Last Updated on February 25, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford
In the succulent world, the mother of thousands and the mother of millions are confused with each other all the time. That is totally understandable because they both start with the name ‘mother’ and their second names are both pertaining to a number.
You might think that the thousand is the million’s baby because they resemble each other a lot too.
To settle the confusion once and for all, here is an upfront comparison of the mother of thousands and the mother of millions.
Mother of thousands
The mother of thousands is a native of Madagascar but is known scientifically as the Kalanchoe daigremontiana. For succulent enthusiasts, it is also known as the alligator plant or the Mexican hat plant. As the mother of millions, it is peculiar looking with smaller plantlets growing around the edges of its broad leaves.
They are very rapid growers and are considered very invasive because their plantlets could thrive anywhere they fall. Once their roots are established, they can be very hard to eliminate since they can tolerate intense weather conditions.
Fun fact, the leaves of the mother of thousands produce more plantlets when it feels damaged or when death is imminent. Another is that when the mother plant blooms, expect for it to die soon.
Mother of millions
The mother of millions is a fellow Madagascar native of the mother of thousands. It goes by the scientific name Kalanchoe delagoensis. It is also a very rapid grower but most often than not, you would find more mother of millions than mother of thousands. As such, it goes with many names including Chandelier’s plant, devil’s backbone, Christmas bells and pregnant plant.
Perhaps, the names of this succulent are taken from its plantlets nature to grow on its leaves’ tips. A healthy leaf produces two to four plantlets on its tips. It is also invasive, treated like a weed because of its relentless growth. The plantlets also contain seeds which facilitate the plant’s survival even after it has been pulled out of the ground.
Table of similarities and differences between the two plants
At the outset, here are the most observable similarities and differences between the mother of thousands and the mother of millions. But to provide a more in-depth comparison of the two, we will go beyond this table in the following sections.
|Mother of thousands
|Mother of millions
|Mexican hat plant, alligator plant
|Chandelier plant, Christmas bells, pregnant plant
|Can tolerate intense temperature
|A succulent good for beginners; perfect as a container plant
What are the differences between Mother of thousands and Mother of millions?
If you see these two plants side by side for the first time, it is almost impossible to differentiate which is which. But here are some of the most notable differences between these two succulents that you should know about.
The main difference between the two can be spotted by the leaves. In terms of shape, the mother of thousands has broader leaves that tend to grow in pairs. They are tear-shaped and grow alternately on each side. The next set of growing leaves are somewhat rotated, making ample space for the old leaves to receive the same amount of sunlight.
On the other hand, the mother of millions has very narrow leaves. Unlike the thousands, the leaves of the millions do not grow in pairs or in an alternating fashion. You would find four to six leaves growing out from one stem. Its foliage is beautifully colored gray-green and purple.
Its leaves are also unique for the plantlets that grow from the edges. On the other hand, the mother of millions has narrower leaves with plantlets growing only at the tips. There are at least 2-4 plantlets growing in the narrow tips of the millions, hence the name Chandelier plant.
The stems of the mother of thousands are cylindrical, with a smooth surface and a grayish-green color.
Thousands bloom clusters of pink flowers in the spring while millions bloom red flowers in the winter.
The mother of thousands can only be propagated through plantlets as they cannot grow seeds. On the other hand, the mother millions can be propagated through seeds.
What are the similarities between Mother of thousands and Mother of millions?
The differences between the thousands and the millions are very subtle and could be missed out by the unknowing eye. But their similarities are unnerving so we will discuss them in this section.
First, both the thousands and the millions belong to the family Kalanchoe. Their native location is Madagascar. They are naturalized in many parts of the world for their ornamental value and their medicinal uses. They are natural analgesics, pain relievers, and many more. However, because they tend to be invasive, they can be considered weeds in many areas.
Second, both plants are treated like succulents. They both tolerate high heat and drought. They thrive with extensive sunlight, survive in loose and well-draining soil, and require infrequent watering (they can survive without water for months).
Third, they are self-propagating, literally. They have plantlets that grow from the leaves. The mother plant and the plantlets undergo photosynthesis together and grow together. They also have microscopic, brown seeds that can be suspended in the plantlets for years before they could fall to sprout.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Kalanchoe family is considered toxic to birds, dogs, cats, and even cattle. The plants belonging to this family, including the mother of thousands and the mother of millions, contain a toxin called bufadienolide. It is deadly because it causes the heart to change its rate sporadically. In severe instances, the toxin just causes the heart to stop beating.
When ingested by pets, the first symptom of poisoning would be stomach upset and vomiting. Symptoms could be more fatal when ingested at large. Nonetheless, in terms of toxicity level, the mother of thousands and the mother of millions are clustered in the mild to moderate or rarely severe plant toxicity category.
Are they invasive?
Because of their very rapid growth rate and high level of adaptation to any type of climate and soil condition, they are considered invasive weeds. As a matter of fact, it is uprooted upon sight because they have the tendency to invade vegetation indiscriminately.
Other than this, the seeds thrive even after the mother plant is pulled out. The plantlets are rapid growers too so you just cannot think that everything is eradicated.
These plants are so invasive that they are known to stump the growth of prized plants in the lawn. But for some intriguing reasons, some homeowners just control the rapid growth because these plants bloom clusters of beautiful flowers in the spring.
Related: 40 Flowering succulents
If you are considering having either a mother of thousands or a mother of millions soon, here are the varieties that you should check out for. Just a clarification, the varieties for these plants are listed in the same category:
- Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears, Miracle Leaf, Tree of Life)
- Kalanchoe laetiverens (Big Momma)
- Kalanchoe tubiflora (Chandelier plant)
- Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi (Gray Sedum, Amethyst scallops)
- Kalanchoe delagoensis
- Kalanchoe houghtonii (hybrid) (Mexican Hat Plant, Good Luck Plant, Devil’s Backbone)
- Kalanchoe pinnata (Goethe plant, Cathedral bells)
- Kalanchoe marnieriana (Lavender scallops)
There are a lot more out there, but you can surely start from this list.
They do not just have almost the same names and same looks, but their care requirements are also the same since they come from the same native location which is Madagascar. If you intend to have one of them soon, here are the care tips that you must memorize.
Both plants require 8-10hrs of direct sunlight every day. They could also tolerate indirect light occasionally but long exposures to it will weaken the leaves and stems.
These plants can fairly tolerate any climate or temperature. Nonetheless, optimum growth can be achieved at 20-28 degrees Celsius. While they could tolerate long hours of heat, they wilt or die when the temperature drops at 5degrees or on days of unrelentless snow. When that happens, you must move them where their ideal temperature range is met.
Soil and irrigation
Both plants prefer loose, well-draining soils. Interestingly, they are also spotted thriving in industrial zones or in building cracks. This means that these plants can survive on any substrate.
As succulents, they do not require frequent watering. At any rate, water accumulation in the leaves should be prevented if they are to survive. Over-watering will cause rots and other diseases brought about by fungi buildup. During the hottest months or during drought, they might require periodic watering.
Related: How to water succulents properly
They are survivors making them completely pest and disease resistant. They are only vulnerable to one pest and that would be mealybugs. They could also invite mollusk niching in the leaves and stems. When any of these happens, you have to change some growing conditions.
Where to buy these plants?
Since they are fast growers and are considered as weeds, you could just snip a leaf or plantlets and have its root somewhere. At the same time, since they are somewhat considered as succulents, seeds of the thousands and millions can be purchased in any store.
You can also check online stores on social media or find groups for plant enthusiasts where you could exchange one of your plants for a mother of thousands or a mother of millions.
To really say that you already know the differences and similarities between the mother of thousands and mother of millions, let us have a concise rundown of some frequently asked questions about the two plants.
How big does a mother of thousands get?
Fun fact, the more water a mother of thousands stores in its stems and leaves, the more that growth is encouraged. On average, the leaves of this plant could grow to up to 6inches in length and 3inches in width. The entire plant could grow to up to 3ft in height.
How long do kalanchoe plants live?
Another intriguing thing about these two plants is that they die after they bloom but at the same time could go on for years because the mother plant still houses a hoard of plantlets.
But since they are perennials, they technically live for more than a year before entering a dormant period.
Although perennials, flowering kalanchoe plants are still standouts because they have extended blooming periods. For example, the mother of thousands and the mother of millions have a six-month blooming period before the mother plant enters dormancy.
Why do kalanchoe leaves curl?
Curling kalanchoe leaves could be a sign of disease or wilting and it could be due to many reasons. One, it is a sign that the plant is not getting enough sunlight. Two, a curling leaf might also be a signal of poor irrigation, the need for fertilizer or water. Three, it could be a sign of fungi build-up in the root.
Notwithstanding these reasons, some kalanchoe plants really have naturally curled leaves like the Kalanchoe pinnata and even the mother of thousands. There might be other kalanchoe plant varieties with the curling leaf characteristic, so it is quite important that you get to know the variants of kalanchoe plants.
Indeed, the mother of thousands and the mother of millions need to be differentiated because even for the trained eye, they are looked at interchangeably. As members of the kalanchoe family, it is interesting to note significant differences between the two. At the same time, it is striking that they share more than just the peculiar appearance of kalanchoe plant varieties.
Knowing the care tips, basic profile, and growth behavior of the two shall help in narrowing down your choice if you ever need to choose one from them. Furthermore, the similarities and differences between the two can also be beneficial in controlling them if they ever go invasive.