How to Grow and Care for String of Dolphins

string of dolphins

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

This adorable succulent will give you beachy vibes all day long because, true to its name, its leaves resemble a pod of jumping dolphins! A hybrid of the string of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) and candle plant (Senecio articulatus) the string of dolphins (Senecio peregrinus) is a trailing succulent in the Asteraceae family.

String of dolphins are characterized by their iconic dolphin-shaped leaves and long hanging tendrils. While they can bloom, the delicate blooms are relatively inconspicuous and these plants are grown for their interesting foliage rather than their flowers. They look great in hanging baskets and vertical gardens, or they can be trained to grow upwards on a trellis or moss pole depending on what look you are going for.

String of dolphins are most commonly grown indoors as houseplants, although they can also be grown outdoors. However, they are not frost-tolerant succulents and require warm weather year-round in order to survive outdoors.

 Botanical Name Senecio peregrinus
 Common Name String of dolphins, dolphin plant, flying dolphins, the dolphin necklace
 Plant Type Succulent
 Mature Size 6 inches tall
 Sun Exposure Full to partial sun
 Soil Type Well-draining, cactus/succulent soil
 Soil pH 6.6-7.5
USDA hardiness zone 9b to 11b
 Bloom Time Spring
 Flower Color White
 Native Area Southwest Africa
 Toxicity Toxic to dogs and cats
closeup of string of dolphins

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

closeup of string of dolphins

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

String of Dolphins Care

String of dolphins are generally considered to be low-maintenance succulents. Their plump leaves retain water which makes them drought-tolerant, and they don’t require any special care or maintenance to keep them happy. They are also easily propagated, so just by owning one of these succulents, you can easily share some with your friends.

String of dolphins is not a low-light plant, and providing them with enough sunlight is imperative for healthy growth. Place your string of dolphins in a bright, sunny window and ignore it most of the time and this adorable succulent will thrive.

Light

Although it can easily get sunburned in direct sun when grown outdoors, when grown as a houseplant, string of dolphins does best when it receives at least six hours of sunlight a day.

A south-facing window is ideal, but it can adapt to medium light when grown indoors as well. If needed, use grow lights to provide additional light.

Soil

As with most succulents, a string of dolphins requires arid, well-draining soil. Commercially available cactus/succulent mixes are fine for this plant, but you can also make your own mix at home. Simply combine 2 parts potting soil, 1 part pumice or perlite, and 1 part sand.

Water

String of dolphins leaves can retain water for a long period of time, and as such, they are considered drought-tolerant and do not require regular watering.

Allow the soil to dry thoroughly between waterings to avoid root rot, and then water well. Cut back on watering during the fall and winter months when the plant goes into dormancy.

Temperature and Humidity

String of dolphins grows well in average household temperatures and humidity levels when grown indoors. Interestingly, while these plants are not frost-tolerant, they tend to prefer cooler temperatures than the average succulent. They tolerate winter temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius).

If you live in an area with cold winters, you don’t have to be as careful placing your plant near cold or drafty windows as you would with a string of pearls plant.

Fertilizer

String of dolphins do not require regular fertilizing. In fact, over-fertilizing this plant can cause the leaves to lose their iconic dolphin shape. However, they can benefit from a light feeding in the early spring to help boost growth and encourage blooming.

Using an organic fertilizer such as worm compost, liquid kelp, or fish emulsion is usually recommended. 

Potting and Repotting

This trailing succulent can tolerate being root-bound and does not need to be repotted regularly. In fact, one of the best ways to encourage blooms is to keep the plant slightly root-bound.

However, every few years you should repot a string of dolphins to refresh its potting medium and increase pot size, usually one size larger.

Using a pot with adequate drainage holes is important to prevent root rot and waterlogged soil. String of dolphins can do well in both plastic and terracotta pots, however, some gardeners prefer terracotta because it helps to absorb excess soil moisture.

Propagating String of Dolphins

String of dolphins can be easily propagated from stem cuttings in water or soil. Take cuttings that have at least 2-3 nodes along the stem for the best chance of success. The nodes can be found at the points where the leaves emerge from the stems and are where the new roots will grow. 

If you are propagating stem cuttings in water, remove the leaves from the bottom node or two to ensure that the leaves don’t rot. Roots should develop within a couple of weeks, at which point you can transfer the cutting to soil.

If you are propagating in soil only, simply lay the stem cutting on top of the soil and ensure that the soil is kept moist until roots develop. 

Common Pests/Diseases

Common houseplant pests such as aphids, mealybugs, scale, and spider mites can be an issue for string of dolphins. These pests are sap-suckers, and if left untreated can wreak havoc on a healthy plant. With early detection and proper treatment these common houseplant pests can easily be brought under control. 

These plants are not prone to any particular diseases, other than root rot which is caused by overwatering. If you water only when the soil is completely dry, plant it in a pot with adequate drainage holes, and use a well-draining soil mix, you shouldn’t run into any issues.

Article Sources
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  1. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “Are Succulents Safe to Have around Pets?” Aspca.org. N.p., n.d. Web.