This succulent, Senecio talinoides cylindricus, likes to roam in the garden so make sure it has plenty of room!
If you want a succulent which likes to ramble, then Narrow-Leaf Chalksticks is the one for you. I bought my now zealous but adorable beast as a very small plant (it was in a 4″ pot) and now it’s grown up and through my equally zealous Rosemary “Blue Spires”. Both seem happy to to cohabiting the same space in the front garden and I leave them be except for a prune once or twice year.
I love the color of Narrow-Leaf Chalksticks , which ranges from shades of pale green to blue green, right on the same plant. The leaves are narrow (hence the origin of the common name) and curve upward off of stems which get pretty darn big and long over time. They can get dense and crowded at the ends leaving some of those stems a bit bare at the base. It’s an unconventionally attractive plant to have in the garden and very easy to take care off. Here’s what I know about it:
As you can see, it’s prone to a rather leggy form. If pruned, new growth will appear at the base.
Size: Mine has gotten 2-3′ tall by 5-6′ wide.
Exposure: It needs part to full sun. My Narrow-Leaf Chalksticks gets lots of sun in the morning & early afternoon.
Hardiness: The lowest it will go is 25 degrees F.
Watering: Narrow-Leaf Chalksticks are drought tolerant & therefore have low water needs. Mine in the garden gets drip irrigated every 8-14 days depending on the temps. In the large pot, it gets thoroughly watered every 1-2 months.
Soil: Good drainage is necessary. I amended my front garden with a local sandy loam. For the large container, I used succulent & cactus mix combined with potting soil & worm castings.
You can see this plant growing both in my garden & in a large pot:
Propagation: I do it with great success by stem cuttings or leaf cuttings. Both root easily in succulent & cactus mix.
The individual leaves start to root after a couple of weeks.
Pruning: I prune mine to control the size. The long stems get very heavy & all the good looking, healthy growth is towards the ends. If pruned a couple of times a year, the growth will stay denser (this is because multiple heads will appear at the ends) & new growth will appear at the base. I plan on giving mine a total cut back late this winter to rejuvenate it. Some of those stems are getting mighty long!
Pests: Mine has never had any but I imagine it would be susceptible to aphids & mealybugs like other succulents.
Flowers: Small, fuzzy ivory flowers appear in clusters at the ends of the stems. Mine flowers in late fall through the end of winter.
Uses: I think of my My Narrow-Leaf Chalksticks in the garden as a lower growing, sprawling shrub. I also have 1 growing in a container but just know that it does tend to take over. There is a lower growing variety, Senecio mandraliscae or Blue Chalksticks, which is a rambling ground cover. The color of this plant is quite beautiful.
The ivory flowers are insignificant but they do have a rather ethereal quality when there’s a few of them open at the same time.
This plant grows really fast outdoors, so for those of us who are a bit on the impatient side then this is 1 to consider. I’ve never grown it as a houseplant, but imagine it would do just fine indoors with high light and low water. If you want a cool succulent with a lot of character which has a mind of its own, then Narrow-Leaf Chalksticks is for you!
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