When I was a young lad growing up in Kingsville, Texas, my wise old grandmother gave me a little plot of land in a bad location where I could have my own little garden. Since it was such a bad location (no rain and very hot), I determined that the best things to grow in my little garden were cactus and succulents.
Cactus didn’t appeal to my wise old grandmother because of the thorns. However, she told me I could grow what I wanted.
I went with a friend and his parents down to McAllen, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, one weekend to pick some cactus and succulents from a cactus farm there. That was in 1967. I came home that day with an interesting plant that has now been in my gardens for 45 years. It was a Kalanchoe daigremontiana, and what attracted me to it were the little plantlets growing along the edges of all its leaves (see Wikipedia). One of its common names is mother of thousands. Each little plantlet that falls off the leaves grows into its own plant, so after a couple of years, you could indeed have many thousands of plants.
Many plants that reproduce by vegetative propagation don’t bloom since they don’t need seeds. I had never seen the mother of thousands bloom until a couple of days ago when I was exploring my own neighborhood here, a neighborhood where I have lived for five years. The mother of thousands also has thousands of blossoms on a stalk with a huge inflorescence, and I found several of them blooming. I wondered what it took to get them to bloom, but Wikipedia says that flowering occurs sporadically if at all.
Following are four pictures of the many blossoms on the inflorescence — side, top, bottom, and dead flowers covered with raindrops.
The mother of thousands is native to Madagascar, and all parts of the plant are poisonous. Pets generally know this, but inquisitve youth who are still in the put-anything-in-their-mouths stage might find the little leaf plantlets tasty.
Courtesy of Margaret Rome, a real estate agent in Baltimore, Maryland, I was reminded by a phone call while I was writing this post that today would have been my wise old grandmother’s 101st birthday; she died in 2003. If you want to buy or sell a home in the Baltimore area, do it with Margaret Rome!