The Senecio stapeliiformis (syn: Kleinia stapeliiformis) plant is an interesting succulent plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. It is native to the Eastern Cape in South Africa, as well as in Kenya and Tanzania. It is also referred to as Senecio stapeliaeformis, the pickle plant, candle plant or candle stick.
It is called so because its stems are striped, cylindrical and small, with several spines along the edges. The flowers usually bloom in fall on a separate stalk and are reddish-orange in color.
24 Senecio Lower Classifications [With Pictures]
How to Care For Senecio stapeliiformis
Senecio stapeliiformis succulents are interesting and tough plants. More often than not, they are used for ground cover, but some of them are shrubs and are quite large. So, learn the specifics of the type you are dealing with before buying one.
Here’s the rest of the information.
Senecio stapeliiformis succulents actually light indirect light, but it should be bright sunlight. That’s the note for those who are growing these plants in hot climates. But if you live in cooler regions, you should make sure that they get full sunlight. That is applicable to winter care as well.
These plants also don’t do well if they experience hot or cold drafts.
Now, this is an important part to note. Since Senecio stapeliiformis plants are succulents, they are very good when it comes to resisting drought. That’s because these plants have the ability to store water in their foliage. If you give them too much water or the soil is too moist, it will make their leaves explode.
So, most of the time, you just need to let the roots dry completely before you water them again. If you water them before they are totally dry, the roots will soak in water and that’s not good because they are very susceptible to rotting. You will notice that the plant and the roots turn mushy and that’s unhealthy.
The best way to verify this is to check the levels of moisture in the soil. If you see that the leaves are pruning or wrinkling, it means that the plant needs to be watered. At the peak of their growing season, you should water these plants once a week or two.
In the winter, you can reduce that drastically and bring it down to once a month. Essentially, look for visual cues which will tell you when the plant needs water. When the leaves look soft, deflated or pruned you should give them some water.
While you’re at it, make sure that the soil is hydrated as well but not soaking in water. But here’s the tricky thing. Overwatered succulents look pretty similar to underwatered succulents.
That’s why you should touch them to check. If they are slimy, you should reign in the watering and if they are too dry, you should check the soil for dryness.
You must also take the immediate environment of the plant into account. That changes based on the species.
The soil pH isn’t the most important thing about the growth of the Senecio stapeliiformis. They are easy to maintain, but make sure that the pH is neutral and between 6 and 7.
What’s important is that it is well-drained and sandy. If you’re planting it in a pot, regular cactus mix or fast-draining succulent mix will do just fine.
The Senecio stapeliiformis plants can grow well in sandy soil, but they need a little nutritional boost. So, you can add a mild fertilizer to them any time between spring and fall. If you overdo it, the plant will be leggy and that’s a red flag.
Most of these succulents grow well in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 12. Like many other succulents, they tolerate heat well but when it comes to cold weather or dampness, they can handle it only for a little while.
Too much exposure to cold weather makes them turn mushy. So, you should bring the pots inside in winter.
Senecio stapeliiformis plants are not completely immune to mealybugs and scales. So, you should keep a little insecticidal soap or neem oil handy and treat them as and when required.
You don’t need to prune Senecio stapeliiformis plants for growth. This is a requirement only when you need to remove foliage that is disease-ridden or dead. If you have a taller species, you can prune them to the stem if you want the plants to be firm.
Smaller Senecio stapeliiformis succulents grow healthily in containers and even with other plants. Get a good potting mix and make sure the pot has drainage holes. The pot itself should preferably be made of unglazed ceramic or terra cotta.
The repotting style depends on the species and how it is growing. You will need to do it when the pot is filled with the plant’s roots. You will know this when you see them come out of the pot’s drainage holes.
You can assume that this will happen once in 12 to 18 months. That is also a good time to get a bigger pot and change the soil for better growth.
Propagating Senecio stapeliiformis
Senecio stapeliiformis plants are best propagated through roots. You can also use seeds, but that hardly ever happens because the root cuttings are so efficient.
You can plant them any time between autumn and spring which is their growing season. Check the appropriate size of the cutting for your specific species before you proceed.
You should let the roots callous for a few days and then dip them in a rooting hormone. Then you must place them in a container with the potting mix. And water it only after you see the roots growing.