Kalanchoe thyrsiflora 'Flapjacks'
Common Name: kalanchoe 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Crassulaceae
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 1.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow flowers with red-rimmed foliage
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-12 where plants are easily grown in well-drained, sandy soils in full sun. Plants tolerate some part shade at the heat of the day, but best red leaf margins occur in full sun locations. Plants thrive in heat and humidity, but are intolerant of frost. Plants have excellent drought tolerance. Apply water when soils dry, but avoid overwatering. Water more sparingly in winter (particularly for indoor plants) to discourage possible onset of root rot. This succulent is primarily grown as a houseplant in most parts of the U.S. In St. Louis, it is typically grown in containers (best soil is a cactus mix) either indoors as a house plant or outdoors with the container being overwintered indoors in a sunny window. Best room temperature indoors for winter plants is in the lower 60°F range. Plants are monocarpic (die after flowering). However, the mother plant will not flower until it reaches maturity which typically takes 3-4 years. When the mother plant flowers and dies, the planting will remain in the garden or container because the mother plant typically produces offsets at the base of the plant and along the lower parts of the flowering stalk. Dig up and remove the mother plant when it dies, and thin the offsets as needed. Propagate by offsets or leaf cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Kalancho thyrsiflora, commonly known as paddle plant, flapjacks, dog tongue or desert cabbage, is a drought tolerant, white-frosted succulent of the stonecrop family that typically grows to 24-30” tall (basal rosette to 18” and flower spike to 30”). Plants are native to South Africa, primarily in dry, exposed, rocky areas. Plants grow much shorter (to 10” tall) when planted in containers. Each plant features a basal rosette of large, fleshy, wedge-shaped or paddle-shaped, stalkless, obovate, gray-green leaves (to 6” long) which are covered with a white powdery bloom. Rosette leaves are stacked like pancakes (hence the common name of flapjacks), with leaf edges extended upward in order to minimize sun exposure to the leaf surfaces. With sufficient sun exposure, however, the exposed leaf margins turn a showy red. Fragrant yellow flowers with reflexed petals bloom in spring in dense, cylindrical, spike-like clusters on tall leafy flower stalks which rise up from the rosette center in the year when the plant reaches maturity. The mother plant dies after flowering, but the plant will persist in the garden or container because of the offsets.

Genus name comes from the corrupted and unintelligible Chinese name of one species of these succulent herbs or sub-shrubs.

Specific epithet means having its flowers in a thyrse (dense cluster around the flower’s axis).

‘Flapjacks’ is interchangeably used as a cultivar name or as a common name for the species. There appears to be no significant difference between species plants and those sporting the cultivar name.


Scale, mealy bugs and mites can be problematic. Potential disease problems include root rot and powdery mildew.


Interesting tropical plant. Mass in the garden where winter hardy. Good accent. Rock garden. May be grown as an annual.