Senecio (pronounced sen-ECK-ee-oh) is one of the largest plant genera and is also known as groundsel. It comes in a variety of forms, including flowering types which are related to ragwort and foliage types that include trailing forms and waxy vines. The cineraria species of senecio alone has around 2,000 to 3,000 hybrids. It is commonly found throughout Great Britain and across a range of domestic and wild habitats including farm land and rubbish heaps.
Senecio comes in a broad range of daisy shapes and colours. The ‘silver dust’ variety is popular for its lobed and silver-grey leaves. Flowering can be prevented by removing any lengthening leaves, to encourage basal growth.
Its natural home and origin is the Canary Islands and South West Africa, although it grows abundantly across the UK and is viewed as a weed by many gardeners.
The plant’s flowering period is June to July. Senecio is easily raised from seeds, but it can also be grown easily from cuttings as they tend to survive mild winters in gardens, as borderline perennials. Seeds will germinate easily and the first seedlings will usually appear in just a few days.
Senecio is in the compositae family. Its species is cineraria.
The green and succulent types are fond of room temperatures and semi-shade and they do tolerate dry air. In summer, water them moderately and feed them half-strength liquid food every two months. In winter, just water sparingly.
Did You Know?
The name senecio comes from ‘senex’ which means ‘old man’ and is likely to refer to the flowering varieties that produce white, wispy seedheads which resemble beards.
Senecio also possess diuretic properties and was used for medicinal purposes in the past. Stock animals must avoid it though as it can cause liver damage in large quantities.