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How to care for a kalanchoe flapjack

Updated November 21, 2016

The kalanchoe thyrsiflora is easily recognised by its distinct foliage. When given enough sun, the large disc-shaped leaves develop a bright red or pink band that highlight the edges of the smooth, fleshy paddles. The leaves grow up to 6 inches in diameter, while the plant itself reaches heights of up to 2 feet. More commonly known as a flapjack or paddle plant, this desert native makes a unique and vivid potted plant. However, if you happen to live in a frost-free area, the kalanchoe also works as an impressive part of an outdoor garden.

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  1. Plant or place the kalanchoe in full sun. The kalanchoe can tolerate some shade, but the distinctive colour bands at the edges of the leaves only develop when the plant is given adequate light. The more sun the plant gets, the brighter the colour will be.

  2. Water the plant when the potting medium or surrounding soil is dry to the touch. Use tepid water since the kalanchoe is sensitive to cold temperatures. As a member of the cactus family, the kalanchoe is designed to conserve water. Overwatering discourages the growth and development of the plant. In winter, watering should be reduced to once every six weeks to mimic the natural conditions under which the kalanchoe thrives.

  3. Keep the plant warm. Take care not to place indoor pots near draughty areas during the winter. Protect outdoor plants during cold snaps by covering the foliage with a warm blanket overnight for added insulation.

  4. Spritz the leaves of the plant with water during the warmer months. Place indoor plants outside so they can benefit from fresh air and sunshine.

  5. Add a water-soluble fertiliser once every two weeks from March through August to achieve optimal plant growth. Be sure to dilute the solution by using twice as much water as the directions indicate. The kalanchoe has shallow roots. Using full-strength fertiliser chemically burns them.

  6. Wait for the plant to bloom. Each flower will produce a number of seeds that can be easily collected. After blooming, the plant will slowly die, and the seeds can be used for propagation. Alternatively, root or stem cuttings can also be used.

  7. Tip

    If planting outdoors, be sure to leave at least 4 feet between plants to allow for root growth. Add sand to the potting medium or planting site, if necessary, to ensure adequate drainage.

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Things You'll Need

  • Kalanchoe thyrsiflora plant
  • Tepid water
  • Spray bottle
  • Water-soluble fertiliser

About the Author

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.

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