Some of our favorite trailing plants for hanging baskets and vertical walls are the string varieties of Senecio succulent types.
In this article, we will show you our seven favorite senecio string succulents.
They are easy-care plants that can create a talking point with their unusual leaf shapes.
Those leaf shapes include pearls, beads, watermelons, tears, spears and even bananas and dolphins (yes, you read that right, there is a senecio called String of Dolphins with leaves shaped like jumping dolphins!
The senecio species covers over 1,200 different plants. These string plants belong to a subset of senecios designated as curios. You may, therefore, see some of these plants used with the name curio rather than senecio.
Here are our seven favorite trailing senecio plants.
Senecio Radicans – String of Bananas
Senecio radicans is an unusual trailing vine with leaves shaped like bananas, which is where its common name, String of Bananas comes from.
It is a fast-growing, evergreen plant that can grow to over 3 feet (90cm) in length.
Its stems are thick, green, flexible vines. The leaves are fleshy, green and banana shaped and grow to a maximum of 2 inches (5 cm) long.
Once mature, it flowers in spring with small, white puffball blooms on long stalks.
Image source: Pinterest
This plant is native to South Africa, but it has been introduced to many other parts of the world, including the United States.
It is commonly be used for groundcover or as a hanging or trailing plant.
For an in-depth guide, see our full article on the String of Bananas plant.
Senecio Peregrinus – String of Dolphins
Senecio peregrinus, is more commonly known as the String of Dolphins or Dolphin’s Necklace. Its unusual leaves are shaped like dolphins. The leaves grow on long, firm, green vines making it the perfect plant for a hanging basket or trailing from a shelf.
The leaves are relatively small at a maximum of 2 inches (5 cm) long. Fleshy and green in color, their shape resembles miniature leaping dolphins. The leaves grow on alternate sides of the stem and the whole plant looks like a pod of jumping dolphins!
String of dolphins is fast-growing, and stems can reach lengths up to 4 feet (1.2m) long.
The flowers are small, white puffballs (very similar to the flowers of string of bananas plant). They bloom in spring.
Senecio Rowleyanus – String Of Pearls
Senecio rowleyanus, the String of Pearls plant, has small, spherical, green leaves on thin vines.
Native to South Africa, the solid, little leaves can vary in size but average 1/4 inch (6mm) in diameter – about the size of a green pea. The fast-growing vines can grow up to 3 feet (90cm) long.
It produces small, white puffball flowers in summer with a delicate cinnamon scent.
Image sources: Pinterest Joyus Garden
Senecio Herreianus – String of Beads
Senecio herreianus, known as String of Beads, has small, green, oval-shaped leaves – think NFL ball (or rugby).
It grows a little more slowly than its banana, pearl and dolphin-shaped cousins and doesn’t get quite as big. It generally reaches stem lengths in the region of 1-2 feet (30-60 cm). The stems are quite thin and fragile.
It has similar, small white puffball flowers that bloom on stalks in spring or summer.
The variegated type has lighter-colored stripes giving it the appearance of a mini watermelon. The variegated species is known as String of Watermelons.
The String of Beads plant is often confused with the String of Pearls plant. String of beads has closely-packed oval shaped leaves, while String of pearls have round leaves that are more sparsely spread along the vines.
There is a third senecio that is also similar, The String of Tears, Senecio citriformis, has tear drop-shaped leaves. More on that plant below.
The three plants are very similar, and the names are often confused and interchanged by plant sellers and information sources.
String Of Tears – Senecio Citriformis
Senecio citriformis, String of Tears is visually similar its string cousins, but the leaves have a more spiky appearance. Unlike the little ball-like nodes displayed by a string of pearls, these plants have leaves that end at a point – more like a pea-pod than a pea – and grow in an outward direction from the stem.
Its leaves are a blue-green growing on long, thin stems that typically grow to 1 foot (30 cm) long. It is a slow-growing plant. Its flowers are similar, small white puffballs that bloom in summer.
Senecio Kleiniiformis – Spear Head
Senecio Kleiniiformis, known commonly as Spear Head, Spear Head Senecio or Reindeer Antlers, has much thicker stems than the other plants in this article. It is not strictly a ‘string’ plant, but it does grow long, trailing vines, and it’s got fabulously shaped leaves, so we thought it worth including.
This plant is native to South Africa and has a very distinct appearance. It has blue-green triangular leaves that resemble the head of a spear. The leaves are thick and fleshy, about 4 inches (10cm) long and 1 inch (2.5cm) wide. The stems can grow up to 2 ft (60cm).
The flowers are small, pale yellow puffballs that bloom in the summertime.
This is a slow-growing plant compared to the others. It will trail or hang eventually, but it will take a while to get to that size.
Senecio Macroglossus – Wax Ivy
Senecio macroglossus, is known as Wax Ivy, Natal Ivy and wax vine.
It has woody stems and flat leaves that rememble those of ivy plants, although it is not a member of the ivy family.
The Senecio macroglossus can grow up to 10 feet (3 m) tall. Its thick, fleshy leaves can be up to 3 inches (8 cm) long and are triangular in shape. They have a waxy coating and are green in color with lighter colored spots and marks.
It flowers with daisy-like white or yellow blooms in summer.
There is a variegated variety with green, pink and cream leaves.
Care For Your String Plants
Senecio string succulents are relatively easy plants to care for.
They prefer bright, indirect light. Too much direct sun can burn the leaves and the stifling heat can be too much for these plants that have to transport water a long way from the roots to the tips of their stems.
Like most succulents, they need well-draining soil which should be allowed to dry out fully between waterings.
Getting the watering right with the thinner stemmed varieties, such as String of Pearls, can be more difficult. The thinner stems take longer to transport the water, and you have to balance the water being available to the roots (to transport to the leaves) and the soil being too damp for too long.
Watch the leaves of your plant carefully for signs of over and underwatering. Overwatering will result in yellowing leaves that turn translucent and may even get mushy. The damage will start from the stem and move to the tips of the leaves. With an underwatered plant, the leaves will deflate and the skin will pucker.
Their preferred temperature range for these plants is a mild to warm 65 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 – 26 degrees Celsius). In winter, the ideal temperature range is 50 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 – 15 degrees Celsius). These plants do not like prolonged exposure to temperatures lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). They are not cold-hardy plants and will not tolerate frost.
If you live in a cold climate and want to grow your string plants outside during summer, consider planting them in a pot that can be brought inside during winter.
String Plant Propagation
The easiest way to propagate string senecios is by taking cuttings from healthy stems in spring. Cut a 4 – 6 inch (10 – 15 cm) section from the tip of a stem and remove all but the topmost leaves. Place the cut end in distilled water and allow it to grow roots before potting in suitable soil.
Pests And Diseases
Pests are not usually a problem for these plants, and they are fairly resistant to common succulent pests, such as mealybugs, aphids, scale and spider mites.
However, pests can infest the leaves and stems and if you spot any signs of pests – such as powdery coatings, sticky leaves, or small crawling insects – you should isolate your plant from other plants and treat it immediately.
See our full guide on how to recognise succulent pest infestations and how to treat them for more information.
String plants are susceptible to root rot if overwatered. Poorly draining soil can also contribute to this problem. Always use well-draining, succulent-specific soil. Water carefully and only when the soil is completely dry.
Powdery mildew can also occur, especially in humid conditions. This fungus can be treated with fungicide sprays. Ensure your plant has good air circulation to allow surface moisture to evaporate. They do not like strong drafts, however.
Are Senecio String Plants Toxic?
Yes, these senecio string succulent plants are toxic to cats, dogs and other pets if ingested. That can even be toxic to humans.
They can cause stomach pains, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.
They are best kept away from pets and small children.
Other String Plants
Other plants are known as String plants, but these are not part of the senecio family.
- String of Turtles – Peperomia prostrate
- String of Hearts – Ceropegia Linearis Woodii
- String Of Nickels – Dischidia Nummularia
- String of Buttons – Crassula Perforata
See more of our favorite hanging and trailing succulents.
String senecio succulents are great plants for those looking for a trailing, interesting succulent that is low maintenance.
These plants are easy to care for and easy to propagate. They are also very resistant to pests and diseases.
Their unusual leaf shapes and beautiful trailing foliage make them a fantastic choice for any indoor or outdoor space.