Thursday, September 12, 2013

Senecio mandraliscae, my favorite plant in the garden this week…


“Blue Chalk Sticks”…isn’t that the best common name ever? I bet even if you had no idea what the plant looked like you’d conjure up a mental image that came pretty close.

Like many of the plants I yearn for Senecio mandraliscae isn’t hardy in my zone 8 garden. However that doesn’t stop me from enjoying these eye-popping blue sticks. I bought a couple of plants a few years ago and have kept them going via fall cuttings, it’s easy!

Of course I would really rather have a permanent sea of blue like I saw in Venice, CA

Or at the Huntington Gardens.

But since that isn’t possible I simply cut them back in the fall (crop 2012 shown here), let them dry up a bit (the cut ends need to callus over)…

And then stick them in some soil to over winter.

Easy peasy…anyone can do it! Just a single plant for $3.99 and you’re set for life. Come spring I stick them in the ground (soil and roots or just roots, depending on what comes out of the container) and off they go!

The stats…
  • Succulent in the Asteraceae (Sunflowers) family, from South Africa
  • Winter hardy in zones 10 and 11
  • Eventual size in the ground 1-2ft tall, 3 ft wide
  • Drought tolerant, likes full sun to only partial shade

What’s your favorite plant in the garden this week? Please share it with us in a comments…

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

20 comments:

  1. Nice post, especially showing the process. I must learn to propagate plants--other than going to the nursery--or I am surely going to end up in the poorhouse. I love your little window display, and I plan to steal the idea forthwith.

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    1. Yay, I hope you do. Plus "free" plants are the best!

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  2. I like them, too. There's really no other plant quite like it. Fortunately, down here in the Sacramento Valley they're perfectly hardy. From personal experience I know that they grow very fast with supplemental summer irrigation--so fast that I need to whack them back now and then.

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    1. Whack them back...I am so jealous!

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  3. I love blue chalk sticks!!! It is a dream of mine to have a sea of them just like those California photos. I have never planted any but you have convinced me to get some going for next year!!! Thanks for the weekly fav inspiration.

    here's mine: http://parallel49palms.blogspot.ca/2013/09/the-weekly-favourite-yucca-gloriosa.html

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    1. You really should get some Louis, you'll love them and they'll multiply!

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  4. One of my favorites. Love it. I have it planted in a big container with Cape Rush and it is wonderful. Great shots!

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    1. Thanks kicky! Glad you like it too.

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  5. The chalk sticks root easily here and I've used them in numerous locations. It's a great plant and deserving of special notice. Thanks for hosting this weekly highlight, Loree!

    My contribution this week is a tree: http://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-favorite-plant-this-week-bauhinia-x.html

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    1. I will try to not be too jealous that you can leave yours in the ground! Okay off to check out your fav...

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  6. This blue color is wonderful!
    I like the plant of a blue leaf ;)

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  7. Senecio serpens is a slower growing dwarf version of S. mandraliscae, and is an even better choice for vivid blue foliage that doesn't need tip pinching to stay nicely compact. Both species are ones I use a lot for mass plantings here in the Bay Area. So easy to plant out as ground cover, and fill in fairly fast to form a thick cover. Surptised you didn't mention anything about the rather drab, weedy looking flowers, which I prefer to remove.
    David in Berkeley

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    1. I guess I didn't mention the flowers because mine haven't flowered. As you can see a couple are about to...

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  8. I grew a bunch of these last year in containers and brought them in for the winter, whole, rather than as cuttings. They did great, but even though I put them back out still in pots, they haven't really grown much. Maybe they need more water? Or to be in the ground? I never thought about putting them in the ground, and planting them like annuals. Maybe next year I'll try them in the gravel garden.

    I wrote a new favorite plant post, it's here: http://bonneylassie.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-favorite-plant-in-garden-right-now_13.html

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    1. It's amazing how much mine grow during the summer, try it!

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    2. I, too, love my Sen Man and had fantastic results(in Lewiston Idaho) planting it in the ground this past spring. Just yesterday I dug up the whole plant and plan to take cuttings for next year. However, I could'nt bring myself to throw away the excess thick stems and leaves. So, I'm going to attempt rooting the leaves(after scabbing and dipping in hormone) and I'm also going to lay the leafless stems on top of soil. Plus, this is one of my mother plants that I plan on pushing the boundaries of my zone(6-7). I potted it up(after chopping away for cuttings) in dry(ish) good grit soil and will put it under my deck with a warm "good luck". What will I do if all 120 leaves root? I guess i'll figure that out if/when it happens :) I was wondering if you(or Gerhard Bock) had any advice on the rooting of single leaves. Regardless, i'll keep you informed of my progress. FYI, my weather is usually at least 10 degrees hotter than your mom in Spokane. Thanks again for your blog. Karen

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    3. By the way, my Sen Man was in full sun and did receive regular two/day irrigation. It grew at least 6 times its original size and was thick and healthy as a horse. I loved it. Karen

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  9. First, may I compliment you on those darling pots you have in your windowsill? Love them! Great plant choice, I was completely unfamiliar with them. Here's my favorite plant of the week: http://rainydaygardener.blogspot.com/2013/09/chocolate-cosmos-cosmos-atrosanguineus.html

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    1. Thanks Jenni, going to check out your favorite now...

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