Senecio a/k/a Golden Ragwort

­­­­­­­If you’ve been noticing a lot of yellow, daisy-like flowers in shady gardens this last week or so, you’ve most likely been seeing Senecio a/k/a Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea). This native wildflower forms an evergreen, perennial groundcover in the right conditions. It’s often used in the sun up north, but our southern sun is too strong for it, so plant it in full to part shade here in the Tallahassee area. It likes moist soil, but also does well in normal garden conditions. For this reason, it’s a great choice for rain gardens. It’s also a good choice for attracting bees and makes a good cut flower, too! American Indians used the roots and foliage for a medicinal tea. The foliage is mildly toxic however, so we would not recommend you try it yourself. Senecio’s satiny, heart-shaped basal foliage grows to a height of eight inches. Its flower stems grow to two to three feet and produce clusters of golden-yellow flowers up to one inch in diameter. It spreads easily - by both root colonization and seed and will spread and fill in faster if you let it go to seed. It will also go through a messy stage if you do so. Plants expend a great deal of energy to create seed – energy taken from other processes such as foliar growth. For that reason, it will look a bit scruffy for a period of six to eight weeks after seed dispersal. I let it go to seed in my yard for the first few years after I planted it; but once it had formed a nice thick mass, I started cutting the flower stems at the base as soon as they were past their prime. If you do so, you will avoid that scruffy period.

Once it’s established, maintenance is easy. Keep Senecio watered during dry periods, and you may have to do a little pulling to keep it contained. That’s pretty much it, other than cutting those spent flower stems. The only pests that ever seem to bother it are leaf miners, but they are easy to control. When you see their tracks on the foliage, simply remove those leaves and throw them away. Leaf miners do lay eggs inside the leaf however, so be sure to throw them in the trash and not on the ground.

At Native Nurseries, we stock Senecio most of the year in quarts and 1-gallon pots. Currently we have quarts only. As always, give us a call to check availability before making a special trip (although we’re always happy to see you). Sorry . . . we do not ship plants.

Some information for this blog post came from the following sources –

http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=PAAU3

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=l350

Post Date: 3/13/15