Care Guides

String of Bananas – Senecio Radicans Care Guide

String of Bananas is another popular trailing succulent belonging to the Senecio family, which has more than 1,600 species, only a few of which are succulent. As other Senecios, it is quite easy to maintain and more forgiving (it can for example easily withstands several weeks without watering).

Want to learn how to grow a string of bananas? Read on and we’ll help you get started with useful information about growing and caring for this attractive succulent.

What is a String of Bananas?

String of Bananas is a fast-growing succulent with vines that eventually reach a length of at least 90 cm (36 inches).

It is also commonly known as:

  • Senecio radicans [Sen-ek-ee-o, RAD-ee-kans]
  • Strings of Fishhooks
  • Fishhook Senecio
  • Banana Vine

Native to Africa, String of bananas is known for its abundant strands of glossy foliage. Its leaves are 0.5″ – 1″ inches long and look like a banana with two clear lines on both sides. They are kind of transparent, allowing light to shine through.

Flowering and Fragrance

String Of Bananas trails like crazy, its attractiveness and long trails make it perfect for hanging pots. The foliage of this succulent is truly its most captivating feature. But it also has small white or creamy white flowers that release a pleasant cinnamon-like scent.

Flower_of_String_of_Bananas

In most cases, if the plant is more than 2 years old, then it is ready to bloom. Its blooming occurs in early spring, but can also happen in other seasons.

Keep in mind that not all plants bloom. Many external factors can greatly influence this, but there are some factors that, if taken into account, can stimulate the flowering of our String of Bananas :

  • Proper Temperatures: when grown in an indoor environment, succulent plants prefer a temperature difference between day and night to mimic their natural habitat, with cool night-time temperatures being an integral part of their growth cycle.
  • Proper lighting: Make sure you keep them in a bright place so that they receive sufficient sunlight throughout the year, including the colder winter months. Most cacti and succulents need at least 5 to 6 hours of bright light, preferably more. You Also consider bringing them grow lights, it’s not much of an accessory but it’s becoming a necessity among succulent lovers. You can refer to our article on The 5 Best Grow Lights for Succulents.
  • Proper Fertilization: Flowering requires a lot of energy from the plants, so providing them with extra nutrients will ensure that these needs are met during the flowering period.

How do you care for String of Bananas?

For succulent lovers who find it difficult to grow the String of Pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus), String of Bananas will be an excellent alternative. It is easier to keep alive and much less fussy.

It can be grown indoors in well-lit spaces, but it can also be grown outdoors with reasonable sun exposure, avoiding the hottest hours of the day in summer.
Intense sunlight causes the foliage to acquire a yellowish tone, while bright shade will maintain an intense green.

  Watering 

As we’ve always said, over-watering our succulents is the biggest mistake we make most of the time thinking we’re being helpful to them.

Too much water and thus a lumpy and insufficiently drained substrate would cause the fungus to appear and to multiply, leading to eventual succulent death.

Rainwater is ideal for irrigating all Senecio species, but the plants also prefer ordinary drinking water unless it is too calcareous.

Senecio Radicans’ fabrics help to maintain moisture, a feature that allows them to fully adapt to dry and hot conditions. So water them when you feel the soil is dry to the touch.

It is recommended to water your String of Bananas outdoors every two weeks, except during the winter season when it rains. If it is indoors, you can then water it every 3 or 6 weeks, depending on the season. Make sure that the soil is completely dry between waterings.

watering

Like other succulents, the perfect irrigation method is “soak and dry”, which consists of completely soaking the soil and then allowing it to dry between waterings. In winter, Senecio Radicans needs almost no water because it enters a period of dormancy.

  Fertilizing

At the time of planting, the fertilizer in the soil will gradually lose its effectiveness. Fertilize regularly to encourage growth and promote blooming.

Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are required for a healthy and harmonious succulent growth. They need nitrogen in the form of nitrate for chlorophyll formation and for leaf and shoot growth, as well as potassium for stability and good flowering. Phosphorus, in the form of phosphoric acid and phosphates, promotes the development of healthy, strong roots.

The String of Bananas does not require any fertilizer, but if you want to boost its overall health especially during the main growth period, you can apply a liquid fertilizer for cacti and succulents every 8 weeks, this one is our pick for you because it is high in phosphorus and potassium while it is low in nitrogen. Apply it in the spring, but under no circumstances should you fertilize your Senecio in winter.

Discover our review of the 5 Best Succulent Fertilizers in 2020, you will find more information about fertilizers and choose one for your succulent, you will also have more information about how and when to apply it.

  Soil

The quality potting soils available on the market have all the important properties to ensure healthy growth of the Senecio. Choose a soil with sufficient nutrients.
We use Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food and it has proven to be adequate for practically all succulents, so use it with confidence and you will get a long-lasting, healthy and growing plant that is resistant to disease and pests, provided that other needs for light, water, and temperature are also met.

  Propagation

If you only have sone string of bananas plant, it’s easy to make others from cuttings. This can be done by following these steps:

  1. Cut a part of the stem and leaves of the main plant with a sharp knife.
  2. Other succulents require that you wait until the cut stem is dry in about a week. The stems of String of Bananas are thin, so you don’t have to wait all that time for them to dry. Let them sit for a few hours to about a day and that’s enough.
  3. Prepare a well-drained cactus and succulent mix. Once the cuttings are completely dried, press them into the soil, or lay them flat on the soil.
  4. Now, wait until the plant has established its roots and new shoots appear. This can take about two weeks.
  5. Keep them away from direct sunlight so that they do not get sunburned while propagating and rooting the cuttings.
  6. Spray every 3 or 4 days or when you feel that the soil is dry until the plant is rooted and well established. Now switch to watering once a week.

Propagating from the small banana-shaped leaves is also possible as long as the end of the leaf has a small portion of stem attached, but requires a little more time.

  Repotting

Repotting your String of Bananas is only needed when its container is congested and not much room is available for the expansion of your plant.

In fact, there are also other reasons why we need to repot our succulent:

  • To eliminate waste that may have accumulated in the soil:

Succulents, like all plants, eliminate waste from their roots, and if you don’t replant them, this waste will continue to accumulate in the soil, which can lead to stunted growth. Even with generous watering that draws water from the bottom of the pot, it is impossible to remove this waste completely, hence the need for repotting.

  • To eliminate the various germs which cause diseases:

Using old soil can lead to the development of germs and other bacteria that promote disease. Repotting is then an opportunity to change this soil.

  • To remove pest larvae and eggs:

There are not only parasites such as mites and aphids that suck the sap from leaves and stems, there are also parasites that act badly in the soil.

The most common species are root cutting beetles that feed on roots like beetle larvae. This euglena is very problematic and can only be noticed when the plants are in poor condition.

It can be fixed by using wood vinegar for example, but it’s faster if it’s replanted. If any part has been damaged, spray a fungicide at the time of replanting to prevent disease.

 Pests & diseases

Prevention is better than cure!

It is not common for this species to fall victim to pests, although it may have sandy insects such as mealybug, in which case you should wash the plant.

  Toxicity

Although “String of Pearls”, the cousin of String of Bananas, is known to be slightly toxic to cats, dogs, and other curious pets, it appears that there is no information available on the toxicity of String of Bananas. The ASPCA site does not list it as toxic, but the similarity between the two succulents requires caution.

Why do String of Bananas leaves turn brown?

One of the most common problems is that the leaves of String of Bananas become brown, shriveled, and dry. The most common cause of this damage is that it has been exposed to direct sunlight for a long time. To deal with this issue, you must protect your String of Bananas from intense sunlight by choosing a shadier location.

In most cases, the damage that excessive sunlight can cause, specifically brown spots on the leaves, is unfortunately permanent, but at least if you move your succulent to a shady spot, you’ll have spared it more damage. In this case, your only option is simply to wait for the plant to produce a new green growth. That way, it will eventually get rid of its old spotted leaves.

Please keep in mind that we have also noticed two other factors related to watering that can cause this browning of the String of Bananas leaves:
– It may have suffered from a lack of proper moisture; in this case, give it enough water and it will regenerate.      – If the plant is over-watered, it will turn brown then black from rot. If this is the case with your succulent, get rid of the dead parts and keep the green intact ones to replant and multiply them in a well-drained pot mix.

Conclusion

Well, if you are growing a String of Bananas, this comprehensive guide will certainly help you take care of it, if you haven’t tried it yet, consider adding it to your succulent collection. We’re sure you’ll love it!

 

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