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A succulent plant with many leaves seen from above
Flapjacks are a wonderful accent to any outdoor space, with succulent leaves liberally dusted with white, and edged in fiery red. These tough, drought-resistant plants will add texture and contrast to your pots or borders and are sure to find a spot in your garden.

What you need to know about flapjack plants

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.

Appearance and characteristics of flapjack plants

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.

Close-up of succulent leaves

How to plant and grow flapjack plants


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.

Potting mix

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.

How to care for flapjack plants


Use a controlled release organic fertiliser specifically for flowering plants in early spring. Otherwise no other fertiliser is usually required.

How to prune flapjack plants

  1. Remove flower stalks before they set seed to encourage more energy to be directed to the young offsets. 
  2. Remove flower stems when they are very small to extend the lifespan of the plant.
  3. Flowering stems which may have died back should be cut back to healthy growth just above any new offsets.

Pest and diseases affecting flapjacks

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.

How to propagate flapjack plants

Growing flapjacks from cuttings

Flapjacks can be easily propagated by stem tip or leaf cuttings in late spring to summer. 

  1. Use tip growth around 10cm long or individual leaves which have been allowed to dry for a couple of days. 
  2. Place them in a pot with seed and cutting mix or 50:50 peat and coarse propagating sand. Do not cover them with plastic or they may rot. 

If you like this then try

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.

Start growing today

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.