The Q&A Archives: Senecio rowleyanus

Question: I recently bought Senecio rowleyanus (string of pearls) as houseplants but I live in a desert area (palm springs area) and the plants are dying. I put them outside but it is not helping. They are in large terra cotta pots. What can I do to keep these alive during the hot summer? I know I should not over water these. Thanks.

Answer: Senecio rowleyanus has small spherical leaves about 1/4 inch in diameter. These are strung on thin stems like beads of a necklace. These stems also carry adventitious roots which grow down into the soil as the stems lengthen so that eventually the plant becomes a dense mat on top of the soil as well as the lengthening stems hanging over the edge of the pot at they grow longer. These plants are native to Mexico and should be able to tolerate your climate. Senecios must have bright light including two to three hours a day of direct sunlight throughout the year.

This plant should be grown in a well draining sandy mix and repotted into fresh soil every 18 months or so. Because younger plants are more attractive than older ones, take cuttings every year and begin new plants so that when the older plant seems to have run its course for attractiveness, you have a fresh new plant or plants to carry on.

When growing indoors, normal room temperatures are suitable during the active growth period in spring and summer. In winter they need a rest period with cooler conditions (50-55F). Minimum tolerable temperature is 45F. Outdoors, provide some protection from hot afternoon sunshine.

Water well in spring and summer allowing the plant to almost dry out before thoroughly watering again. In late fall and winter water only enough to keep the mix from drying out completely.

Feed every two weeks or so in spring and summer with a liquid fertilizer diluted to quarter strength.

Keep an eye out for mealy bugs which love these soft bodied plants. Another pest which tends to collect on the growing tips of these succulents is aphids. Best wishes with your plants!

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