Succulents

Guide to Kalanchoe Luciae: How to Grow & Care for “Flapjack” or “Paddle Plant”

Read our complete guide to Kalanchoe Luciae for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing and caring for Flapjack succulents/Paddle Plants.
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Kalanchoe Luciae is a dramatic-looking evergreen succulent that shouldn’t be missing from your succulent collection. This perennial belongs to the Crassulaceae family and it thrives in sunny areas as it is endemic to South Africa, Madagascar, Cyprus, Malaysia, and Indochina.

Like most South African succulents, the Kalanchoe Luciae has large fleshy leaves that form a basal rosette. They are light green with reddish margins and can be found under many different names such as Flapjack, Paddle Plant, Flipping Pancakes, Northern White Lady, Desert Cabbage, Red Pancakes, or Paddle Kalanchoe.

The origin of its name is shrouded in mystery. Some believe that the word Kalanchoe might be a variation on the phonetic transcription ‘Kalan Chauhuy’ (Chinese), which would loosely translate to ‘something that falls and grows’. This might be connected to the fact that many succulents shed some of their leaves.

Others suggest that the word ‘Kalanchoe’ might come two ancient Indian words ‘kalanka’ which means ‘spot’ or ‘rust’ and ‘chaya’ which means ‘glossy’. This makes sense if you think of the color and the overall aspect of the Flapjack succulent.

Kalanchoe Luciae, also known as a Paddle plant
Kalanchoe Luciae, also known as a Paddle plant

We also have two possible explanations for the second part of the name – ‘Luciae’ which could either refer to Saint Lucia Park, a place in South Africa where Flapjack succulents are endemic or it might honor a woman named Mademoiselle Lucy Dufour, who was a close acquaintance of Raymond Hamet, the French botanist who authored this species in 1908.

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About Kalanchoe Luciae

  • It is a monocarpic succulent which means that it flowers once and then it dies. But you don’t have to worry because monocarpic plants produce a lot of offsets or pups. So, you’ll always have several tiny Flapjack succulents to replace the one that reaches maturity, flowers, and withers.
  • The Flapjack succulent thrives in full to partial sun and it does not tolerate cold temperatures.
  • It can be planted in outdoor gardens if the temperatures don’t go below 20° F (-6.7° C).
  • If you live in an area with cold winters, the best option is to grow the Kalanchoe Luciae in a container that can be moved indoors when temperatures start to drop.
  • Like most succulents, it needs at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. So, if you grow it indoors, make sure you place it near a South-facing window.
  • It doesn’t need a lot of water and the best way to avoid overwatering it is to use the ‘soak and dry’ technique (wait for the soil to dry out completely in-between waterings).
  • The Kalanchoe Luciae can be propagated successfully from offsets, leaves, or cuttings.
  • It is a winner of the Award of Garden Merit, a prestigious award given by the Royal Horticultural Society.
  • Their flowers are quite interesting, but Flapjack succulents are usually prized for their unique foliage.
  • The leaves, stems, and flowers of the Kalanchoe Luciae are toxic to pets. The flowers are more poisonous than the other parts.

Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora, Available from Amazon

Kalanchoe Luciae Features: An Overview

  • The leaves of the Kalanchoe Luciae are smooth and flat and arranged in rosettes. They get a beautiful red tint if the plant gets a lot of sunlight. Cool winter temperatures can also make the leaves turn a vibrant red.
  • This unique succulent grows up to 11-23 inches (30-60 cm) in height and 23-35 inches (60-90 cm) in width. Its rounded leaves are approximately 8 inches (20 cm) long and 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) wide.
  • It has beautiful yellow, cream, or pink flowers with a sweet fragrance that will usually bloom in late winter and early spring.
  • Kalanchoe Luciae can be mistaken for Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora as the two are quite similar and closely related. One difference between the two is the fact that Kalanchoe Luciae turns redder when exposed to sunlight than the latter, which remains a light green. Another notable difference can be noticed in their flowers – the flowers of the K. Luciae grow in clusters and are urn-shaped, while the flowers of the K. Thyrsiflora are cylindrical and a darker yellow.
  • Luciae is much rarer than K. Thyrsiflora, so be extra careful when buying it.
Beautiful colored leaves
Beautiful colored leaves

Growing Kalanchoe Luciae

Native to South Africa, Flapjack succulents can be easily grown in well-drained soil. They love full sun and partial shade and tolerate dry environments with extreme heat and salt, but cannot withstand temperatures that are lower than 20° F (-6.7° C).

These adorable plants are an excellent choice for indoor and outdoor succulent gardens, coastal gardens, Mediterranean gardens, and containers. You can use Flapjack succulents in arrangements as they pair well with Echeverias, Aloes, and other rosette-shaped succulents.

To ensure that your Flapjack succulent is happy and healthy, plant it in a place where it will receive at least six hours of bright sunlight per day.

Intense sunlight will encourage the plant to turn its leaves a vivid red, but ideally, the plant should get some shade during the hottest part of the day. The total shade is not recommended as it can cause the plant to grow in a weird shape as they bend towards the sun.

During spring and summer months, you can feed your Flapjack succulents with fertilizer. Because succulents have a slow growth process, they shouldn’t be over-fed, so, if you plan on using a general-purpose fertilizer, make sure you dilute it to half strength. But it’s highly recommended to use a fertilizer that was created specifically for cacti and succulents.

Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix is recommended

As mentioned above, K. Luciae succulents are monocarpic, so the parent plant will wither and die at the end of the flowering season. When that happens, the tiny offsets should be replanted in separate containers. But, before you do that make sure you let the offsets consume all the nutrients of the parent plant while it withers completely.

Watering Kalanchoe Luciae

Flapjack succulents don’t need a lot of water and they can survive for extended periods in dry soil. If you have a busy schedule, travel a lot, and forget to water the plants once in a while, this is the perfect plant for you.

However, it is not recommended to avoid watering these succulents altogether. The watering technique that works best for Kalanchoe Luciae, and succulents in general, is called ‘soak and dry’ and it consists of allowing the soil to dry completely in-between waterings.

Like most succulents, Kalanchoe Luciae will rot quickly if it sits in muddy soil. During the winter months, you can water less frequently, only when the leaves start to look a bit dehydrated or shriveled.

To control and moderate soil drainage, moisture, and temperature and avoid root rot, spread a thin layer of gravel or sand on the soil. The material shouldn’t touch the succulent’s stem because the summer sun can make it too hot thus damaging the plant.

How to Water Succulents
How to Water Succulents: Complete Beginner’s Guide

Propagating Kalanchoe Luciae

Being a monocarpic plant, the Kalanchoe Luciae plant will start to die once it has flowered. But, as a tradeoff for surviving for such a short time, this awesome succulent will endow you with several offsets or baby plants. Therefore, the easiest way to propagate your Flapjack succulent is by replanting these offsets separately in smaller containers filled with lightly moisturized succulent soil mix.

Another effective propagation method is by taking leaf cuttings in spring or summer with a clean and sharp knife. These cuttings should be left aside for a few days until the cut end callouses after which you can place them on moisturized soil and wait for them to root.

How to Propagate Succulents
How to Propagate Succulents

If you’re propagating your plant through offsets or cuttings, remember to keep the soil lightly moist until they acclimatize to the new environment. The soil should never be soggy though because too much moisture will lead to rot. As soon as the plants show signs of new growth, you can water them as you would a mature K. Luciae plant.

You can also propagate Flapjack succulents by sowing the seeds which are very fine and have a light brown color. Before putting them in the succulent soil mix, the seeds should be treated with a pre-emergence fungicide because they are quite susceptible to fungal diseases.

In conclusion

Kalanchoe Luciae is a truly special evergreen plant that has beautiful leaves and sweet-smelling flowers. It is also a monocarpic succulent, which means that the parent plant will wither and die after flowering. But that is not an issue because you’ll most likely have plenty of tiny offsets that you can replant in separate containers.

The great thing about this succulent is that it’s very easy to grow. It only needs a little water and lots of sunlight. The leaves of the Flapjack succulent turn red if they get plenty of sunlight, but it’s highly recommended to give the plant some shade if it’s too hot outside.

The plant is toxic for pets, but for some reason, slugs and snails seem to like it and they can damage the plant quite severely. So, make sure your furry babies don’t get the chance to munch on your Flapjack succulents and keep an eye out for slugs and snails and remove them as soon as you notice them.

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Miruna Secuianu

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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