Senecio cylindricus (A.Berger) Jacobsen
Narrow-leaf Chalk Sticks, Blue Chalk Fingers
Senecio vitalis, Senecio talinoides subsp. cylindricus
Senecio cylindricus is a succulent shrub with slender glaucous gray leaves that encircle the trailing stems and form handsome tufts at the stem tips. It grows up to 24 inches (60 cm) tall and spreads up to 5 feet (1.5 m) wide. Fleshy leaves are finger-like, slightly upcurved, and up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long. Erect at first, the stems become procumbent and often root at the nodes as they touch the ground. Flowers are small, creamy-white, held in corymbs, and rise above the foliage in late spring to early summer.
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Established Senecios are extremely drought tolerant. They need some water during the summer but do not leave the soil wet for prolonged periods. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings in winter, when they are somewhat dormant. Since they are growing in sandy soil, nutrients need to be replenished. Fertilize annually, but lightly. Too much fertilizer will cause a lot of leggy growth.
Taller varieties can get floppy. You can prune them back to where the stem is firm in early spring. You can even root the cuttings.
Plants can be divided or repotted in early spring. If you are growing them in containers, they enjoy spending the summer outdoors. Wait until there is no danger of frost and move them back indoors in the fall.
Senecio 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.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Senecio.
This species is native to South Africa.
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