Senecio ficiodes and Senecio mandraliscae are the two plants you need to plant in your garden for contrast. With its blue-green foliage, it makes a striking display against any other colour foliage. And, they are indigenous to South Africa. Both of these plants like well-drained soil enriched with compost, prefer full sun to partial shade and are water-wise plants that can tolerate long periods without water.
Senecio ficiodes or ‘Blue Chalk Sticks’ the common name, is a large, upright shrub that branches at the base with multiple stems that grows until they fall over and root along the stem. When you plant a young Senecio ficiodes, pinch it back to force branching. The leaves are thick and fleshy and small white flowers appear in summer. Senecio ficiodes needs to be pruned back in late summer after flowering.
Senecio mandraliscae or ‘Small Blue Sticks’ the common name, is a spreading succulent with blue-green, finger-like fleshy leaves with small white flowers in summer. It grows quickly, forming a dense blue mat which makes it a perfect border, groundcover and container plant. It needs to be pruned back in late summer.
Senecio rowleyanus and Senecio radicans
Senecio rowleyanus and Senecio radicans are good containers or hanging basket plants. Being also indigenous to South Africa, they need the same requirements as the Senecio ficiodes and mandraliscae except that they require more shade. Both occur naturally in nature under bushes or between rocks which provides them protection from intense sunlight. The make good plants for hanging baskets on your stoep.
Senecio rowleyanus or better known as ‘String of Pearls’ is a creeping succulent with round leaves on long stems cascading over the edges of the hanging basket or container. They can be grown indoors in bright light. Daisy-like, white flowers appear in summer with a sweet smell like cinnamon and cloves. These flowers are followed by seeds with a crown of long white hairs, which assists in wind dispersal.
Senecio radicans or ‘String of Bananas’ is a creeping succulent with leaves that are shaped like small bananas on long stems. It grows quickly and is easily propagated. ‘String of bananas’ flowers throughout the year but with more flowers in autumn and in winter. It attracts a wide range of insects and the seeds are also dispersed by wind.
Senecio species are an interesting group of easy-to-care succulent plants. Take care not to overwater them and protect them from frost.
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