String of Buttons Plant
Crassula Perforata is a most distinctive shrub succulent with triangular-shaped leaves that grow in pairs opposite one another along its branches The pale green succulent leaves are tinged with blue and grow in an intricate spiral, stacked on top of one another with unusual uniformity.
When exposed to enough light, the leaves may become pink around the edges, and in springtime, look out for delicate star-shaped flowers of pale yellow that will develop in clusters.
This is relatively easy to grow which makes a superb house plant either grown in a succulent pot or even a terrarium. If growing outdoors, plant in containers that can easily be moved indoors if there’s a frost.
Position Bright but sheltered position with partial shade
Watering Water thoroughly but infrequently
Size 20″ tall, 35″ spread
Climate Not cold hardy, Zone 9a (Min 20° F | -6.7° C)
Propagate Stem cuttings, leaves and offsets
Seasonality Evergreen, Summer Dormant
Toxicity Toxic to cats and dogs
Flowers Clustered star-shaped yellow flowers
Native to South Africa, this easy to care for succulent shrub is sure to provide gratification for even the most novice gardener. With just a little care and attention, this plant will grow quickly and can even withstand a little neglect from those with not-so-green fingers.
The best position for this plant is either in a room that gets plenty of natural light or in a sheltered but bright area of your garden that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. It will withstand a light frost but anything more severe will mean you’ll need to bring it indoors.
This beautiful species of the genus Crassula is sure to provide gratification for even the most novice gardener.
String of Buttons Succulent Care
To get the best from this plant position either in a room that gets plenty of natural light or in a sheltered but bright area of your garden that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. It will withstand a light frost but it’s not cold hardy so bring it indoors if temperatures remain low.
If you are planning on moving a young Crassula Perforata plant outdoors, you should first increase the amount of sunlight it is exposed to over a few days. Exposing a young plant to full sun on day one will scorch the leaves.
Bear in mind too that you should move your plant to partial or dappled shade when the sun is intense or during a hot spell. Again, this will prevent sun-damaged leaves.
Height and Spread
‘String of Buttons’ will initially grow vertically however, as it matures, the branches will sprawl outwards and spill over the sides of pots and containers. For mature plants, expect to see a spread of up to 7 inches with a branch length of up to 18 inches.
If the branches become old or weak, cut them back by no more than one third.
String of Buttons plant is similar to most other trailing succulents in that it prefers dry roots and even drought conditions rather than to be kept in damp soil. The ‘soak and dry’ method of watering is a good way to ensure that your succulents get a good watering when needed and also a dry period to allow roots to grow and get the oxygen they need to thrive. You’ll need 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.
Remember, they are used to extended periods without rainfall when growing in their native South Africa. There, they can survive for weeks and even months without water and when the rain comes, it falls in bucket loads and that’s when these plants get their ‘soak’.
The ‘soak and dry’ method therefore replicates this watering cycle of extreme drought and heavy rain.
A long stem succulent or bonsai watering can will do the best job of soaking the soil around your succulents as this will allow you to reach trailing succulents without having to remove them to soak and drain.
The great advantage of String of Buttons plants is that they are easy to grow and can some degree of neglect or haphazard watering.
When you are watering ‘String of Buttons’, just be mindful that these plants are summer dormant. This means you may need to reduce the amount and frequency of watering during the summer months whilst your plant lays dormant. ‘String of Buttons’ plants will still grow during dormancy, but they tend to grow much slower and therefore need less water than during the main growing season.
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.
Crassula perforata needs a well-draining succulent soil for the best results. You can easily make your own by mixing two-thirds of minerals such as grit, sand, and perlite, and one-third organic matter, such as a good quality peat-free compost or coco coir.
This mix will give a free-draining and aerated succulent soil, to ensure that roots are free from excess moisture. This will also encourage healthy growth and help to prevent root rot and disease. Alternatively, there are plenty of good ready-mixed cacti and succulent soils available to purchase online or at garden centers.
Crassula perforata is unlikely to bloom until after it has reached maturity but when it does bloom expect pretty star-shaped pale yellow flowers in late spring and summer.
Don’t be disheartened if your succulent fails to bloom. There are a number of factors that can contribute and often, no amount of human intervention can fix it. However, to give your String of Buttons plant the best chance of blooming success, here are some points to consider:
‘String of Buttons’ originates from South Africa where temperatures vary between day and night. They are used to warm and sunny daytime conditions and significantly cooler temperatures during the night. Replicating the temperature contract of their natural environment will help to encourage ‘String of Button’s to flower.
Adequacy of lighting, especially during the winter season is a key factor in successful succulent growing. If your succulent is not getting enough bright light (at least 6 hours per day) then you may wish to consider investing in a grow lamp.
You can also encourage flower growth by watering every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer throughout the growing season. Use a 10-10-10 or similar N-P-K to provide a good overall nutrient feed. Use a lower concentration than the manufacturer typically recommends to avoid root damage, especially if your plant is young.
Only prune for aesthetic reasons in order to tidy your succulent if branches are weak or begin to break off. Always wait until after your String of Buttons plant has flowered to prune. For best results, cut no more than one third off each old or damaged branch and ensure that some leaves remain on each pruned branch.
You may not need to repot this plant at all since it grows just 2-3 inches each year. If it does outgrow its container, choose a suitably sized succulent pot and for best results, repot while it’s dormant during the summer months.
It’s best to replace the soil whilst repotting and also check the condition of the roots for any signs of rot. If you do notice any wet and slimy, dark brown or black areas, simply trim them off with a sharp sterile knife or scissors. Always allow the cuts to dry before repotting.
How To Propagate String of Buttons
It is possible to propagate ‘String of Buttons’ from leaves and offsets, but by far the easiest method is propagating from stem cuttings using a propagation station, or the traditional soil rooting method we describe here.
Always take a cutting from a healthy looking stem and use with a sharp knife or scissors that have been sterilized first:
- Cut a 1-2 inch stem as cleanly as possible.
- Remove the leaves from the lower ½ inch of the stem
- Place some kitchen paper in a container or tray and put the cutting on top. Allow the cut to dry or ‘callous off’ for a day or so
- Once the cut is dry, place it in succulent or cactus soil and away from direct sunlight.
- Water the soil only when it feels dry.
- Roots should appear within a couple of weeks and should be fully rooted within 6-8 weeks.
- Increase exposure to sunlight gradually once fully rooted and when new growth begins to develop on the stem.
Common problems with String of Buttons
Root rot is usually caused by either overwatering your plant or allowing it to sit in wet soil for too long. A sure sign of root rot is yellow, brown, or rotted leaves. When this occurs, it’s time to take action.
Take your plant out of the pot very carefully and gently brush away any remaining soil. from around the roots Remove any roots that are brown or black and soft and mushy by trimming with sharp and sterile scissors or a knife. Make sure the cut is dry before repotting with new weel-draining soil and a clean pot. Resume the ‘soak and dry’ method of watering, but reduce the frequency.
Shrivelled or Falling Leaves
Leaves that become dried up, shriveled, flat when touched, or even dropping off is likely a sign of underwatering your Crassula perforata. Underwatering is easy enough to remedy, just check your soil and follow the watering schedule we recommend in this article.
If your watering is under control and water once a week, then falling leaves may be caused by low light conditions. Gradually move your plant to a brighter position, and monitor it for a few weeks.
Brown or Mushy Leaves
Overwatering is the most likely reason for the leaves on your Crassula Perforata to become soft and mushy or to turn brown and even become transparent. If this happens stop watering your plant and allow both the plant and the soil to dry out completely.
As is the case for most succulent plants, underwatering is preferential to overwatering.
Brown leaves may also be a sign of sun or heat damage. Occasional exposure to too much sun is not harmful to your ‘String of Buttons’ however, a prolonged period of excessive heat will damage your plant and it could die. If you are worried about your Crassula Perforata getting too much intense heat, then move it gradually to a shadier position until any brown patches recover.
Small Leaves or lack of growth
Small leaves are often the result of low light conditions. Try gradually moving your plant to a brighter location to encourage healthy luscious growth.