Kalanchoe thyrsiflora ‘Fantastic’ (Paddle Plant)

    The Paddle Plant has a new fashionable look this year!  Check out Kalanchoe thyrsiflora ‘Fantastic’ with its red highlights!  I just read of this new cultivar in a trade magazine this month.  It was the recipient of the Favorite New Foliage Plant Award and Retailer’s Choice Award at the 2010 Tropical Plant Industry Exposition.  It is no wonder.  Its hot new red coloring on its paddles’ edges increases the visual response to its already interesting texture.
    Kalanchoe Fantastic-ForemostCo (click this link)
    In 2010, at the Boston Flower Show, I happen to take a picture of the straight species in a pot.  I am not sure why I took a photo of it other than I probably wanted to remember that I liked it.  And somewhere along the line this summer, I bought a paddle plant.  It is still sitting in a clay pot by my slider.  It has shot up quite a bit new growth (or paddles) and seems to be very happy awaiting for warmer temperatures to arrive.  So after testing it at my home, it is confirmed.  I love this plant, will seek it, and hope to find the ‘Fantastic’ cultivar just spotted in that trade magazine. Full sun is the best place for this plant as you would guess.  And in a place where water is well drained.  It despises wet soils.  Pair it up with other succulents.  Or try to capture the red highlights displayed on this plant with other companions that bloom red during the summer season.

    K. thyrsiflora

    Kalanchoe (pronounced KAL-an-choe-ee) is a tropical succulent perennial or subshrub.  It can grow 1 to 12 feet tall depending on the species.  I’m not surprised.  Mine has been growing all winter without much attention.  6 to 12″ of new grow can occur each year. It is hardy in zones 10-11, thus serves as an indoor house plant for CT or as a container gardening candidate in the heat of summer.  The unusal paddle like leaves are a way for the plant to retain water, much needed in the desert drought-like environments it is suited for.  Once again, I’m drawn to the tropical style of plants.

Burgundy Hearts Redbud Cercis canadensis ‘Greswan’


“Did you see my redbud?  It is gorgeous this year!”  And it was.  I snapped a photo of it immediately.

That day at my client’s home, she showed me her redbud tree in her backyard next to her back deck.  I’ve always liked this tree because of its unique flowering pattern that runs the line of every branch giving it an asian feel.  The flowers appear in spring before the leaves expand.  And the foliage is heart shaped. ‘Forest Pansy’ is a common favorite to point out to folks at the nursery because not only are the flowers beautiful, the color of the heart-shape leaves are plum-ish versus the traditional green.

New redbuds (Cercis canadensis) cultivars are coming out of the woodwork more often it seems.  Another one that caught my eye recently at a tradeshow was Burgundy Hearts® Redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Greswan’).  The leaves are a tad bit larger and are a wine-red color, a bit lighter than ‘Forest Pansy’.  In early spring, the rosy-purple, pea-shaped flowers expand around March-April timeframe, before the leaves.  Hummingbirds and bees enjoy the early welcome as spring awakens their senses and our’s.  And this new introduction, ‘Greswan’, is noted for proven resistance to summer leaf sorch better than my former best on my list ‘Forest Pansy’.

Smaller trees tend to be my favorite in the landscape.  Burgundy Hearts® Redbud grows to about 20-25 feet at maturity.  It is fast growing and native.  In the late summer to fall, the red-purple color to the leaves transition to a more wine-red burgundy color.  It is cold hardy to zone 5 and heat tolerant to zone 8.  Place it in a full to partial sun location and let your heart begin to pound with love!

If you tend to like a hotter and warmer color to your landscape, another option in the redbud world is Cercis canadensis ‘JN2’, known as The Rising Sun™ Redbud.  It is a new introduction with brilliant, golden yellow to orange colored leaves.  It has a full, round shape and holds its color into fall.  The pea-like shaped flowers are a rosy-orchid color.  Another feature that makes this one a bit more unique to the rest of the redbuds is the bark – it has a yellow tinge to it.  The size of this one is even a bit better for smaller areas.  It reaches 12 feet at maturity. 

The Rising Sun™ Redbud is a vigorous grower and also a native ornamental tree.  It is cold hardy to zones 5-8 and appreciates full sun locations.  I can’t think of anything about these plants that are a downfall, other than if I don’t plant one soon, I may die of a broken redbud heart!  I vow to incorporate some more flowering trees in my landscape this spring, and hope to locate these beauties on the scene.  I hope you will too!  Cathy T

Finally located the photo I took of the redbud at my client’s home, here it is!

Redbud Blooms