I usually like to make sure I have my plant naming as good as it can be before I post about anything on here but I am so confused about this one that if I waited till I was certain the poor thing would probably be dead. What started as an inexpensive purchase at my favourite Swedish furniture and nightlight store has become something of a puzzle. What I initially thought was Kalanchoe thyrsiflora may not be quite that simple. I will immdiately ignore the prospect of the plant being K. tetraphylla – my head can’t cope with that – and I don’t think it is that species. What it is is a plant with big, flabby leaves in pairs set vertically on the stout stems, covered with white, waxy powder and each leaf is, variously, edged with red, more so when the plant is stressed by cold or drought or sun. My plant had three shoots that grew slowly enough until one plant started to produce a flower stem in Autumn and now, for the past few months, has been opening pale, creamy, four-petalled flowers on a stem more than 60cm high.
So now the confusion! This plant is probably K. thyrsiflora which is K. luciae subsp. luciae – the two names seem to refer to the same plant. Or perhaps it is just K. luciae. The difference seems to be based on three main factors: leaf colour, flower colour and flower fragrance.
K. luciae subsp. luciae has foliage that is greyish but edged with red but K. luciae has very red-flushed leaves. So my plant seems likely to be K. luciae subsp. luciae. But then K. luciae subsp. luciae has deep yellow flowers that are sweetly scented and K. luciae has pale cream flowers that are unscented so it would seem more likely that mine is K. luciae. Except that the leaves are wrong.
Of course there is no reason at all why my plant isn’t some silver-leaved selection – I just wish my plant had the deep yellow flowers and that perfume.