Senecio elegans ( L )

Family: Asteraceae
Common Names: Wild Cineraria, Strandblommetjie

 

Senecio elegans

Senecio elegansDuring spring this mauve annual daisy flowers in abundance along the west and south coast of the Cape. The plants vary considerably in height and flower colour, even those growing in close proximity. At Kirstenbosch they are bushy annuals about 60 cm high. The leaves are soft and curly, sometimes almost succulent. The flowers grouped together at the top of the stem make a beautiful display when flowering in mass with colours varying from white to dark mauve and bright pink. The centres of the daisies are bright yellow, full with pollen and nectar which attracts bees and beetles. Once pollinated the flower heads turn into fluffy white balls, ready for the wind to disperse the seeds.

Senecio elegans may be a bit weedy by some gardener’s standards, but planted densely in large groups they offer a great reward for very little effort. Adapted to the coast and summer drought they do well in disturbed, sandy and windy areas. The dry summers they survive as seed and germinate freely in autumn with the start of the winter rains.

Senecio elegans growing at Langebaan

How to grow Senecio elegans

To grow in a garden the seed must be sown in autumn in areas with a winter rainfall. In summer rainfall areas the plants will need watering in winter, or the seed could be sown in early spring once the danger of frost has passed. Sow in seed trays or directly in the open ground. A sunny position in well-drained soil is ideal. The seed germinates within a week or two and are easy to transplant about 2 months later, or as soon as the seedlings are big enough to handle. For a striking show Senecio elegans can be planted in a mix with the orange or yellow annual Ursinia cakilefolia or Oncosiphon grandiflora, which grow to the same height. Senecio elegans is sometimes confused with Senecio glastifolius, a tall perennial species with rougher leaves, which also makes an attractive garden plant..

Author: Liesl van der Walt
October 2000

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