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Curio radicans, formerly known as Senecio radicans, and commonly known as String of Bananas, is a delightful trailing succulent that is native to southern Africa.
Provided you have enough light indoors, this is a very easy to grow houseplant and it offers an amazing, less finicky alternative to String of Pearls!
How to Grow String of Bananas or Curio radicans
Indoors, give your plant as much direct sun as you can. An unobstructed eastern or western window would work well. A sunny southern window works beautifully (if you live in the Northern hemisphere). If you live in the Southern hemisphere, a Northern exposure window would suit this plant well.
Windows that don’t have any direct sunlight won’t be ideal. Your plant will still grow, though much slower, and the resulting growth may be weak. The leaves will be also be thinner and smaller.
2. POTTING MIX
String of bananas needs a very sharply draining potting mix that dries out pretty quickly.
I’ve used a couple different potting mixes for this plant and both worked beautifully.
One mix is half cactus/succulent potting mix and half 1/4″ pumice.
I’ve also used 2 parts cactus/succulent potting mix, 1 part perlite and 1 part 1/4″ pumice.
Do NOT place these plants into large pots or pots that are too deep. Don’t rush to repot either. When you do need to repot, only go up one pot size. For example, if you have a plant in a 4 inch pot, go up to a 6 inch pot.
This is a general rule of thumb that is especially important for succulents. The reason is that if you place it into a pot that is too big, the excess volume of potting mix will take too long to dry out, especially if your conditions are less than ideal (lower light, cooler temperatures, etc).
Water thoroughly and allow at least the top half of the potting mix to go dry. These can go completely dry, but be careful not to do so for very long otherwise the “bananas” will wrinkle and eventually completely dry up.
Don’t make the mistake of measure out your water, or only adding a tiny bit of water at a time. Your goal is to thoroughly moisten all of your potting mix. This is NOT considered overwatering.
If you are experiencing issues with watering thoroughly, it probably means that your other conditions are not good enough. Low light, cooler temperatures, pots that are too big, etc.
Never under any circumstances should you let your plant sit in water. Always empty any excess water in the plant’s saucer or cache pot. If you leave your plant sitting in water for prolonged periods, your plant will experience root rot, especially with succulents.
Many succulents don’t need much fertilizer, but this plant is a relatively quick grower in good conditions. When it is actively growing, be sure to fertilize for stronger growth. Avoid fertilizing during periods where the plant is not growing.
Many succulents can take remarkably cool temperatures. Best growth will occur in warm temperatures, but String of Bananas can take down to the 30s Fahrenheit, as long as it stays above freezing (32F or 0C).
I’ve actually left my String of Bananas outdoors in Autumn until temperatures dropped down to 35F and they were perfectly fine.
String of bananas are remarkably easy to propagate. You can easily propagate using stem cuttings, or even by simply coiling a long strand right on top of a pot filled with potting mix.
For step-by-step instructions with photos, be sure to check out my blog post:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why is my String of Bananas growing upwards?
This is most likely an indication that your plant is not growing in sufficient light. Move your plant to stronger light. These plants grow best with at least some direct sun indoors and directly in front of a window.
Why is my String of Bananas dying at the base?
The first thing you should ask yourself if you see anything unusual like this is to check your soil moisture. Extremes in soil moisture (either too dry for too long or too wet for too long) can cause this. Probably the most common reason is that you left your plant dry for too long. Once the plant goes bare at the base, it won’t grow back. If your plant looks poor, you are best off propagating the stems that still have leaves and making a new plant.
What is String of Bananas hardiness?
These plants will not survive freezing temperatures, but they can withstand temperatures in the 30s Fahrenheit as long as it stays above freezing (32F or 0C).
Why does my String of Bananas have small leaves?
Not enough light! Small leaves and spindly growth indicate that your plant is not getting enough light.
Why is my String of Bananas not growing?
Light is the most important factor. Temperatures that are too cool will also reduce the rate of growth.
Why are my leaves wrinkling on my String of Bananas?
Feel your potting mix. Is it dry? Remember that although these are succulents, they do not like to stay completely dry for too long.
Can you trim String of Bananas?
Yes absolutely! If you need to trim your plant, go right ahead, and you can use the cuttings to propagate String of Bananas. Your original plant will grow back.
Does String of Bananas flower?
Yes it does. The flowers look like little white poofs and smell similar to cinnamon.
String of Bananas Outdoors
I actually started growing my plants outdoors from mixed succulent containers that I purchased at a garden center. Once the weather got chilly, I took the plants out of 3 different containers and consolidated them all into one pot.
Once I took them out, I combined them all into one pot:
They grow remarkably fast outdoors in warm weather. If you do have your plants indoors and you’d like to summer them outdoors, there is one VERY important thing you must do.
Light intensity outdoors is far higher than indoors, so you must place your plant outdoors in full shade for a while and gradually increase any sun exposure slowly.
Failing to acclimate your plant to higher light will cause your plant to scorch. Allow your plant to be in full shade for a week, and then and ONLY then, increase the sun exposure little by little.
Many people will move their plants from indoors immediately to full sun outdoors and they will rapidly burn, often in a matter of hours.
Have you grown String of Bananas? Comment below. I’ve love to hear!
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