Sunday, February 7, 2010

An Incredible Journey....

Giant kalanchoe Gastoris Bonnieri, or Donkey Ears....... When I first found this plant in Mount Dora, it was love at first sight. It was the perfect new member for my space in my yard that I refer to as my "funny farm". This plant certainly is unique looking as it was, but I had no idea of what to expect from it until I had the opportunity to research it. I quickly discovered that folks who appreciate succulent plants drool over owning a Donkey Ears of their own, the original Kalanchoe Gastonis bonnieri is said to originate from Madagascar.This succulent seems to be every one's favorite for its unique leaves, the way new baby plants form, for the big and bold flower stems, for the blooms, and for the hummingbirds which love the flowers.

This plant quickly became one of my favorites as it seemed to change almost on a daily basis.

First, lets look at the leaves. They're light green / gray-white when young/new. As Donkey Ears grow, the leaves become more prominent and bold in size. The "ears" can become 12+ inches long and a deeper green with more prominent "mule" spots...thus the common name....Donkey Ears.
Baby plants begin to form at the leaf tips which you can root automatically and make new separate plants, which I have done. Sometimes the baby plants just fall off and you can re-plant elsewhere or into pots. Otherwise, you can remove baby plants at some reasonable size and re-pot or plant.

At about a year old , the mother plant Donkey Ears suddenly sends up a shoot that can easily grow to 2-feet tall. At the tip of the shoot, flower buds begin to form. From the time that I realized that this new growth was not additional leaves it took about three months for the bloom to fully develope and open.

This plant seemed to grow taller and taller each day. I needed to stand on a chair to continue taking photos of it.

In flower, I see this plant as a Major show off plant. The flower opened about 4 weeks before we experienced the "Florida Freeze". I moved my prize under cover on my patio next to the house and also covered it for additional protection. But alas, it is not frost tolerant and it did get too cold on those bitter last few evenings. I did get a chance to start several babies that have been sent off to their new homes to start all over. They do not look their best but I am sure they will recover.

Below is a photo of my Donkey Ears this morning, February 7, 2010. Traces of the bloom are still there. The huge majestic leaves are shriveled and brown and ready to fall off. I am not quickening this process as I can now see new leaves breaking out off the stalk kind of where the old leaves are attached. I will wait to see what happens naturally. Every day is a new surprise!

Poor little thing....this has been a total metamorphosis of this plant. Kind of like raising kids........

It has gone through the good, the bad and the ugly! With more to come.

What is more incredible then the gifts that nature shares with us each day?


Permission to Mother said...

My plant that had babies, kindo of looks like your last photo. :(

It really is amazing to see the cycle plants go through when you watch everyday.

Susan said...

THat is a fascinating plant. I've never seen one or heard about it. I'll have to watch for it next year at the Mt. Dora festival.

Permission to Mother said...

Mine looks like the third photo. I will take photos. Also my "aloe" like plant has a similar bloom.