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flapjacks | kalanchoe luciae

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Posted by EDITOR 15 Jun 2010 - 1:56:00 PM

Buying a wrongly identified plant often leads to problems: planting something too big for the spot, not so suited to the conditions or weedy. Choosing and getting the right plant counts and unfortunately mistakes are made too often.

But sometimes it doesn't much matter. For a while the industry has been selling the Flapjacks or Paddle Plant under the botanical name Kalanchoe thyrsiflora. That name actually applies to a similar but different and rarely seen succulent with highly fragrant yellow flowers. The widely desired and available one turns out to be called Kalanchoe luciae. It's the one we want.

We don't usually think of warm climate plants as providing seasonal colour but that's the attraction of Kalanchoe luciae. The flowers out now are interesting enough but not so colourful, or scented. But the leaves are another story.

The always ornamental powdery green leaves arranged like some clam-shell version of Russian dolls become more vivid red working from the lips down as the season cools. The colours intensify with more exposure to sun. And it seems with neglect. A dry, pot-bound but healthy clump I saw one winter had turned more orange than red. Amazing but it almost looked in pain.

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