Paddle Plant Care: How To Grow Flapjacks Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora

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The Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora) is a colorful, attractive succulent from South Africa. This herbaceous perennial succulent plant comes from the Crassulaceae or stonecrop family.

Red edges of the Kalanchoe thyrsiflora the paddle plantPin
Rose “paddles of Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (kal-un-KOH-ee thur-SEE-flor-uh) – image: Forest & Kim Starr [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The common names include:

  • Paddle succulent
  • Flapjacks
  • Desert Cabbage
  • Dog Tongue

The genus Kalanchoe is a misspelling, or a garble of the original Chinese name applied to various species of succulent herbs.

The specific epithet, thyrsiflora, refers to the thick cluster of flowers (thyrse) the plant produces at maturity (approximately three to four years of age).

Vibrant succulent leaves with red edgesPin
Photo Credit: Instagram @normasuculentas

Paddle Plant Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Kalanchoe thyrsiflora
  • Common Name(s): Paddle Flapjacks, Desert Cabbage, Flapjacks, Red Pancakes
  • Synonyms: Kalanchoe luciae, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora var. luciae
  • Family & Origin: Crassulaceae family, native to South Africa
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 10-12
  • Size: Can grow up to between 12″ to 30″ inches and spread as wide as 18″ inches.
  • Flowering: Produces small, yellow-green flowers on tall stalks in late winter to early spring
  • Light: Indirect bright light, but avoid direct sunlight coming through a glass window.
  • Humidity: Tolerates low humidity
  • Temperature: Can tolerate 60° and 85° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil: Well-draining soil, preferably sandy or rocky
  • Water: Allow soil to dry out completely between waterings; water sparingly in winter
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize once a month during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer
  • Pests & Diseases: Can be susceptible to mealybugs and root rot if overwatered
  • Propagation: Propagate through stem or leaf cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Makes a great addition to succulent gardens or as a potted plant indoors or outdoors. It can also be used as a focal point in xeriscapes.
Vibrant succulent plant with red-tipped leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @suculentasjardimbrilhante

Paddle Plant Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora Care

Size & Growth

Paddle plants can attain a height of between 12″ to 30″ inches and spread as wide as 18″ inches.

The round, large, fleshy, stalkless leaves, grayish-green in color have red margins on the edge combining to form a basal rosette.

Mature plants, as they age or flower branches.

Colorful succulent plant in a pot.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @crazycombos

NOTE: Kalanchoe luciae and Kalanchoe tetraphylla are Kalanchoe species very similar in appearance. K. luciae is often confused with Thyrsiflora.

Foliage grows in a rosette formation of broad, oval, flat leaves without stems stacked one upon another, like red pancakes.

When grown in protected areas the surface of the leaves have a white powdery covering which is easily wiped off.

The leaf edges reach upward to catch the sun and turn bright red when ample sunlight is provided.

This explains one of the plant’s common names, Flapjacks, which is also the name of one cultivar of this succulent.

Red succulent plant on pebble ground.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @getbusygardening

Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora Plant Flowers & Fragrance

Once mature, the paddle plant blooms in early spring – April through May.

The thick, pretty, lemon-yellow flowers surrounded by foliage rimmed in red are worth waiting for.

Although fairly small, the perfume is strong, swamping the area with the scent.

Flapjack plant the K. thyrsifloraPin

Flowers grow atop an 18-inch spike and are very attractive to bees and other pollinators.

The monocarpic paddle plant parent plant will die after flowering, but you should leave it in the pot or in place and simply cut away the dead vegetation and flower stalk. Offsets will soon spring forth to take its place.

Light & Temperature

Flapjack plants grow well in partial sun to full sun. Green leaves will color up to red if the plant is placed in full sun.

When kept as a houseplant, provide plenty of indirect bright light, but avoid direct sunlight coming through a glass window. This can burn the plant.

Red and green succulent leaves in sunlight.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @amiamieaustralia

Overwinter Dog Tongue in a cool, sunny setting. Water very sparingly.

In winter, these plants thrive at temperatures of about 60° Fahrenheit. During the growing season, they tolerate temperatures between 60° and 85° Fahrenheit.

The Paddle Plant succulent is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12.

Flapjack Succulent Watering & Feeding

Paddle Plant requires medium water and is fairly drought-tolerant. However, as with most succulents, overwatering can produce disastrous results.

Colorful succulent plant with red-tipped leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @crazycombos

Water deeply during the growing season when the soil becomes completely dry. Water sparingly in the wintertime.

During the growing season (spring through summer), you may wish to provide a light solution for a cactus or succulent fertilizer. Do not fertilize during the fall and winter.

Soil & Transplanting

The Flapjacks plant does well in typical coarse succulent potting soil with sharp drainage.

It prefers a potting mix that is slightly acidic with a pH value of 6.1 to 6.5; however, it can also do well in a neutral pH ranging from 6.6 to 7.3.

Vibrant red-green succulent close-up.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @paddleplanttime

Frequent repotting is not recommended. Like most succulents, Kalanchoe does well when slightly rootbound.

Plan to repot after the plant blooms and offsets appear.

Does Flapjack Plant Care Require Grooming & Maintenance?

The flapjack plant requires little or no grooming and maintenance. Simply prune away any dead or withered leaves, and clean up the plant by removing withered flower stalks after it finishes flowering.

Divide pups as desired for propagation.

Vibrant succulent in a pot on wooden surface.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @theplanthea

How To Propagate Flapjack Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora

Propagate paddle plants by replanting the offsets into their own individual pots.

Alternatively, you can take succulent cuttings or leaf cuttings and propagate them as you would any other succulent.

Red heart-shaped succulent plant in a pot.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram

Flapjack plants can also be grown from seed.

Flapjack Succulent Paddle Plant Problems (Pests and Diseases)

Paddle Plants experience little or no disease or pest problems as long as the plant is properly watered and receives plenty of sun and good air circulation.

Close-up of a red-tipped succulent plantPin
Photo Credit: Instagram @cactusysuculentassanjuan

Overwatering and/or excessive fertilizing can lead to problems with powdery mildew, root rot, mealybug succulent pests, plant scale, aphids, and mites.

Is K. Thyrsiflora Considered Toxic Or Poisonous To People, Kids, Pets?

All parts of the paddle plant are quite toxic and should be kept out of the reach of children and pets.

Vibrant succulent plants, red and green leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @sucstu

Wear gloves and long sleeves when handling the plant. Wash up promptly.

Check out our article – Is The Flapjack Plant Poisonous?

Are Flapjack Plants Considered Invasive?

There are many different species of Kalanchoe, and all are considered invasive in areas where they are winter hardy, such as Florida.

Uses For Kalanchoe Flapjack

The Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora succulent grows very well as a mass garden plant in winter hardy areas such as Florida.

Colorful succulent plant close-up.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram

It is a good candidate for the rock garden or in xeriscaping. In other areas, it is an excellent container plant.

Alternatively, it may be planted annually in any climate.

Flapjacks do well as indoor plants throughout most parts of the United States.

It makes an excellent container plant on the patio or in the garden during warmer weather and a houseplant indoors in the winter.

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