Formerly recognized as Senecio radicans, Curio radicans (or more popular as string of bananas at present), is one of the nicest trailing succulents you can easily grow as houseplants. You can grow one provided there is sufficient light indoors.
These succulents are also great alternatives to the famous string of pearls. Let’s delve deeper into what this plant is and how you can grow and care for it through this article.
In This Article
An Overview of the String of Bananas (Senecio Radicans)
One important fact about the Senecio radicans or string of bananas is that it does not fall under the fruit classification. This houseplant is actually a succulent vine composed of banana-shaped leaves, thus, its name. It is a native succulent to southern Africa.
These plants also belong to the Asteraceae family. As you can see in these plants, they have small and white flowers that you can expect to bloom during the early spring.
Common name: String of bananas
Botanical name: Senecio radicans / Curio radicans
Type of plant: Succulent
Sunlight exposure: Full sun
Size: 36-inch long upon maturity
Primary color: Green/lime
Bloom/flower color: Light pink, white
Soil type and pH: Well-draining succulent soil, 6.6 to 7.5 pH level
Bloom time: Spring
Cold hardiness: Zone 10
Growth shape/habit: Trailing/hanging
Toxicity: Pets and humans
The banana-shaped leaves of the string of bananas (Senecio radicans) tend to grow on hanging and long tendrils. Generally, this plant also works as an incredible hanging houseplant.
You can also train it in such a way that it grows upwards either on a moss pole or trellis based on your preferred look. Moreover, you can successfully grow these succulents outdoors, provided you have a garden intended for succulents.
Keep in mind that these succulents are not tolerant to frost, so it would be best to plant them outdoors only if you are in a region, which has warm weather most times of the year.
What Makes String of Bananas Different from String of Pearls?
String of pearls, otherwise known as Curio rowleyanus, is quite similar in classification to the string of bananas in the sense that both plants are trailing succulents. You can also grow both together with other plants that can tolerate the drought, like crassula, echeveria, and sedum.
Growing these plants together will let you produce your own succulent garden. However, note that the two plants also differ in their form and structure. For instance, the string of bananas possesses oblong-shaped leaves while the leaves of the string of pearls are typically pea-shaped.
String of bananas also has thicker stems, making it less delicate. Moreover, these succulents grow quicker, resulting in more propagation.
How to Care for String of Bananas Plant?
Just like other succulents, the string of bananas or Senecio Radicans is grown and cultivated due to its amazingly attractive foliage instead of its somewhat inconspicuous flowers or blooms. Many also favor this succulent as it is low-maintenance.
You just have to focus on the following areas when caring for these plants:
One crucial aspect of caring for the string of bananas is the light it needs. Basically, this trailing succulent needs bright and direct light if you have plans of growing it indoors. Pick a location, which allows it to get a minimum of 6-hour sunlight the entire day.
It is also possible for this succulent to grow really well when grown beneath grow lights. Ensure that the plant receives sufficient light, as poor lighting may only lead to it becoming leggy and its leaves hugely spaced in between stems.
In terms of water, the needs of these plants are only low. The fact that this succulent can tolerate drought means that it is okay for you to wait for the soil to dry completely before you water it again. Once every week of watering during the summer or spring would suffice.
During the winter or fall, the time when this succulent is in its dormancy stage, watering it every two weeks or so would work. If you grow these succulents in a pot, then choose one with drainage holes. Avoid overwatering; otherwise, the roots of these succulents may rot.
As far as soil is concerned, the best one would be a well-draining soil mix as it works in preventing root rot. Buy premixed succulent or cactus soil. Alternatively, you can create your own mix.
You can do that by mixing two parts potting soil, 1 part sand or pumice, and 1 part perlite. This mixture is already capable of providing these plants with sufficient drainage.
Humidity and temperature
String of bananas can withstand normal levels of humidity and household temperatures, even if it is a native to South Africa known for its hot and dry climate. Just make sure to position this plant away from the vents of your air conditioning or heating units.
It should also be away from cold and drafty windows to prevent exposing it to extreme temperatures. Also, note that the string of bananas can withstand warm weather.
It can even live in temperatures over 110 degrees. It is advisable to move this plant indoors during the winter, though, especially if your outdoor environment goes lower than 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is not necessary to fertilize the string of bananas regularly. However, it can still benefit by feeding it lightly with the right fertilizer during summer and spring as it can boost its growth.
Just make sure to pick organic fertilizers, like fish emulsion, worm compost, and liquid kelp.
Steps in Propagating String of Bananas
You can easily propagate string of bananas. You just have to use their cuttings for propagation and follow these simple steps:
Cut off a vine – The cutting should be two inches over the stem.
Prune, which involves taking the lower part of the leaves, particularly those surrounding the cut end.
Let the cutting dry out – You will know that they are dry enough when they form a callus. This should take 3 to 7 days.
Plant them again – Use a succulent mix or cactus soil placed in a pot with good drainage.
Water the soil – Maintain the dampness of the soil until there is already new growth or the plant already has roots.
Once you have seen the growth of roots, then you can follow the typical watering requirements that involve waiting for the soil to dry before you water it.
The string of bananas is okay with being bound by the roots, which means it is not also necessary to repot it frequently. Repotting it once every two years or so would suffice as it can already refresh the soil.
The best time for repotting is summer or spring, its active growth seasons, as it can provide its roots sufficient time to recover. What’s great about repotting the string of bananas is that it is an easy process. It is easier to do compared to the string of pearls since its leaves do not easily fall off.
Despite that, you should still exercise care and caution when repotting to prevent breaking off any delicate stem. Don’t worry if some strands are lost, though. You can just pop back the broken stem’s end into the pot. Eventually, you can expect its roots to grow again.
Common Diseases, Issues, and Pests to Watch Out For
One nice thing about the string of bananas is that it is not prone to serious problems. However, there are still common diseases and houseplant pests that may infest it and interrupt its growth. One problem you may encounter is root rot caused by overwatering.
As far as pests are concerned, among those you should regularly search for are pests that suck sap, like mealybugs, aphids, spider mites, and scale insects. Just search for signs that your plant is infested with pests so you can treat and handle them right away.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much sun does string of bananas need?
String of bananas requires a lot of bright sunlight. However, remember the string of bananas also needs protection from full sunlight or intense heat. This means that these plants thrive well when placed in a bright area but with partial shade.
The string of bananas also tends to survive in planters with shade from other taller plants. Basically, it can tolerate the bright morning sunlight well and favor it over the intense heat in the afternoon.
How do you take care of a banana string plant?
One advantage of the string of bananas is that it is low-maintenance and fast-growing. Even beginners will not have a difficult time caring for and growing this plant. It is drought-tolerant plus does not need pruning, repotting, or fertilizing regularly.
Probably the most crucial aspect of caring for these plants is to ensure that they receive sufficient light. The reason is that you can never expect this succulent to grow perfectly when it is in a low-light condition. Just put this plant in a sunny and bright window and it will have a chance of growing healthy and happy.
Is string of bananas poisonous?
Yes, string of bananas, as well as other species that belong to the genus, Senecio, are poisonous or toxic when eaten. It is particularly more toxic for pets.
Should I bottom water string of bananas?
One important point to remember about the string of bananas is that it is a hardy succulent with only low water requirements. Basically, you need to make sure that the soil where it is planted is fully dry before you water it.
Also, take note that it is much better for you to underwater this hardy succulent instead of overwatering it. The reason is that its roots become prone to rotting when watered too much.
Why did my string of bananas turn brown?
There are instances when the string of bananas turns brown and looks shriveled and dry. If that happens, then note that it could be because of sun damage brought on by overexposure to it. You can resolve this issue just by transferring these plants to a shady area that also has indirect light.
The string of bananas (Senecio radicans) is indeed one of the most charming succulents that you can take care of and grow as a houseplant. It has an easy-going nature and vibrant and nice colors, which is why it continues to capture the interest of a lot of gardeners, whether new or experienced in gardening.