The Flapjack Succulent (Kalanchoe luciae) is also known as a Paddle Plant because of the paddle or clam-like shape of its leaves that form in rosette clusters.
It’s a striking house plant that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. In the right conditions, this drought-resistant plant can also be grown outside. It will only suit warm regions, but it’s one that can do well in states like Florida.
Flapjacks can grow quickly in wide clusters and work well for xeriscape landscapes or rock gardens in regions prone to droughts. Once mature, these plants can produce yellow shaded flowers in the spring, and the wide, thick, fleshy leaves can take on a striking red tinge around the edges in winter. This is why it’s sometimes also referred to as the Red Pancake.
The term Flapjack or Paddle Plant is often also used to refer to the less common species Kalanchoe thyrsiflora. Luciae is much more widely available, but it can often be mislabelled as thyrsiflora. The two plant types are very similar in terms of their appearance and growing requirements. The easiest way to spot the difference is when the mature plants grow long stem flower in late winter.
The luciae usually produces white flowers with a yellow tint around their second year, whereas the thyrsiflora heavily-scented flowers are a deeper yellow shade. Thyrsiflora also tend to have a white chalk-like film on their broader and shorter leaves.
How to Grow Flapjack Succulent
Providing your Flapjack Succulent gets plenty of natural light and warmth, it isn’t overwatered, and it’s planted or potted in soil with good drainage, you can expect rapid and healthy growth.
As you would expect from a succulent that is native to South Africa and the surrounding areas, the Flapjack likes a lot of sun. It can do fine in a partial sun position too.
If the plant gets enough light during the cooler winter months, its green leaves are more likely to develop the red tips that it’s known for.
In very hot, sunny summer months, you may need to offer your Flapjack a little protection against intense direct sunlight as this can result in damage to the leaves.
Flapjack Succulents prefer well-drained soil. A sandy or loamy variety that doesn’t retain too much moisture will help ensure they thrive.
If your plant is being grown indoors, make sure the pot you use has good drainage.
As you would expect with a succulent, Flapjacks are drought-tolerant, and great care should be taken not to overwater.
Make sure you allow the soil to dry out fully before rewatering deeply when the weather is hot.
During the winter, they will need very minimal watering or none at all.
Temperature and Humidity
Paddle Plants, like most succulents, thrive in dry and hot regions. They aren’t cold-hardy, and this is why they’re most often kept as house plants.
If winter temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping them as an indoor plant, or bringing them inside over winter is recommended.
They’re also not suited to very humid climates. Their natural environments are dry, arid landscapes.
Your Flapjack Succulent will appreciate being fed a balanced and diluted fertilizer during its growth period over the spring and summer. Once every couple of months should be more than enough.
Over-fertilizing, just like over-watering, can result in root rot or the formation of powdery mildew on these succulents.
Propagating Flapjack Succulents
Although these plants are monocarpic (they only flower once), they’re easy to propagate from. Mature and healthy specimens are fast-growing and readily produce new offsets.
They can be propagated from individual leaves or cuttings, but getting them to take is considerably more tricky. Leaves need to be dried for a couple of days before planting and it, ideally, needs to be a complete piece, without any being left on the stem.