey Ear plant is prone to crown rot. The disease is caused by a soil-borne fungus that can survive in the potting mix for a long time. The fungus develops if the Donkey Ear plant sits in a heavy and wet potting mix for an extended period. Heavy soil cannot drain water in time, thereby causing waterlogging conditions.
The infection can turn plant leaves dark, yellow, or tan. The Donkey Ear plant can show signs of wilting, stunted growth, and finally, die if not treated in time.
It can be difficult to identify the infection at an early stage but if you notice any dry rotting at the plant’s soil line, know that crown rot has infected your plant. The diseased plant cannot be treated so you should discard it immediately to stop the spread of crown eventually rot.
You can prevent the spread of the disease by sanitizing the infected potting mix using the Aliette or Captan fungicides. Drench the dry potting mix with the mixture of one gallon of water and two tablespoons of Aliette or Captan. You should also use well-draining soil to avoid overwatering. The pot should also have draining holes to release excess water.
– Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew is a fungal infection that can be easily spread by wind. The infected plant may have white or grey powdery spots on stems, flowers, fruits, and on both sides of the leaves. Powdery mildew is common in warm, dry, and highly humid conditions. Shortage of sunlight and limited air circulation can trigger the development of powdery mildew.
When infected, the “donkey ears” like leaves of the plant may become withered and yellow. The Donkey Ear plant can become weak and this can cause the plant to grow and bloom at a slower rate.
The disease cannot quickly kill the plant but the Donkey Ear can die if left untreated for a long time. Your Donkey Ear plant will be competing for moisture and nutrients with the powdery mildew.
Use a potassium bicarbonate mixture to treat the infection. Mix half a teaspoon of castile soap, one gallon of water, and one tablespoon of potassium bicarbonate. Spray the mixture liberally on the affected plant. You can also use milk solution and fungicides that contain sulfur to treat and prevent the infection.
– Root Rot
Overwatering, poorly functioning root systems, and poor drainage can cause the development of fungi. All of these may cause waterlogging and the Donkey Ear plant may fail to breathe. Root rot can stifle the plant to the extent that it may fail to absorb more water.
The plant will not respire if it is failing to absorb water. Root rot can be difficult to identify as it affects the roots first. It may cause blackening of the Donkey Ear plant’s roots and with time, the stems will also be affected. If you notice any infection, isolate and trim the infected parts.
After pruning the damaged areas, discard the infected potting mix and repot your Donkey Ear plant using the fresh soil and pot. Make sure you follow the watering schedules to avoid overwatering the plant. You can as well use fungicides to treat the lightly infected Donkey Ear plant.
– Spider Mites
Spider mites are tiny, oval-shaped, sap-sucking pests that are difficult to identify. They are pale red and are found on the underside of the plant leaves. The attacked Donkey Ear plant may have yellow spots, streaks, and small webs on the leaves. You can use magnifying glasses to identify the spider mites if you suspect any infection.
You can also use a sheet of paper to identify the pests. Place the sheet of paper underneath your Donkey Ear plant and shake the plant leaves. If the spider mites are available, they will easily fall off the plant and you will see them on the paper.
Use the Neem oil spray to destroy the spider mites. You can also wash the plant with a wet cloth every day or splash water using the garden hose to kill the pests. You can also introduce ladybugs so that they can feast on the spider mites.
Aphids are pear-shaped tiny pests that affect mostly unhealthy plants. They are covered with a waxy coat and can be found in different colors like grey, black, and green. Aphids suck the plant’s juice from all parts. Please note that some aphids have wings.
If your Donkey Ear plant is affected, you may find sticky honeydew on the plant. Ants are also another sign of aphids’ infection as they feed on the excreted honeydew. The affected Donkey Ear plant is also at risk of being affected by viral diseases. Aphids spread the mosaic potyvirus and latent carlavirus as they move from one infected plant to the others.
If you see the donkey ear plant leaves curling, it is another sign of aphids’ attack as the pest uses its mouthpart to draw all the plant’s green pigment. You can effectively treat aphids using Insecticidal soap. Spray the solution once a week for two to three weeks so that you can kill all the aphids. Aphids reproduce quickly so make sure you destroy all the eggs and adults.
Mealybugs are also tiny pests that look like white waxy cotton and they are difficult to identify with your naked eye. The pests have armored shells that protect them from pesticides and they can jump if disturbed. Mealybugs excrete honeydew on the plant leaves.
The Donkey Ear plant can have yellow, wilting leaves once infected with mealybugs. Stunted growth and falling off of the leaves are other signs of mealybugs’ attack. The pests reproduce slowly as they take seven to ten weeks to reach maturity. So if you notice the infection early, it might not be difficult to control mealybugs as they will be in smaller numbers.
Quarantine the affected plant and treat it using Neem oil. Note that some mealybugs can hide in the potting mix so you should pour some Neem oil solution into the soil to destroy them. Mealybugs tend to hide on the undersides of the foliage and leaf joints so you should spray the solution on every part of the pant to effectively kill them.
The Donkey Ear plant can cause toxic side effects if ingested in large amounts. The plant is harmful to both humans and animals so you should keep it away from pets and children. The leaves of the Donkey Ear plant contain compounds that render the Donkey ear plant poisonous to dogs, cats, and humans. The reaction can heal naturally without medication.
How Do I Repot Donkey Ear Plant?
Consider repotting the Donkey Ear plant once every two years. Gently uproot the plant so that you do not damage its delicate roots and leaves. The foliage can easily snap so extra care is required. Trim the damaged or infected roots so that your Donkey Ear plant can successfully establish in its new home.
Do not repot only when the Donkey Ear plant becomes root-bound. You should repot if the plant is now in need of fresh potting mix. In this case, you don’t need to repot your Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri in a larger pot. You should get a new pot of the same size as the old one.
You should only repot the Donkey Ear in a bigger pot if it has outgrown the old pot. There are various pots that you could use but we recommend the clay terracotta pot because it allows for good aeration. Repotting should be done in spring so that the Donkey Ear plant can establish itself well as it is the plant’s growing season.
How do you take care of Donkey Ears in the winter?
Donkey Ears need protection from frost in winter. Cover them with a frost cloth or bring them indoors to a warmer location.
How do you know when Donkey Ear Plant is thirsty?
Observe the Donkey Ear Plant’s soil moisture level. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
You have acquired the important caregiving information for you to successfully parent your Donkey Ear plant. Below is just a short summary of the main points. Let’s quickly go through the guide today:
- The Donkey Ear plant grows well in temperatures that are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The plant prefers low humidity levels that are below 50 percent.
- Propagation can be done using leaf cuttings and plantlets.
- Always check for crown rot, powdery mildew, aphids, and spider mites.
- Apply liquid fertilizer once or twice a month during the plant’s growing season and it should be diluted to half-strength.
Now you are confident enough to successfully parent the Donkey Ear plant. Get the cutting today and enjoy the journey while adding some glamor to your home.