How to Care for a Kalanchoe Flapjack
Grow the succulent kalanchoe flapjack or paddle plant outside or indoors. Give it the water, fertilizer and special care it needs to thrive.
With large paddle-shaped fleshy green leaves edged in red, flapjack kalanchoe (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora), more commonly called simply flapjack, it makes a visual splash in the garden. It grows between 10 inches and 2 feet tall in a rosette pattern with the leaves growing out of the center stalk. Flapjack grows outdoors in U. S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11 or as a houseplant. You can also treat it as an annual in cooler climates. A low-maintenance perennial succulent, flapjack needs minimal care to thrive.
Flapjack or flapjacks goes other common names, including paddle plant, dessert cactus and dog tongue. When you look at the rounded, fleshy leaves, you'll see where these descriptive names came from.
Fertilize flapjack two to four times per year with the first application in the spring when new growth starts. Apply the last fertilizer in the fall then stop through the winter. Use a slow-release, balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 product, to supply continuous nutrients between feedings. Use 1 tablespoon for each 1 square foot of area around each plant. For larger beds, use 1 cup per 30 for each square feet.
Flapjack is a drought-tolerant succulent. Allow the soil to dry out on top between waterings. When watering, soak the soil 6 inches deep.
Outdoors, flapjack is a good fit for rock gardens, rock walls and border areas.
Fertilizing Container Plants
Fertilize a container-grown flapjack every other week with 1/2 teaspoon of balanced 15-15-15 fertilizer. Mix the fertilizer into 1 gallon of water and use it to water the plant.
Watering Container Plant
Water a flapjack in a planter until the soil is thoroughly damp and extra water starts to leak out the drainage holes in the bottom, then wait to water until the top of the soil looks dry.
Grow the flapjack in a terra cotta pot that has at least one drainage hole in the bottom. The hole allows excess water to drain out, preventing excess water from pooling around the roots while the porous nature of the terra cotta pot material helps air circulate around the roots.
In USDA zones 9 and below, grow flapjack in planters outdoors in the summer and overwinter them inside. In fall, before the first freeze, move the pots to a sunny spot that stays between 50 and 60 F. Stop fertilizing for the winter and water only when the soil feels dry. In spring, after the last frost, return the container-grown flapjack outside.
As an alternative, treat this succulent as a warm-season annual in frost-prone climates. Simply allow the first frost to kill off the plant, remove the dead material and replant in spring after the last expected frost date in your area.
Flapjack grows well in pots, either indoors or outside. Indoors, set the bots in a bright room with indirect light, ideally in a spot between 50 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Outside, keep the pots in a sunny area of the patio or porch or set the planters in the garden.
Pests and Problems
Flapjack doesn't attract pests and rarely suffers from diseases and other problems.
Pruning and Trimming
This tidy succulent doesn't require any pruning or trimming during or after the growing season. The only exception is the flower stalk. After the flapjack flowers, cut out the dead flower stalk where it attaches to the main plant. Flapjack is grown as a foliage plant, and flowers only appear after three to four years, so in general you can get by without any pruning.
After trimming the flower stalk, clean your pruning shears by soaking them for five minutes in a mixture of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. Rinse the tools and allow them to air-dry before you store them.
Eulalia Palomo has been a professional writer since 2009. Prior to taking up writing full time she has worked as a landscape artist and organic gardener. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University. She travels widely and has spent over six years living abroad.