Senecio serpens, commonly known as Blue Chalksticks, is a dwarf, semi-trailing succulent of great ornamental appeal with its cylindrical, blue-green leaves. The leaves are short, up to 2 inches (5 cm) long, powdery blue-grey to blue-green, fleshy, finger-like and are born on the prostrate stems. Ascending at first, the stems become prostrate, suckering from the base and rooting at the nodes as they touch the ground. The flowers are small, creamy-white, held in corymbs and rise just above the foliage in mid-summer to early fall.
This succulent is perfect for container gardens. If you live in an area that doesn’t experience freezing temperatures, USDA plant hardiness zones 9b through 11b, this makes a great ground cover. Blue Chalksticks grow more actively during warmer months. If your Blue Chalksticks are planted in containers and do not live in a warmer zone, bring them inside until the weather warms up again.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Blue Chalksticks is drought tolerant once it is established, seldom needing water during the growing season. Soak your plant deeply and let the soil dry out completely between waterings. Apply water until it drips from the bottom drainage holes and empty the drip tray after several minutes. During winter, water your plant only enough to prevent wilting.
This succulent will thrive and do its best in full, direct sunlight for 6 to 8 hours each day, but you can also grow it outdoors in partial shade. Indoors, place your Blue Chalksticks in a south-facing window or the brightest window you have.
Blue Chalksticks doesn’t need much fertilizer. Give indoor or container plants a liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength 3 or 4 times during the growing season. Plants grown in the ground don’t need any feeding.
Like most succulents, Blue Chalksticks is fairly pest and disease free. If you see mealy bugs, which may cause mold to develop on leaves, or scales, which may cause yellow spotting or leaf drop, use a soft cloth or cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to wipe off the pests. Wilting or dropped leaves may be caused by fungal or bacterial rots. Solve these problems by giving indoor plants more light and watering both indoor and outdoor plants properly.
Blue Chalksticks can be grown from either seed or cuttings. Seeds prefer warm temperatures and constant moisture to germinate. Cuttings are easier and faster. Cut during the growing season, from early spring to fall and root in sandy soil, in containers.
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