PRO TIP: Consider bottom watering to avoid trapped water between the compact leaves of your Senecio. Too much moisture in the top portion of the pot can sometimes lead to rot.
Senecio (some recently reclassified as Curio) are a large genus of flowering plants that range greatly in shape, growth habit, and color. Their diversity ranges from European perennials like the common daisy to hardy upright and trailing succulents. This care guide reflects the growing conditions and routine maintenance for the cascading succulent varieties within the Senecio family, such as the String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus or Curio rowleyanus), String of Dolphins (Senecio or Curio ‘Hippogriff’), and the String of Fish Hooks (Senecio or Curio radicans). As ground-covers in their native environment of Southwest Africa, these succulents are acclimated to a high light environment and long periods of drought. Place your Senecio where it will receive either very high indirect light, or full sun exposure. When placed in medium or low light conditions their health will decline.
If you’re unsure about your lighting conditions, please consult our guide for how to measure light in your space.
Senecio ‘Hippogriff' aka the String of Dolphins, exhibit leaves that have a ridge and split which resemble small dolphins jumping down the vines.
PRO TIP: When in doubt, let it drought! Senecio are very susceptible to root rot, so it’s best not to overwater.
Always be sure to assess your plant’s watering needs upon receiving it. Before giving your plant a drink, it is best to check the moisture level in the soil first. Senecio prefer to sit in dry soil and don’t require much attention, although when the foliage begins to prune and wrinkle it is usually time to water. At the height of the growing season they’ll only need water at most once a week to every other week, and in the winter that interval can drop to as little as once a month. If you’re moderately attentive, they’ll even give you visual cues when they need water. As succulents store their water in their leaves, you can watch for their leaves beginning to look a little deflated, pruny, or soft — signs that they could use a drink to replenish their supply. Hydrate the soil thoroughly, but only when the soil has dried mostly throughout the pot. Succulents that sit in soil which is too moist will continue to absorb water into their leaves until they overload, causing their leaves to burst. Overwatered succulents can look similar under-watered succulents. The main difference is that the foliage will slough off the plant and be slimy to the touch, as opposed to dry. As always, test the soil with your finger to confirm your diagnosis.
The watering needs of your Senecio can vary depending on the unique environment they are growing in and depending on the needs of the exact species. Consider aerating the soil of your plant before the initial watering to help the soil breath and allow for moisture to be released. For regular upkeep, take the opportunity to inspect your Senecio regularly to keep an eye out for pests. Using fertilizer spring through fall will enhance your plant’s foliage and promote new growth. Rotate your plant periodically to ensure even growth on all sides.
Remember each plant is a unique living thing and may have varying needs, especially in their individual locations. Pay attention to the condition of your Senecio and its watering needs and you will have a long and happy relationship.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I tell if my Senecio is being overwatered?
- Common symptoms of overwatering can be leaf loss, leaves that burst or pop, mold on the soil, and browning foliage at the top/base of the plant. If you see any of these symptoms, check the soil to see if it is moist. To help the soil dry out aerate and hold off on watering until the soil dries completely, then resume an appropriate watering routine or repot the plant if you suspect severe rot.
How can I tell if my Senecio is being underwatered?
- Common symptoms of underwatering are similar to overwatering: pruning or deflating foliage, and leaf loss. If you see any of these symptoms feel the soil of your plant to assess if it is dry, and therefore matches the diagnosis. Increase water to rehydrate, while being cautious not to over water.
How do I propagate my Senecio?
- Like most succulent plants, Senecio are very easy to propagate and multiply. The plant can be divided (roots and foliage) when repotting to split the plant in two or more pots. Alternatively a new plant can begin with just one strand, or portion of strand by laying it over the soil surface. Ensure the plant is touching the soil and water as usual. Within weeks the plant will begin to root and grow.
How often should I fertilize my Senecio?
- In general, houseplants will thrive when they are fertilized spring through fall. Fertilize once or twice a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer, following the package instructions for dilution and administration.
How often does my plant need to be repotted?
- Repotting every 12-18 months is ideal to change out the soil and increase the pot size slightly to promote growth. However succulents do not mind being pot bound and with added nutrients (fertilizer) can remain in the same pot for a few years.
Standard Planter Instructions
There are two types of standard planters offered by Greenery Unlimited—those with drainage holes, and those without. Within these two categories are an array of sizes and styles to choose from. The presence of drainage holes and the size of the planted vessel both play a role in the quantity and frequency of water given to your plant.
Plants purchased in pots without a drainage hole have been set up with a built-in drainage system. A layer of Aeration Stones (porous, absorbent material made of recycled clay) has been placed beneath the soil to act as a reservoir for any excess water that flows through the soil. You will need to be slightly more cautious not to pour too much water into these containers as there is no way for the excess water to escape. We suggest slowly pouring small amounts of water in bit by bit, until you have reached the desired moisture level in the soil.
For plants potted with drainage, water until the excess begins to come out the bottom of the pot and into the catch tray.
Self Watering Container Instructions
The self-watering containers require a deep and thorough watering of the topsoil after they are first placed. This is important because the roots of the plants first need to grow into the reservoir in order to drink from it. Follow the standard planter instructions for at least four weeks, before testing the reservoir. During the dormant seasons, or for plants that have slower growing habits, consider top watering for up to ten weeks.
TEST: After the initial top water period, fill the water reservoir until the red indicator reaches half way between the MAX and MIN line. If the indicator goes down over the first few days, it means the plant is ready for regular reservoir servicing. If not, be sure to continue top watering for a few more weeks, until the red indicator goes down, meaning the plant has started drinking from the reservoir.
RESERVOIR SERVICING: Once the indicator goes down, do not refill the reservoir right away. Similar to how humans need a breath of air between gulps of water, almost all plants require a drying out period. Always allow for the reservoir to empty all the way, and after a drying out period of a few days, be sure to refill it until the indicator reaches the MAX line.
From here on out, you should NEVER topwater the plant while using the reservoir system. If you water from the top, it can drown the plant. In the Self Watering Container, the top layer of soil will eventually become extremely dry and hard, and may even pull away from the edges of the pot. This is not a cause for concern, but simply because the plant is drinking directly from its roots in the water reservoir. You may opt for adding fresh soil into the gaps between the soil and planter, so as to give the plant a nutrient boost. You may annually, or bi annually, top water the plant to flush the foot system. Only do so when the reservoir is empty and the plant is ready for more water.
Step 1: Top water for four to ten weeks. The indicator will look empty, like the picture above.
Step 2: Fill the reservoir until the red indicator reaches the MAX line.
Step 3: Watch the indicator over the next day or two. If it goes down on its own, it means the roots of the plant have grown into the reservoir. From here on out, ONLY water into the reservoir.
Aeration Stones promote healthy root growth by creating air pockets in the soil and absorbing excess water in the basin of your planter. These porous clay stones are a natural, efficient and invaluable material to set your plant up for success. We always suggest using these when working with a planter without drainage holes.
We've tried countless pruners over the years, and none surpass the ARS. Our team uses these pruners daily for all manor of indoor and outdoor plant work and we'll never go back to another brand.
Neem Oil is an all purpose insecticide, miticide, and fungicide used for organic gardening. It's systemic, which means the plant will absorb the neem oil into its circulatory system and poison pests from within. Be careful not to overuse, as this can weaken plants and cause discoloration.
Plants do poorly without air to the roots. Overwatering causes the air to be pushed out of the soil, compacting the soil around the waterlogged roots of the plant. Using the Soil Probe aerates the soil as it checks for moisture.
Watering cans come in all shapes and sizes, and the perfect one for your home is the one you're happiest living with. Look for long spouts and a container volume that's appropriate for your plant collection.
Fox Farm Ocean Forest contains all the features we look for when aiming to ensure the long term health of a plant: excellent water retention, breathability, texture, and is made from organic materials.
10-4-3 fertilizer is a great, gentle choice for indoor foliage. Simply mix this in to your watering can using the supplied directions every other week. Ensure that your plant is receiving a good amount of light, otherwise it won't have the energy to process the nutrients and burnt tips may occur on the foliage.