Top tips for keeping that much loved Christmas plant alive. We've tested a plant sensor and mixed it up with some good old gardening knowledge...
The Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is a succulent native to Madagascar that thrives in direct sunlight and loamy or sandy soil – a great option for low-maintenance gardens, rock gardens or even container gardens.
The plant has a variety of common names like paddle plant, flapjack, and perhaps most bizarrely, ‘dog’s tongue’ – but is that name actually so bizarre? Well, no. Let’s think about the characteristics of a dog’s tongue and how it compares.
Ways in which dog’s tongue (kalanchoe thyrsiflora) is like a dog’s tongue (woof!)
It’s long and pink – and so are the leaves of the Kalanchoe thyrsiflora in the sunlight, when the sage green leaves go pinky red, first down the edges and then all over.
It regulates temperature - just as a dog uses its tongue to regulate its temperature, the kalanchoe uses its leaves to regulate its temperature. In particular, the leaves (as well as the stem) are often coated with a white powder (or ‘bloom’) that protects them from excessively bright conditions, as well as moisture loss.
It heals wounds – kalanchoe has inherent anti-inflammatory, wound healing properties. But no matter how succulent it looks, avoid eating it: kalanchoe species contain a substance known as bufadienolide cardiac glycosides which can cause cardiac poisoning.
It is used to feed – as you probably learnt in GCSE biology, all plants use their leaves for feeding using photosynthesis (do I get a good mark?)
Ways in which dog’s tongue (kalanchoe thyrsiflora) is NOT like a dog’s tongue (woof!)
In summer, kalanchoe thyrsiflora bears tubular fragrant yellow flowers. If your dog’s tongue starts doing this, take it to a vet.
You will never be woken up by a kalanchoe thyrsiflora licking your face.