The String of Bananas plant is a hanging succulent related to another popular succulent- the String of Pearls. Both of these gorgeous succulents have become very popular because they’re fast growing and create long trails of succulent foliage that seem to flow like a succulent river.
In fact, the String of Pearls (Curio rowleyanus) and String of Bananas (Curio radicans) are related and both have similar care needs. There are the same genus of plants, only differing in their foliage which is why one resembles more of a string of pearls and the other more like bananas. Although, those who have grown both say the String of Bananas is even a bit easier to grow!
The String of Bananas plant, also sometimes called the String of Fishhooks, is a very low maintenance plant, even for succulents! This is because it’s native to the dry and hot regions of southern Africa, so it’s very drought resistant and doesn’t have high water needs.
The String of Bananas is a succulent, not a fruiting plant as the name may suggest. The name is derived from its looks, because this trailing succulent produces long vines that have little banana shaped succulents on them. Although this plant unfortunately doesn’t produce bananas, it does bloom with little white flowers in the springtime!
These succulents are perfect for hanging planters because they grow so quickly and produce up to 6 feet of vines. You can plant these next to a String of Pearls plant and other succulents to create an abundant succulent garden. You can also just continuously propagate your String of Bananas plant, which I’ll describe how to do later in this article, so that you have multiple plants growing!
This succulent is growing in popularity because of how easy it is to care for and how easily it grows and produces feet of succulent vines. In this article I’ll outline the basic care guidelines to ensure you have a healthy and thriving String of Bananas plant!
Is the String of Bananas Plant Toxic?
Before I start describing the growing process and needs of the String of Bananas plant, I want to answer this important question: is the String of Bananas Plant Toxic?
There’s a lot of questions about this because many people have heard something or another about this plant being toxic but haven’t actually done the research to know.
In short, yes, the String of Bananas plant is toxic if ingested. The plant is more dangerous for your pets and children as it will make them very sick if ingested. While it’s not as bad for grown adults, only making us mildly sick, it’s still not healthy to ingest for adults.
If your pet eats some, take them to the vet to have them checked out and treated. The same goes for if your child eats any bits, take them to the doctor to receive some treatments for the symptoms.
Symptoms of sickness from the String of Bananas include irritated skin, diarrhea, or vomiting.
Because this plant grows so long and can hang onto the ground, clip it short if you have pets or little kids that might try to snack on it!
Of course, the most important step and the best way to make sure your plant is healthy is to start off by planting it properly. The main thing you need to consider is just whether you’re going to grow this plant indoors or outdoors.
These plants are native to hot and dry regions, so they aren’t very cold hardy. They can handle a bit of chilly weather, but not any frost so if you live somewhere with winters that are consistently below 40 F, you want to grow inside.
If you live somewhere that’s mild to warm year-round, you shouldn’t have any problems growing this succulent in your garden or yard! Even if you live somewhere humid, this won’t be a problem, just make sure your plant is protected from flooding if you live somewhere rainy.
Whenever you’re ready to plant the succulent, make sure the soil is fairly dry. Thankfully, the String of Bananas isn’t very picky with timing, so you can plant this succulent any time of year.
The last thing to consider is that this plant grows very quickly, so make sure you leave space for all this growth. Either plant this up high so it has space below for its trail to hang, or you can use a trellis or strings to guide the long trails up or along your walls.
You can use a trellis, or really any long stick, to lead the growth upwards if you prefer the look of a climbing vine or want the String of Bananas to grow along a structure you have. Or, grab some old shoelaces or string you have and guide the trailing succulents to grow sideways, if you want them to grow along a shelf, for example.
The next most important thing is having the right soil for the roots to thrive. While String of Bananas isn’t very maintenance, its greatest weakness is its roots.
This plant is highly susceptible to root rot, so it’s very important to have well-draining soil in a succulent pot that drains water equally well so that the roots aren’t suffocated and can become strong to support the rest of the plant.
String of Bananas will need a porous soil that drains water rather quickly. Any standard succulent or cactus soil will be perfect for this. If you’d like to make the soil mixture yourself, use equal parts regular soil and either sand or perlite, this will add a rougher texture and help water run through the soil more easily.
To grow String of Bananas you don’t need to be too concerned with the pH of the soil- it will grow well in standard, neutral soil with pH between 6.6 and 7.5.
String of Bananas needs at least partial sunlight but will also enjoy full sun. To be healthy, it needs about 6 hours of sun per day, although it can handle slightly more or less.
The only restriction is that intense sun will get the plant sunburn, so if you live somewhere super sunny and warm, place the plant somewhere with nice morning or evening sun, but where it will be in the shade during the peak afternoon.
It can handle shade from other plants, so, depending on your space, you may want to place your String of Bananas plant below some taller plants or trees to provide a bit of shade from intense sunlight.
As I said earlier, if you live somewhere with cold winters, you’ll want to grow this succulent indoors. If this is your case, place it by a window where it can get several hours of sun. Even if your plant is indoors, it can still get sunburnt so be mindful of this if you’re placing it in front of a south-facing window and maybe bring it a few inches away from the window so the heat isn’t so intense.
Another thing to keep in mind if you’re growing indoors- make sure to rotate the plant. Every week or so, rotate the String of Bananas plant just a bit so that all sides of the plant receive sun and you’ll have even growth. Although, if the plant is in a hanger, it may be harder to rotate and you can just allow it to grow on one side.
Also, if you don’t receive much sunlight or are experiencing an increase in clouds and storms that are preventing sunlight, grow lights can work as a supplement. The String of Bananas plant will respond to this just the same.
In general, the String of Bananas isn’t super particular with its lighting needs, but it will struggle if it receives little to no light. Sometimes if your plant isn’t getting enough light, it will even start to climb upwards towards light rather than dangle down.
The best way to check if your plant is receiving enough light is to check the “bananas” on the vines. If they’re brown and crispy your plant has too much sun and if they’re more yellow, your plant needs more sun!
The String of Bananas is very drought resistant, so it can survive, and actually prefers, to have less frequent waterings. For watering succulents and many other desert plants, it’s best to do a thorough watering only about once a week.
For the String of Banana, the best indicator to check if it needs more water is the soil. Don’t water the String of Bananas until the soil is completely dry. If you water before this point you risk inducing root rot.
The only specific thing that you need to look out for when taking care of the String of Bananas is root rot. Since this is a plant native to dry and arid environments, its roots do not know how to soak up lots of water and because of this the plant will just sit in water if you overwater.
Leaving the String of Bananas plant sitting in water creates excess moisture that breds bacteria and mold, which is what causes root rot. This is why it’s so important to use porous soil that drains well, but you also need to make sure you’re not overwatering.
In general, with this plant it’s better to underwater than overwater and create disease in the roots. In fact, in the winter months as it’s colder and the plant is dormant, you can water it even less, about once or twice a month.
The best way to tell if you aren’t watering your plant enough is if the color of the “bananas” changes. The banana-shaped foliage is where the water is stored, so if they look brown and seem limp, you should water a little more often, but still be moderate.
As I’ve said, the String of Bananas is a very low maintenance plant that isn’t picky or finicky- perfect for gardeners and plant owners of all levels- but there are a few more things you can do to boost your plant’s health. Here are various additional tips to ensure that you know everything to do to have the healthiest and most beautiful String of Bananas plant.
The plant’s ideal conditions are warm and dry, so you want to imitate this as well as possible, although the plant won’t suffer if your garden or home isn’t exactly like South Africa! That being said, you should definitely grow indoors, in your home or a greenhouse, if you live somewhere with cold winters or are expecting a cold front.
If you’re growing indoors to protect it from the colder months, you should bring it outdoors during the summer so it can experience the warmth. Just be gentle when you move the plant and gradually move it closer outdoors so you don’t send it into shock.
Also, don’t worry too much about humidity levels. The normal level of humidity inside homes is a bit higher than what the String of Bananas plant is native to, but it’s not too high to create a problem with the plant.
If you’re growing it outdoors and live in a humid region, this shouldn’t be a problem, unless the humidity is a result of frequent rains. If you live somewhere with constant rain, make sure the String of Bananas plant is sheltered and isn’t sitting in a flooded pot.
Since the String of Bananas plant grows quite quickly on its own, you don’t really need fertilizer. Fertilizer is just to give it a boost and feed the plant some extra nutrients.
If you already have some fertilizer and normally fertilize your other plants, it doesn’t hurt to add a little to this plant too! You certainly want to use an organic fertilizer, like worm castings or compost.
You can add fertilizer to the pot or root base once or twice a year. Early spring is the best time to fertilize in order to promote growth during the growing period of spring and summer. You can also fertilize a bit in late summer to keep growth going for the following months.
Just make sure not to use too much fertilizer as this will make the soil too moist and upset the roots. Add a modest amount around the periphery of the root base and take care not to put fertilizer directly on the roots.
Diseases and Pests
Thankfully, the String of Bananas plant is fairly resistant to disease and doesn’t attract specific pests. The greatest worry is root rot more so than anything else that could grow on the surface.
Otherwise, keep an eye out for aphids or spider mites. These are both tiny bugs that are often found in the crevices of plants. So look for these where the “bananas” stem from the vine or in spots where the vines cross over each other (something that will definitely happen as the plant grows).
For both of these, you can make a spray with water and isopropyl alcohol and spray the plant to take out the tiny bugs, or you can find an organic aphid spray in many plant nurseries.
The String of Bananas plant doesn’t require any pruning, but it’s standard to remove dead or damaged pieces as you see them.
One thing you might want to consider is that this plant grows so quickly and you may have vines piling up on the ground after a few months. To remedy this, you can snip the vines (at any point along the vine) and propagate the clipping.
In the following section I’ll explain completely how to propagate the String of Bananas, but here I just wanted to mention that you can clip and regrow as a form of pruning the plant and determining its shape.
One other way to guide the shape and growth of this plant is by using a trellis, string, or nearby structures to hold up the plant. If you just leave it, the String of Bananas is a beautiful hanging succulent, but you can also guide it to grow along your shelves or fencing.
To do this, all you need to do is wrap the new growth around or behind whatever you’re using to guide the plant. You can lead it to grow around a bookshelf, along a window, or right up the wall!
It’s actually super easy to propagate the String of Bananas and following these simple steps, or a similar process here, you can propagate then grow String of Bananas all over your home and garden. With how quickly and long this plant grows, you can have an indoor jungle in no time!
The first step with propagating is to clip off a bit of the String of Bananas vine. If you already have some vines that are reaching the ground or running out of space, go ahead and clip those off. But you can clip the vines at any time and at any length.
Next, take off any “bananas” that are on the bottom two inches of vine clipping. This way they won’t rot and removing them also allows the clipping to use more energy on growing roots.
From here you can either put the clipping in shallow water or just plant it back in the pot. Putting it in water in a glass will allow you to keep an eye on the root development and make sure the new roots have enough water without overwatering the entire String of Bananas plant.
You can also keep the clipping in water indefinitely, because it will continue to grow just with water and can look very pretty like this! You can add this to your propagation station to join in another plant. But if you want your String of Bananas plant to be a little fuller, you can plant the clippings back into the pot to fill up the space.
If you intend to replant the clippings in the pot, then place them in the pot and lightly water or mist the area with the clipping(s) to promote root growth. After about 5 to 7 days the clipping should have healthy roots growing and will be able to continue growing from there.
String of Bananas in Your Home
In this article, I’ve described for you all the soil, water, and sunlight needed for growing a healthy String of Bananas succulent plant, so I hope you’re feeling prepared to start growing!
This plant is incredibly easy to take care of and after this article you shouldn’t have any doubts or worries about growing this gorgeous plant. Thankfully, String of Bananas is even easier to propagate, so once you get rolling, you can clip it and continue growing more all around your house and garden.
Since they grow in the same conditions as all other succulents, you can plant this succulent along with several others and have a beautiful little succulent garden. Or, you can pot one and place it on a bookshelf and let it climb along all the shelves. Or, you can put several in hanging planters next to each other and create a succulent wall!
This plant is so easy and grows so much relative to the amount of work put in, so it’s a great beginner plant. Even if you already have plants and have a good bit of experience, hanging succulents are so beautiful and the String of Bananas won’t add to your workload. Get started!