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The Plant Post - Senecio scaposus

The Plant Post - Senecio scaposus

Senecio scaposus is an extremely drought tolerant little succulent. It only gets to be about 12 inches tall, and it forms little clumps of silvery-white, green, finger-like stems. It almost resembles a little sea creature. In the summer it can produce a yellow daisy-like flower.  It looks nice as a standalone plant in a small pot, or its interesting texture can make a nice component in a succulent combo. 

Climate
This plant will grow outdoors in USDA Zones 9-11. It is not frost tolerant. If you live in a frost prone area, it will do fine as a house plant during the colder months. 

Sun
It prefers full sun in mild climates and mild times of the year. If you live in an area with intense summer heat, it does prefer a light shade or a little protection from the hot part of the afternoon. It will also thrive in a bright window.

Soil
This plant needs well-drained soil. It really needs a succulent specific soil for it to thrive. If you live in a mild climate and are planting it in the ground, make sure your soil is well-draining and includes compost and gravel to increase drainage as needed. If you’re growing the plant in a pot, look for potting mixes with high percentages of sand, pumice, and pearlite. Also make sure the pot itself has adequate drainage holes.

Fertilizer
Since this plant requires such well-drained soil, it will do best if fertilized on occasion. But succulents are also slow growing, and too much fertilizer will push weak growth that will flop over. Best practice for this species is to fertilize once a year in the spring. Use a succulent or house plant formula and apply at a low rate.

Water
Watering succulents is always the trickiest part. This plant is a summer grower, so it will need more water in the summer than the winter. With that said, it still needs very little water. In the summer, water until the container starts to drip water (this should happen pretty quickly because as mentioned above, you are using a well-draining succulent soil). Then don’t water again until the soil is dry. Stick your finger into the soil periodically to detect when the top layer of soil is truly dry. In the winter, extend your watering even further by letting the dry soil sit around for a few days. It doesn’t need to be watered until dripping in the winter. Add water until the soil is just saturated, then stop.

Pests and Diseases
Root and crown rot is the biggest issue with these guys, and the only thing to do here is try to prevent it by not over watering. If you suspect it has a root or crown disease, the plant needs to dry out. 

They can also get mealy bugs, which can be hard to see on a fuzzy plant like this. Check the undersides of the leaves and the rims of your pot periodically to make sure these hidden pests aren’t hanging out. If you find a small infestation, you can dip a q-tip into rubbing alcohol and dab each of the mealy bugs you see. This may also remove some of the white fuzzy part of the plant, which won’t grow back, but new foliage will eventually replace the damaged foliage. If the infestation is bad, there are products at the garden center available. Always read the label! This is especially important if your plant is indoors. Never use any insecticide or fungicide product indoors if the label does not specifically say for indoor use. 

Maintenance
You may find your plant produces new little side shoots, and that older clumps start to look a bit beat up. You can use your fingers and carefully pinch off the less spectacular clumps and allow the newer clumps to grow in their place. 

Like most succulents Senecio scaposus is a low maintenance plant that does not appreciate a lot of fussing over it. The key to success with plants like this is not to kill it with love by over feeding and over watering.