How to Grow and Care for String of Dolphins

String of Dolphins

Quick Overview

Plant Type: Succulent
Family: Asteraceae
Sun Exposure: Full to Partial Sun
Watering: Light
Colors: White
Size: Up to 6 inches tall
Hardiness Zones: 9B-11B
Soil Type: Well-draining, cactus/succulent soil
Soil pH: 6.6-7.5
Propagation: Stem cuttings in water or soil.
Toxicity: Toxic to pets and children

String of Dolphins (Senecio Peregrinus) is a rare and aesthetically pleasing succulent with plump leaves that resemble jumping dolphins. This plant has become trendy in recent years and is adored for its plump leaves and sweet spring blooms. It’s a hybrid of two succulents within the Asteraceae family – string of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) and the candle plant (Senecio articulates). This plant is hard to find but easy to care for – String of Dolphins is an excellent choice for any plant lover.

Succulents are known for following their own set of rules. They’re drought-resistant, able to survive harsh environments and can go extended periods without water. String of Dolphins follows suit and is pretty straightforward with its care needs. Watering is most important as String of Dolphins is prone to root rot. Let the plant fully dry out, and then give it a good soak.

You’ll want to make sure to use a pot with drainage holes. Using well-draining soil (cactus/succulent mix) will help maintain the proper moisture levels. String of Dolphins is a slow-growing plant, so be sure to use a pot not much bigger than the plant itself. Don’t fertilize often – they only need it once a year in early spring. Fertilizing will encourage new growth during the growing season. It also enjoys bright, indirect sunlight. Keep it near a sunny window that gets around six hours of sunlight each day or in a shady outdoor space. Follow these easy tips and your plant will thrive.

It’s a reasonably versatile plant. You can grow it both in and outdoors, and it looks great in hanging baskets or climbing up a trellis. It is easy to manage for all ranges of plant lovers – even beginners!

String of Dolphins

About String of Dolphins

String of Dolphins is a succulent native to Southwest Africa. Known for its iconic dolphin-shaped leaves, this plant is a beauty that will have you thinking of the ocean all year long. This plant’s nicknames also include flying dolphins and the dolphin necklace. As with most ‘string of’ plants, this is a trailing plant that can grow vines up to three feet long. It looks great in hanging baskets or winding up a trellis. It would also look great on a bookshelf or mantel.

How to Care for String of Dolphins

The first thing people notice about String of Dolphins is the attractive leaves. But the plant also blooms in early spring. The delicate blooms are white and have a soft scent similar to cinnamon. If you want your String of Dolphins to bloom, make sure it gets the optimal care as detailed below.

Watering Your String of Dolphins

Succulents can be pretty fussy when it comes to watering schedules. String of Dolphins is pretty laidback in comparison. The plump leaves hold a lot of water, so it likes the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Once the soil is completely dry, give it a good soak. You’ll want the water to come out of the drainage holes. Water about every 7-10 days during the growing season (spring through early fall). In the colder months, decrease watering to once or twice a month. You’ll want to keep an eye on the leaves because String of Dolphins is quick to let you know its needs. Dry, deflated leaves are a sign the plant needs more water. Overwatering will show up as squishy, transparent leaves. Edit your watering schedule based on these signs.

String of Dolphins

Soil & Fertilizing

Most house plants require fertilizer often during the growing season. Not String of Dolphins! This plant only needs fertilizing about once or twice a year, depending on the climate. Usually in early spring to encourage new growth and blooms. Be sure not to over-fertilize as this can harm the plant and cause it to lose its beautiful shape. 

For this succulent, you’re going to want to use a well-draining soil mix. Preferably a cactus/succulent mix, or you can make your own using potting soil, perlite, and sand. Store-bought blends work fine for this plant, so don’t stress about needing to make your own if you’re a beginner. When making your soil mixture for String of Dolphins, use 1 part perlite, two parts soil, and 1 part sand.

String of Dolphins

Light & Temperature

String of Dolphins can be grown both indoors and outdoors. The requirements differ slightly because this plant is sensitive to direct sunlight. When grown as a houseplant, this plant likes to be in a sunny window where it can get about six hours of sunlight daily. A south-facing window is best, but it can also tolerate less light; any window will do. When grown outdoors, String of Dolphins gets a little pickier. It will get sunburned quickly in direct sunlight. So it’s best to plant them in the shade where they can get indirect or filtered light.

This succulent is a little less picky than most when it comes to its ideal temperatures. String of Dolphins prefers temperatures around the low 70s Fahrenheit (~20 degrees Celsius). It can withstand cooler temperatures down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celcius) in winter. It also does well with average household temperatures and humidity levels. Keep in mind that this succulent can’t withstand freezing temperatures. This means anything under 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 Celcius). So, if you live in a climate with colder winters, be sure to plant this in a container. This way, it can be brought indoors or moved away from the window when needed.

Potting/Repotting Needs

String of Dolphins is also low maintenance when it comes to potting. It does well in plastic or terracotta pots – make sure there are drainage holes. You don’t want this beauty sitting in excess water. Terracotta pots will soak up any excess moisture. This makes them a favorite for succulents, but they can do just as well in plastic. String of Dolphins likes to get a little rootbound, so it doesn’t need repotting very often. Give it some time to grow those roots and maybe repot every one to two years. When it’s that time, freshen up the potting soil and go up one pot size.

Toxicity

Unfortunately, String of Dolphins is toxic to your pets. It’s important to keep it out of reach for them as well as small children. The plant is mildly toxic to humans. Common symptoms from ingesting the plant are vomiting and diarrhea. 

succulent

How to Propagate String of Dolphins

String of Dolphins is also easy to propagate. If you haven’t noticed, it’s just an all-around easy plant. It is best to use stem cutting in soil or water. When taking a cutting, make sure there are at least three leaves on the stem for the best chance of new growth. You’ll want to cut off the bottom leaves at the node and let them callous over – this takes around two days. Once the cuttings have scabbed over, you can propagate them. 

Water Propagation

Water propagation is about as simple as it sounds. Simply place your calloused cutting into water. You’ll want to make sure no leaves are submerged to avoid rotting. Then you wait. Roots should start growing within a couple of weeks. Plant in well-draining soil once the roots have some length on them.

Soil Propagation

If you thought water propagation sounded easy, you wouldn’t believe how easy soil propagation is. With this method, you take the calloused stem and place it on top of well-draining soil and water well. Water when the top layer of soil is dry, and make sure not to let the soil completely dry out. You can pot into fresh soil once roots develop.

String of Dolphins

Potential Pests and Diseases

String of Dolphins is prone to common household pests. This plant is most often affected by mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids. It is vital to catch pests early and treat them. Otherwise, they’ll cause severe damage to the plant itself. It is common to treat these pests by spraying the plant with neem oil or applying rubbing alcohol with a q-tip. Isolate the infected plant, if possible, to avoid contaminating any other plants. A few days after the first treatment, recheck the plant and retreat if necessary.

String of Dolphins isn’t prone to many diseases. The most common ailment is root rot, which is avoided with proper watering.

In Summary

Growing plants can seem like a daunting task, but String of Dolphins makes an adorable addition to any plant lover’s home. It has the benefit of being a low-maintenance plant that is also unique and eyecatching. Not many plants have both of those qualities. If you’re a newbie plant lover or have a green thumb, it’ll be fun to watch String of Dolphins grow. Be sure to maintain the watering schedule and make sure they get six or more hours of bright, indirect sunlight. Plant them on their own or mix them in with other succulents, and have a reminder of the ocean any time you look at them. If you have any other questions about caring for String of Dolphins, ask away in the comments below.