String of Dolphins: Plant Care and Growth Guide

string of dolphins

The string of dolphins (Curio × peregrinus) is a unique-looking trailing succulent. As the name suggests, its foliage looks like a pod of frolicking dolphins. It is a hybrid between string pearls (Curio rowleyanus) and the candle plant (curio articulatus). 

Easier to care for than the string of pearls, they are perfect for hanging baskets, bookcases, and shelves where their decorative stems can cascade floorwards. They can also be trained on structures like trellises or poles. Although their stems can grow quite long, their height never exceeds around six inches. 

In tropical and subtropical climates this plant can be grown outdoors year-round.

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Light

This succulent does not like direct sunlight. Never place it right next to a south-facing window for example unless there is something blocking the path of the light. A south-facing window covered with net curtains or looking out at a tree would be better. An east or west-facing window would also work. Try to give your string of dolphins around 6 hours of bright filtered sunlight per day.

It is crucial to get the lighting for your string of dolphins right. Once positioned in a bright space, it will happily do its own thing without much maintenance. A string of dolphins receiving enough sunlight will be bushy and bright green. An under-lit plant will look elongated with leaves spaced far apart along the stem. 

Temperature

The String of Dolphins does well in cooler temperatures compared to most succulents. Temperatures should be between 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. This plant will not survive freezing temperatures so never plant outside in colder climates. Keep your indoor string of dolphins away from cold drafts.

Watering

Over-watering is a common succulent killer because these plants need so little soil moisture. They store a lot of moisture in their fleshy leaves. Do not water the string of dolphins unless the soil is completely dry.

Watering frequency depends on your local climate. You might be watering once a week in hotter climates and every two weeks in temperate areas. Always check the soil with your finger beforehand to make sure it is bone dry. In winter, cut back watering drastically to once a month. 

If your string of dolphins is being under-watered, its normally fleshy leaves will pucker and grow thin. Yellow, transparent, or soft leaves means that it is getting too much water. 

Humidity

Both parent plants of this hybrid come from dry regions in South Africa. Normal indoor humidity levels will suit it just fine. 

Fertilizer 

Succulents never need much fertilizer. Your string of dolphins will only need a dose of fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season in spring. 

Flowering

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Under ideal conditions, your string of dolphins will produce small, fragrant white flowers on stalks in spring to early summer. At the end of the flowering season, these blooms will fade into white cottony puffballs that look similar to dandelion heads.

Slightly root-bound conditions will encourage flowering, as will a correct watering regime and cooler winter temperatures of around 59 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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Soil 

Like all succulents, the string of dolphins needs very well draining soil. This means a type of soil that allows water to pass through quickly. To achieve this, the soil mixture needs to be predominantly made up of inorganic materials like sand or perlite. These materials do not retain water or nutrients which is ideal for this slow-growing, drought-resistant plant.

A good potting medium would be one part houseplant or succulent soil, one part pumice or perlite, and one part coarse horticultural sand. 

Repotting 

Like most succulents, this plant is a very slow grower. You won't be needing to repot every season particularly because the string of dolphins is one of those plants that prefer being a little root-bound. In fact, being root-bound can encourage flowering. Repot your string of dolphins every few years into a slightly bigger pot. Try to use terracotta pots as this porous medium wicks away moisture from the soil, keeping things nice and arid for your succulent's roots. 

Propagation

String of dolphins can be propagated from stem cuttings. To propagate string of dolphins, clip a healthy 5-inch section of stem with a clean knife or scissors just below a node. Remove all leaves from the bottom two inches and leave the cuttings on a dry surface for 2 days until callouses form around the end of the cutting. Place the cuttings in perlite, sphagnum moss, or sand and position in a sunny spot. Cuttings take a few weeks to take root. Once the root system is two to four inches long, you can transfer it into its own pot. 

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