Kalanchoe luciae, commonly know as Paddle Plant, is not as rare but is often mislabeled as its much rarer relative, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora. The practice of mislabeling the plant happens so often, however, that it takes getting to know the plant before being able to identify which variety it is. Here is how you can identify the differences: “When stressed, K. luciae turns more red, while K. thyrsiflora is more of a light green. The flowers of the two species also differ. Those of K. luciae are urn-shaped, white, pale greenish-white, sometimes cream, pinkish or yellowish, while those of K. thyrsiflora are cylindrical and always brilliant yellow.”.
This succulent has been likened to clam shells, because of the shape of the basal rosette of the thick, up to 6 inches (15 cm) long by up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) wide, rounded leaves. They are covered with a gray bloom and the leaf margin takes on a reddish hue during cooler winter months if grown in bright light otherwise the leaves remain uniformly green. In late winter into early spring arises a single long stem, up to 3 feet (90 cm), bearing clusters of urn-shaped flowers.
Since Paddle Plant is monocarpic, main rosette die after flowering to make way for fresh offshoots, so you should always have a healthy clump.
Kalanchoe luciae is a winner of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Paddle Plant is not cold hardy, so if you live in a zone that gets colder than 20 °F (-6.7 °C), it is best to plant this succulent in a container that can be brought indoors. It does well in full to partial sun. Plant in well-drained potting soil in an area of your garden that gets 6 hours of sunlight a day.
Water regularly, when soil dries about an inch (2.5 cm) down into the pot or ground. Paddle Plant is very drought tolerant. It is susceptible to overwatering, however, so err on the side of not watering when unsure.
Fertilize Paddle Plant lightly during the growing season. Withhold fertilizer during fall and watering for both indoor and outdoor plants.
Protect from slugs and snails which permanently disfigure the leaves.
The easiest way to propagate Paddle Plant is to plant leaves or cuttings in spring or summer. Set leaves or cuttings aside for a couple of days or until the cut end develops a callus. You can also remove offsets that grow on the side of a mature Paddle Plant.
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