Senecio is a rare name for the many-sided ragwort known to many plant growers, which are successfully grown both in the garden and as a flower in a pot at home. These herbaceous perennials are so diverse in form that it is difficult to come to terms with the fact that they are all representatives of the same group. However, these are close relatives who absolutely do not differ from each other in terms of cultivation and care. This is a surprisingly different, but incredibly close-knit flower culture.
All ragworts are succulents, i.e. plants that can heat up moisture reserves and live off them in depleted growing conditions. The species diversity of senecio is huge, it is both coniferous greens, and similar to peas, and curly, like ivy. Their shoots can grow like a vine, or they can form bushes and even trees. At the same time, they can be pubescent and bare, upright and drooping, and the shape of the leaves of this group of plants makes it almost overwhelming. In nature, there are more than 3000 of them. And they all have only one thing in common – the classic basket inflorescence.
Senecio is grown both as a potted plant and as a horticultural crop. There are species that are designed for cutting. From the bastards alone, you can make a rich collection of succulents, which will be very diverse.
Popular varieties of senecio
With all the great variety of bastards in room culture, the following varieties are most common.
Rawley the godson
The undoubted leader among senecio. It is valued for its fast growth and spectacularly hanging thin shoots with “peas” of leaves strung on them. In the people, the plant was called “pearl thread”. The inflorescences are spherical in shape and have a cinnamon scent.
Ash ragwort (Senecio Maritima)
In nature and in indoor cultivation it is a perennial, it is grown on the site as a plant of one year. It is valued by landscape designers for its special appeal as carpet plantings. In warmer regions, it is grown as a wintering balcony crop, which in Europe is especially valued as a Christmas decoration for houses. The foliage is silvery, against which bright yellow inflorescences look contrasting.
Thick ragwort (Senecio Krasissimus)
An upright shrub variety with stems growing up to 40-50 cm. The shoots are branching, rough, the leaves are green with a grayish-silver sheen, oval with a slight sharpening at the ends. Inflorescences are yellow, formed on a high peduncle.
A variety characterized by short stature. Forms a compact upright shrub about 10cm high. The leaves are reed, linear-lanceolate, small (3-4 cm), directed strictly upwards. Shoots are fleshy. Valued for its muted color in bluish-gray tones. It looks unusual in a flower pot, contrasts beautifully with decorative pebbles as mulch. The flowers are white, rare, collected in baskets.
Stems creeping, ampelous, thin. branching, up to half a meter in length. The elongated thick leaves are round, rarely arranged and look very impressive due to the claw-like bend.
Senecio is often confused with cineraria. These are close relatives, but still different plants.
Senecio is, like all succulents, a hardy culture that tolerates lack of care more easily than abundant watering and other excessive measures. They can be easily grown at home by inexperienced, and even negligent flower growers. But some simple rules of agricultural technology still need to be known.
Without exception, all varieties of crosses belong to light-loving cultures, which, however, are ready to put up with some inconvenience in this regard. But they need to provide a few hours of full sunlight. Ideal for them would be the western and eastern window sills, the southern ones slightly shaded at noon (the light should be diffused) or other locations of equal illumination. The lack of light is expressed in increased growth due to the thinning of the shoots and the loss of the bright color of the foliage.
All succulents require moderate watering and do not tolerate waterlogging, and ragworts are the most sensitive in this regard. This item is the most difficult and strict to implement. Even during the active growing season (spring-summer), watering should be moderate. It is not necessary to focus solely on the recommended frequency, but each time to check whether the substrate has dried out enough for the next watering. After the earthen lump dries up completely, he needs to be allowed to stay in this state for 2 days.
By autumn, these moderate procedures begin to shorten even more, increasing the pause and preparing the succulent for wintering conditions. During the dormant period, almost dry conditions are created for the flower in a pot, occasionally moisturizing so that the greens do not wither. If there are no signs of loss of their elasticity, you can not water the plant at all. Do not use hard, lime water. In addition, it should always be well settled.
Crosses absolutely do not need humidified air, they feel even better in a dry room. Therefore, it is not necessary to take any measures to moisten, and even more so – to spray the plant.
Despite its southern origin, Senecio cannot be considered a fan of hot greenhouse conditions. Comfortable temperatures for her lie in the range of + 22 … + 27 in spring-summer with a gradual decrease for a period of rest within the limits of what is possible for city apartments. If it is possible to provide coolness at + 12 … + 15 C, the plants will have a great rest and will actively grow in the spring. +7C is considered the minimum threshold, but such a decrease is permissible only for a very short period.
Small deviations from the recommended temperatures are not critical, the main thing, but they should not be sharp.
As for drafts, the plant tolerates them well for a short time, but you can’t put a flower in a pot where drafts are constant. One of the points of advice on how to care for senecio is frequent airing, since the culture is very fond of fresh air. In the warm season, if possible, they can be put outside, but not in direct sunlight. But any change in conditions should not be abrupt.
The ragworts are fed according to the usual strategy for succulents, 1-2 times a month, but only during the active growing season. Autumn and, especially, winter top dressing can deprive the plant of the necessary dormant phase. As fertilizers, ready-made formulations for succulents are used.
The easiest way is to use ready-made soil mixtures made for cacti and succulents. If it is not possible to buy a ready-made substrate, you need to choose a loose, moderately nutritious and acid-neutral soil. It can be a mixture of leafy soil and coarse sand (2: 1), some specimens grow better in a sandy-clay substrate. Much depends on what the plant is used to, therefore, when purchasing an already grown specimen of a flower in a pot, you should pay attention to what it grew in, or ask the seller about the composition of the land.
Actively growing young specimens require a transplant annually. Starting from the age of 3, they need to be transplanted only as needed. It is recommended to do this in the spring, when the plant is preparing or just starting to wake up. At the bottom of the new dishes, a sufficiently high drainage layer is poured (higher than for ordinary plants). When transplanting, it is necessary to monitor the position of the root neck, its level must be maintained, deepening is unacceptable. Transplantation is carried out by transshipment with minimal damage to the root system.
Reproduction of senecio is considered as simple as caring for a flower. Three methods are available for this – cuttings, seeds and layering.
The method is rarely used due to the length of the process, and also because of the difficulty in obtaining seed material. The fact is that at home, senecio rarely bears fruit, and when buying ready-made seeds, there is a high risk of buying a low-quality product due to the short germination period. Ideally, these should be seeds no older than 1 year. Before sowing, the seed material is soaked until germination, after which it is laid out in several pieces in a container with a very small depth. Planting in a permanent place is carried out after the seedlings form cotyledons.
The first individual pots for seedling seedlings senecio should be small, “in size”.
This is the easiest and fastest way to get new instances. For grafting, apical shoots 8-10 cm long are chosen. The lower pair of leaves is removed, and the stalk is left in the air for several hours to dry the cut. Then the green cuttings are placed in a sandy substrate, and the container is placed in a warm and bright place, where they usually take root quickly. At the same time, the substrate is not moistened, it can be practically dry, only slightly irrigated from a spray bottle, but in no case wet.
It is better to plant rooted cuttings in a permanent place in several pieces for a better decorative effect of the plant.
The method is not available for all varieties, but only for ragworts with creeping, ampelous stems. For this, a wide container with a suitable substrate is prepared, which is placed next to an adult specimen. Having made a small groove, the shoot is placed in it, gently pressing it with a wooden slingshot to fix it on the ground. As soon as young shoots appear from sleeping buds, the plant can be separated from the mother bush. If you plan to transplant it into another dish, it is better to do this not immediately after separation, but after adaptation in 1-2 weeks.
Diseases and pests
The culture is considered resistant to infections and indoor pests. But carelessness in care, especially regarding watering, can cause diseases such as powdery mildew or root rot. For the same reason, mealybugs can start in a flower pot. Weak specimens can be affected by aphids and spider mites, which again is most likely against the background of high humidity. The first and main help to the plant is the correction of care. It is desirable to treat it from pests by mechanical methods, while resorting to the use of insecticides in room conditions is permissible only in advanced cases. As for rot and infections of a fungal nature, all damaged parts of the stems will have to be cut out, treated with wood ash or activated charcoal, or sprayed with a fungicide.
Possible problems when growing senecio
- Drying and falling of leaves, the formation of brown spots on them. Too hot room (often such conditions are created on the windowsill between the glass and curtains) and / or extremely dry conditions.
- Dry spots on leaf blades. Most likely, these are burns from direct sunlight.
- Spots yellow or dirty brown. The reason is over watering.
- Reduction in leaf size, increase in internodes, elongation of weakly leafy shoots. Lack of light, the plant is too shaded.
- Loss of color brightness in variegated varieties. The problem can be caused either by a lack of light or by crockery that is too tight.