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by Shelley
(Missouri )


I have had my paddle plant for around 3 years. I originally kept it in the North window and it would have color on the ends of the leaves. About a year ago I noticed the leaves starting to droop and some spots, I moved it to the South window and it’s still not looking as health and happy as the past. I water every 2 to 3 weeks. I do live in Missouri. I have never fertilized it, should I? Some of the leaves are soft also. Thank you for any advice you can provide.

Comments for Paddle plant

Jan 20, 2022

by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

Winter is so hard on these sun and heat loving plants from southern climes when we try to keep them going until spring.

I’m actually amazed that it would show the red color in a north window. Usually, they only turn red in full sun with dry soil.

For the winter, watering every 2-3 weeks is too much. The soil should be bone dry before watering again, and of course, the plant should never sit in a pan of water so if you keep a saucer under the pot, make sure to empty that within a few minutes after watering.

I notice that you’re using a plastic pot. These are fine for when you first get the plants, but for long term, I recommend something porous like terracotta or hypertufa. They are heavier, and keep a top heavy plant upright. Don’t repot until spring when the weather is warmer.

As you may have noticed, these plants tend to stretch up as high as they can reach, then lose the lower leaves, exposing the stem. This is an indication that it’s getting to be time to behead them and re-root the top rosette, which is the nicest part of the plant. This may or may not eliminate the flowering cycle, which this plant is prone to do.

The goal here should be to cut off the top (nice part) of each stem, putting it on top of dry cactus soil so it can root. It will need a lot of light to do this, not just weak winter light from the window. Prepare to spend a bit of money on a grow light. This will give it the full spectrum of light that it requires to be healthy.

Do not fertilize it until it’s in a growth cycle.

The leaves are going soft because that’s what the older leaves do if it’s not getting enough light. They die off, which means they will fall off. You can see that happening already, with the ones that are turning brown and drying out in patches. Once leaves get to this stage, there is no going back. They need to come off, either on their own, or by you trimming them off.

If you cut off the top of each stem, the magic happens. Inside the leaf axils, they’ll make a new bud which will turn into a new opportunity for a tiny plant that you can cut off when it’s big enough and pot up by itself.

I hope this helps get your paddle plant back on track!