The String of Bananas plant, also known by its scientific name Senecio radicans, is a fast growing, even easier-to-care-for relative of the String of Pearls. The glossy, thick leaves are shaped like (you guessed it!) bananas and trail down long hanging vines. Because of this fun characteristic, this succulent is a perfect choice for a hanging basket.
This String of Bananas care guide will provide you with all of the information you need to grow a healthy, beautiful succulent specimen that you can enjoy for years!
Table of contents
In the past few years, succulents have been at the forefront of the collectible houseplant craze, and for good reason. There are over a hundred varieties of succulent species, each with its own unique shape, size, and coloring. Not only are they alluring, they are very easy to care for. If you’re in the market for a low-maintenance plant with a charming look, then a succulent, like the String of Bananas, is your best bet.
The String of Bananas plant looks exactly as it sounds. It is a trailing plant with long vines that are adorned with green, banana-shaped leaves. Unfortunately, there are no actual bananas involved, but the plant more than makes up for it with its visual appeal. With only a minimal amount of effort and attention, you can spice up your home or garden with a thriving String of Bananas.
Let’s take a closer look at how to care for a String of Bananas!
- Common Name: String of Bananas
- Scientific Name: Senecio radicans
- Mature Size: up to three feet tall
- Sunlight: full sun
- Water: when soil is completely dry
- Soil: well-draining, succulent soil
- Temperature: 60°F-80°F
- Propagation: stem and leaf cuttings
- Hardiness Zone: 10-12
- Toxicity: toxic to humans and pets
Growth Pattern and Habits
The String of Bananas succulent is native to South Africa where the climate is dry and hot. As such, the String of Bananas is a drought-hardy plant that loves sunlight. The plant grows by producing trailing vines, which can reach up to three feet long. It’s an excellent candidate for climbing trellises or hanging planters.
If you live in USDA planting zones 10-12, you can successfully plant the String of Bananas outdoors or raise it as a potted patio plant. If you live in any other planting zone, it’s recommended to keep this plant indoors. This is due to the plant’s need for a consistently comfortable environment that is not subject to low drops in temperature.
In the spring, the String of Bananas may produce small, white flowers that look similar to Queen Anne’s lace. Like most succulents, the flowers of the string of bananas are nearly unnoticeable compared to its namesake foliage. Also, it tends to grow slower when it’s in bloom. Some owners choose to prune the flowers so the plant can continue dedicating its energy to growing new vines.
When it comes to String of Bananas care, it is important to mimic its natural environment as closely as possible! Sunlight is the key ingredient to producing the String of Bananas’ uniquely shaped leaves. It thrives and grows best in full sunlight but can survive in partial shade.
If you don’t meet a String of Bananas light requirements, it will quickly become leggy and grow smaller leaves that are spaced far apart along the vine. To maintain its lush, good looks, choose a location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.
The String of Bananas plant has relatively low watering needs. In general, it’s best to water this plant when the soil has dried out completely, which means you’ll likely water once every week or two weeks, depending on the season.
You should add just enough water to soak the soil down to the roots. It’s best to water your String of Bananas in the sink and drench the soil until water is running out of the bottom drainage hole. Remember to always test the soil with your finger before watering again. When in doubt, underwatering is much safer for this plant than overwatering.
To provide first-rate String of Bananas care, you have to plant it in the correct soil. The ideal soil for the String of Bananas is a well-draining, commercial succulent mix. If you don’t have access to a succulent mix, you can create your own by mixing one part general potting soil with one part perlite or pumice. This plant prefers neutral soil pH, so compost and other acidic additives are unnecessary.
Along with a well-draining substrate, be sure to select a pot with drainage holes if you plan to raise this plant in a container.
The Senecio radicans is a moderate grower that doesn’t mind being root-bound. As a consequence, it rarely requires repotting. You should repot this plant once every two years or so to refresh the soil. When it is time to repot, do so in the spring so the plant can have an easier time recovering from the shock of being replanted.
Temperature and Humidity
Being native to the desert climate of southern Africa, the String of Bananas succulent does best in the temperature range of 65-80ºF. Domestically, it can do just as well in your home’s natural temperature level if its other needs are met.
It can also survive brief exposures to temperatures as low as 50ºF and as high as 110ºF! However, prolonged exposure to temperatures this extreme aren’t recommended, and your outdoor plant should be brought indoors or covered with a shade if the weather gets too cold or hot.
Along with warmth, the String of Bananas plant also prefers dry, arid surroundings. Humid conditions can actually encourage fungal growth in the soil or on the leaf membranes, so there’s no need to provide additional moisture in the air. In most cases, your plant will grow normally with your home’s natural indoor humidity.
Like most other succulents, the String of Bananas has relatively low fertilization needs. It can be helpful to provide extra nutrients during the spring and summer when the plant is in its active growth phase.
If you choose to feed your plant, use an organic, balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength and apply it once per season. Avoid fertilizing more frequently, which can cause an over-accumulation of salt in the soil that can burn Senecio radicans.
Propagating a String of Bananas is very easy to do with plant cuttings. During the spring or summer (however really anytime of the year works!), use a pair of sterile shears to snip cuttings measuring at least 3-4 inches long. Remove any lower leaves and lay the cuttings flat on a clean, dry surface for 3-5 days until they form a callus on their severed ends. Because the leaves retain water, the cuttings will survive a few days without additional water from the mother plant.
Once the calluses form, plant each cutting in a container of well-draining soil, place the container in a sunny location, and keep the soil dampened until the cuttings take root and begin to grow on their own. Once you see signs of new growth, you can plant each cutting in its permanent home and follow a regular, succulent-friendly watering schedule.
You can also try and propagate your String of Bananas with single leaves by adding healthy leaves back into the soil. They will root naturally on their own.
The String of Bananas can develop root rot if it’s watered too frequently. Symptoms include darkening leaves and stems and a “mushy” texture. If you notice these symptoms, stop watering until the plant perks up to its normal, healthy self.
If the condition is severe, you may have to carefully repot your plant in a fresh batch of soil.
Dried, Brown Leaves and Stems
Your String of Bananas will turn crispy and dry if it receives too much direct sunlight, lacks enough water, or both. Keep in mind that 6-8 hours of direct sun is ideal, but your plant may burn if it gets significantly more than that amount of sunlight.
On the other hand, your plant may need to be watered if the soil has been completely dry for over two weeks. If your String of Bananas appears dry and brown, evaluate your location and watering schedule and adjust accordingly.
Thanks to the waxy membrane on its leaves, the String of Bananas is pretty resistant to pests. However, infestations can still happen if the plant is in an unhealthy state or housed near other infested plants. Scale, mealybugs, aphids, and other sap-sucking species may enjoy living on this plant.
To repel pests, maintain the health of your string of bananas by keeping it in ideal conditions and apply a solution of organic neem oil as an all-natural preventative treatment. Additionally, wipe all insects off with an alcohol soaked cotton ball.
The String of Bananas is mildly toxic to humans and animals. Ingestion can cause skin reactions or dermatitis. Gastrointestinal distress is also common and may result in vomiting. If ingestion is suspected, seek medical help.
To avoid issues, enjoy this plant away from inquisitive mouths!
The String of Bananas is a playful plant that grows in a cascading fashion. With unique leaves unlike most in the plant kingdom, the String of Bananas is a worry-free plant that requires minimal care. I hope you have learned some important pearls about String of Bananas care and feel confident to grow your own.