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Kalanchoe tetraphylla

Kalanchoe tetraphylla
Viewing from above explains the four-leaf name
paddle plant, flapjacks
Return from the deathly freeze (April 2018)
Kalanchoe tetraphylla
Rosy color after a light freeze (Nov 2018)

Synonym(s) Kalanchoe thyrsiflora
Common name paddle plant, flapjacks
Family crassulaceae
Life cycle perennial (Z10-12)
Flowers yellow
Size 12-30"
Light sun-part shade
Cultural notes well drained soil; drought tolerant

South African native with large paddle-shaped succulent leaves that color up reddish pink along the rims when grown in full sun. The leaves are arranged in alternating pairs, making for a boxy enclosure as shown in photo above. Flowers on spikes well above the leaves after several years. After flowering, the mother plant dies, but the patch typically lives on by the offsets that have been produced in the meantime. We saw a nice patch of this plant growing at Peckerwood Garden and were happy to see a few smaller plants up for grabs in the sale area. Of course I had to enlarge the rock garden upon returning home to accommodate it, but such are the challenges of the compulsive plant collector.
I was told that at Peckerwood, this is one of the few plants that receives supplemental freeze protection during the coldest nights, so I tried to cover it during the several severe (for Houston) freezes in January 2018 – but one whopper freeze that went on for more than 24 hours was too much, and turned the entire plant, including what I could see of its base, to mush. Ever hopeful, I left the stub in place, and was eventually rewarded, in early April: two small leaves marking the return of the tender succulent. Hopefully, our plant will become more firmly established during its first full season in our garden, so that it will be ever better equipped to resist any future freezes – because I'm not so good at running out with blankets every time a freeze threatens! By the end of the year, it still wasn't nearly as large as the plant we purchased, but full of potential (and a rosy glow). This time, the winter was mild, and our specimen did not sustain significant damage. The next winter continued this pattern, and lulled me into a false sense of security – until the forecasts for the big freeze of February 2021 became ever more ominous. Attempting to protect the plant that had finally reached close to its original proportions, I covered a large part of the rock garden with a heavy blanket, held down by strategically placed stones. Although the blanket could only do so much, I'm sure it helped prevent the complete demise of the plant: once again, a tiny portion of it survived, hoping for a longer stretch of freeze-free years this time.

paddle plant, flapjacks
Still rosy in March, now contrasting with ice plant encroaching on its territory
Kalanchoe tetraphylla
Newly planted, two months before the 2018 freeze
paddle plant, flapjacks
Whacked back once again, by the Feb '21 freeze, just barely surviving

In our garden, this plant grows in the following areas: Houston rock garden, rock garden zone

About my plant portraits
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