If you’re looking for a striking houseplant to add to your collection, look no further than string of dolphins. You may already be familiar with its more common relatives, string of pearls and string of bananas, but string of dolphins has a unique look all its own.
It’s also easy to see why string of dolphins is most commonly grown as a hanging houseplant. The slender stems cascade down over the edge of a hanging basket or pot. The dusty blue-green color of the leaves also adds to the fun. This plant is a hybrid between the string of pearls (Curio rowleyanus; syn. Senecio rowleyanus) and the hot dog cactus (C. articulatus; syn. Senecio articulatus). Thankfully, it is seldom bothered by pests, though occasionally spider mites, aphids, or mealybugs may be problematic. They are nothing a little insecticidal soap or a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol won’t handle.
The best indoor light for string of dolphins
A bright sunny windowsill is best for this house plant. A south-facing window is ideal because it receives sun from morning through mid-day, but the plant will also thrive in a west-facing window with sun from mid-day to evening. Alternatively, you can keep it under a grow light if you don’t have a window that receives enough direct sunlight.
How and when to water
Just like other succulent plants, the string of dolphins stores water in its thick, fleshy leaves. Because of this, the plant can go longer between waterings than many other houseplants. The dolphins will soften and go limp when the soil becomes too dry. To keep your dolphins in top form, water within a few days of the soil becoming dry to the touch. Alternatively, if the plant is kept too wet, it will develop root rot. Be sure your pot has a drainage hole in the bottom and that no water sits in the saucer beneath the pot to avoid overwatering.
To water a string of dolphins plant, move the pot to the sink or bathtub and run a small stream of tepid water through the pot for several minutes to soak the roots. This gives the soil time to absorb the moisture as it seeps through the container and drains out the drainage holes in the bottom. Let the container sit in the sink or tub for twenty minutes to fully drain before moving the plant back out to its display location. There is no need to water string of dolphins from the bottom because the foliage doesn’t mind getting wet when you water.
When to fertilize
Fertilize string of dolphins plants once every six to eight weeks from spring through early fall. Do not fertilize them in the winter as you don’t want to encourage any active growth at that time. Use a liquid organic fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength. I use a general houseplant fertilizer, but one formulated especially for succulents would be fine, too.
When to repot a string of dolphins
Every few years, your string of dolphins plant will need repotting. When it becomes difficult to keep the soil moist because the roots have formed a thick mat, or when the outer edge of the plant is pressing against the sides of the pot, it’s time to transplant it into a larger pot. Use a well draining soil mix that is made for cacti and other succulents and contains perlite. It should be fast-draining and coarse.