STRING OF PEARLS AND STRING OF BANANAS (SENECIO)
Both string of pearls (senecio rowleyanus) and string of bananas (senecio radicans) are succulents native to South Africa. String of pearls grows as long thin succulent vines with round leaves resembling beads, hence the common name. String of bananas grows in a similar vining nature but with slightly thicker stems and banana-shaped leaves. Both look excellent draping over a bookshelf or in a hanging planter. They add a delicate and unique touch to any space.
Be careful when watering senecio. They do not want to sit in water but if they are left unwatered for too long, they will wrinkle up like your fingertips in the bathtub and then wither away. When the soil throughout the entire plant is almost dry, but not bone dry, that is the best time to water. For string of pearls another sign that they are thirsty is if they feel slightly sticky. In the winter you want to make sure to cut back on watering because this is the plant’s dormant period. If your plant is happy it will reward you with some fluffy little white blooms as winter comes to an end. For string of pearls, these blooms have a sweet cinnamon scent.
Sunlight and humidity
Senecio like bright indirect sunlight but will handle medium light. It is important to make sure that both the vines and the top of the plant are getting sunlight so that the plant can grow both long and full.
As far as humidity, these plants should thrive in the natural humidity of your home. Avoid placing them near a humidifier as this excess humidity can lead to rot.
Propagating senecio is super simple. You can soil or water propagate. To soil propagate you should take a cutting with clean shears or scissors and lay it across some soil. Then you can water like normal and it will eventually root and sprout out new growth. To water propagate you want to take a strand that is a few inches in length and remove the pearls from the bottom couple of inches. This part of bare stem should be placed in the water where it will produce roots while the rest hangs out. Once it has established significant roots you can transfer it to soil and watch it grow.
Benefits and toxicity
Succulents, like senecio, remove the majority of volatile organic compounds from the air you breathe. They also produce oxygen all day long as well as throughout the nighttime which few plants do.
For people and animals, senecio can cause some gastrointestinal upset. Bottom line: keep these out of reach of wandering tots and energetic animals.
Cleaning and Pruning
To clean up and prune your plant, cut off any dead or dying vines. If you feel that your senecio is getting too long, you can give it a haircut and propagate the cuttings. To make the plant fuller, you can place the cuttings directly back into the top of the plant where they will root and eventually vine.
Fertilizer and type of soil
String of pearls and bananas will do best in well-draining potting soil, especially one specifically designed for cacti and succulents. I like to mix in a little extra perlite just to ensure that the soil is breathable. As for fertilizer, it is good to fertilize biweekly with any succulent or house plant fertilizer during the growing season. I recommend diluting the fertilizer to half the recommended strength to prevent the shallow roots of the plant from burning.
Pests and problems
Though unlikely, senecio can get aphids or mealy bugs. To get rid of these pests wipe off any that you can clearly see and then spray the plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Repeat this every 3 to 5 days until you no longer see any signs of pests.
When repotting senecio, it is nearly impossible not to lose some leaves and strands. The positive side of this is that you can propagate any strands that fall off.
I would recommend potting these in terra cotta or concrete pots that breathe to help prevent root rot. Pro tip - senecio look great in succulent arrangements.
These stunning, cascading succulents will not go unnoticed in your space. They peak awe and curiosity with their draping succulent leaves. Give them the love they need and they will grow quickly, leaving you in awe.