Name: flapjacks, paddle plant, desert cabbage, meelplakkie, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora.
Height: usually 0.6m.
Foliage: a rosette of large, round fleshy greyish cream/green leaves with red margins covered in a white powdery bloom.
Climate: grows naturally in warm temperature regions.
Soil: requires a well-drained soil. Use a cacti and succulent mix for growing in pots and containers.
Position: full sun to partial shade in warmer temperate climates.
Flowering: Inflorescence to 1.3m tall coated in white powder, with small sweetly scented greenish-yellow flowers from mid-summer to mid-winter. Small round leaves are formed along the spike, becoming smaller as they ascend along the stem.
Feeding: not usually required apart from a controlled release organic fertilizer specifically for flowering plants in early spring.
Watering: watering once a week is sufficient in summer, and minimal or no water in winter aside from natural rainfall.
Flapjacks form rosettes of large, fleshy, round or wedge-shaped succulent leaves up to 15cm long, attached directly to the plant stems. The leaves are held with their edges adjacent to the sun to minimize sun exposure and are dusted liberally with a bloom of white powder. With further exposure to the sun, the leaf margins glow orange/red. Tall upright spikes of fragrant cream-green flowers arise from mid-summer onwards above the paddle-like foliage, which is stacked like pancakes, hence the common name. After flowering, the stem dies back to the ground but produces new offsets at the base to continue the lifecycle.
Originating in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, the flapjack succulent grows naturally in open, rocky situations or on exposed hilltops in grassland habitats or on the escarpment and foothills of the Drakensberg mountain range.
Flapjack plants have adapted to survive in extreme temperatures and drought conditions. Consequently, they will grow and flourish in most temperate climates and prefer to be planted in full sun or partially shaded environments in very hot climates.
Most well-drained garden soils are suitable for growing flapjack plants as long as it does not become too wet. Incorporate coarse sand or grit into heavier soils to improve drainage.
A cacti and succulent potting mix should be used when growing flapjacks in pots and containers. Repot every two years into a larger container to maintain growth.
Use a controlled release organic fertiliser specifically for flowering plants in early spring. Otherwise no other fertiliser is usually required.
In humid or moist winter conditions, snails and slugs may damage the succulent leaves. These are best controlled organically with beer traps, barriers of copper tape or by using iron chelate based snail pellets. These are the safest to use in the home garden for your pets and the local wildlife.
Plants growing too closely together in damp conditions may exhibit rot or fungal disease. Unhealthy tissue should be removed by pruning, and shrivelled or dead leaves picked off to increase air circulation. The plant may then be sprayed with a copper-based fungicide.
Flapjacks can be easily propagated by stem tip or leaf cuttings in late spring to summer.
Desert rose (Adenium): small tree-like succulent shrubs, resembling bonsai, with white, pink and red flowers in the warmer months.
Agave: succulents with dramatic rosette or sword-shaped foliage, often variegated with exotic tall flowering stems.
Sedum: colourful succulent plants grown as small ground covers or clumping herbaceous plants with attractive sprays of flowers for the garden.
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