Senecio articulatus [sen-ek-ee-o, ar-tik-oo-LAH-tus] is a perennial with succulent, evergreen stems reaching up to 2’ feet tall.
It belongs to the Asteraceae family and the Senecio plant genus, which includes over 1,250 species of flowering plants.
Senecio articulatus is native to the dry, arid regions of South Africa.
Due to the cylindrical shape of the stems, people commonly call the plant:
- The Candle Plant
- Hot Dog Cactus
- Sausage Plant
The drought-tolerant plant requires very little maintenance, other than the following plant care tips.
Senecio Articulatus Care
Size and Growth
Senecio articulatus produces clumps of gray-green stems with dark green marking near the bottom.
The stems are long and thin with jointed segments resembling sausage links.
It also produces deep green succulent leaves appearing on top of the stems in leaflets.
Most of the growth occurs during the winter.
It may eventually reach about a foot tall, with a cluster of stems requiring at least 10” inches for spread.
Flowering and Fragrance
The flowers also arrive during the winter where the flower stalks grow from the ends of the stem toward the end of the year.
Small cups of little white flowers appear at the tips of the flower stalks.
The flowers are not significant or showy, as the plant is mostly grown for its succulent foliage.
Light and Temperature
The Hot Dog Cactus grows well in full sun or partial shade in USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b.
It can survive outdoors in 25° degrees Fahrenheit (-4° C) temperatures during the winter, but long periods of freezing conditions may stunt the growth of the plant in the spring.
In cool regions, consider planting it in a container and placing outdoors during the warmer months.
Bring it back inside in the fall.
Wait until there is no danger of frost before setting it outdoors in the spring.
Watering and Feeding
These plants are extremely tolerant of drought.
During the summer months, the Hot Dog Cactus only needs infrequent watering.
Allow the soil to mostly dry between watering.
In the winter, allow it to dry completely.
Use fertilizer at the start of spring and none during the rest of the year.
The plant only needs a little bit of fertilizer to add nutrients to the soil.
Adding too much fertilizer results in leggy growth.
Add diluted liquid fertilizer to the water when watering the plant once or twice per month during the spring.
Soil and Transplanting
Grow the Hot Dog Cactus in well-drained sandy soil.
When transplanting the plant, use a portion of the original soil.
Repot in the early spring.
Senecio articulatus doesn’t need grooming.
How to Propagate Candle Plant
The Candle Plant is easily propagated using stem cuttings or by division.
To propagate using cuttings, cut one of the stems just below a joint segment.
- Allow the cut stem to dry overnight.
- The cut end should harden.
- Dip it in rooting hormone before placing it in a well-drained succulent soil mix.
To propagate by division, carefully remove the plant from its container or the garden in the early spring.
- Prepare the new containers or garden areas before transplanting.
- After removing the plant, gently remove the soil around the root system.
- Pull the root ball apart and separate it into two or more sections using a pair of gardening shears.
- Plant each section in sandy soil.
- Add a liquid fertilizer once or twice during the spring to encourage new growth.
Candle Plant Pest or Disease Problems
One of the biggest threats to the plant is root rot caused by too much moisture.
Ensure the soil is sandy and drains well. If the soil retains too much moisture, add gravel to the mix.
When grown indoors, the plant may suffer from occasional attacks by spider mites and whiteflies.
These pests are more likely to appear in rooms with low humidity levels, which is more common during the winter when running the furnace.
- Manually remove the pests using cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol.
- Gently wipe the leaves with the cotton swabs.
- Another option is to spray the plants with water.
If these solutions don’t work, spray the plant with miticide or insecticide.
Along with keeping the plant away from pests, it’s important to keep it away from horses, dogs, and cats.
- The plant contains toxins which may cause poisoning when ingested by animals.
- Senecio poisoning is known as seneciosis and is common in Southeastern parts of the United States in areas where horses may graze.
- Avoid growing this plant outdoors in areas where animals may be tempted to try eating it.
Suggested Senecio Articulatus Uses
The Candle Plant adds height to any cactus garden or succulent garden.
It also has a unique appearance which works well on its own.
Plant in a shallow container and set near a window on a shelf or bookcase.