Senecio cephalophorus ‘Mountain Fire’
S. cephalophorus ‘Mountain Fire’ is native to Cape Provinces and Namibia
S. cephalophorus is a shrub succulent belonging to the Asteraceae botanical family. The succulent has a branched habit and can reach up to 40 cm tall. The leaves are lanceolate, fleshy, bluish-green in color. The blooming occurs in Autumn and the flowers are from bright yellow to orange, and are carried by long stalks. The cultivar ‘mountain fire’ has flat leaves, obovate, darker in color.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 5°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
The name “Senecio” comes from the latin word “senex”, which means “old man”. That’s because of the tuft of white hair (pappus), sprouting off the achenes (the tiny fruits of Asteraceae, similar to seeds). The name first appeared in a writing by Pliny.
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