Succulent Strings: Keiki Paste for String of Buttons

string of buttons

This three-step tutorial shows how to boost growth in String of Buttons (Crassula perforata) using Keiki Paste. Keiki paste contains plant hormones called cytokinin that encourage cell division in plants. It can encourage your plant to grow new shoots, stems, and leaves more quickly than it would otherwise. 

Crassula perforata is a slow-growing succulent native to South Africa. Its leaves are generally green but with a lot of sunlight, they will tinge red around the edges. Crassula perforate is in the same genus as the jade plant (Crassula ovata) and the Crassula Marginalis Rubra, a trailing succulent covered in a previous Keiki tutorial.

It has a vertical growth habit as the stems are quite rigid. If exposed to enough sunlight, the triangular leaves stack closely on top of one another. This lends the plant one of its common names – the Stacked Crassula. This vertical, stacked growth habit means that with some pruning and care, the plant can achieve a very densely packed, geometric appearance.

 

Step 1: Find nodes

First, select ‘nodes’ to apply the Keiki paste to. Nodes are parts of the plant where new leaves emerge from. Keiki paste contains growth hormones that encourage cell division in the nodes.

Stem nodes on the crassula perforata will be found tucked just above existing leaves where they meet the stem. You can also apply the paste to the center of the uppermost leaves right at the tip of the stems.

The photo below marks some of the stem nodes on this String of Buttons. 

Keiki paste is more likely to work on nodes that are lower down the stem but it also produces results on nodes higher up.

 Step 2: Apply Keiki paste to nodes

Score the nodes slightly with a needle, pin, or knife, making sure not to sever the plant or damage it. This will make a slight wound. 

Scoring the stem will expose the plant better to the hormones contained in the Keiki paste. Crassula Peforata’s stems are thicker than those of its cousin, the trailing crassula marginalis rubrus. Scoring them is therefore important for the paste to work as quickly as possible, especially on the lowest parts of the stem which turn brown and woody.

Dip a cotton bud in the Keiki paste and dab the paste onto the scored nodes. You only need a tiny amount. 

Step 3: Wait

It takes longer for Keiki paste to work on succulents and cacti because these are very slow-growing plants. It can take two months or more to see results. 

During this time, place the plant in optimal light and temperature conditions. Crassula perforate does best in 20 ° F and temperatures should be between 65 to 80° F. Make sure temperatures don’t approach freezing.

Crassula perforata does best in bright light. If your plant’s leaves are growing further apart on the stem, it means the plant could do with a brighter situation. 

Water only when the soil is completely dry. When you water, make sure you flood the roots so that the water starts running through the drainage holes of the pot. In summer you may be watering every few days, especially if you keep your plant outside. In the water, you may only need to water once a month.

Succulents do not need a lot of fertilizer at the best of times. In the summer, you should be giving your plant a balanced or succulent fertilizer diluted to half strength of the manufacturer’s instructions, once per month. This is enough – you don’t need to add another dose after applying Keiki paste.  

In fall and winter, you should not be fertilizing at all except right after you apply Keiki paste. Add only one half-dilute dose after paste application.

Soon, you will see new shoots and leaves emerging from the nodes you applied the paste to. 

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