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Chocolate Soldier Plant: The Perfect Defender for Your House

chocolate-soldier-plant

Add a bit of fuzz to your conventional leafy house plants. Defend them with a Chocolate Soldier plant! 

Kalanchoe Tomentosa is a succulent plant in the genus Kalanchoe, also known as Pussy Ears, leggy panda plant or Panda plant with red-rimmed leaves. As a native of Madagascar, Kalanchoe Tomentosa is known by many different and interesting names such as ‘Golden Girl,’ ‘Chocolate Soldier, ‘Black Tie,’ and ‘Teddy Bear.’ 

The most distinct feature of the Chocolate Soldier plant is the fuzzy leaves! So, if you’re tired of the standard indoor plants, it’s time to get this plant to add exclusivity to your collection.

Characteristics of Chocolate Soldier Plant

OriginMadagascar
Botanical NameKalanchoe Tomentosa
Common NamesKalanchoe Panda Plant, Panda Plant, Pussy Ears, Chocolate Soldier, Cocoon Plant, Velvet Leaf Kalanchoe, Plush Plant, White Lady, Panda-Bear Plant, Kalanchoe
TypeSucculent
Soil TypeWell-draining
Soil pH6.1-7.8
MaintenanceLow Maintenance
LightBright, filtered light
Temperature60 to 75⁰ F
Height2.5 ft. tall when matured
Hardiness zone9a-11b (USDA)
ToxicityToxic to humans and animals

Chocolate Soldier Plant Care: How to have a healthy growing Plant

If you are aware of the right conditions, it is quite simple to plant Kalanchoe Tomentosa in your home. Here’s what you should know:

Sunlight:

The Chocolate Soldier plant loves bright but indirect light. If it is placed in direct sun, it is likely to get leaf burn. However, if you see your plant getting leggy, it indicates that the amount of sunlight is inadequate. Hence, it is advised that you move it to a brighter location. Here is a complete guide on How Much Light Does Your Plant Need?

Water:

Chocolate Soldier plants require less water due to their succulent leaves, which store the excess water in them for later use. Allow the soil to dry out thoroughly between each watering session, especially in the winter months when the plant is dormant. Chocolate Soldier plants would need frequent watering in the hot summers as the soil dries up much faster. However, make sure not to overwater the plant, as it may die. 

Fertilizer:

Often fertilizing is not necessary for Chocolate Soldier plants. But, to encourage your plant’s growth, you can fertilize once at the beginning of the spring till the end of summer, as this is the fertilizing season of this plant. A cactus or succulent fertilizer would do the best job in this case. A diluted fertilizer every four weeks would serve as a good option as well.

Temperature:

Chocolate Soldier succulents are not as heat tolerant as other succulent species. They should be kept in a warm area only in winters. The most suitable temperature for them is 15-25 degrees Celsius. When choosing a location for your Chocolate Soldier plant, you must consider that they are also not meant to be in the cold. So if you keep your plant outdoors in the summer, remember to bring it back inside at the first sign of frost. The maximum temperature threshold they can withstand is 30 degrees, so be vary of that. 

Humidity:

You do not have to worry about having a humid environment in your house when it comes to Chocolate Soldier plants; they enjoy dry conditions! The average household humidity is perfect for these succulents. Know more about What is High Humidity and How to Increase Humidity for Your Houseplants.

Soil:

Chocolate Soldier plants require dry, well-draining soil. A cactus or succulent soil mix, which you can find in most garden centers and nurseries, is sufficient for your plant.

Grooming:

The best grooming tip for a Chocolate Soldier plant is pruning. Usually, inside the house, short and dense foliage is preferred for this plant. By using scissors or special pruning tools, you can shape the foliage and make it suit your requirements. Remember to prune off any dead growths so you can have a healthy growing plant.

Potting and Repotting of Chocolate Soldier Plant:

As Chocolate Soldier plants are relatively slow-growing, they do not need to be repotted frequently. Repotting is helpful as it allows your plant to grow better and faster and it is necessary if the roots become too dense or unhealthy. Owners usually repot only once every few years. Repotting your Chocolate Soldier plant is most successful during the active growing season as the plant will be able to tolerate disruption more easily.

Chocolate Soldier plants can do well when potted in nearly any planter. A pot with a drainage hole will help your plant grow better by preventing overwatering. Like most succulents, this plant does well in terracotta pots, as they help absorb excess water from the soil.

Follow the steps mentioned below to successfully repot your plant.

  1. Before repotting, stop watering your plant a few days in advance and let the soil dry up a bit.
  2. After the soil is dried, gently knock the pot outside or use a knife to separate the soil from the pot.
  3.  Pull the plant up carefully out of the old container or pot.
  4. Take your new container or pot, first add some well-drained soil to the base of the pot.
  5. Then spread out the root system of the plant and put them in the pot.
  6. Gently cover the plant roots with planting soil and softly push down from the top.
  7. Finally, water your plant, and you’re all done.

By now, you must be well aware of how to care for your Chocolate Soldier as well as how to grow it, but how to style it indoors? Read on to find out!

Propagation of Chocolate Soldier Plant:

Propagating chocolate soldier plant can be a complex task if you don’t know what you are doing. Luckily for you, we have prepared a detailed guide that you can follow to successfully propagate your plant. There are two main methods used. Propagating during the growing season in spring has a higher success rate. The panda plants are, however, relatively difficult to propagate compared to other succulent plants. But don’t worry, we will illustrate the steps to both methods in detail one by one.

Leaf Separation technique

The first method is the leaf separation technique. Most consider this method easier as it takes fewer days for the roots to develop.

  1. For this, a healthy leaf is selected and carefully plucked off the stem; it should ‘pop’ off the stem. Make sure the separation is clean so that no part of the leaf is left on the stem.
  2. Allow the leaf to callus over for at least 2 days before you proceed.
  3. Place the leaf on a tray filled with potting soil and keep it in a place that receives indirect bright light.
  4. In about 2-3 weeks, small roots can be seen growing from the leaf. This happens more readily during the growing season.
  5. Just keep watering the roots, and you should have a tiny new plant growing on the end of the leaf.
  6. Keep the parent leaf attached to the new plant for nutrients. The leaf will fall off by itself as the new plant grows.

The Offshoot method

The second method is by growing the offshoots. The chocolate soldier plant  grows offshoots that have their own root systems and can be separated and grown as new plants.

  1. Let the offshoots on the plant grow for a few months till they have well-developed roots of their own.
  2. Now, take a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears and separate the offshoot from the main plant.
  3. Leave the cutting to callous over for 1-2 days.
  4. Place the offshoot in a container filled with potting mix. Wait for the roots to form before you start watering again. This takes about 2 – 3 weeks.
  5. Once the roots have formed, keep watering your plant and you’ll be good to go.

Amazing Decoration Ideas with the Chocolate Soldier Plant 

Here are some Chocolate Soldier Plant decoration ideas:

Hanging:

This plant looks fantastic placed within a hanging basket or sitting in a conservatory, especially after it matures. A conservatory is ideal since they like bright light and some sun. The main idea of hanging is to let the plant grow and let it bloom as it does so.

Windows and Shelves:

When Chocolate Soldier plants are small and growing, window sills and shelves that receive enough sunlight are good spots for displaying them. 

Terrarium on a Table:

You can choose to grow your Chocolate Soldier plant in a rock-based terrarium. Having its own climate and environment inside the aquarium would work just fine for your plant to grow while you can enjoy your new self-designed piece in your living room.

Basket

This plant would look great in a customized basket as well. Its small size and low maintenance make it suitable for this ornamental look. You can then place the basket on your table or even hang it if you want. 

Do Panda Plants bloom?

The chocolate soldier plant has tiny tubular-shaped flowers that bloom from the tips of the branches. The outer petals of the flowers are covered by felt like the plant. the flowers have parts in multiples of 4, with 4 sepals, 4 petals, 8 stamens, and 4 free carpels. However, blooming usually occurs when the plant is in its natural habitat, and it’s rare to see it bloom indoors.

Blooming requires a high temperature and really bright light. You can move the plant outdoors during spring and summer to increase the probability of it blooming. Other than this you can use low nitrogen “Bloom boosters” for better results.

Common Issues of the Chocolate Soldier Plant

Scale Insects

The Chocolate Soldier plant, like most plants from the Crassulaceae family, has succulent leaves. These leaves serve as a perfect home for mealy bugs. The silvery-white hairy leaves might get in the way of identifying this pest in its earlier stages. It can be treated by using insecticides based on imidacloprid and regular watering. Although wiping the leaves with alcohol applied on cotton balls is also a good solution. 

Whitefly Harm

Whiteflies are sap-sucking, moth-like pests commonly found around the world, especially if you are bringing a new houseplant home. We suggest you investigate and treat it before it spreads to other plants. If in case it troubles your Chocolate Soldier plant, you can cover the soil beneath with reflective material to repel the whitefly. Sticky paper could work as an alternative, as would plastic.

Yellow and Mushy Leaves

If you see that your Chocolate Soldier plant’s leaves are turning yellow or even mushy, it means you are overwatering your plant! You should let its soil dry thoroughly before the next watering. This is a pertinent issue that can also lead to the death of the plant.

Risks related to the Chocolate Soldier Plant

According to ASPCA, the Chocolate Soldier plant is toxic to humans and pets alike. This is because it contains bufadienolide cardiac glycosides; this chemical composition causes toxicity in those who ingest the plant. Upon ingestion, the person or animal will experience diarrhea, vomiting, and might even experience irregular heartbeat. If anyone eats the plant, instantly call the ER or take your pet to the nearest vet.  

Why is the Chocolate Plant a Great Choice?

Low Maintenance:

This is a low-maintenance plant. This makes it the perfect addition to your household. Unlike other plants that require regular maintenance, you do not have to worry about that in the case of this plant.

Resilient

The succulent leaves of this plant make it a very resilient plant. Usually, plants wilt and require constant watering, but this plant does not. Its succulent leaves serve as a reserve and help it survive in times of negligence. So, in case you forget to water your plant, do not worry; it will survive. 

Ornamental look

This plant has an aesthetic look due to its silvery leaves with a hint of red. It is an excellent addition to your indoor decorations due to its unique look. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is the chocolate soldier plant poisonous?

The chocolate Soldier Plant is an indoor plant that is toxic to humans and animals as well as dangerous for children.

It contains a poisonous chemical called calathomol. This chemical can be absorbed through the skin. If ingested, it can lead to dizziness, vomiting, and even death. Children are particularly at risk of eating Chocolate Soldier Plant because its appearance is similar to candy. It is important to keep this plant out of reach of children and pets.

Why is it called a chocolate soldier plant?

This plant gets its common name from the thick, dark growth on its leaves, which resembles chocolate. Chocolate Soldier is a type of succulent plant that is native to Africa. This plant prefers bright, indirect light and well-drained soil. It also needs ample water and humidity.

Is panda plant and chocolate soldier plant the same?

No, Chocolate soldier plant and Panda plant are two plants with quite different appearances and growth habits.

Chocolate soldier plant is a type of Aglaonema plant with dark green leaves and dark red veins. On the other hand, Panda plant has dark green leaves with white spots. It also has bright yellow flowers.

Both plants are indoor plants that do not need direct sunlight to thrive. They prefer well-drained soil and moderate temperatures. Additionally, they can be propagated through stem cuttings or leaves.

Is Chocolate soldier plant propagation difficult?

Propagation is relatively more difficult as compared to other succulents and the roots take some time to develop. however , as long as you follow the methods mentioned above in the article correctly, you should be able to propagaate your plant with ease.

Wrapping Up

This plant is a unique succulent that can be a beautiful addition to your household. Its resilience makes it perfect for withstanding negligence, which is common in households, and the perfect candidate if you usually forget to do things on time. 

So, if you’re looking for a house plant with a distinguished look and cute names, the Chocolate Soldier Plant is what you need. Visit our blog to learn about other house plants with distinguished looks and names!

Written by Chris Buckland

Hello, I’m Chris. I’m a houseplant expert. I have been Cultivating and Growing Houseplants for 20 years. Plants are like my children. I love to write about Indoor plants and share my experience. That's why I started writing everything I know about houseplants.

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