By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Senecio wax ivy (Senecio macroglossus ‘Variegatus’)is a delightful trailing plant with succulent stems and waxy, ivy-like leaves. Alsoknown as variegated senecio, it is related to the stringof pearls plant (Senecio rowleyanus). It is native to South Africawhere it grows wild on the forest floor.
Variegated senecio may surprise you with pale yellow, daisy-likeflowers and, in bright sunlight, the stems and leaf edges take on a pink orpurplish tint. You can plant in a hangingbasket where the plump stems can cascade over the rim of thecontainer.
Senecio wax ivy is a sturdy, low-maintenance plant suitablefor growing outdoors in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 and above. It isn’t coldhardy and is most often grown as an indoor plant.
Grow variegated wax ivy in a container filled with a pottingmix formulated for cacti and succulents.
For successful variegated wax ivy care, the plant ishappiest in bright sunlight, but can tolerate a bit of shade. Temperaturesshould be above 40 F. (4 C.), but the best growth occurs when temps are atleast 75 F. (24 C.).
Water the plant until moisture trickles through the drainagehole, then don’t water again until the soil is slightly on the dry side. Likemost succulents,variegated senecio will rot in soggy, poorly drained soil.
Although easy to grow in any container, clay pots workespecially well because they are porous and allow more air to circulate aroundthe roots. It requires very little fertilizer. Feed the plant every other monthfrom spring through fall, using a water-soluble fertilizer mixed to one-quarterstrength.
Trim as needed to keep the plant neat and tidy. Feel free tomove your ivy plant outdoors during the summer but be sure to bring it backindoors well before risk of frost.
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The Variegated Wax Ivy, (Senecio macroglossus ‘Variegatus’) is delightful trailing or climbing plant with succulent stems and waxy, ivy-like leaves. The triangular leaves and long growing stems of this vine make for a lush trailing hanging basket or trellised climber in a pot and is a great carefree indoor plant.
4 inch pot. Pottery not included.
Light: Bright indirect light.
Water: Allow soil to dry thoroughly between watering.
Fertilizing: Feed May - Sept. with 1/2 strength balanced houseplant fertilizer.
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Senecio mandraliscae and bloodhound
To help you sniff out and identify senecios, I've listed varieties by their most notable characteristics: cascading, shrubs, fuzzy white, blue ground covers, and upright snakes (!). As always, I've identified and labeled plant photos according to genus and species, and common name if available. If you think any info here or elsewhere on my site is incorrect, kindly let me know.
Stems trail, so display these in hanging baskets and tall pots. Propagate by laying stems atop soil, secure with fine gravel, and keep barely moist (spritz daily). Roots will form where leaves attach to stems.
Senecio radicans (fish hooks, string of bananas) is the toughest, most trouble-free of the cascaders. It tolerates full sun, ideally no more than half a day, and thrives in bright shade.
Senecio radicans (Fish hooks)
Unless you live along the coast of Southern CA, where senecios do best, use fish hooks instead string of pearls to suggest falling water in succulent-planted fountains and birdbaths.
Senecio radicans in fountain
Senecio peregrinus (String of dolphins) has charmed the garden world. Curved, cylindrical and pointed leaves resemble dolphins which, aligned along thin stems, look like they're leaping. Grow in dappled shade, not full sun, or indoors near a bright window. Use fast-draining "cactus mix" soil. Water thoroughly and then let go nearly dry before watering again (test with a wood chopstick).
Senecio peregrinus (String of dolphins)
Senecio rowleyanus (string of pearls) is arguably the most popular hanging succulent for containers. Care for it as you would string of dolphins, detailed above. Take care not to plant it in a pot with a rim so thin that it'll shear off delicate, spherical leaves as stems grow longer and heavier.
Senecio rowleyanus in bloom
Senecio herreanus (String of tears),with chubby leaves that appear striped, is another that suggests beads. (FYI, an inside joke among succulent collectors is "watch how you say the Latin name.")
Senecio herreanus (String of tears, String of watermelons)
Senecio kleiniiformis(Spear head) has potential for being the next string of dolphins if someone comes up with an endearing animal that its winged and pointed leaves resemble. It's also a beautiful blue. In greater light, leaves shorten and plants form a tighter cluster.
Senecio kleiniformis (Spear Head)
Senecio macroglossus looks like ivy, but its daisylike flowers give it away. Leaves have a waxy feel and though thin, are definitely succulent.
Senecio macroglossus 'Variegatus' (wax ivy)
Senecio jacobsenii turns shades of purple, lavender and pink when given adequate sunlight. Otherwise it stubbornly stays chartreuse. The plant's overlapping leaves resemble bunches of flat grapes. Has orange flowers.
Variegated Jade Vine (Senecio macroglossus f. variegatus) (DeCandolle): Twisty, trailing vine with purple stems. The foliage is ivy-like and a glossy dark green with a wide, creamy white edge. This is a fast, vigorous trailing plant that grow over 3.0' long. Exposure to direct sun can induce purple stress flushing. It makes an exceptional choice for hanging baskets and can occasionally flower with pale yellow, daisy-like blooms. In the wild, it grows in and around the forests of South Africa, spreading along the ground.
Soft succulents will not survive a hard frost, but if there is a risk of freezing temperatures they can be brought indoors to grow on a sunny window sill or under a grow light. They need bright sunlight, good drainage, and infrequent water to prevent rot. Pick containers with drainage holes and use well-draining cactus and succulent soil with 50% to 70% mineral grit such as coarse sand, pumice, or perlite. Water deeply enough for water to run out the drainage hole, then wait for the soil to fully dry before watering again.
This variety is easy to re-root from stem cuttings. Look to our Succulent Cuttings Guide for tips on succulent propagation.