Senecio Radicans Syn. Curio Radicans
String of Bananas
Senecio Radicans or Curio Radicans is a trailing succulent that produces long and slender green stems. It is often referred to as ‘String of Bananas’ since it is covered with banana-shaped foliage.
Look out for pretty, white flowers during the summer months. These dainty, daisy-like blooms will appear along the trailing stems and have a sweet cinnamon scent.
If cared for in the right way, this trailing succulent will grow quickly. It makes a great house plant and looks stunning if placed on a high shelf and planted in a stand-alone pot. Likewise, it will add interest and texture to any hanging basket arrangement and can even be planted in the ground to meander amongst other plants and fill in gaps.
Position Part Sun, Part Shade
Watering Water thoroughly but infrequently
Size Up to 4″ tall by 36″ long Trailing Succulent
Climate Not cold-hardy, Zone 10a (Min 23° F / -5° C)
Propagate Stem cuttings
Seasonality Evergreen, Summer Dormant
Toxicity Toxic to humans and animals if eaten
Flowers Small white flowers in summer
‘String of Bananas’ is part of the Senecio species and this particular variety are ideal plants for growing indoors in cooler climates. They originate from South Africa and so have the ability to tolerate periods of drought, high daytime temperatures relatively low nighttime temperatures.
‘String of Bananas’ succulents are toxic to humans and animals if eaten so bear this in mind when deciding where to plant or position.
Senecio Radicans String of Bananas Care
For indoor growing, position in a bright room with plenty of indirect sunlight. If growing outdoors, position in full sun and move to partial shade when it gets really hot.
Although it can tolerate temperatures as low as 23° F / -5° C, this plant is not completely cold hardy. Plant in containers if grown outdoors in order to transport doors or undercover before the sign of cold or frosty weather
A well-cared-for plant of this species can grow up to 4” (10cm) in height by 36” (90cm) in length. You’ll need to leave plenty of space below or around your plant for the fast-growing trailing stems.
As is the case with most other succulents, ‘String of Bananas’ prefer dry roots and low levels of humidity rather than damp soil. The key is giving them a good watering when needed and then also exposing them to a dry period to allow roots to grow and get the oxygen they need to thrive.
The ‘soak and dry’ method of watering is a good way of making sure that the habitat of your succulent is most akin to the plant’s native climate of the Mediterranean. In their natural environment, they are used to extended ‘dry’ periods without rainfall and can survive for weeks without water. When the rain does eventually come, it is often a huge downpour, and that’s when these plants get their ‘soak’.
Be brave and prepared to hold your nerve when employing the ‘soak and dry’ method. This means waiting until the soil is almost completely dry before giving the plant a thorough soaking.
To test the dryness of the soil press your finger at least a quarter of an inch into the soil or prod the soil around the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water your plant.
If your ‘String of Bananas’ is positioned in a high up shelf or hanging from the ceiling, it’s best to use a long stem succulent or bonsai watering can to soak the soil around your plant.
When you are watering, be mindful that ‘String of Bananas’ is summer dormant. This means you may need to reduce the amount and frequency of watering during the summer months whilst your plant lays dormant. Your plant will still grow during dormancy, but they tend to grow much slower and therefore need less water than during the main growing season.
It’s easy to spot when you have either over watered or under watered your succulent. Indicators of over-watering include soggy, mushy, and brown-colored leaves. The leaves of under-watered succulents will look deflated and may also turn brown or drop off. You may also start to notice little or no growth at all.
One further word of caution about watering, don’t be tempted to use a spray bottle or mister when you’re watering your succulents. Firstly, the roots of the succulent will not get the required amount of water they need to hydrate. Secondly, any water that settles and remains on the leaves can lead to leaf rot, disease, or potentially encourage pests.
Always use well-draining soil when planting Senecio Radicans. The roots need to be free from excess moisture and receive the oxygen they need and you’ll only achieve this with a peat-free soil or coconut coir mixed with minerals such as grit, sand, or perlite. Planting in the right type of soil will encourage healthy growth and help to prevent root rot and disease.
Making your own well-draining soil is easy. Simply, mix two-thirds of minerals such as grit, sand, and perlite, and one-third organic matter, such as a good quality peat-free compost or coconut coir.
You can of course buy a ready-mixed version and there are plenty of good cacti and succulent soils available to purchase online or at any decent garden-supply retailer.
Since ‘String of Bananas’ is relatively easy to grow, no special intervention is required to get your plant to flower. Expect to see pretty, white blooms that appear on longer stems and curve slightly skywards.
You should use a ready-mixed balanced succulent or cactus fertilizer every 6 weeks during spring and summer to encourage a good, strong root system and healthy growth Something like an N-P-K 10-10-10- is ideal.
Pruning is only necessary for aesthetic reasons to tidy the plant up if it appears damaged or if leaves are yellowing or dead. Use sharp and sterile scissors or a knife to only remove damaged or dead vines.
‘String of Bananas’ is fairly resilient when it comes to being re-potted. Thankfully it doesn’t tend to drop leaves like some other hanging succulents do when being disturbed. That being said, try not to re-pot too often as hanging succulents are quite happy and tend to do well when their roots are slightly restricted.
If your plant does outgrow its container it’s best to re-pot in spring or summer. Choose a suitably sized succulent pot and repot very carefully with fresh soil. To avoid any potential for root rot, ensure the crown of the plant is no deeper than 1 inch below the soil level.
Always check the condition of the roots while you’re repotting for any signs of rot. If you do notice any wet and slimy, dark brown or black areas on the roots, gently trim them off with a sharp sterile knife or scissors. Allow the cuts to dry before repotting.
How To Propagate string of bananas plant
‘String of Bananas’ is easily propagated from stem cuttings. You can propagate them in water using a propagation tube whilst they root or simply use soil or sphagnum moss. See below for a step by step guide on how to propagate.
To take a cutting from ‘String of Bananas use a sharp, sterile knife or pair of scissors.
- Cut a stem approximately 4 inches in length. Make sure the cut is as clean as possible and as close to the main plant as you can.
- Place some kitchen paper in a container or tray and put the cutting on top. There’s no need to place the cutting in the soil at this point.
- Keep the cutting dry for the next 5 days or so to allow it to form a protective barrier or to ‘callous off’.
- Once the callous has developed you can lay the cutting on top of a thin layer of succulent or cactus soil and wait for the roots to start to grow. This will take a few weeks. Water the soil only when it has completely dried out.
- When roots appear, plant in a pot or container using succulent or cactus soil. It’s best to mound the soil up around the newly rooted cutting so that it sits slightly proud of the pot. Press down to secure and cover with a layer of grit. Do not water at this point.
- The following day water very lightly and press the soil down once more. Position in full sun during the morning and afternoon and move into a shaded spot during the hottest part of the day.
Common problems with String of Bananas
Too much watering or being planted in soil that does not drain well are sure-fire ways to bring on root rot in your succulents. Unsurprisingly, root rot will kill your succulent if not dealt with promptly. If leaves appear yellow, brown or dead then investigate the cause further as soon as you can.
The best way to do this is to remove your plant from the pot and carefully brush off any remaining soil. Roots that are brown or black and soft and mushy are rotten and need trimming off. Allow the cut to dry before repotting with fresh soil in a clean pot. Water thoroughly, but less frequently.
These tiny little wingless insects can be found in the crevices of succulents (and other plants) around stem junctions or leaf nodes. They feed on the sap of the plant using their straw-like mouths to pierce into the foliage. Mealybugs are easily identifiable by the distinctive cotton-like mass they produce on the surface of the plant.
Use household insect spray, neem oil, detergent or soapy water to wash them away. Repeat regularly until the infestation subsides.
A pest that breeds at a phenomenal rate, feeding on the plant’s sap. They are most commonly green, white, or black. These slow-moving bugs breed in massive numbers around new growth. Treat with a detergent or any household horticultural bug spray.