‘String Of Dolphins’
Senecio Peregrinus is a rare trailing succulent, native to South America. It produces long and slender green stems that are covered with beautiful Dolphin-shaped leaves.
These intricate little leaves have rightfully earned it the nickname ‘String of Dolphins’ This succulent is also called Dendrophorbium Peregrinus after the species was re-categorized during the late 20th century.
Expect to see pretty, white flowers that are cinnamon-scented, that appear in summer but only on the stems of mature plants.
Position Part Sun, Part Shade
Watering Water thoroughly but infrequently
Size 30″ Trailing Succulent
Climate Not Cold-hardy, Zone 10a (Min 30° F -1.1° C)
Propagate Vine cuttings
Seasonality Evergreen, Summer Dormant
Toxicity Toxic to humans and animals
Flowers Cinnamon-scented white flowers
Its origins in South America make ‘String of Dolphins’ more suitable as an indoor plant – unless of course, you live in a super warm climate. This plant does tend to demand extra care and nurturing so it’s best to keep temperatures above 59° F / 15° C to avoid problems such as leaves turning yellow or black, slow growth, or flowers dropping off.
This plant has a slow and steady growth rate that will take between 3 and 5 years to mature. If cared for in the right way, this trailing succulent will grow up to 30 inches in length either spread across a pot or container or trailing downwards as part of a planting display.
Also known as, flying dolphins, dolphin necklace, dolphin plant, senecio hippogriff the string of dolphins plant is toxic to humans and animals if eaten.
String of Dolphins Care
This plant is best grown indoors to ensure consistently warm temperatures. Position in a bright room with plenty of indirect sunlight.
If you are able to grow this succulent outdoors, position it in full sun and move to partial shade when it’s really hot. This is not a cold-hardy plant so when the temperature drops below 59° F / 15° C, move it indoors.
Height and Spread
A well-cared-for plant of this species can grow up to 30 inches in length. Expect to see stems gradually sprawling outwards and eventually spilling over the sides of pots and containers.
This plant grows at a slow and steady space and will only reach maturity after 3-5 years.
‘String of Dolphins’ is a lover of dry roots and so make sure they are not in damp soil for longer than necessary. The key is giving them a good soak when needed and then allowing a dry period in well-draining soil 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 plants native home of South America. In their natural environment, they are used to extended ‘dry’ periods without rainfall and can survive for weeks and even months without water. When the rain does eventually come, it is often torrential, and that’s when these plants get their ‘soak’.
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.
A long stem succulent or bonsai watering can do the best job of soaking the soil around your succulents without getting the leaves too wet, making a mess, or needed to remove your plant from its hanging position.
‘String of Dolphins are summer dormant plants. Be careful 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 it will do so at a slower rate and therefore need less water than during its 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 not 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.
Use a standard succulent soil for planting Senecio Peregrinus. You can easily make your own by mixing two-thirds of minerals such as grit, sand, and perlite, and one-third of 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 and receive the oxygen they need. This will in turn 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.
It is rare for Senecio Peregrinus to bloom until after it has reached maturity. When it does bloom expect to see delicate, white, cinnamon-scented blooms that will appear along the vine during the summer.
These flowers are prone to dropping off if over or under watered.
Don’t be disheartened if your ‘String of Dolphins’ fails to bloom or isn’t quite as spectacular as you’d hoped. There are a number of environmental factors that can contribute to the quality and quantity of the flowers your plant produces and there are a number of things that can be done to increase your chances of success.
Replicating the dormancy period of your plants natural habitat is the best way to encourage success. To do this you should do the following from late autumn to early spring:
- Limit temperature to a maximum of 59° F | 15° C
- Allow soil to dry completely before watering sparingly
- Do not use fertilizer
- Use a grow light for 3-4 hours per day if conditions are not bright
Use sharp and sterile scissors or a knife to remove damaged, yellowing, or dead vines. Pruning is not really necessary for any other reason with most succulents.
Try to resist the urge to repot unless absolutely necessary. ‘String of Dolphins’ can be prone to root rot and repotting can be a key cause. Besides, the restricted root growth that is caused if this plant becomes slightly pot bound is lightly to result in better blooms.
If your plant does outgrow its container, choose a suitably sized pot and repot very carefully and always replace the soil.
It’s also a good idea to check the condition of the roots at the same time for any signs of rot. If you do notice any wet and slimy, dark brown or black areas, gently trim them off with a sharp sterile knife or scissors. Allow the cuts to dry before repotting.
How To Propagate String of Dolphins Plant
The best way to propagate ‘String of Dolphins’ is from vine cuttings, which can be placed in a propagation glass or by using traditional rooting methods in a light soil mix.
Always take a cutting from the healthiest looking stems and use a sharp knife or scissors that have been sterilized first:
- Cut a healthy 5-6 inch stem as cleanly as possible.
- Remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem and sit the stem base in water within a propagation station
- Alternatively form the stem into a circle and secure it with a paper-clip
- Fill a small pot with succulent compost or a well-draining potting mix and place the prepared stem cutting on top
- Lightly cover the section of the stem cutting without leaves with some compost. This will encourage root growth.
- Place the pot into a clear plastic bag. Make sure the bag has a few air holes.
- Position in a bright room in temperatures above 64°F (avoid direct sunlight).
- Use a spray bottle to lightly mist the cutting and soil at least once per week.
- Once roots have developed, remove the plastic bag.
- When new leaves develop, begin to use the soak and dry method of watering.
Overwatering your plant, or more to the point letting the soil stay wet for prolonged periods, can lead to root rot. Unless you check your plant regularly one of the first signs of root rot is rotting leaves.
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.
Found in the crevices of plants and around stem junctions or leaf nodes. Mealybugs produce a distinctive cotton-like mass on the plant’s surface. They feed on the plant’s sap by piecing their straw-like mouth into the foliage.
Use household insect spray, neem oil, detergent or soapy water to wash them away. Repeat regularly until the infestation subsides.
These common pests breed at rather an alarming rate but can be treated relatively easily without harming your plants. They are identifiable by their green, white or black color, they are very slow-moving and are usually found on the leaf nodes or stem junctions of plants.
Treat by spraying regularly with a detergent or any household horticultural bug spray.
Scale is static shell-like parasites that sit on the underside of the leaves and feed on the plant sap. Infestations lead to the plant looking sick and wilted. You can treat scale by using a diluted detergent or soapy water to wash them off.
Southern blight is caused by a soil fungus called Sclerotium rolfsii. This disease can spread to other plants and can cause your plant to die if not treated at first sight. Lower leaves become discolored and become wilted. If untreated, roots will be affected and your succulent plant will soon collapse and eventually die. Southern blight usually occurs during hotter months when soil is warm and damp.
For the best chance of preventing this from spreading to other areas of your succulents, and other plants, remove the affected leaves immediately, ensure soil is well-drained and position your plant in a bright spot with good ventilation.