I have a patch of Paddle Plants (aka Red Pancakes, Flapjack Plant and Desert Cabbage) growing in my front garden, but did you know they an interesting yet easy houseplant? Yup, it’s true. I bought this plant direct from the grower right here in Santa Barbara 8 years ago as Kalanchoe thrysifolia but now they say on their website it’s actually Kalanchoe luciae. This happens in the world of plants, but regardless of the botanic name, this plant is 1 to consider if you have bright light and can practice restraint with the liquid love.
here’s that red edging on those scalloped leaves which makes this plant so desirable – you need lots of light to bring it out
Some Of Our General Houseplant Guides For Your Reference:
- Guide To Watering Indoor Plants
- Beginner’s Guide To Repotting Plants
- 3 Ways To Successfully Fertilize Indoor Plants
- How to Clean Houseplants
- Winter Houseplant Care Guide
- Plant Humidity: How I Increase Humidity For Houseplants
- Buying Houseplants: 14 Tips For Indoor Gardening Newbies
- 11 Pet-Friendly Houseplants
Find out lots more here:
Here’s my paddle plant patch in the front garden which provides me with lots of cuttings. The 1 that you see in these pics and the video is taken from there. As an experiment, it has lives half of the year inside and half of the year outside.
This is the 411 on taking care of them indoors:
As bright as possible, near a west or south window, but not in it. It’ll burn up against the glass or in the window.
As I said, be stingy – overwatering will rot this plant out in no time. Wait until the soil has almost completely dried out until you water it again. And with all houseplants, water less in the winter.
As I always say, if your house is comfortable to you, it’ll be comfortable to your plants. And because this is a succulent, the dry air won’t bother it at all.
Once a year is just fine, preferably in spring . You can use whatever organic fertilizer you use on your other houseplants like Organics RX.
Mealybugs are what you have too look out for followed by aphids. You can find out more about these pests & how to control them in my book Keep Your Houseplants Alive.
This Kalanchoe luciae will grow slowly indoors, but if you’re patient, it’s definitely worth the wait. If you travel a lot this plant is a good choice because of its low water and care needs. No need to fuss over this gem of a plant. Have any of you grown the Paddle Plant (aka Red Pancakes, Flapjack Plant, Desert Cabbage) as a houseplant?
when those babies (or pups) get big enough you can remove them if you’d like to propagate more plants
here’s my patch – as you can see, outdoors they happily clump & spread
In case you’re interested, here are a couple of how to’s I did on propagating & planting your cuttings:
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Happy to have found your site. Maybe you can explain to me why the leaves on my Paddle plant are curling. Seems healthy, but I don’t think this is right.
Hi Marian – Glad you found it too. There’s a variety of PP which has wavy leaves so that could be it. generally, when plant leaves curl, the plant is too dry. Nell
I’m such a fan of your blog/youtube.
I’m living in Toronto, Canada, and I have a “paddle plant” that sits indoors, near an east facing window. It gets bright direct sun in the morning, and indirect light the rest of the day. I’ve noticed that it’s leaves have lost the red around their edges, and they also droop down, as apposed to standing straight up.
Hi Michael –
Thank you so much, glad you dropped by! The drooping leaves & loss of red around the edges are both symptoms of not enough light. The plant will eventually get leggy too. Nell
Some brown spots on a couple leaves I had white mild dew on main stem but I treated with pesticide from HD. Any idea why Brian sports?
Hi – The brown spots could be an insect called scale (which scrapes off) or leaf spot due to over watering or too damp conditions. The mildew on the stem could mildew or the natural white powdery coating which protects the plant from loosing too much water in hot spells. Nell
Thank you Nell, so sad the huge leaves 8×5″ of my paddle just fell off literally and the 9″ stalk/main stem collapsed the next day once the stalk collapsed I squeezed the stalk and a column of sticky “plant marrow” poked out I also looked at root ball roots looked as they did when I transplanted it 3 weeks ago; the soil was cool but not wet and 3/4″ of perimeter soil and top layer was totally dry.
My daughter lives in a very small town in TX, near the Mexican border.. she found this paddle-plant at Walmart — it went from her window sill to outdoors, in a matter of MONTHS!! Bigger than 2-plates!! And she can’t find another! She’s asked at garden shops and have NO clue . She wants to buy more but , Walmart only had that “one”. it has the red markings but , is it really a paddle plant?
Hi Cheryl – She probably has a Kalanchoe luciae. The K. thrysifolia looks the same but is more green with chalky white. The degree of redness varies depending on the environmental conditions. There’s a newer jazzier variety of the luciae called “Fantastic” which you can look up. Hope that helps, Nell
I’ve been searching everywhere for an answer, but i cant find one. Do you know if Kalanchoe luciae plants have a scent? i swear i can smell something, but the two people ive asked cant.
Hi Sarah – My Kalanchoe thrysofilia flowers have scent. To the best of my understanding, K. luciae flowers don’t have a scent. These plants are very similar in form but vary in coloration. Nell
So I have a very happy paddle plant in my college dorm room but I noticed the lower leaves are starting to brown and shrivel up. Do I need to pull these off/do anything or just let them be?
Thank you 🙂
Hi Hannah – What a great plant for your dorm room! The lower leaves eventually die off on this plant – it’s just how it grows. You can gently pull them off now or wait until they’re totally brown. Nell
Hi Nell, I a Flapjack (not sure if it’s K. thrysifolia or luciae, but over the four months it developed an extra-chalky substance on the edge of leaves and the leaves were looking a bit droopy. I haven’t been able to find any descriptions of such a blight anywhere else but you seem knowledgeable and I hope you can advise. A few other things to know: I kept the plant outdoors but away from bright light for the first two months (bad I know). Then I repotted it into a shallow but wide terra outta dish using pretty rich potting soil (also bad). I moved it indoors to a north facing window. I haven’t over-watered. Today I took it back of the pot, sprayed off the white stuff and will put it in a tighter pot with more sand and in a MUCH brighter window. Can you tell me though what that white stuff was? Will my solutions fix it? I have a houseplant insecticide spray if needed. Thanks!
Hi Lauren – If it’s chalky & powdery like you say, it’s could the protective coating these Kalanchoes develop to aid them in retaining water. Mine always got it outside. Powdery mildew is also common on these plants, especially indoors, due to be kept too moist. You say the leaves are drooping, but only a bit. But, powdery mildew isn’t “chalky”. Check out pictures of these 2 causes to determine which it is. Nell
Hi Nell, keep up the good work with the blog and your youtube channel. Is it possible to propagate the paddle plant in December by stem or leaf cutting? Thank you.
Thank you John. Spring & summer are the best times to propagate succulents (& most plants) but you can really do it at any time of year. My Paddle Plant is taking over my mixed succulent pot so I’ll take the cuttings sometime in January. Nell
I live in west Tx and have brought my red pancake kalonchoes inside for the winter. They have grown a stalk abt 5 ft tall with the tiny little yellow flowers. Will I need to cut the stalk off at some point? Thank you.
Hi Nancy – Yes, I always cut the bloom off because leaving it on can cause the plant to become spindly. I’ve found the longer you leave it on, the more babies will be produced. Nell
hello! what do you do with the parent plant after removing the pup from the stalk? do you let the incision callous out as well before repotting or can you dab some cinnamon on it and repot without callousing over? thank you!
Nell Foster says
Hi Court – Pups should form on the base &/or the stalk of the mother plant. You can leave it & plant the propagated part back in. Yes, I always let paddle plants callus for at least 2-3 weeks before planting.I’m just about to prune mine so that post should b up next month. Nell
Hello! I have a how to plant that is very slow growing. Used to be in very bright light but I moved to a home that has a Northwest facing window. It doesn’t have any red, but it’s very healthy and it seems to be doing well. I want to put it outside so it can get brighter light, but it only gets to about 50 degrees at night here and 45 right now during the day. Is that too low of a temperature to put it outside to get some direct light for half an hour?
Nell Foster says
Hi Wendy – My Paddle Plants grow outside here in Tucson where the evening temps in winter dip into the low 30’s. They can take temps down to 25-30 so yours will be fine. Nell
Hi! I have a paddle plant that is growing pups on the bottom just like your top photo on this post. I was wondering how large I should let the pups get before removing them from the mother plant? Tha
Hi Nell I have a giant paddle plant that is creating new ones like crazy. The “pups” are the size of dessert plates now do you think it would be safe to split them off and replant? If so, how would you recommend and where should I cut? The stems are about the diameter of a quarter
Nell Foster says
Hi Chelsea – I usually let them grow to 4-5″ before removing. I’m posting this afternoon on Paddle Plant propagation by cuttings – you might want to check that out! Nell
Nell Foster says
Hi Mila – Spring is a great time to propagate. Take them as close to the stem as possible. I just did a post on pruning mine: https://www.joyusgarden.com/paddle-plant-propagation/ Nell
Erin Miller says
Hi! I have a paddle plant and purchased it a few months ago. It looks much worse now, all the leaves are curling downward. One top lead is drying up and all leaves have brown spots on them. How can I save this?
I dropped a small paddle plant and broke a few of the leaves in half. What do I do to help it overcome this disaster? Or should I just start over? I am really sad it fell. I am moving to the Tucson area soon and bought this to get started understanding succulents. It was doing very well.
Nell Foster says
Hi Erin – I’m not sure what the cause is but perhaps sunburn, too wet, lack of light, edema or scale. If any part of the plant looks like it can be propagated by stem cuttings, I’d start another plant. Here’s a post on that: https://www.joyusgarden.com/paddle-plant-propagation/ Nell
Nell Foster says
Wendy – I recently moved to Tucson & my Paddle Plant is doing very well. It’s best to propagate by whole leaf cuttings & not half. You can always cut the plant back a bit & let those pups (babies) form. You can see that in this post: https://www.joyusgarden.com/paddle-plant-propagation/ Nell
Rhonda hollister says
I was told that after a flapjack blooms, it dies. Is this true?
Nell Foster says
Yes it’s true Rhonda. But the plant will produce many pups before dying. Nell
Hi. I just bought a desert cabbage for my dark bathroom. It’s developing new leaves. Thanks to your blog, I realised I should shift it to a brighter spot. Do you have any suggestion which plant I could grow in my bathroom?
Nell Foster says
Hi D – Low light is 1 thing but dark is another. No houseplant will survive in the dark. Here are some plants which tolerate lower light conditions: Snake Plants, Cast Iron Plant, ZZ Plant, Aglaonema Maria & Jade Pothos. Hope that helps, Nell