How to Care for Mother of Thousands (or Millions)




About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions are very similar plants and often confused for one another, so I figure it's best to offer care for both in the same instructable. These plants can be found under the Kalanchoe AND Bryophyllum name, though I tend to refer to them as Kalanchoes because I knew them that way first.

The plants I'm covering in this instructable are Kalanchoe daigremontiana (wide leaves with toothy looking edges) and Kalanchoe delagoense (tube shaped leaves), though there are loads of other Kalachoe/Bryophyllum types that can be cared for in the same way.

Important to note: Mother of Thousands plants are typically considered a weed and are very invasive where they grow outside easily. If you do choose to grow this plant, you may want to keep it in a container so it doesn't take over your whole garden. :)

Keep on reading to learn how to care for your Mother of Thousands and Millions plants!

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Step 1: What Type of Soil Should I Use for Mother of Thousands?

Mother of Thousands love a quick draining, gritty soil. I'm currently using Black Gold cactus mix for my cacti and succulents - it contains pumice, perlite and sand which allows it to dry out quicker. I like this mix because I don't have to amend it with extra pumice, sand or rocks. :)

Make sure to avoid regular potting soil or mixes with loads of humus, loam or peat moss as these hold in moisture for much longer.

Step 2: How Should I Water My Mother of Thousands?

Like all other succulents, Mother of Thousands love to dry out completely between waterings.

These plants are not as great as other about showing you that they need water, so I decide when they should be watered by the weight of the pot. If the pot feels heavy, there's still water in the soil. If the pot is super light, it's time to water!

I always water my Mother of Thousands until water runoff is achieved. This lets you know every part of the soil is wet and the plant will be able to drink the most efficiently. Once it's watered, I put the pot back on a dry saucer and set it in the windowsill until it dries out completely again.

For more information on watering, please read my "How and When to Water Your Houseplants" instructable. It will answer all your questions!

Step 3: How Much Light Does a Mother of Thousands Need?

ALL OF IT. These plants do best outside in warm climates. They thrive in hot, bright conditions. Because I live in northern Colorado, I keep mine inside in an east facing window.

Your best bet is to keep this plant in containers outside or in a southern window. East and west windows are next best for light. Northern facing windows won't offer enough light.

If your Mother of Thousands plant doesn't get enough light, it can become quite "leggy" - this essentially means the plant grows tall and spindly, with large space between leaves. It's not the end of the world, but a leggy plant is not the healthiest, meaning it will produce less pups and is not likely to bloom.

Step 4: Is Mother of Thousands Poisonous or Toxic?

YES. Toxic allllll the way. Every single part of Mother of Thousands is toxic, even the tiny pups the leaves produce.

If you grow this plant, make sure it's in a place that is out of reach of pets and children. I always, always keep mine in a high windowsill away from my pets. If grown outside, make sure it's not in an area where livestock can get to it either - there are many cases of serious sickness in herds due to this plant.

If ingested, this plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and heart palpitations. I have also heard it can be fatal to pets and children, but have not seen a source to confirm that.

Regardless, be careful and don't put it in your mouth. ;)

Step 5: How to Propagate Mother of Thousands

Both the best and worst thing about this plant: it produces tons of babies. Unlike most succulents, the babies do not form at the base of the plant. Instead, small "plantlets" form along the edges of the leaves.

These plantlets grow roots and fall off the mother plant into the soil, creating an unending supply of Mother of Thousands plants. (Hence why MoT is considered invasive and is even restricted in some areas.)

If your Mother of Thousands plant gets too tall, you can chop off the top and plant that in soil to restart the plant. I'm planning to do that to my biggest Kalanchoe daigremontiana when I repot. Check out "How to Take and Grow Succulents From Cuttings" to learn how that process works.

Step 6: Other Care Tips for Mother of Thousands

Pinch off Dead and Damaged Leaves

In my experience, Mother of Thousands is very quick to self-prune when left without water for too long or if a leaf is damaged. Might as well help it along and pinch off those dead (or soon to be dead!) leaves! Only healthy leaves produce plantlets, so there's no reason to keep around sickly ones.

Choosing the Right Pot for Your Plant

When I only had one of each of the Mother of Thousands plants, I kept them together in a four inch terra cotta pot. As the plants grew and produced babies, I repotted them into a six inch plastic pot so they'd have a little more water for longer. (I noticed they were getting thirsty very quickly with lots of them in one terra cotta pot!)

Check out my instructable "How to Choose the Right Planter or Pot for Your Plant" for more information.

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    13 Discussions


    10 months ago

    thanks for the post on toxicity. I have a friend that suggested it might be a cure for cancer....I guess it would be a permanent cure....will advise them of their error.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 months ago

    Cures for cancer generally are toxic -- very toxic!!


    7 months ago

    EXTREMELY invasive!!
    I picked a tiny sample from a friends succulent garden and now a year later, I literally have thousands of these plants. I began pulling them up and throwing them away and anytime I let a leaf get away, within just a few months, there are dozens of baby’s sprouting. They are so bad that Anytime I pick them now, I immediately put them in a plastic bag. They even started growing in the cracks of the sidewalk where I keep my garbage cans.
    If germs could be spread through this plant, we would all be in serious trouble!
    These days, When someone offers me a plant sample, I look it up first!!!
    Hope this helps someone! Wish I had seen a post like this a year ago!


    10 months ago

    My gf had one of these (at the start) in the '70s. It was interesting watching them reproduce and grow. Then one day (after she had given away baby plants to everyone she knew) it quit.

    1 reply

    10 months ago

    Consider a larger pot.... they grow to the size of the pot!


    10 months ago on Introduction

    I love plants. Succulents, bromeliads & cacti, even an orchid that I never wanted to get because I don't think I can grow it properly but it's still alive a year in--no new blooms, to annuals. Especially: tomatoes, jalapenos, petunias, geraniums, nasturtiums (edible flowers on your salad! Tastes like radishes!). See, I don't make much difference between beauty and deliciousness in the skillet. I've even worked in 2 or 3 greenhouses, growing thousands of hanging baskets at a time from mixing potting soil by the ton and filling seed trays to planting combination pots for sale on Mother's Day. But..." there are many cases of serious sickness in herds due to this plant." (?) An Aussie in the comments quotes tight regulations against playing around with this plant down under? It's toxic to pets, children, invasive. WHY GROW IT!!!? Try a donkey's tail, an aloe variety like the one you break off and rub on a burn after you get a batch of cookies out of the oven forgetting the pan is hot.
    I love Agave plants from which they make tequila. Also sometimes called Century plants because they supposedly grow a long time as the name implies (I personally doubt it's 100 years; I'm going to look it up), blooms with a spectacular 20' tall bloom, and then drops dead. BUT, you can also pull a 3 inch long spike off the tip of one of its stems and give yourself stitches while you're wandering around the wilderness after fighting a bear like Leo DiCaprio in Revenant (doesn't it seem like almost every movie these days says "based on true events"? But just sayin', if you fell off your balcony and landed on a full grown agave plant...I think you'd be killed. But I love them, they come in a variegated form too, imagine 3 foot long leaves or whatever you call succulent stems, green stems outlined in bright yellow with the deadly spike on the end. It's irresistible. Oftentimes in California when they're growing in a public area like at the entrance to an outdoor restaurant at a mall (I'm thinking of the most crowded place I've seen one), gardeners will trim off every point on a plant, so that your spazzed out three year old doesn't climb up and impale himself on the plant! You could AT LEAST put an eye out playing with this plant.
    Well. You didn't sell me on Mother of Millions. I made it past, invasive, toxic, poisons herds of animals, keep on a high shelf, but since a thousand new mini-mes fall off the leaves every day your pets and children will still be in danger of poisoning, tightly regulated in Australia, and still I'm not convinced I should grow this plant.
    Grow my favorite, most beautiful variety of succulent, it doesn't help your kitchen burn--it just sits there looking beautiful, (I always think it's a variety of aloe, but it's actually called Haworthia fasciata, with a couple different variety names after that genus & species)
    (or something on this page:
    Keep seeing beautiful things, and I will do the same! Peace and love from old man.


    10 months ago

    My sister had some of these Mother of Thousands. She called them Mother of Millions not only because it rolls off the tongue so much nicer, but also because of how many babies they produce. She gave me some, but I managed to find homes for most of them and the rest died from neglect. My sister (Little Miss Green-thumb) lives in northern Ontario and the winters there are very cold. The room where she kept these plants got extra cold one year. She felt bad for them because she had a lot of things going on at the time and she had forgotten all about them. When she went to check on them, she was surprised to see that they were not only still alive, but they had started to bloom. Our mother used to have them when we were just kids, back in the 70's and we had never heard of them blooming until that cold winter. She said that they were very beautiful and as far as I know, she still has them.


    10 months ago

    Just as a heads up : They are classified as noxious weeds/plants all throughout Australia. Huge fines if caught not controlling it in this country.


    10 months ago on Step 6

    Are you sure about the window direction advice? What you say is true in the southern hemisphere, but in the north we get most light through south-facing windows.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 months ago

    That was my mistake! Corrected the directions. :)


    10 months ago on Step 3

    I think you are confusing exposures - southern exposure gets the most light in the northern hemisphere.

    1 reply