Variegated Wax Vine – Senecio macroglossus ‘Variegatus’

The Variegated Wax Vine is robust and lively and will soon climb, with support, to a reasonable height. Tht leaves are, as the name of the plant implies, interestingly variegated.

The plant looks similar to Common Ivy but should not be confused with it as their cultivation needs are different. The Variegated Wax Vine is more tolerant of warm, dry air (in a centrally heated room) in the winter than the Ivy.

Despite the best care, the plant eventually starts to lose the lower leaves from its stems. At this time it is a good idea to propagate from it and make new, young plants. Beware, though, of using cuttings taken from stems on which the leaves are all cream-coloured. These leaves lack chlorophyll, an essential chemical for plant growth, and do not live once they are removed from the parent plant.

A Variegated Wax Vine will grow relatively quickly to a height of about 3m (1 Ott(. To do this it will need support from a cane firmly anchored in the pot.Variegated Wax Vine - Senecio macroglossus 'Variegatus'

The stems of the Variegated Wax Vine are a delicate purplish colour and, when new, are fleshy and soft. As the stems age, they become hard and woody. Flowers are daisy-like and produced mainly in winter.

The leaf stalks are also purple, contrasting with the green leaves. Leaves are shaped in a variety of ways, most being triangular or similar to barbed spear heads in shape.

Most of the leaves have an irregular, cream-coloured variegation around the edges and along the veins.

Propagation

When a Variegated Wax Vine becomes old and straggly, propagate by taking tip cuttings in spring from shoots that contain some green in the leaves.

There are two techniques that can be used.

1 Take several 8cm (3m) tip cuttings. Remove the two lower leaves and put the cut- tings in water in a dark glass or ceramic jar to exclude light. Place the jar in a warm spot which has bright, filtered light and when the cuttings have developed roots about 3cm (1 in) long, plant into a 10cm (4in) pot containing the adult potting mixture. Then treat as an adult plant.

2 Put a couple of 8cm (3in) cuttings into an 8cm (3in) pot containing a barely moist, equal-parts mixture of perlite or coarse sand and peat moss. Put the pot in a spot which gets bright, filtered light, and water it just enough to moisten the potting compost. In about 2 months the cuttings can be moved to larger pots and treated as adult plants.

Pests And Diseases

Growing tips may become distorted. This symptom is associated with an attack of aphids. To check this, look for small insects on tips and under leaves and for the presence of small, white insect skeletons.

Treatment: Since the Variegated Wax Vine is particularly prone to attack by aphids, keep a close eye on it. If the tips are badly affected, they should be removed. This does not do the plant much harm as removing a few tips will encourage bushy growth. Spray with a non-systemic insecticide. Repeat spray every 10 days until all signs of aphids have gone. To prevent an attack, spray with a systemic insecticide. (A systemic insecticide is one that is absorbed slowly throughout the whole plant.) This should prevent infestation for a month.

Plant loses its lower leaves and becomes straggly when it is getting old.

Treatment: There is nothing that can be done to save the plant’s life. However, it is very easy to make new Variegated Wax Vine plants by taking tip cuttings and these young plants will look much more attractive. Follow the directions in the Propagation section.

PLANT CARE

Given the correct conditions, a Variegated Wax Vine is relatively easy to grow. It is also easy to propagate if the right shoots are selected.

  • Potting: Pot in a mixture of 3 parts soil-based compost and 1 part perlite or coarse sand. Repot each spring if the pot is filled, until a maximum pot size of about 15cm (6in) is reached. Put up to 6 plants in each pot.
  • Water moderately during the active growing season and sparingly during the winter.
  • Feeding: Apply a dilute liquid fertilizer every 14 days during the active growing period. Do not feed in winter.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Put in a bright position where the plant will get at least two hours of direct sunshine every day, including during the winter.
  • Temperature: In the summer, normal room temperatures are fine. In the winter, do not let levels fall below 7°C (45°F). The ideal range is 13°-15°C (50°-55°F).

Buying Tips

  • Variegated Wax Vine can be bought at most times of the year. It should not be hard to find.
  • Look for a plant with a good mix of light green and white in the leaves. Watch for plants infested with aphids.
  • Can live for some years hut older plants are straggly so should be used for propagation every couple of years.
  • Whether grown in a pot or in a hanging basket, a Variegated Wax Vine puts on a fine display of foliage. It is a vigorous evergreen climber that needs warmth to do best.

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