Thursday, June 16, 2011

Foliage Follow-up June 2011, a little zonal envy (seems to be a continual theme with me)

When we visited Southern California in 2009 I was in awe of the virtual sea of Blue Senecio that I saw in many residential gardens in Venice. I realize those of you in warmer climates than mine (Zone 8) may view this particular plant as rather common, or even as a bit invasive. But of course the grass is always greener (or bluer in this case), on the other side. I was thinking of these California images when I saw a many trunked 4” container of Senecio ‘Santa Barbara Blue’ earlier this year for only $4.99 I grabbed it. Of course I didn’t actually think to take a picture of it until after I had cut it all up. Here’s what it looked like then. I let the cuttings callus over a bit and then planted them in a sort of serpentine shape in my driest and sunniest planting bed. At first they were a bit much, screaming out in their chalky blue way, but as the other plants have grown they’ve slipped back to a supporting role. I like it. I grabbed two more at the Rare Plant Research Open House in May. They were under $4 and I wanted to plant them with a couple of agave pups here… And lastly visiting another nursery this spring a charming and well shaped plant just begged to be taken home with me and planted “as-is” (no chopping)... I am infatuated with this fabulous chalky blue succulent. I imagine that come late fall, when the first hint of a frost is in the air, I’ll probably take several cuttings and attempt to propagate them through the winter. Whatever success I have will never measure up to the possibility of a sea of Blue Senecio…
For more "lust worthy" foliage visit Digging, the home of Foliage-Follow Up every 16th of the month!


  1. I LOVE these guys too... such a great color.
    I've successfully overwintered them indoors in a sunny windowsill before. They looked like crap by spring, but they did survive.

  2. I just bought one myself, but yes: the Angelinos I know regard it with a jaundiced eye like we would, say, Scotch Broom.

  3. Greensparrow, unfortunately looking like crap isn't exactly what I'm shooting for...

    ricki, last week as we were driving out I-84 my husband commented on the beautiful yellow flowing bushes that were EVERYWHERE. I told him the story. Still I have to agree with him, it really was quite beautiful.

  4. Oh yeah...I don't have much zone envy in me...but that's one plant I REALLY want to have! I almost bought some at Rare Plant Research this year, had them in my little hands, then put them back. If you have any luck with them overwintering (even if indoors) I may get brave enough to try some next year. Those pics of the big swathes of die for!

  5. Senecio does have such wonderful coloration. My lack of sun precludes them from my garden, but its nice to appreciate them in other's.

  6. Oh my!
    I have thing for blue plants and now you've shown me one I've not ever seen. Shame on you! ha ha

    this was a fun post to read. I can see why you have zone envy. You're a mighty fine and talented gardener.
    Happy FF!
    David/ :-)

  7. I remember Senecio from my California days and even as a child I found it impressively seductive. I love seeing in with your other warm-weather friends like that - it seems right at home.

  8. Driving back to Portland a week ago from San Fran was much more depressing than the last trip. I was truly enchanted by all the succulents during this trip.

    Funny you're mentioned Scotch Broom. There is also the invasive plant named Gorse or Ulex and it looks similar.

  9. I just got a piece of this from a plant my mother bought while she was here. I might have to try sticking a piece of mine in the ground as well once she gets a little more to her. I really like what you did with yours.

  10. Loree, take a few small cuttings in late autumn and jam them all in one seed tray and keep in the greenhouse or house for the winter. They will be bushy in the spring ready to be bedded out :)

  11. I am SO envious of those Californians who get to grow this as a groundcover. I have a few small pieces in my succulent trough and wall, and they add so much to even a temporary display.

    You might be heartened to know that they are tougher about freezing weather than you think. Mine stayed outside all last winter, and it was a cold winter--extended time under freezing and even some 15 degree nights. The blue chalk fingers came through with minimal damage covered only by a sheet. They did get additional protection and warmth from being situated under a live oak and on a patio near our house. But still--outside!

  12. Nice! We had crap loads of Senecio mandraliscae, until it took over the world. It even thrived on the shadier side of the yard. I'm liking it's shorter, cuter & less insane cousin Senecio serpens more these days.

  13. scott, oh ya shoulda! I will report and hopefully cause you to take the plunge!

    RBell, isn't it nice that we all have a list of things we get to love in other peoples gardens?

    Thank you David...and I hope you'll be able to see a Senecio in person (and buy it) soon!

    MulchMaid, I went to move one of the cut and planted bits yesterday and you should have seen the roots! Amazing. They so seem quite happy.

    Ann, at least you have summer here to look forward to. Imagine making that trip in October..or November, knowing that all that lies ahead is months of cold and grey.

    Thanks Mandy, and good luck.

    Mark and Gaz, the voice of experience! Thank you. And the way you say "jam them in" tells me there is no need to finesse the thing.

    Pam, that's an impressive tale of cold hardiness! I bet our wet ways up here would be there undoing...

    Megan, oh to be able to have several types to play with! you lucky lucky people...


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