String of Bananas

Senecio radicans or String of Bananas, is a vining succulent that has banana shaped leaves that forms in a curtain like structure, when their vines are mature! In the wild, they can reach the floor and then start rooting forming a type of thick “floor mat”!

String of Bananas Care

Soil: Any succulent/cactus soil mix will do, you want something nice and chunky but also light, because of how fine the roots are, you want to make it easy for them to grow! I actually have used a rendition of my aroid soil mix if i am just repotting or propagating one plant (I live in a small apartment, so I don’t have storage for a bunch of different soil mixes), and add a lot of additional perlite and coir to it to make it extra airy and light!

Watering: As far as watering goes, you should wait to water until the soil is dry. Similar to any ‘string of ‘ plant,  I make sure that the soil is dry, and then just give mine enough water on the top to get the water to come out of the bottom of my hanging pot, while making sure to get the water over the entire surface, but I think this plant would be a great proponent of bottom watering!

Potting: No matter what type of pot you decide on, whether is is hanging, or a regular pot on a shelf, you should make sure the plant is in a pot with plenty of drainage, (a terracotta pot would also be beneficial!)

Feeding: For my ‘string of’ plants in particular, I really like using worm castings as a fertilizer. It is all natural and with how sensitive these plants are, you are way less likely to cause burning/negative damage from worm castings than with other fertilizers.

Light: This plant can be indoors or outdoors, depending on your zone! You will want to make sure that this plant receives plenty of light, but not a ton of direct afternoon sun, as it can burn! Something else to keep in mind, to keep this plant as healthy as possible, is to make sure it gets light from the top, and not just from the sides, if it doesn’t get adequate light on the top, it can become very stringy and less banana-ey.

If your plant isn’t getting light from all sides, you should rotate it, to help it grow more evenly.

String of Bananas Propagation

String of bananas are very easy propagate! A bonus of propagating is to stimulate growth on the parent plant, and also make for a fuller plant!

The first step, is to decide where you want to cut your plant. Some things to take into consideration when determining where to make the cutting: 1. where ever you make your cutting, usually is going to end up splitting into 2 strands down the road, so it will become fuller. Because of this, I usually try to make the cutting closer to the rim of the pot, so that when it does split, it looks like separate full strands! and 2. the stands on your plant may already have roots growing out, if this is the case, you can use these for propagation, or you will need to pull some of the bananas off of your cutting, so roots can grow from there, this is why you need to make sure that the strand is long enough to pull some of the lower leaves off.

Once you have determined where to make the cutting from, you will want to take a clean, sharp pair of clippers, scissors or micro tip garden shears , and simply cut the strands off. An important tip here, is to make sure that you know which end you made the cutting from, so you can put this part into the soil or water when propagating.

Once you have your cutting or cuttings, you are going to want to remove the bananas or leaves from the part that was closest to the soil and roots in the original pot, where you made your cutting from. Some people will say that you should let your cutting sit for a day or 2 to let it callus over, before putting it in soil or in water, I have not done this, but it is beneficial! I personally am just very impatient!

Propagating in Soil:

Now that your cutting is prepped, there is an optional use of rooting hormone. While it is not necessary, it is very easy to use and will speed up the rooting process when rooting in soil! To apply the rooting hormone, dump a small amount out onto another surface (I use saucers usually to do this!), never dip the cutting directly into the bottle, and wet the cuttings (only the part that you removed the leaves from). Then take the wet cuttings and dip them into the rooting hormone! Wah lah!

The last step is to simply insert the part of the cutting into the soil mixture. To make it easier to put the end of the cuttings into the soil, you can simply make a small hole using a chopstick (or something similar). The propagations should be kept in bright indirect light (I keep mine on a window sill) and I water these much more frequently than I do the mom plant. I only water them a small amount, and I use filtered water, but I do keep the soil more on the moist side than I do the mom plant! Because I keep the soil a little more moist than I do the more established plant, I recommend propagating them in a separate pot until roots are established, then you can combine them if you would like.

Because the strings are heavy, a bobby pin or a metal plant pin can be used to help the cutting stay in soil until they grow roots.

The best part about propagating your mom plant & a HUGE benefit in my opinion, is what happens after you trim the cuttings from the plant!

Propagating in Water:

You can also choose to propagate your cuttings in water! The preparation is exactly the same, removing the bananas from the ends of the strand (closest to where you made your cutting), and placing the ends of the strands in water, in a small clear glass container. (Make sure that there are no bananas in the water! Just the stem!)

I use filtered water for propagating, and recommend changing the water out every 3-5 days, until roots are formed. Once roots are formed, you can either put the cuttings in with the original plant, to create a fuller plant, or into a new pot, to create another plant, planted in pots!

String of Bananas Revival Story

Here is the background for my quick video showing how I revived my string of bananas. After finding some webbing (spider mites) on the top part of my string of bananas and noticing a lot of stringy/dying parts of the strands at the top of the pot, that looked unruly, I took drastic measures (outside of treating it & hosing the plant off, etc.)

In combination with the damage the bugs caused, this baby was really on the struggle bus. The top just looked like crap, with dead pieces and the strands were becoming rather stringy.

I chopped off some healthy strands, to start propagating, as a backup plan, in case the mom plant didn’t recover fully. Then after it seemed like the bugs were in the rear view , I began picking out the dead pieces and trying to make the plant look healthier. (I also wanted to inspect him to make sure there was no new webbing or damage). As I was picking it apart… I decided to say F it.. (which is about the time I decided you guys should share in the anxiety I’m having about my actions right now and started video taping – see video below)

I’m hoping that in the long run this plant will thrive & look better than it would have before, since I pulled off all the parts that looked like crap. Some of the other pieces I put back in with the roots intact while the more stringy pieces I cut up and propagated then back into the same pot. (I know – I am going against what i saw above, about keeping them in separate pots, but since I was planning on keeping the soil moist and was rehabbing the whole plant, I propagated these parts back in the same pot.) Also hoping fresh soil will help make sure the bugs are really gone !

Once the propagations are rooted and this plant is on the rebound, I’ll probably combine the two pots back together to make him super full once again!

Ps. The neem oil bottle, from the video, is not actually Neem oil (anymore) that i was cleaning the pot with. It was a mixture of soap and rubbing alcohol and water to make sure there was no bugs in the pot. And the gloves and plastic bag were only used to make sure if it did have spider mites Still, I wasn’t accidentally spreading them to other plants! And the soil mixture was my aroid mixture with a lot of additional perlite added as well as some extra coir. (Guys, I’m really lazy. I didn’t want to make a special one for this guy, in addition to the lack of space in my tiny apartment for storing soil mixes!) my aroid soil mix is here!