Senecio Serpens is an evergreen, drought-resistant succulent that is endemic to South Africa. If the succulent gets enough light and water, it will glow up to become the center of attention in your indoor or outdoor garden. With the powdery blue foliage that blends in with yellow, silvery, and purple succulents, you can use the Senecio Serpens as the ground cover for your garden.
As a newbie to succulents, you can never go wrong with the Senecio Serpens. It is easy to grow, care for and reproduce, as you will see in this article.
Description of Senecio Serpens
Senecio Serpens is also called Blue Chalksticks, Curio Repens, Senecio Repens, or Dead Man’s Finger. The name “Senecio”, which is translated in Latin as “Senex” means “old”. Also, its last name “Repens” means “creeping” in Latin because the plant crawls and spreads.
The foliage of the Blue Chalksticks is made of small cylindrical stems that grow as high as 8 inches and as wide as 2 inches.
The Blue Chalksticks spreads out of its pot and mix with other plants around. In the summer, Senecio Serpens produces flowers that make it more endearing.
You must take extra precautions when dealing with this plant as it is poisonous to animals and humans. All parts of your Senecio Serpens are considered toxic, even when dried. Always keep an eye out and avoid leaving your pets and children alone with this plant.
A severe dose of ingested Senecio Serpens can cause liver damage and might take several months and susceptible medication to reverse.
Common symptoms to watch out for when ingested are diarrhea and rectal prolapse.
Senecio Serpens Care
Senecio Serpens requires minimal maintenance. But the location you plant your Senecio Serpens succulents matters a great deal. While the plant requires full sun, ensure it is covered with a shade cloth or taken indoors during a heatwave.
For optimal growth, Senecio Serpens needs at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Consider leaving the plant outdoors for about eight hours if you do not live in a very sunny environment.
During the winter, do not expose the succulent to frostbite. If the temperature drops way below the freezing point, move the succulent indoors.
When growing your Senecio Serpens indoors, ensure you place it close to a south-facing window, so it can get enough sunlight. But then, if the sunlight is not sufficient for proper growth, supplement with a grow light. The grow light should be kept about 5-10 inches from the plant for about 15 hours daily.
Blue Chalksticks are usually dormant during the winter, so you should take them indoors until the weather becomes warmer. Also, avoid watering during dormancy because the succulent does not grow during that period.
The best way to water Senecio Serpens is using the “soak and dry” technique. This watering technique involves soaking the soil and then allowing it to dry before resuming watering.
When watering, ensure the water flows out from the drainage holes. If the Blue Chalksticks sit in water for three or four days, the roots will start to rot, or the leaves will be discolored. To save the overwatered succulents, do not water for a few weeks, so the soil can get dry. Also, cut off the damaged roots and wait for new ones to develop.
While trying not to overwater your Senecio Serpens, do not forget to water them when needed. If the succulent is suffering from under-watering, the leaves will appear dehydrated. Take that as a sign to up your watering game.
If you are growing your Senecio Serpens succulents indoors, it is best to water them once every two to three weeks. For outdoor Senecio Serpens, watering once in three or four weeks will suffice.
Younger Senecio Serpens succulents need to be watered more often, especially during the summer. You can water them weekly once during this period.
Blue Chalksticks can be pruned if it is growing too big. You can also prune the succulent if pests or diseases damage the roots or leaves.
Ensure you use only a sterilized knife or pair of scissors in pruning your Blue Chalksticks. After pruning, allow the cuts to heal before resuming watering.
Make sure to use a well-draining soil mixture for your Senecio Serpens. You may use commercially prepared cacti and succulent mix from your local garden center or prepare your mixture.
You may have your mixture by combining fine gravel and coarse sand with standard potting soil.
Use a pot with enough proper draining holes to avoid clogging the water. This is crucial for your plant to thrive. Most succulents do not survive root rot and overwatering, so it is essential to ensure the water continuously flows out of your chosen pot.
Don’t forget to place your Senecio Serpens on a pot that is big enough for it to grow for some time.
Repotting your Senecio Serpens might not be necessary. You may opt to repot once the plant grows more extensive than its current pot. Over-repotting might do more harm to your plant.
In repotting make sure that you use the correct soil and pot. It might also be beneficial to your plant to change soil when repotting. This avoids clogging and any possible pests living on your current soil.
You may opt to fertilize your Senecio Serpens once a year. It is not required but will help provide additional nutrients to your Senecio Serpens.
This might be more beneficial for plants placed indoors. However, sunlight is still the best way to feed your plant.
Avoid feeding your Senecio Serpens during its dormant season.
Propagating Senecio Serpens
You can propagate your Senecio Serpens in the following ways:
Since Blue Chalksticks grow in clumps, you can propagate the succulent by removing it from the pot and carefully pulling apart the clumps. When doing this, be careful not to destroy the roots.
Transplant the clumps in different pots with good drainage. In about three weeks, you will notice new roots emerging from the clumps.
#2. Stem and Leaf Cuttings
You can propagate Senecio Serpens succulents from leaf or stem cuttings when they are actively growing. Cut off a stem or a whole leaf from the parent plant with a sterilized knife.
If you want to fast-track the growing process, dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone or powder, and keep them in a dry and warm place to dry and form calluses. When the cuttings are dry, stick them in moderately moist soil. If healthy growing conditions are maintained, new roots will spring up in three or four weeks.
Propagating Senecio Serpens from seeds requires patience because seeds take a while to germinate. To propagate your Blue Chalksticks from seeds, spread the seedlings on the well-draining soil and keep the pot away from direct sunlight.
You can use a seed warmer to regulate the temperature of the seeds until they germinate. Water only when the soil is dry, and the seeds will germinate in about four weeks.
Propagating Senecio Serpens by offsets might be the easiest method. Simple hold the offsets at the base and remove them gently from the mother plant. Naturally, it will be an easy step and won’t damage your Senecio Serpens.
You may also use a clean, sharp knife to remove the offsets; make sure you cut it at a sharp angle.
Don’t forget to let the offsets be calloused for 2 to 3 days before planting.
Common Problems Associated with Senecio Serpens
Your Senecio Serpens is likely to face the following problems:
If your Blue Chalksticks do not get an adequate amount of sunlight daily, the stems will stretch out in the direction of light and become leggy. To save your leggy succulents, cut off the leggy parts and propagate them as described above.
Etiolation can be avoided if you can provide at least six hours of light daily for your Blue Chalksticks.
Scale insects and mealybugs are the most common pests that attack the Senecio Serpens. While scale insects will make the succulent yellow and shriveled leaves, mealybugs will leave a dark, sooty mold on the plant.
You should also look out for ants, even though they are not in multitudes. Carefully wiping off the mealybugs and scale insects with an alcohol-dipped cloth can get rid of the pests.
To ensure these pests steer clear of your succulents, spray with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
#3. Root Rot
The most common disease that affects Senecio Serpens is root rot, resulting from overwatering and poor drainage. To prevent root rot, do not allow the Blue Chalksticks to sit in water. In addition, ensure the soil dries from top to bottom before watering again.
If the roots have already started to rot, cut off the affected areas with a disinfected knife and repot the succulent.
By now, we hope that you are more interested in having your own Senecio Serpens at home. This attractive powdery blue succulent would catch everyone’s attention. Its unique appearance could be a good conversation starter, too. Generally, this plant is also easy to grow, meaning more plant lovers can opt to have Senecio Serpens as their next plant baby. We hope this article prepares you to take good care of your Senecio Serpens.
Richard | Editor-in-chief at Succulent City
Hey everyone! I’m Richard. Welcome to my blog, which is all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, I began my journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, my fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and I gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!