Botanical name: Senecio serpens
Synonmy: Curio repens, Senecio repens
Common names: Blue Chalksticks Plant, Dead Man's Fingers
Senecio serpens (Curio repens) commonly called Blue Chalksticks Plant or Dead Man's Fingers is a low-growing plant which bears fleshy, cylindrical, powdery, blue-green leaves on a prostrate stem.
The stem starts off erect then lies prostrate and roots at the nodes as it grows.
Blue Chalksticks Plant's odd shaped leaves is an adaptation to arid conditions and allows for the storage of water while exposing minimum surface area to the dry air.
This greatly reduces water loss as the fleshy leaves and stems store water, which allows the Dead Man's Fingers Plant to go for a considerably long period without being watered.
Blue Chalksticks Plant grows to a height of 1 ft by 2-3 ft wide. The finger-like leaves are about 1-2 in. long.
Senecio serpens also called Senecio repens is a perennial, succulent plant native to the Western Cape Province of South Africa where it is found growing from crevices in the rocky sandstone slopes.
The Senecio serpens has been reclassified as Curio repens. The genus name, 'repens' means creeping which is in reference to the creeping growth habit of the plant.
Blue Chalksticks Plant (Senecio serpens) 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 plant sap may cause skin irritation or skin rash in sensitive skin therefore, always wear gloves when handling the plant.
Keep the Curio repens away from the reach of children and pets to avoid mishaps.
Blue Chalksticks Plants are readily available online at Etsy. Buy Blue Chalksticks Plants (Curio repens) online from Etsy.
Blue Chalksticks Plant (Senecio serpens) requires bright light with some direct sunlight, warm temperatures and moderately moist, loose, rich, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.
Curio repens requires pruning to keep the plant neat and to reduce pest and disease infestations.
Repotting is only needed when the plant has become root-bound. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.
Blue Chalksticks Plant 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 Dead Man's Fingers Plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth.
Curio repens can also grow under a grow light where the natural light is not sufficient.
Water Blue Chalksticks Plant liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to maintain the soil moderately moist.
Decrease 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 and leaf drop.
Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole inorder to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead in rotting and eventual death of the plant.
Average warmth between 20-270C during the growing season is ideal for Blue Chalksticks Plant. A room temperature that is comfortable for you is ideal for this plant.
Keep the Dead Man's Fingers Plant away from draughts as it does not like sudden changes in the temperature.
Blue Chalksticks Plant has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is ideal for this plant. Ensure that there is good air circulation to prevent fungal diseases infestations.
Feed Blue Chalksticks Plant monthly during the growing season with a Cactus and Succulents Fertilizer. This plant is not a heavy feeder so be careful when feeding.
Stop feeding 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.
The best soil for Blue Chalksticks Plant 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 quality Cactus and Succulents Soil for Senecio serpens online from Etsy.
Blue Chalksticks Plant 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 and one that 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 stems to prevent rotting.
Pruning Blue Chalksticks Plant involves removal of any dead flowers, leaves and stems to keep the plant neat and also reduce pest and disease infestations.
Senecio serpens (Curio repens) can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from leaf and stem cuttings or by plant division.
Take leaf cuttings from a healthy Blue Chalksticks Plant and ensure each leaf cutting is whole.
Allow some time for the formation of a protective callus tissue over the cuts of the leaf cuttings to prevent rotting.
Insert 1.5 in. the leaf cuttings in moist, Cactus and Succulents Soil and lightly firm the soil around the cutting.
Place the set up in a warm, well-lit place and maintain the soil moist until plantlets form at the base of the cuttings. Allow enough time for substantial growth of the roots and new leaves.
Transfer the rooted cuttings to individual pots and water the soil thoroughly until water comes out through the drainage holes.
For a fuller plant, transfer several plantlets into one pot.
Position the pots in warm place where it can receive bright light but away from direct sunlight.
Maintain the soil moist until the new Curio repens are well established after which you can begin routine care.
Take 3-5 in. stem cuttings from a healthy Blue Chalksticks Plant and allow the cuttings to dry (callus) for about 2-3 days.
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 Curio repens after which you can begin routine care. For a fuller plant, transplant several cuttings into one pot.
Water the Blue Chalksticks Plant thoroughly at least 1 day before to make it easier to divide and also hasten establishment. A well hydrated plant suffers less shock and takes a shorter time to take root.
Take out the plant from its pot and carefully divide it into sections by pulling apart the roots.
Ensure each section has adequate roots to hasten establishment.
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 root base of the section.
Place the section in the previously made hole and lightly firm the soil around the base while taking care not to bury it too deep; maintain the section at the same soil level it was in the previous pot.
Water the soil thoroughly and place the set up in a well-lit, warm place until the new Senecio serpens is well established after which you can begin routine care.
Blue Chalksticks Plant (Senecio serpens) growing problems include leaf drop, leggy growth, leaf spots, rotting, plant death, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.
There are two possible causes on sudden leaf drop in Blue Chalksticks Plant. One possible cause of sudden leaf drop is watering with very cold water.
Being a tropical plant where temperatures are warm, watering with too cold water will shock the plant. Water Curio repens with water that is at room temperature to avoid shocking this tropical plant.
The second possible cause of sudden leaf drop in Blue Chalksticks Plant is underwatering. Water the plant moderately and allow the soil to dry out but never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.
Leggy stems (elongated stems) in Blue Chalksticks Plant during the cold season is due to too much water (overwatering) or soggy soil.
Water 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 Blue Chalksticks Plant happens during the growing season, then the cause is too little light aa it grows best in bright light with some direct sunlight of at least 4-6 hours.
Too little light will cause the Senecio serpens 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 or instal a grow light if the natural light is inadequate.
In addition, rotate the pot regularly to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for even growth.
Brown dry spots in Blue Chalksticks Plant are due to underwatering resulting in too little moisture in the soil.
Water the Senecio serpens moderately during the hot season while while allowing the top 2-3 in. of the soil to dry out between waterings.
Significantly decrease watering during the cold period to maintain the soil barely moist as growth is reduced at this time.
Rotting plant base and stems collapse in Blue Chalksticks Plant is an indication of basal stem rot disease which is brought about by overwet conditions.
Use the upper healthy stems to propagate new plants and discard the infected parts to reduce spread to the rest of the plant.
Thereafter, water the plant liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of the soil to dry out between waterings.
Significantly reduce watering during the cold season to maintain the soil barely moist as growth is minimal at this time.
Wilted and discolored leaves in Blue Chalksticks Plant are caused by overwatering during the cold period. Reduce watering during the cold season and maintain the soil barely moist.
Brown, soft leaf spots in Blue Chalksticks Plant 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.
The other common disease in Blue Chalksticks Plant is powdery mildew. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the diseases.
The common pests in Blue Chalksticks Plant 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.
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