How To Care For The Striking Pickle Plant Succulent

If you’re a fan of unusual plants, and you’re looking for something new to grow, the Pickle Plant Succulent, botanically known as Kleinia stapeliiformis, or sometimes as Senecio stapeliaformis, might be the next one on your list.

But just because it is a succulent plant does not mean that plonking it in a sunny position is the scope of its care needs.

There’s a little more to it than that. You need to pay careful attention to watering, humidity, and even pruning to keep this plant thriving. Shall we take a look?

Pickle Plant Succulents At A Glance

The Pickle Plant succulent grows upright, with leafless stems that are a little spiny. So it’s a good idea to keep this plant well away from pets and children, or high-traffic areas, so you won’t find yourself picking spines out of your skin!

The common name comes from the patterns it’s known for, which look a little like small cucumbers dotting the column-like stem.

Form-wise, they do look a little like Cylindrical Snake Plants (Dracaena angolensis), as both plants grow upright, emerge from rhizomes under the soil, and have striking markings.

During summer, this plant can produce cheery orange or red flowers that look a little like thistle flowers, if the plant is given plenty of sunlight, and the other elements of the growing conditions are right.

Not to be confused with Senecio articulatus, the Candlestick Plant, the Pickle Plant succulent features similar thick stems, but the Candlestick Plant features fainter markings, and has more of a branching habit.

How Much Room Do You Need For Pickle Plants?

Pickle plants don’t get very tall. At the most, they will reach 30cm high at maturity, each stem reaching about an inch in width, so if you’re short on space, this plant won’t take up too much room.

It’s worth knowing that these plants grow quite quickly, which is quite satisfying!

How To Grow Pickle Plants

Pickle Plants are not that complicated to care for, especially if you’ve grown succulent plants before, as the care isn’t that much different, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

Pickle Plant Succulents: How Much Light Is Too Much?

Perhaps this is the wrong question when it comes to succulent plant care. The question should be how much light is enough

Many succulent plants come from arid regions where the sun beats down on them all day, and what moisture they need already lies in their leaves, as rainfall happens rarely.

Hailing from South Africa, this plant likes a lot of light, either in direct sunlight for as long as possible, or direct filtered light.

A Southern-facing window is perfect for this plant. They will tolerate indirect sunlight to a degree, provided that they get direct sunlight for around 4 hours a day, but less than this will result in spindly, leggy growth.

If you’d like to make it easier, and you are lucky enough to live in a USDA zone between 9b and 12, you can grow these plants outdoors all year round, where the light is brightest.

Ideal Soil For Pickle Plant Succulents

These plants do well in well-draining, succulent soil mixes, but better in an amended mix of equal parts horticultural grit and succulent compost.

This helps keep the drainage sharp, mimicking the plant’s natural conditions. It also means that your bag of compost will last a little bit longer, too.

How To Avoid Overwatering Your Succulents

Succulents are very tolerant of dry conditions, and the Pickle Plant succulent is no different, provided that the soil does not stay dry for too long, as they will start to shrivel.

Allow the compost to completely dry out between watering, and then give it a good soaking, being careful not to splash water onto the stems. 

How To Propagate Kleinia Stapeliiformis

Starting the process of propagating these plants is quick, and the waiting game for Pickle Plants to root is comparatively quicker than when it comes to propagating snake plants, though the process is similar.

Take cuttings in spring and summer when your plant is actively growing.

Grab a sharp and sterilized knife, make a stem cutting from your Kleinia stapeliiformis plant, and put it somewhere to air dry for a couple of days, or even a week.

Allowing the wound to mostly close helps prevent the cutting from rotting when it comes into contact with water, bolstering the chances of creating a new plant.

If you skip this step, chances are your cutting will rot before it can form any roots. 

Once your cutting has air-dried, put it into compost suitable for succulents, holding off on watering it for now.

Put it somewhere warm and bright, and allow it to adjust for a couple of days before you water it lightly.

It’s a good idea to keep the soil slightly damp but not wet, as it is very easy to overwater these cuttings.

Once you see new growth on your Pickle Plant cuttings, they have rooted.

Growing Pickle Plant Succulents: Other Things To Consider

Should You Prune Pickle Plant Succulents?

Even with the right amount of direct sunlight, Pickle Plant succulents will get leggy over time. This can be a problem when you’re growing them indoors, as the pots can get top-heavy, so it’s a good idea to give the stems a light trim once a year.

It’s also a good idea to cut back the flower stems once they have finished, to keep the plant looking tidy.


There’s no need to add extra nutrients for this plant to thrive. 

Too much fertilizer – especially fertilizer that’s not formulated specifically for succulents – can cause the plant to go into shock, so if you do want to feed this plant, do so once during spring, and once during summer.

When To Repot

Only repot your plant when you’re struggling to keep it hydrated, and the roots are coming out of the drainage holes. 

When you’d normally repot plants in spring and summer, hold off until the last few weeks of winter, or the first few weeks of spring to repot this plant.

Final Thoughts

Provided that you can give the Pickle Plant succulent plenty of light, this plant will grow well indoors.

Be careful to avoid giving this plant too much moisture, as it can and will rot very quickly if it is watered too often.

Let the compost dry out completely before giving the soil a soaking, tipping out any excess water.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that you put this plant in a dry room. More than average levels of humidity, or putting your plant in a room with a humidifier, is not a good idea for succulent plants.

The moisture in the air tends to be more than they can cope with, and will quickly encourage rot!

So save this plant for a window that acts as a sun trap: hot, dry, and with plenty of light. It also helps that this sort of position is not something that many tropical houseplants can cope with, so use it for your succulents and cacti.

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