One of the cutest succulents you can encounter, the Dolphin Plant also referred to as the String of Dolphin Plant, boasts leaves that look like small pods of dolphins leaping out of the water.
With the scientific name of Senecio Peregrinus, this rare trailing succulent is a product of the Candle Plant (or Hot dog Cactus) and String of Pearls. These dolphin plants grow in trailing vines similar to the other “String of” varieties of bananas, hearts, pearls, and turtles.
Best as a hanging plant that can be grown indoors and outdoors, the dolphin succulents can grow to around three feet in length. They tend to beautifully spill out of your hanging basket or will slowly trickle down over the edge of your stairs.
When the String of Dolphins plants receives the care it needs, it becomes a happy and healthy plant. That’s when it starts to produce daisy-like flowers that smell like cinnamon.
Note that this indoor plant is toxic to cats and dogs. Hence, they should be appropriately positioned so that your little buddies don’t have access to them.
String of Dolphins General Care Instructions
The String of Pearls requires more maintenance than the other succulents but the time and effort spent will be worth it. If you are considering getting yourself this new plant or found yourself owning one, here are the general care instructions to ensure that your Dolphins will happily thrive and grow.
Most succulents love direct sunlight. However, while the String of Dolphins enjoys a bright environment, it cannot handle exposure to direct sunlight. Rather it prefers indirect light. Thanks to its leaf windows, this succulent can thrive even with slightly less sunlight.
Since the String of Dolphins can tolerate artificial light, this gives you more options on where to place them indoors. You can hang your succulent near windows that are east or west-facing so they can receive just the right amount of light.
I actually have them in a south-facing window for winter to ensure they get enough light and mine is thriving! I’ll likely move it in early spring so it doesn’t get too much sunlight.
You will know if your String of Dolphins got too much bright light because the leaves get scorched, turning yellow. Expect sparse foliage and unpleasant, leggy growth if it is not receiving as much sun as required.
This succulent is used to dry climates, and they don’t need much water. They can tolerate episodes of drought and still survive. You can water the dolphin strings every week or so, and during the cooler months, you can opt for a once every two weeks schedule.
Before watering the String of Dolphins, always check and ensure that the top of the soil is dry.
Use the “Drench and Dry” approach in watering. Let your succulent have a long and nice drink. Just let the water run and give it enough time to be absorbed by the soil. You can then allow the excess water to be released from the draining holes.
The next thing you need to be sure of is that the soil is mainly dry to avoid the roots of your String of Dolphins from drowning.
Using the ” Squish Test ” is another smart hack to know if your String of Dolphins already needs watering. The test helps guide you on how “thirsty” the succulent is.
Most of the moisture in succulents is held by their fleshy leaves. When full of water, the leaves are firm and nice. When they turn squishy, it is an indication that it’s time for a refill and you need to water them.
Aside from that specific utility, the leaves are also good indicators of your String of Dolphins’ overall health. If the leaves are squishy and brown, then the plant roots are most likely starting to rot.
Like most succulents, the String of Dolphins thrives in warmer temperatures of 70°F to 80°F (21°C – 27°C). They like the warm and dry climates, and room temperatures are best.
Note that the String of Dolphins gets stressed when directly exposed to cold drafts and air conditioning. As expected, they don’t like the winter season, so you need to transfer your greens near warmer places like the furnace or radiators.
If your String of Dolphins is outdoors, a temperature range of 40°F to 70°F (4.5°C – 21°C) in full to partial shade is just what they need.
These dangly succulents love dry air, which is common in most homes. They don’t require additional humidity when you place them indoors.
The String of Dolphins prefers humidity levels below 50 percent. This shouldn’t be much of a problem for those in warmer climates. If the leaves start falling off, this is a sign that the String of Dolphins site is too humid.
The best succulent soil for the String of Dolphins needs to be a well draining soil. You’ll also want a pot with drainage holes. If you use clay soil known to be dense and hold too much moisture, or a pot without a drainage hole, you’ll end up with soggy, waterlogged soil. This can cause root rot and decay.
You can have your mix of soil and add perlite into it. Remember, two parts perlite with one part houseplant potting soil is the golden ratio.
You will know if you have the right soil mix if the soil dries up in four to five days. And you can also incorporate pea gravel, peat moss, and pumice to make your soil more porous.
If the DIY route isn’t for you, you also have the option to purchase the ready-made soil cactus mix intended for cactus plants.
Not that the String of Dolphins needs it but when you opt to provide additional sustenance to your succulent, go for organic fertilizers like liquid kelp, worm compost, and fish emulsion.
Over-fertilizing your plant is not suggested. Excessive fertilizer application will stimulate too much growth and the leaves lose their beautiful dolphin shape.
Propagating the String of Dolphins
The String of Dolphins is one of the easiest succulents to propagate. And usually, gardeners and plant enthusiasts propagate to either salvage a failing or dying plant and allow the plant to multiply.
The propagation time of String of Dolphins is slow, and you need to wait up to 2-weeks and sometimes longer before you can see any signs of growth.
The extended period is why most growers resort to using rooting hormones on the cuttings. The hormones give them a ‘bump’ and a better head start. Sometimes, fertilizers are also provided to reinforce their growth.
Here are some key tips on propagating String of Dolphins.
Via Stem Cuttings Propagation in Water
Good news! Propagating your string of dolphin succulent isn’t hard. Water propagation is one of the easiest ways to make copies of your String of Dolphins succulents. It doesn’t need any special equipment, and the things you need are standard gardening tools that you already have. Additionally, you have clear visibility of how the roots are developing.
Here are the steps for stem cuttings propagation in water.
- Look for a suitable and healthy stem from your String of Dolphins. Choose a string that is about 3-5 inches long and cut it cleanly using a sharp knife or pair of scissors.
- Remove all low-bearing foliage that you find at the bottom of your cutting.
- Put this strand in a propagation station or glass container full of distilled or filtered water.
- Set the jar in a west-facing window and ensure that the cutting is not receiving any direct sunlight.
- After one week, replace the water in the jar so the oxygen and the nutrients can also be replenished.
- Expect long tendril-like roots to start showing up after several weeks.
- Transfer the root and stem cutting to a pot filled with cactus soil
Via Stem Cuttings Propagation in Soil
Another option is to use soil instead of water to propagate your String of Dolphins. The primary consideration for this method is to “observe the callus closely.”
The callus or cut end forms on the wound of the cutting. This is also the exact spot where the new roots will develop.
The advantage of using soil when propagating is that it helps support and secure the stem of the cutting while developing and strengthening its roots.
If you want to try this process, here are the steps:
- Cut a three to five inches strand off of the main plant.
- Within two days, the callus ideally should already be formed.
- To promote better and faster growth, you can first dip the end of the stem cutting in a rooting hormone. (Optional)
- Place this stem cutting in a pot with mixed cactus soil.
- Leave the pot in a well-lit space. Note that the spot should not allow the stem cutting to receive direct sunlight.
Tips for Success
Everyone wants their String of Dolphins to thrive and multiply because lush and healthy foliage provides you with that deep satisfaction knowing that you are doing the best you can for the plants.
Here are other tips to ensure the success of your journey in your planting, growing, and propagating journey with String of Dolphins.
- Pests like aphids, scale, mealybugs, and spider mites can wreak havoc. Make sure that your String of Dolphins is not exposed to any of these sap-suckers.
2. Always use pots with drainage holds when repotting and propagating this succulent.
3. Terracotta pots are highly advisable because their clay component helps absorb the moisture from the roots.
4. Do not water this succulent in a “little-and-frequent” schedule because it can cause the roots to become thirstier, attracting gnats and spider mites in the process.
5. Let your tap water sit overnight so the particulates and chemicals settle down. This will also help you achieve the desired room temperature.
Green Thumb Advice
The String of Dolphins is succulent to behold. It is charming in its way and requires very minimal maintenance. Don’t let your lack of experience and worries stop you from propagating this rare succulent.