If you’re a fan of unique, trailing succulents, you may have come across the charming plant known as “string of dolphins”. This plant is prized for its delicate, dolphin-shaped leaves and easy care requirements. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Senecio peregrinus care, including how to water, propagate, and troubleshoot common problems.
What is Senecio Peregrinus?
Senecio peregrinus, also known as “string of dolphins”, is a trailing succulent native to South Africa. It belongs to the Asteraceae family, which includes a wide range of plants such as daisies, sunflowers, and chrysanthemums. The plant is named for its unique leaves, which are long, slender, and shaped like dolphins or fish. These leaves are typically green or gray-green in color and may have light purple or pink accents.
This unusual leaf shape is a natural genetic variation that has been selected for in the varieties of string of dolphins grown as houseplants. The dolphin-shaped leaves make string of dolphins an eye-catching and intriguing succulent. The leaf shape appears to serve no physiological purpose and is simply an ornamental feature of this popular succulent plant.
In the wild, Senecio peregrinus grows as a groundcover, creeping along the ground and rooting at the nodes. As a hanging plant, the String of Dolphins has a cascading growth habit and can reach lengths of up to 3 feet or more. It has thin, elongated leaves that are green to blue-green in color, and small, pink or purple flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The plant is drought-tolerant and can survive long periods without water, thanks to its succulent nature.
Is String of Dolphins Toxic?
Senecio peregrinus, also known as the string of dolphins, is a species of Senecio that contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can be toxic to humans and pets. Symptoms of poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, and changes in urine color. In severe cases, ingestion of these plants can lead to liver damage.
If you have Senecio peregrinus in your home and are concerned about its toxicity, it is important to keep it out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental ingestion. If you suspect that someone or a pet has ingested a toxic plant, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
In general, the amount of light your String of Dolphins succulent receives will affect its growth and overall health. Insufficient light can cause the plant to become leggy and weak, while too much direct sunlight can burn its delicate leaves. To ensure that your plant gets enough light, you can place it near a north or east-facing window or in a spot with filtered light. If you notice that the stems are elongating and the leaves are spaced too far apart, it may be an indication that the plant is not receiving enough light.
If you are growing your String of Dolphins succulent indoors, you can supplement its light needs using full-spectrum grow lights. These lights mimic natural sunlight and can provide the plant with the wavelengths it needs for photosynthesis. You can set up the grow lights about 6-12 inches away from the plant, and keep them on for about 12-16 hours per day. It is also important to turn off the lights at night, as plants need a period of darkness to rest.
Overall, finding the right balance of light for your String of Dolphins succulent is key to its growth and success. You may need to adjust the plant’s location or the amount of light it receives over time, especially if you notice any signs of stress or poor growth. With proper care and attention, your String of Dolphins succulent can thrive and become a unique addition to your succulent collection.
Like most succulents, Senecio peregrinus has low water needs and is prone to root rot if overwatered. It is best to water the plant thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. The frequency of watering will depend on the humidity, temperature, and light levels in your home, but a good rule of thumb is to water every 7-10 days in the summer and every 2-4 weeks in the winter.
Propagating String of Dolphins
String of Dolphins is easy to propagate from cuttings. Simply cut a stem that has a few leaves, allow it to dry for a few days, and then place it in a well-draining soil mix. Keep the soil moist and provide bright, indirect light, and the cutting should root in a few weeks.
Here are the steps to propagate pruned stems of string of dolphins:
Select a healthy stem segment. Choose a stem segment that has several pairs of leaves along its length and no signs of damage or disease. The stem should be at least 3-6 inches long for good propagation.
Remove lower leaves. Gently twist off the lower 1-2 pairs of leaves from the stem segment. This gives the cutting a bare spot that will grow roots more easily. The remaining leaves will continue to photosynthesize and provide energy for the new plant.
Dip in rooting hormone (optional). Although not required, dipping the bare end of the stem in rooting hormone can speed up root growth. If using rooting hormone, follow the directions on the product packaging and shake off any excess once the stem is coated.
Plant in well-draining potting mix. Fill a pot or shallow container with fresh succulent potting mix or a equal parts peat moss and perlite. Plant the stem segment with the bare side facing down, making sure the remaining leaves are above the soil surface.
Keep the soil moderately moist. Water the pot when the top inch or so of soil feels dry. Keep the soil consistently damp but not soggy while the new plant is establishing. Roots should form in 1-2 months. Once the new plant shows signs of growth, treat it as a mature string of dolphins.
With attention and proper conditions, stem cuttings of string of dolphins can root and produce new plants to expand your collection or share with others. Rooting hormone and maintaining humidity can increase your chances of success with propagation. With some patience, you’ll soon have additional dolphin-shaped succulents.
With any trailing succulent like this, I coil the entire cutting on top of the soil and secure it with floral pins. Roots will begin to form wherever the cutting is making contact with the soil. A strong root system is an important part of keeping these succulents healthy for years to come.
Planting and Care
When it comes to planting string of dolphins, it is important to use a well-draining soil mix. A standard cactus or succulent soil mix will work well, or you can create your own by mixing equal parts potting soil, perlite, and sand. It is also a good idea to use a container with drainage holes to prevent excess water from sitting in the soil and potentially causing root rot.
String of dolphins is not a particularly fast-growing plant, but it can become leggy over time. To encourage a fuller, more compact growth habit, you can trim back the stems as needed and propagate the cuttings to create new plants. To do this, simply cut a stem just below a leaf node using clean, sharp scissors and allow the cutting to callous over for a day or two before planting it in a well-draining soil mix.
Pests and Problems
String of dolphins is generally a low-maintenance plant, but it can be prone to a few common pests, such as mealybugs and aphids. These can be controlled with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or with an insecticidal soap.
Root rot is another potential problem with string of dolphins, and it is usually caused by overwatering or poorly draining soil. To prevent root rot, be sure to use a well-draining soil mix and allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. If you do notice signs of root rot, such as yellowing leaves or a foul smell, you may need to cut off any affected roots and repot the plant in fresh soil.
Where to Buy Succulents Online
String of dolphins (Senecio peregrinus) is a unique and eye-catching succulent that is sure to add interest to any collection. With its delicate, trailing vines and small, round leaves, this plant is a great choice for hanging baskets or as a tabletop display. With proper care, including bright, indirect light, well-draining soil, and infrequent watering, string of dolphins can thrive and bring a touch of whimsy to your home.
Where to Buy Succulents Online
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