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).

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 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. Can also be used as a focal point in xeriscapes.

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 will branch.

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.

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.

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 to cut away the dead vegetation and flower stalk. Offsets will soon spring forth to take its place.

Flapjack plant the K. thyrsifloraPin

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.

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

Temperatures of about 60° degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for these plants in winter. During the growing season, the plant tolerates temperatures between 60° and 85° degrees Fahrenheit.

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

Flapjack Succulent Watering & Feeding

Paddle Plant has medium water requirements and is fairly drought-tolerant. As with most succulents, overwatering can produce disastrous results.

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 of a cactus or succulent fertilizer. Do not fertilize during the fall and winter.

Soil & Transplanting

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

It prefers 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.

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.

How To Propagate Flapjack Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora

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

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

Flapjack plants can also be grown from seed.

Flapjack Succulent Paddle Plant Problems (Pests and Diseases)

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

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.

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.

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

Alternately it may be planted as an annual 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 indoors as a houseplant during the wintertime.

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