Senecio kleiniiformis Suess.
Spear Head, Spear Head Senecio, Reindeer Antlers
Kleinia kleiniiformis, Senecio kleiniaeformis, Senecio cuneatus
Senecio kleiniiformis is a slow-growing succulent up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall. The branches are trailing or ascending and rooting, up to 2 feet (60 cm) long and up to 0.4 inch (1 cm) in diameter, with visible leaf-scars. The leaves are soft, fleshy, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. They are with a long, tapering, wedge-shaped petiole and spatulate or triangular pointed tip with 3 to 5 acute lobes, channelled and V-shaped in cross-section and keeled underneath. In some cases leaves may be shorter and spoon shaped. Its pale yellow or whitish flowers are produced at the end of summer and early fall.
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
Established Senecios are extremely drought tolerant. They do need some water, during the summer, but do not leave the soil wet for prolonged periods. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings in winter, when they are somewhat dormant. Since they are growing in sandy soil, nutrients will need to be replenished. Fertilize annually, but lightly. Too much fertilizer will cause a lot of leggy growth.
Taller varieties can get floppy. You can prune them back to where the stem is firm, in very early spring. You can even root the cuttings.
Plants can be divided or repotted in early spring. If you are growing them in containers, they enjoy spending the summer outdoors. Wait until there is no danger of frost and move them back indoors in the fall.
Senecio can be grown from either seed or cuttings. Seeds prefer warm temperatures and constant moisture to germinate. Cuttings are easier and faster. Cut during the growing season, from early spring to fall. Root in sandy soil, in containers.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Senecio.
It seems that Senecio kleiniiformis is native to South Africa, but there are doubts about its real origin as some botanists mention that it has not yet been located in the wild. This species is thought to be found only in cultivation.
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Spear head needs little attention apart from the occasional watering and fertilizing. If the plant drops any of its leaves, remove them from the soil and discard them before they have a chance to rot or to grow mold, which can spread to the rest of the plant. This is particularly important during the winter, as the cold, wet weather encourages mold growth.
Avid gardener, traveler and writer, Rick Kurtz has scaled the Himalayas in search of a good story. Having traveled across four continents, he has experienced life in dozens of different countries. An experienced academic and commercial writer, Kurtz holds an MA in Social Science.