Friday, January 19, 2018

Houseplant to Collect: Cocoon Plant, Senecio haworthii

The new year is well underway, but spring is still months away. The bleak winter weather has me craving something, absolutely anything, green! 

This seems to happen to me every winter. About this time last year, I bought a whole bunch of cute little succulents and did up a mini terrarium

Making up the terrarium was fun and it made me see the attraction of these popular plants. They're so easy going! Miss the occasional watering and its no big deal.

Perhaps that explains why, on my most recent nursery visit, I made a beeline for the table of succulent plants. What I came home with, however, wasn't green at all!

Isn't this the strangest looking plant? If you didn't know better, you'd think it was fake.

Senecio haworthii or Wooly Senecio is a dwarf shrub native to South Africa, so it has travelled a long way to come here to North America.

In its native habitat, it can be found on rocky mountain slopes where it grows to about foot tall (30 cm). Potted up as an indoor plant in my home, it is a mere six inches tall.

The long, tubular, succulent leaves resemble a moth's cocoon (hence the common name) and are covered in fine, silvery-white hairs.

Here are some basic tips on caring for a Cocoon Plant:

Light: Senecio haworthii needs full sun (4-6 hours of sun) or its growth will become leggy.

Water sparingly! These are drought tolerant plants that are used to extremely dry conditions. To avoid overwatering, allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. When you do water, try to avoid getting water on the leaves. In the winter, the plant's growth slows considerably, so water very sparingly.

Soil: Cocoon Plants like sandy, free-draining soil. They'll rot in damp, soggy soil. To re-pot my plant, I used Miracle-Gro Cactus, but there are a number of other brands with soil mixes for cactus and succulents.

Care: Plants are best divided and re-potted early in the spring when they move into a phase of active growth. Senecio haworthii are quite happy to spend their summers outdoors but should be brought back into the house well before the first fall frost.

Fertilizer: Because the sandy soil Senecio haworthii prefers is low in nutrients, apply a fertilizer (labelled for cactus and succulent use) just once a year in the spring. Too much fertilizer can cause leggy growth.

This little fellow looks ready to propagate!

Propagation: The best time to start new plants from cuttings is in the spring when the plant is growing actively. Allow your cuttings to callous and dry for two or three days and then root them in sandy, free-draining soil.

Pests: Scale and mealy bugs will occasionally affect a Senecio haworthii, but generally they are pest free.

It brightened my mood considerably to pot up my new Senecio haworthii with a few other succulents. Now if only spring could come a little sooner...

Have a great weekend!

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  1. Not seen one like this ...
    The succulents in the pot look so nice together.

    All the best Jan

    1. It's fun planting up pots even inside. I'd love to do more experiments with mixing succulents in pots.

  2. Hello Jennifer girl : )
    That is a perfect "Halloween" plant .. it looks like something a ghost would like to have in it's collection ? LOL .. all kidding aside it is a very cool plant and what a gorgeous group of plants you have there . I wish I wasn't the number one threat to house plants or I would have some ! haha
    Lovely post and great tips on caring for succulents in the house.
    Take care !
    Joy : )

    1. It does look rather ghostly. Mother nature sometimes makes rather odd looking things.

  3. That Senecio is so different from the native one that grows here! (golden ragwort, blooms in the spring) I agree with Joy that it's the perfect Halloween plant. At our State Fair there are garden plot competitions on site and there's usually a Halloween category, and I'm often mildly annoyed that neither the plants nor the design remind me of Halloween. Usually it's just a garden plot with some Halloween decorations stuck in. lol This plant would be perfect.

    1. It would be a great plant for a Halloween category at the State Fair. It is certainly a curious looking plant.

  4. Jennifer, I have never seen anything like this!
    It is so unusual, and indeed ghostly-looking.
    I absolutely love it. We have a tore here that always has so many different succulents, si I am definitely going to look for this one. I think it adds so much to the beautiful terrarium you created.
    Thank you!!
    Have a wonderful week.

    1. I am slow to embrace the craze for succulents, but I have come to see their appeal. Already I am thinking of adding a few more to my collection.

  5. Very cool! Thanks for popping by the blog. I think everyone thought I was dead....

    1. I think most people imagined that other things had simply kept you away from blogging. It was quite a surprise just how busy you have been making major life changes. I wish the very best for you Tammy in the days to come.

  6. I know exactly what you mean regarding your need for anything green at this time of year. I find myself going outside and just looking at the Spring bulbs peeking through the soil.

    1. I envy you having spring bulbs this early. At the moment we have a little mild weather, but I am sure winter will return any moment with a vengeance.

  7. I love succulents; always have. I get that from my mother. She always had a house full of houseplants and, among them, were always a handful of succulents. I've never had the kind of success with houseplants -- of any stripe -- though I don't seem to be able to kill any outdoor plant. In our new place I'm attempting to grow a few houseplants again. So far I've killed a few orchids, my dear mother's sansiveria, and one of the African violets. The others seem to be doing okay (so far).


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