Keep scrolling for a comprehensive care guide for the Senecio crassissimus, also known as the ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ or ‘Lavender Steps’.
‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ is a unique and stunning addition to any garden or indoor space, with its tall, flat fleshy leaves and delicate yellow flowers.
In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about caring for your Senecio crassissimus ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’, including its natural habitat, unique adaptations, physical characteristics, growth habits, care requirements, common problems, and more.
Natural Habitat and Common Names
Senecio crassissimus is native to South Africa, where it grows in rocky, mountainous areas. It is also commonly known as the ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ or ‘Lavender Steps’. These names reflect the plant’s unique growth habits and physical characteristics.
Senecio crassissimus ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ has several unique adaptations that help it survive in its natural habitat. Its flat, fleshy leaves store water, allowing it to survive long periods of drought.
Only the thin edge of the leaf of ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ is facing the sun when it is at its hottest to preserve as much moisture from evaporating as possible.
Additionally, the plant’s leaves have a waxy coating that helps to reduce water loss through transpiration.
Physical Characteristics of Senecio crassissimus
The Senecio crassissimus ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ has a unique appearance, with long, flat leaves that grow in alternating from the stem.
The leaves of ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ are a greyish color, but are actually pale green when that grey color is wiped away (don’t do this though) and can grow up to 4 inches long.
The plant’s flowers are small, yellow and look like little daisies blooming in late summer or early fall.
Senecio crassissimus ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ is a late bloomer, with its flowers appearing in late summer or early fall. The plant’s flowers are small and yellow, adding a pop of color to its unique appearance. Senecio crassissimus requires specific environmental conditions to trigger flowering, such as cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours.
Senecio crassissimus ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ is a slow-growing succulent that can reach up to 2-3 feet in height.
‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ grows best in dry, rocky soil and is tolerant of hot and dry environments due to the unique shape of its leaves.
‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ is a winter grower, meaning it is most active during the cooler months of the year.
Light Requirements for ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’
Senecio crassissimus ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ requires full sun to partial shade to thrive. If placing it in full sun, slowly acclimate it so as to not burn the leaves straight away.
When grown indoors, it should be placed in a bright, sunny window to receive ample sunlight. These seem to like more light than, say, String of Pearls, so keep them outside in bright filtered light if possible.
However, it is essential to protect ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ from intense afternoon sun, which can cause sunburn. During the hottest months of the year, most of my succulents and cacti are completely shaded under umbrellas or canopies. I also let more prolific, hardy succulents like jade and kalanchoe grow like crazy to shade smaller plants below.
Cold Hardiness of ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’
Senecio crassissimus ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ is a hardy succulent that can tolerate temperatures as low as 20-25°F. However, it is best to protect the plant from frost and extreme cold by providing a dry and sheltered environment during the winter months. Since mine is in a pot, I just keep it closer to my house instead of out in the yard during the occasional freeze.
Watering and Fertilizing Senecio crassissimus ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’
Senecio crassissimus ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ is a drought-tolerant plant that requires infrequent watering. It is best to wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again.
Succulent fertilizer available to purchase on Etsy.
Overwatering ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ can lead to root rot and other problems. Fertilizing ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ is not necessary, but a light feeding during the growing season can help the plant thrive.
Propagating and Pruning ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’
Senecio crassissimus can be propagated from stem cuttings, which should be allowed to callus over before being planted in well-draining soil.
Pruning is not necessary if given enough light, but can be done to maintain the plant’s shape and size if it starts to tip over in pots.
Common Problems and Pests of ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’
Senecio crassissimus is an easy-to-care succulent, but it is susceptible to a few common problems and pests.
Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can cause the leaves to droop and become wrinkled.
The plant is also susceptible to mealybugs and spider mites, which can be treated with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Growing Senecio crassissimus Indoors and Toxicity
‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ can be grown indoors as long as it receives ample sunlight and is protected from intense afternoon sun.
It is essential to note that ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ is toxic to cats, dogs, and humans if ingested.
Dormancy of Senecio crassissimus
Senecio crassissimus ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ is a winter grower, meaning it is most active during the cooler months of the year.
During the summer months, ‘Vertical Leaf Senecio’ may go dormant, reducing its growth rate and water requirements.
Etymology of Senecio crassissimus
The name Senecio is derived from the Latin word ‘senex’, meaning ‘old man’, referring to the plant’s hairy leaves.
The species name crassissimus means ‘very thick’ in Latin, referring to the plant’s thick, fleshy leaves.
Where to Buy Senecio crassissimus
If you’re in the market for this harder to find succulent, look no further! You can buy your own ‘Lavender Steps’ succulent on Etsy by clicking on the images below. If you’re lucky enough to find that they’re in stock, I’d recommend checking them off your wish list since they’re not super common!