Last updated on August 25th, 2023 at 12:33 pm
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, also known as flapjack kalanchoe, paddle succulent, flapjack succulent, or paddle plant, is one of the most popular succulents in the world because of its attractive flowers and interesting leaves.
This leafy succulent’s name comes from its paddle-like leaves, which can grow up to a foot in length and width, making it one of the larger varieties of kalanchoe. Its flowers are small and light yellow and grow on tall flower spikes that reach up to 5 feet in height!
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is a popular houseplant that can be purchased at most nurseries and garden stores. While it’s very easy to keep alive in just about any location with proper care, it can also be grown outdoors year-round in warmer climates if you’re willing to do some extra work. If you’ve got the right place and are ready to make some adjustments, growing your own paddle plant can be an easy and rewarding experience!
Cheap, easy to care for, and with an interesting leaf shape, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is one of the most commonly grown flowering houseplants in the United States today. But it’s also a fascinating plant that can be used as part of a science experiment to study cell division.
Origin and distribution
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is native to Madagascar. It has been introduced to Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa as well as Hawaii, where it was probably first grown for commercial purposes by Japanese immigrants around 1900. The species can now be found in gardens throughout much of tropical Africa and Oceania.
In addition to its native range, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora has become naturalized on several islands in French Polynesia, including Tahiti, Moorea, Bora-Bora and Raivavae.
In Australia it is widely cultivated but considered an invasive weed in Western Australia and South Australia; however, it is listed as a Weed of National Significance only in Western Australia.
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora propagation
The most common way to propagate paddle plant is through leaf cuttings. From a mature plant, use a razor blade or sharp knife to cut sections of leaves about 2 inches long. Remove any spines with tweezers, then dip each cutting in rooting hormone powder.
Make several clean cuts along one side of each leaf so that it can easily be folded in half. The more leaves you put into the rooting medium, the faster your young plants will grow up. Place each cutting into its own small pot filled with soil and water well.
Cover lightly and keep warm until new growth appears. It’s best to transplant seedlings once they have developed at least two sets of true leaves; they’ll need plenty of light but don’t want to dry out too quickly.
If you plan on growing Kalanchoe thyrsiflora outdoors, wait until all danger of frost has passed before planting outside. Paddle plant is a tropical succulent and should not be exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora care information
You’ll find lots of varieties of paddle succulents, but one of our favorites is Kalanchoe thyrsiflora. It’s an adorable succulent that you can recognize by its fluttering flowers that look like little paddle boats. Not only are these little guys cute to look at, they also tolerate several types of neglect and provide low-maintenance indoor plants.
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is a great indoor plant for bright, indirect light; it can also do well outdoors in partial shade. If your paddle succulent has leaves that droop or look tattered, then it needs more light.
Too much sun will burn its leaves and brown them up. In addition to light, water regularly during the spring and summer months. It doesn’t need as much water during fall and winter months when it’s not growing as quickly.
Plant Kalanchoe thyrsiflora in soil with good drainage. Use a 1:1 ratio of soil to perlite or coarse sand. Potting mix can be purchased at your local nursery or garden center. The potting mix should be damp, but not wet or muddy. Water thoroughly and allow the potting mix to dry out between waterings. Kalanchoe is a succulent plant and will die if left sitting in water for an extended period of time.
The Paddle Plant is a succulent plant, so it should be grown in soil that’s both light and well-draining. Maintain your Paddle Plant’s soil by watering it only when its soil is dry to touch.
When growing Kalanchoe thyrsiflora indoors, use a good houseplant fertilizer with an equal amount of phosphorus and potassium once a month during growth. Plants in containers will require more frequent watering than those in a garden.
Flapjack kalanchoes are active growers, so they’ll benefit from extra fertilizer when they’re actively growing and producing flowers. Keep soil slightly moist but not soggy.
Flapjack kalanchoes thrive in well-drained soil and warm temperatures, especially if they’re grown in full sun. Feed them once a month with all-purpose plant food to boost growth, enhance color and keep them happy.
Over time, your plants will become leggy and floppy, rather than waste away, cut off bottom leaves to encourage new growth at their stems’ bases.
Fertilizing a Kalanchoe thyrsiflora plant during its blooming period encourages larger and more numerous flowers. Use an all-purpose fertilizer at half strength, as directed on the label. Fertilize your kalanchoe every two weeks for best results.
To help avoid burn, do not overfertilize or apply fertilizer too close to direct sunlight. When in doubt, less is more when it comes to fertilizers. Be sure to thoroughly water any fertilizer you use into the soil so that it doesn’t remain on top of leaves where it can burn them.
The most important thing to note about temperature is that it needs to be cool. The ideal temperature for your plant is between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a place where temperatures frequently reach above 90 degrees, you will need to provide supplemental watering for your plant.
As with most succulents, Kalanchoe does not like to have wet feet. It can suffer from root rot if allowed to sit in water for too long.
Paddle plants are typically from arid or semi-arid environments, so they do well in areas with low humidity. If you’re growing them indoors, a humidifier is not recommended, but if you live in a particularly dry environment, an air conditioner may be your best bet for Paddle plant care.
The ideal humidity range is 40-60% RH. If you’re growing them outdoors, you’ll want to keep them in an area with similar humidity levels. You can use a hygrometer to measure your current humidity level, and then adjust it accordingly.
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora do not need to be pruned. Be careful not to overwater them, as they are susceptible to root rot if you keep them constantly soggy. Also, be mindful of overwatering when transplanting from one container to another: Don’t water until you see new growth on top of it in a week or two; otherwise, it may suffer from shock.
If your plant is getting too big for its pot, consider repotting it into a larger pot with fresh soil. Keep an eye out for pests and signs of disease such as yellow leaves and wilting plants, these can indicate that your plant needs more light or less water.
When to repot
Paddle plant kalanchoes are small, fast-growing succulents that do best when grown in small pots. Every three to four years is a good time to repot these plants. When they grow too large for their pot, they develop yellow leaves on top of dark green leaves.
As long as there are still some green leaves along with yellow ones, you can cut off part of your paddle plant’s fleshy roots and replant them in a larger pot or in another location. This will give it more room to grow while helping it retain its current size. If all of its leaves turn yellow, however, it’s likely too far gone and should be discarded.
In tropical regions, paddle plant is a perennial that returns every year. In temperate regions, it will be grown as an annual or biennial. Regardless of region, you must treat Kalanchoe thyrsifloras as dormant in the winter months and keep them protected from cold winds and extreme temperatures.
Because of their high water content, these plants have no need for any special treatment during dormancy except to leave them undisturbed in their pots until they start growing again. If you live in a colder climate, consider moving your kalanchoes into a greenhouse or other sheltered area during the fall and winter months.
If you live in a warmer climate with mild winters, such as California’s Central Valley, you can leave your kalanchoes outside all year long, they’ll simply go dormant when nighttime temperatures drop below 50 degrees F. Bring your kalanchoes back indoors when daytime temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees F.
This may occur as early as March in Southern California, but might not happen until May in Northern California. Wait until nighttime temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees before bringing them indoors for good.
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora flower & fragrance
In late summer, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora blooms with clusters of flowers that resemble single blossoms. The scent is not overpowering, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it smells like. Some say it resembles pineapple and coconut.
Whatever it smells like, its scent is sweet and will help mask any less fragrant aromas in your home or office during the flowering season. Flowers are large compared to most houseplants, measuring up to 6 inches across when fully open.
The paddle plant is a fairly slow-growing succulent, meaning it will grow a few inches per year. It’s ideal for people who don’t want to be quite so hands-on with their houseplant. Most kalanchoes do better if they are allowed to dry out slightly between waterings, and then give them lots of sunlight and not too much water.
The most common problem with Kalanchoe thyrsiflora comes from its leaves and flowers, which contain toxic calcium oxalate crystals. Keep them away from pets and children. Note that just because a plant is labeled toxic doesn’t mean it will cause harm if ingested, in some cases, plants with toxic ingredients can actually be used as food for humans or animals.
USDA hardiness zones
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12. In colder climates, it’s a good idea to grow paddle plants indoors or outdoors as an annual. Paddle plant can be grown outdoors year-round in regions with mild winters and warm summers.
If you’re growing it indoors, make sure to place it near a sunny window with plenty of natural light. You can also supplement its indoor lighting with artificial light if necessary.
Pests and diseases
Pests are few and far with Kalanchoe thyrsiflora. Whiteflies can be an issue, but they generally don’t do a lot of damage to paddles. It’s easier to eliminate them if you catch them before they multiply than if you try to eradicate a large infestation; many homeowners choose to use insecticidal soap or neem oil spray in these instances.
Aphids also like to feast on paddle plants, so check for them regularly. You can wash aphids off with water from your garden hose or wipe them away with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Scale insects may appear as small brown bumps on your kalanchoe’s leaves, these can be removed by pruning infected leaves from your plant.
The flapjack kalanchoe, or Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, is a pretty foliage plant that gives an almost tropical feel to any home. Paddle plants are relatively easy to care for; however, they are not without their quirks.
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora prefers a lot of sunlight and will thrive in warm temperature settings with high humidity levels. It’s important to remember that although the paddle plant thrives in bright light, too much exposure will cause leaf tips to become brown and crispy.