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Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora Care – (AKA Paddle Plant – Desert Cabbage)

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is a succulent with paddle shaped leaves which get quite red on the margins in brighter sunlight. These paddle plant care tips will help you get the most out of your plant.

This plant is often confused with another, more common succulent, known as kalanchoe luciae. (Both have a similar look and the common name paddle plant, among others.)

The tender succulent is drought tolerant and performs best in full sun and warm conditions, although it can tolerate a light frost.

It is easy to grow and has quite a dramatic look when the plant gets to a mature size.

If you are looking for a plant which is great for those with a brown thumb, kalanchoe thyrsiflora is a good choice for you. It is perfect for those new to growing succulents.

Group of paddle plants, some with colorful margins.

Kalanchoe are a genus of succulents that are often seen at garden centers. They are grown as stand alone plants or in dish gardens of mixed succulents.

Facts about kalanchoe thyrsiflora

Brush up on your knowledge of kalanchoe thyrsiflora with these fun facts about the plant.

  • Family: Crassulaceae
  • Botanical name: kalanchoe thyrsiflora
  • Common names: paddle plant, desert cabbage, red pancakes, kalanchoe flapjack, flapjack succulent plant, kalanchoe bronze beauty, thyrsus kalanchoe
  • Native to:  In its natural habitat, it is found in regions of South Africa, particularly the provinces of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Mature size: Grows up to 24 inches tall (60 cm) and 6-8 inches wide (15-20 cm) Can be over 3 feet tall when flowering.
  • Hardiness zones: Cold hardy in zones 9a to 12. In other zones, grow it as an indoor plant.
  • Bloom time: Late winter to early spring
  • Toxicity: The plant is poisonous to dogs and cats.

Kalanchoe succulent in a planter.

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora care

Growing paddle plant is relatively easy. Here’s a guide on how to grow and care for this tender succulent:

Sunlight needs

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora prefers bright, indirect sunlight. Place it in a location where it receives plenty of light throughout the day.

Paddle plant in an orange pot near a sunny window.

A south-facing or west-facing window is ideal. Outdoors, give the plant full to part sun. In very hot, dry climates, plants will benefit from afternoon shade to protect them from the sun during the hottest part of the day.

All succulents enjoy being brought outdoors during the summer months. With enough sun, the plant’s leaves will develop attractive red edges.

Watering requirements for kalanchoe thyrsiflora:

A good way to water paddle plant succulent is the “soak and drain” method.  To do this, bring the plant to the sink and give it a good soak, allowing the water to drain out of the drain hole in the bottom of the pot.

Be sure to let the soil to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so it’s essential to let the top inch of soil dry before watering again.

When planting succulents, it’s best to choose a container with a drainage hole on the bottom.

Hand holding a blue and white watering can over some paddle plants.

Water sparingly during the winter months when the plant is dormant. 

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Soil needs for paddle plant

Because of its native habitat, the plant is adapted to survive in dry environments. Growing it in soil that replicates those conditions is beneficial for its overall health.

Like all succulents, a well draining soil mix is needed for paddle plant to protect the roots.  You can choose a specially formulated soil for succulents, or add perlite and coarse sand to ordinary potting soil.

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora likes a slightly acidic to alkaline soil with a soil pH of about 6 – 7.4. 

How to fertilize 

Look for a fertilizer that with a balanced N-P-K (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) ratio, or use a diluted succulent fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer).

Avoid fertilizing during the dormant winter months.

Monitor paddle plant succulent for any signs of over-fertilization, such as leaf discoloration or wilting. If you notice this, reduce the frequency or strength of the fertilizer.

Humidity and ideal temperature range 

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora prefers warm temperatures and dry conditions.

The plant prefers temperatures between 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C) during the day. The foliage will be damaged at around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, (-1 Celsius) but paddle plants can survive a light frost.

Too humid conditions can lead to fungal infections.

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora flowers and foliage

It is easy to see why the common names came to be when looking at the shape of its leaves. They are flat, paddle-shaped, and often described as resembling stacked pancakes or clamshells.

Leaves can be a range of colors, including shades of green, red, or purple. The leaf margins may have a red or maroon tint if the plant gets enough sunlight.

Red leaf margins of kalanchoe thyrsiflora.

They are arranged in a rosette form.

The surface of the leaves is smooth and is sometimes covered with a powdery, waxy coating, called “farina.” I have often seen this coating along the stem area.

This powdery substance aids in water and temperature regulation and acts as a resistance to insects and a repellent for dust.

Powdery coating on the stem of a paddle plant.

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora may produce flowers during its blooming season, typically in late winter or early spring. The flowers sit on tall, sturdy stalks that emerge from the center of the rosette.

They are typically yellow (or orange) and may form clusters. Removing spent kalanchoe thyrsiflora flower stalks can encourage more blooms.

Cluster of flowers on kalanchoe thyrsiflora.

Diseases and insects

Like most succulents, fungal diseases caused from over-watering are something to be on the look out for. This could show itself with limp leaves that easily fall off.

The plant is generally resistant to pests but watch out for mealybugs and aphids which can be a problem.

Mealy bugs show up as tiny white insects that have a cotton- like look to them. Wash aphids off with a spray of water or use Neem oil to treat them.


Note about toxicity: One should always take care growing plants around small children and pets.

Even though some plants are considered safe, children and animals often like to chew on them. This might give mild affects once they are ingested.

According to the ASPCA, all kalanchoe varieties are toxic to both dogs and cats. Signs of poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, and (more rarely) abnormal heart rhythm.

Offset of a paddle plant in a pot with soil.

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora propagation

Get new plants for free by propagating paddle plant with offsets or leaf cuttings. Allow the cuttings to callus for a day before planting them in soil.

Offset plants can be separated from the mother plant and will grow easily. I have a tray of succulent cuttings that have been growing since last summer and my kalanchoe offsets are doing beautifully now!

Paddle plant offsets in a propagation tray.

It’s a good idea to prune away dead or damaged leaves to improve the plant’s appearance. This is also a great time to take cuttings.

Where to purchase kalanchoe thyrsiflora

Check the garden center of both Lowe’s and Home Depot. I found my plant at a small local garden center.

The Farmer’s Market is a great place to purchase succulents. The plant is also available from many sources online:

Be sure to check out my tips for buying succulents. This gives information on what to look for both locally and when buying online.

Share these kalanchoe thyrsiflora care tips on Twitter

If you enjoyed learning about kalanchoe flapjack succulent plant, be sure to share this post with a friend. Here is a tweet to get you started:

Learn all about Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, aka Paddle Plant, in our latest blog post! 🌿🌼 Check out its paddle-shaped leaves and delightful red margins. Perfect for succulent lovers! Find out more on The Gardening Cook. #PaddlePlant… Share on X

Other varieties of kalanchoe succulents

Kalanchoes are some of my favorite succulents. If you love them too, check out these posts:

Pin kalanchoe thyrsiflora care tips for later

Would you like a reminder of this post for how to grow paddle plant?  Just pin this image to one of your Pinterest succulent boards so that you can easily find it later.

You can also watch our video on YouTube.

Succulent in an orange planter with words How to Grow Paddle Plant - kalanchoe thyrsiflora - growing tips, how to propagate, where to buy, common names.

Yield: 1 happy houseplant

How to Grow Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora

Overhead view of a paddle plant.

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is an easy to care for succulent with paddle-shaped leaves which can have red tipped margins in the right light. It has the common names of paddle plant, desert cabbage and kalanchoe flapjacks.

Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Difficulty easy
Estimated Cost $10


  • 1 Kalanchoe thyrsiflora plant
  • Succulent fertilizer
  • Cacti and Succulent soil
  • I pot


  • hose or watering can


    1. Sunlight needs: 6 hours of sun outdoors, a bright sunny window indoors
    2. Watering requirement: Water well and then allow to dry out slightly.
    3. Fertilizing: Once a month during the growing season
    4. Growing Season: spring and early summer. Dormant in winter.
    5. Propagation: stem cuttings, offsets and leaf cuttings
    6. Cold Hardiness: cold hardy in zones 9b and above. For colder zones, treat as a houseplant
    7. Toxicity: all parts of the plant are toxic to dogs and cats.


Be careful of overwatering. The plant is susceptible to root rot.

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