Garden Oracle / Drought and Heat Tolerant Gardening / Tucson - Phoenix - Arizona - California

Growing Senecio confusus:
Mexican Flame Vine

social icons Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram

Form: A twining vine.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Rapid.
Mature Size: 6-15' long.
Flowers: A large, orange or yellow fluffy disk surrounded by many narrow orange rays bending slightly backward, 2" wide, fragrant.
Bloom: Spring and summer, sporadically the rest of the year.
Fruit: Tiny, white, tufted seeds forming a ball, usually sterile. These plants are not self-fertile and two plants are needed to produce viable seeds.
Leaves: Green, highly variable in shape, 2-3 times longer than wide, pointed at tip, sometimes having toothed margins, thick.
Stems: Green, narrow, rounded. They root at nodes where they touch the ground.
Roots: Fibrous. This plant is invasive when its stems are allowed to touch moist soil.
Wildlife: Attracts butterflies and bees.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 9b-13. It dies to the ground below 30°F and comes back from its roots in winter temperatures above 20°F.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Temperature dependent.
Sun: Full sun for the most flowers.
Water after becoming established: Once a month in winter, weekly in the hottest months of the year. Only water when the soil is dry.
Soil: Well drained, dry, low in organic content, pH 6.1-7.8 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline). Avoid fertilizing because that inhibits flowering and causes aggressive growth. This plant is salt intolerant, so chemical fertilizers must be avoided.
Mulch: Use organic mulch to shield the roots from winter freezes, especially in zones 8b and 9.
Planting: Can be grown in a container.
Prune: Cut back the tops of the vines to reinvigorate leaves and flowers at the bottom. This may need to be done twice a year.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Cuttings or layering. The seed will not be viable unless derived from two plants.
Uses: Ornamental, butterfly garden. It is best grown on a trellis, fence or draped over a wall so that the stems do not touch ground.

Senecio confusus is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and is sometimes designated by the invalid scientific name Pseudogynoxus chenopodiodes.
This plant tends to lose leaves and flowers from the bottom up, so the vines have to be cut back to reinvigorate the bottoms.
The best way to prevent this vine from flowering is to [1] keep it away from full sun, [2] fertilize it, or [3] grow it in overly enriched soil. This is a desert plant adapted to poor soil.

Do you have additional information or a different experience for these plants that you would like to share? Email All contributions are welcome and appreciated.

Senecio confusus: Mexican Flame Vine, flowers

Senecio confusus: Mexican Flame Vine, seedhead

Senecio confusus: Mexican Flame Vine, leaves

© 2008-2023 by
Latest update: May, 2019