Senecio ficoides 'Tall Towers' (Tall Senecio) - An upright evergreen succulent shrub plant that will grow to 2 to 3 feet tall by about and equal width, branching at the base with multiple vertical stems holding 3 to 5 inch long flattened lanceolate to sickle shaped gray-green succulent leaves. In late summer into fall are produced the unremarkable looking small white composite flowers (all disk flowers) held on short branched inflorescences at branch tips.
Plant in full sun to light shade in a well-drained soil where it requires very little irrigation. The species Senecio ficoides has proven hardy to 25° F for us and likely this cultivar will prove as hardy though we have not had a cold year since 2007 to test this out. The species is listed as resistant to deer predation and its succulent nature makes it both drought tolerant and resistant to burning, so a good choice with other succulents in dry gardens where wildfires are a concern. Like its parent plant, its unique upright form should make it best suited to a large container or possibly planted in a corner or even used as a low hedge. Prune off spent flowers for best appearance.
This plant was grown from seed that was collected from the patented variety Senecio ficoides 'Mount Everest' PP22,188, which we also grow. The resulting seedlings were evaluated, with this one chosen for its good color and upright growth habit. It differs from this parent on being more freely branched at the base with shorter stems having smaller leaves, resulting in a smaller and denser plant. Both varieties are attractive and useful and are different enough that we continue to grow both.
The species Senecio ficoides grows naturally around the Northern Cape, Namaqualand, Alexander Bay in eastern South Africa. Besides large Kleinia it is also commonly called Flat-leaved Senecio, Silver Senecio and Big Blue Chalk Sticks. The name for the genus comes from the Latin word 'senex' meaning "old" or "old man" in reference to its downy head of seeds and the specific epithet is from the pre-Linnean name for plants in the genus Mesembryanthemum, which this plant superficially resembles. Recent treatment of this plant in the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew databases has the current name of this plant as Curio ficoides (L.) P.V. Heath but in the most current written reference we have available, The Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Dicotyledons edited by Urs Eggli (2002), the contributor for this section, Gordon Rowley, lists Senecio ficoides (Linné) Schulz-Bipontinus as the correct name Since this plant has long been in the California nursery trade as Senecio ficoides, we continue to use this name until such time as the newer names become better recognized. The genus name Curio means "to lean" in reference to several related species with a leaning or decumbent habit. For more information about the species, see our listing of Senecio ficoides.
The information about Senecio ficoides 'Tall Towers' displayed on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources we consider reliable. We will also relate those observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments we receive from others and welcome hearing from anyone who has additional information, particularly when they share cultural information that would aid others in growing it.