Paddle plants (Kalanchoe luciae) are succulent houseplants that are popular for their paddle-shaped leaves. While they are easy to care for, whether you can cut off the top of a paddle plant is a question that often arises.
You can cut off the top of a paddle plant from time to time. However, if you decide to do it, use a sharp knife or pruning shears. Also, cut at an angle so that more surface area gets exposed for the plant to absorb light. This will help the plant to grow new leaves faster.
This article will further explore whether it is possible to prune a paddle plant from the top and how to do it properly.
Why Should You Cut Off the Top of a Paddle Plant?
The paddle plant, also known as the desert rose, is a succulent native to Africa. It’s named for its paddle-shaped leaves, which are thick and fleshy to help store water in the desert climate.
This plant can grow up to two feet tall (60.96 cm), and the leaves are often decorated with interesting patterns. The flowers are small and pink, and they bloom in the summer.
You should cut off the top of a paddle plant if you want to create a new plant from a stem cutting.
Within a few weeks, new roots will form, and a new plant will start to grow. This makes paddle plants very easy to propagate, and it’s also a fun experiment for kids.
If you’re looking for a unique and low-maintenance plant for your home, consider the paddle plant. But do you know how long they typically live? Read my comprehensive guide to learn more about it and how to increase the lifespan of your paddle plant: How Long Do Paddle Plants Typically Live?
How to Cut Off the Top of a Paddle Plant
Paddle plants are a fantastic addition to any garden, and if you want to give someone the gift of this spectacular plant, consider giving them a cutting.
Here’s how to do it:
Cut The Right Sections
One of the most important things to remember is that paddle plants must be cut correctly to stay healthy.
Take the cutting from the newer and outermost leaves. These leaves have a higher concentration of water and nutrients, which will help them to take root more easily. The best time to do this is when the plant is actively growing.
Paddle plants are hardy and can tolerate a fair amount of neglect, but regular pruning will help them stay healthy and look their best.
Once you’ve cut the plant, remove any dead or damaged leaves. With a little care, your paddle plant will thrive for years.
When cutting the plant, use sharp shears or a knife. Make a clean, sharp cut at the base of the plant, and be careful not to damage the roots.
To cut, use your sharp knife or shears to snip a stem with at least two leaves attached. Your cutting should be at least six inches (15.24 cm) long. Additionally, you want to make sure to cut just below a node – the point on the stem where leaves attach.
When cutting, be sure to do it at a 45-degree angle. This will help the plant heal and prevent water from collecting on the cuts.
What To Do After Cutting Your Paddle Plant
Now that you’ve cut off the top of your paddle plant, what are the next steps?
Allow the Cutting Time to Heal
After you have taken your cutting, it is time to let it heal. This process helps your plant to better adapt to its new environment and develop a strong root system.
This is because the cut part of the plant is already moist and vulnerable. Cutting creates an open wound that is susceptible to infection and rotting.
Your plant will need two to four weeks to heal. The amount of time may vary based on your climate, but warmer climates generally require less healing time than cooler climates. Once your plant heals, it will be ready to start growing in its new home.
To help your cutting heal quickly, dip the freshly cut end into some rooting hormone. Doing so will stimulate growth and help prevent disease-causing pathogens from entering the plant through the open wound.
Store the Cutting in a Slightly Damp Paper Towel
Now that your cutting is in the healing stage, it will need a safe storage place. A good way to do this is to put the cutting in a paper towel and keep it in a cool (but not overly cold) place.
The paper towel should be slightly moist to prevent the cutting from drying out. However, it’s important that the paper towel is not too wet, as this could promote bacterial growth.
Keep It in Indirect Light
Once you have cut your plant and are ready to start the healing process, you will need to keep it in indirect light. Direct sunlight can be too intense for the cutting and may cause the leaves to wilt.
If you cannot provide indirect sunlight, you can also use artificial light, such as a grow light. Ensure that the light is not too close to the plant, which can also cause wilting.
Pot the Cutting
Potting the cutting properly encourages healing and new growth.
Here’s how to do it:
- Fill a small pot with fresh potting mix. The potting mix should be well-draining. This is important as too much moisture can lead to root rot.There are a variety of potting mixes available on the market, or you can make your own by mixing two parts peat moss and compost with one part of vermiculite. Whatever mix you choose, read the label carefully to ensure that it is appropriate for your plant.
- Make a small hole in the center of the mix and gently insert the cutting.
- Once the cutting is in place, lightly tamp down the mix around it and water generously.
- Place the pot in a well-lit spot, and keep an eye on the soil level; as your plant grows, you may need to add more mix to keep the roots covered. With a little care, your plant will soon be on its way to recovery.
Fertilize When Necessary
Once your paddle plant’s roots are established, you can begin fertilizing them. However, too much fertilizer can damage your plant. It is best to start with a very diluted solution and increase the amount as necessary.
If you notice that your paddle plant is beginning to wilt or its leaves are turning yellow, it may be a sign that it is not getting enough nutrients. As a general rule of thumb, most plants need to be fertilized once every month during the growing season.
Why Is Pruning Your Paddle Plant Important?
Pruning paddle plants is essential for various reasons:
- Pruning encourages them to branch out. When paddle plants are about to flower, they become leggy. Pruning them helps them to become fuller and more aesthetically pleasing.
- It encourages better health. Pruning removes dead or dying leaves, which can help prevent disease from spreading.
- Pruning can help improve the quality of the flowers. Removing spent blooms allows the plant to redirect its energy into producing new and vibrant flowers.
Precautions To Take Before Pruning Your Paddle Plant
Before pruning your paddle plant, there are a few things you should know:
Don’t Prune a Stressed Paddle Plant
Before you even think about pruning your paddle plant, make sure it’s in a healthy state. A stressed plant (i.e. one that’s under- or overwatered) is much more susceptible to disease and pests. Thus it’s essential to bring it back to good health before pruning.
Once your plant is looking healthy again, you can start pruning. And, of course, do just what is necessary – only remove dead or damaged leaves and stems, and never more than one-third of the plant at a time.
Ensure the Pruners Are Clean and Sharp
Sharp pruners help create a clean cut, which can accelerate the healing process.
If you take care of your pruners, they will last longer and work better. You can clean them by wiping them down with rubbing alcohol or soapy water. To sharpen them, use a file or sharpening stone.
Don’t Prune in a Hot Climate
Paddle plants are native to hot, dry climates, and thrive in warm weather. However, pruning them during a heatwave can be detrimental to their health.
The plant’s pores open when it’s hot, making it more susceptible to water loss. Pruning can cause the plant to lose even more water, leading to wilting and, in extreme cases, death.
If you live in a hot climate, wait until the weather cools down before pruning your paddle plant. Your plant will thank you for it!
Now that you know how to cut the top off of a paddle plant, you can keep your plant healthy and looking its best. With regular trimming, your paddle plant will flourish for years to come.
Remember to cut the right sections at a 45-degree angle, and ensure your cutting is at least six inches long. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be an expert in no time.