Should You Let Your Flapjack Plants Bloom?

– Posted in: Succulents

IMG_4801_640x406_annotatedYou’re probably aware of flapjack plant (Kalanchoe luciae), a succulent that’s popular because of the color of its leaves. (Shown above at Waterwise Botanicals nursery, perfectly timed for Valentine’s Day.)

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Like other succulents with overlapping leaves along a single stem, when Kalanchoe luciae blooms, the entire plant elongates. This is how those in my window box looked in early March of last year.

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If your goal is to have a lot of new little plants, one option is to let the mother plant bloom. Providing it survives the effort (they usually do, but not always), you’ve hit the jackpot. Harvest each cluster with several inches of stem attached to anchor it, and start it as a cutting. Roots will grow from leaf axils (where leaves are attached to the stem).

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I didn’t want awkwardly tall plants in my window box, so when the flapjacks started to elongate in March, I snipped off the bloom spikes. The mother plants seemed determined to flower regardless, and buds grew from leaf axils beneath the cut. I was just as determined they weren’t going to flower, so I pinched out the buds.
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Within a month, the plants’ topmost leaves turned beige and crisp along the edges. I’m not sure why this happened, but I trimmed them to keep the plants tidy.

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By June, new little leaves concealed the truncated stems, indicating that the plants had been gearing up to produce offsets. When they couldn’t do it along a bloom spike, they did so closer to the core.

IMG_1208_8.20.13_annotated_resizedHere’s how one of the plants looked in August.

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And again in October. Other plants in the window box are blue echeverias and Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’. The composition looks fine, but would be even better if those flapjacks would turn as red as they were at the nursery! (Hm. Topic for a future post? “How to Keep your Flapjacks Red.” Advice welcome!)

Debra Lee Baldwin
Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored the Timber Press bestsellers Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified. Debra is a regular contributor to Sunset and other publications, and her own half-acre garden near San Diego has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens. Debra specializes in showing how to use architectural, waterwise and easy-care succulents in a wide variety of appealing and creative applications. www.debraleebaldwin.com.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin

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9 Comments… add one

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Carol breslin February 6, 2016, 9:24 am

I love these plants and this blog with the photos is just fantastic. all this rain seems to be ruining my flapjack plants…should i put them inside for awhile, until it stops?

Rick Laughlin February 6, 2016, 11:17 am

dEBRA, i REALLY LIKED YOUR BLOG, NICE JOB DEBRA!!!

SHERYL February 6, 2016, 11:32 am

Have you tried trimming the brown crispy edge only? How does that fair?

Debra Lee Baldwin February 7, 2016, 10:46 am

Hi Sheryl — Yes. Trim them to the same shape as the leaf, rather than straight across. That way they look natural.

Debra Lee Baldwin February 7, 2016, 10:51 am

Hi, Carol — Not sure what you mean…are they rotting or are their leaves being pitted? Regardless, if they’re in containers, it seems prudent to move them where they’re not exposed to the elements. Hail in particular will cause pitting. If the lower stems are squishy, indicating the roots have rotted and rot is moving up the stem into the plant, take cuttings from healthy top growth. Discard the old soil and plant the cuttings in fresh potting soil.

Carol breslin February 7, 2016, 4:11 pm

Debra, thanks for your feedback about these plants. I have a small side garden for succulents. one pot of flapjacks is doing quite well; the other, yes, the leaves are pitted, and the new ones that are growing from the center are misshapen- they have v shaped cuts in them!! The bottom leaves have rotten parts on the sides. should I take off the entire leaf, or just cut out the black, rotten part?

joan carroll, mg retired February 9, 2016, 7:41 pm

Surprised you have “firesticks” in your planter. They can grow
to small trees. Here my neighbors have “demonized” this
plant. True the sap is poison and can cause severe problems
if it gets in your eyes. So many of these plants were taken out
and thrown away. They are really no worse than oleander that
is grown readily here. Advised one neighbor who didnt want
to throw hers out – if It grows to big call me and I will prune it.
Joan

Charlie@Seattle Trekker February 11, 2016, 11:17 pm

Something new to look for in the nursery…I really appreciated the information and enjoyed the photos.

Joan sessions April 11, 2016, 6:34 am

So glad i know what these are now! Also happy they do not reprodulike their relatives here in So. Fl.