How to Grow and Care for Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) Indoors

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Mountain Fire Senecio, Senecio cephalophorus

Botanical name: Senecio cephalophorus
Synonmy: Keinia cephalophora
Family: Asteraceae
Common names: Mountain Fire Senecio

Mountain Fire Senecio Description

Senecio cephalophorus commonly called Mountain Fire Senecio is a compact plant which bears a rosette of paddle-shaped, grey-green leaves on branching stems.

The bloom is a large head of dark orange inflorescence borne above the foliage on a long stalk. The species name, 'cephalophorus', is Latin for 'head-bearing', in reference to the inflorescence.

Mountain Fire Senecio Size

Mountain Fire Senecio grows to a height of 1.5-2 ft by 1 ft wide in about 4-6 years. The plant quickly forms offsets which can be used to grow new plants.

Mountain Fire Senecio Origin

Senecio cephalophorus (Mountain Fire Senecio) also called Kleinia cephalophora is a perennial, succulent plant native to South Africa.

Mountain Fire Senecio, Senecio cephalophorus

Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) Care Indoors

Light Requirements

Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) grows best in bright light with some morning or late afternoon sunlight of at least 4-6 hours. Keep it away from direct hotshine to avoid scorching the leaves.

Regularly turn the pot to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

How to Water Mountain Fire Senecio

Water Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) moderately during the growing season and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.

Reduce watering during the cold period to maintain the soil barely moist. Read more on how to water houseplants.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole inorder to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead in root-rot disease and eventual death of the plant.


Temperature

Average warmth between 20-260C during the growing season is ideal for Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus).

Protect Mountain Fire Senecio from cold draughts as they can cause leaf drop. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is ideal for this plant.

Ensure that there is good air circulation for your Mountain Fire Senecio to prevent fungal diseases infestations.

Feeding (Fertilizer)

Feed Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) during the growing season with a Cactus and Succulents Fertilizer as per the manufacturer's instructions. This plant is not a heavy feeder so be careful when feeding.

Do not feed the plant during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time and feeding at this time can cause fertilizer burn and eventual death of the plant. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) has a small root system so frequent repotting is not necessary. Repot the plant at the beginning of the growing season only when it becomes crowded in its current pot.

Use a pot that is only 1 size larger than the current one. Ensure that the pot hast has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Use a shallow pot as the root system is tiny and be careful not to bury the leaves to prevent rotting.

Soil for Mountain Fire Senecio

The best soil for Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) should be rich in organic matter, loose and free-draining to avoid getting soggy soil. The soil should be loose enough to allow water to drain out fast enough.

Cactus and Succulents soil is ideal for Mountain Fire Senecio. Buy quality Cactus and Succulents Soil for your Mountain Fire Senecio from Etsy.

Pruning

Pruning Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) involves removal of any dead flowers, leaves and stems to keep your plant neat and tidy.

Propagation

Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings or from offsets. The plant forms offsets which can seperated from the mother to grow new plants.

1. How to propagate Mountain Fire Senecio from stem cuttings

Take 3-5 in. of Mountain Fire Senecio stem cuttings and allow the cuttings to dry (callus) for about 2-3 days.

Once calloussed, insert, 2-3 in. of the stem cuttings in moist, Cactus and Succulents Soil and lightly press the soil around the cuttings.

Place the set up in a warm, well-lit place and maintain the soil moist until Mountain Fire Senecio stems are rooted.

Allow substancial growth before transplanting the new Mountain Fire Senecio after which you can begin routine care. For a fuller plant, plant several cuttings in one pot.

2. How to propagate Mountain Fire Senecio from offsets

With a clean, sharp cutting tool, seperate the offset from the mother while taking care not to cause unnecessary injury to the plant. Remove the lower leaves to expose 2-3 in. of the stem.

Allow the offset to dry (callus) for about 2-3 days to prevent rotting.

Select a 6 or 8 in. pot and ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Fill the pot with Cactus and Succulents Soil and make a hole in the center of the pot. Ensure that the hole is slightly wider than the stem of the offset.

Once calloused, insert 2 in. of the offset stem in the previously made hole and lightly firm the soil around it while taking care not to bury it too deep.

Water the soil thoroughly and place the set up in a well-lit, warm place until the new plant is well established after which you can begin routine care.

Mountain Fire Senecio, Senecio cephalophorus

Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) Problems Indoors

Leggy stems (elongated stems)

Leggy stems (elongated stems) in Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) during the cold season is due to too much water (overwatering) or soggy soil.

Water Mountain Fire Senecio less during the cold season to maintain the soil barely moist and ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

If leggy growth (elongated stems) in Mountain Fire Senecio happens during the growing season, then the cause is too little light.

Mountain Fire Senecio grows best in bright light with some direct sunlight of at least 4-6 hours. Too little light will cause the plant to grow weak, elongated stems in an attempt to reach the light source.

Move the plant to a brighter spot and ensure it receives bright light with some direct sunlight of at least 4-6 hours. Also, turn the pot regularly to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth.

Brown dry spots

Brown dry spots in Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) are due to underwatering resulting in too little moisture in the soil.

Water the Mountain Fire Senecio moderately during the hot season while allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Leaf drop

There are two possible causes on leaf drop in Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus).

One possible cause of leaf drop in Mountain Fire Senecio is watering with very cold water. Being a tropical plant where temperatures are warm, watering with too cold water will shock the plant.

Water Mountain Fire Senecio with water that is at room temperature to avoid shocking this tropical plant.

The second possible cause of leaf drop in Mountain Fire Senecio is underwatering. Water your Mountain Fire Senecio moderately and allow the soil to dry out but never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

Wilted and discolored leaves

Wilted and discolored leaves in Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) are caused by overwatering during the cold period.

Reduce watering for Mountain Fire Senecio during the cold season and maintain the soil barely moist.

Brown, soft leaf spots

Brown, soft leaf spots in Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) are an indication of leaf spot disease.

Avoid wetting the leaves and improve air circulation for Mountain Fire Senecio to prevent disease infestations.

Rotting base and stem collapse

Rotting plant base and stems collapse in Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) is an indication of basal stem rot disease which is brought about by overwet conditions.

Avoid overwatering during the cold season. Use the upper stem to propagate new plants and discard the infected parts.

Pests

The common pests in Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects and Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests.

Diseases

The common diseases in Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) are powdery mildew and leaf spot. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the diseases.

Is Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) toxic?

Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) like other Senecio species is toxic to humans and pets as outlined by The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Senecio plants contain Pyrrolizidine alkaloids which if is ingested, can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.

Contact with the Mountain Fire Senecio sap may cause skin irritation or skin rash in sensitive skin therefore, always wear gloves when handling the plant.

Keep your Mountain Fire Senecio away from the reach of children and pets to avoid mishaps.

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