Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) Indoor Care, Propagation and Common Problems


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, Senecio cephalophorus

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

Origin

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

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.

Toxicity

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

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

Senecio cephalophorus Care Indoors

Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) grows best in bright light with some direct sunshine, moderate warmth and moderately moist, fertile, free-draining soils coupled with regular feeding during the growing season.

Senecio cephalophorus requires pruning to keep the plant neat and to minimize pest and disease infestations. Repotting is only needed when the plant has become pot-bound. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to provide them.

Mountain Fire Senecio, Senecio cephalophorus

Light Requirements

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

Regularly turn the pot to ensure that the Senecio cephalophorus receives light on all sides for uniform growth.

Senecio cephalophorus can also grow under a grow light where the natural lighting is inadequate. Get full spectrum grow lights on Amazon.

Watering

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

Lessen watering during the cold period to maintain the soil barely moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely as it can lead to wilting.

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

Temperature and Humidity

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

Keep the Senecio cephalophorus away from cold draughts as they can cause sudden drops in temperature which result in leaf drop.

Mountain Fire Senecio has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is ideal for this plant. Ensure that there is good air circulation to reduce fungal disease infestations.

Feeding

Feed Mountain Fire Senecio during the growing season with a balanced, liquid 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.

Potting Mix

The best potting mix for Mountain Fire Senecio 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 as it drains easily. Buy Cactus and Succulents Soil from Amazon.

Repotting

Mountain Fire Senecio has a small root system so frequent repotting is not necessary. Repot it 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. Ascertain that the pot has has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot.

Use a shallow pot as the root system is tiny and be careful not to bury the leaves to prevent rotting. Check out these Ceramic Pots with Drainage Holes and Saucer on Amazon.

Pruning

Pruning Mountain Fire Senecio involves removal of any dead flowers, leaves and stems to keep the plant neat and also minimize pest and disease infestations.

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. stem cuttings from a healthy Mountain Fire Senecio 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 the stems are rooted.

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

2. How to propagate Mountain Fire Senecio from offsets

With a clean, sharp cutting tool, seperate the offset from the mother Mountain Fire Senecio 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 Senecio cephalophorus is well established after which you can begin routine care.

Mountain Fire Senecio, Senecio cephalophorus

Senecio cephalophorus Growing Problems

Mountain Fire Senecio (Senecio cephalophorus) growing problems include leggy growth, rotting, plant death, leaf spots, wilting, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.

Brown, soft leaf spots

Brown, soft leaf spots in Mountain Fire Senecio are an indication of leaf spot disease. Avoid wetting the leaves and improve air circulation to prevent disease infestations. Read more on how to treat leaf spot disease in houseplants.

Pests

The common pests in Mountain Fire Senecio are Spider Mites, Scale Insects and Mealy Bugs. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests. Read on how to identify and get rid of pests in houseplants.

Leggy stems (elongated stems)

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

Decrease watering for the Senecio cephalophorus during the cold season to maintain the soil barely moist.

Make sure 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 as it 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 Senecio cephalophorus to a brighter spot and ensure it receives bright light with some direct sunlight of at least 4-6 hours or instal grow lights if the natural lighting is not adequate.

Also, rotate the pot regularly to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth to avoid lopsided growth.

Leaf drop

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

Water the Senecio cephalophorus 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 moderately and allow the soil to dry out but never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

Brown dry spots

Brown dry spots in Mountain Fire Senecio are due to underwatering resulting in too little moisture in the soil. The plant requires the soil to be kept moderately moist during the growing season and slightly moist in the cold period.

Water the plant liberally during the growing season while allowing the soil to dry out between waterings to keep it moderately moist.

Reduce watering during the cold period to maintain the soil slightly moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Rotting base and stem collapse

Rotting plant base and stems collapse in Mountain Fire Senecio 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.

Wilted and discolored leaves

Wilted and discolored leaves in Mountain Fire Senecio are caused by overwatering during the cold period. Reduce watering during the cold season and maintain the soil barely moist.

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