STRING OF DOLPHINS (CURIO PEREGRINUS): FACTS, HOW TO GROW AND PLANT CARE

A plant that’s sure to bring a smile to your face is the string of dolphins, adding a tropical vibe into any room. 

Unlike some plants which have unusual foliage and prove quite difficult to care for, the string of dolphins is a lovely, easy-going plant which is perfect for beginners.

Interested in growing your own string of dolphins? Here’s everything you need to know.

At A Glance: What You Should Know About The String Of Dolphins Plant

The string of dolphins plant is actually a hybrid. It’s a cross between Curio rowleyanus, the string of pearls, and Curio articulatus, the candle plant. 

You may also see it labeled as its scientific name, Curio x Peregrinus. Both of the parent plants used to belong to the Senecio genus, which accounts for the mislabeled name Senecio Peregrinus.

In fact, all the plants that previously belonged to the Senecio genus have been transferred to Curio (apart From The Mexican Flame Vine, previously known as Senecio Confusus).

Curio, the new genus name, is a shortened version of curiosity, which describes all the plants within the genus perfectly, as they certainly attract your attention!

Peregrinus translates from Latin to mean ‘foreigner’. It’s also probably not a coincidence that the leaves of the plant can resemble part of a bird’s claw, in certain lights.

It’s the perfect plant to add to any succulent or houseplant collection, injecting variety with its trailing habit and unique leaves (see also Rare Succulents).

As the leaves look like the ‘dolphins’ are attached to the stem by their tail, it looks like they are leaping from the pot, adding character into any room you choose to grow them!

Under the right care, these plants will also produce flowers. All the way through May, you might see brilliant-white pincushion shaped blooms.

Unlike most succulents, these flowers stay fairly close to the foliage. It also helps that they carry a sweet fragrance.

A Note On Toxicity

It’s worth mentioning that the string of dolphins plant is, unfortunately, very toxic to pets, including dogs, cats, and any other furry friend you might happen to share your home with. 

It’s also quite harmful to humans if ingested, so keep the plant out of reach, well away from curious hands and mouths.

When ingested, this plant can cause drooling, stomach upsets, vomiting, stomach pain, and even liver failure.

If you suspect your string of dolphins is the cause of illness, seek the appropriate professional advice immediately.

How To Care For A String Of Dolphins Plant

Where Should You Grow A String Of Dolphins Plant?

In most parts of the world, the string of dolphins is grown as a houseplant (see also Growing A String Of Turtles). If you happen to live somewhere that stays consistently warm, you could keep your plant in a hanging basket or tall container outside.

Just make sure you do bring it inside if the temperature might drop, as these plants are very tender.

Sunlight And Position

If you’re growing your string of dolphins indoors, it’s unlikely that you’ll provide it with too much light (see also Growing A String Of Nickels Plant).

This is because they are sun worshipers, and need as much sunlight as you can give them, at least 6 hours worth a day. A South-facing window is best, where it will get the most sunlight possible.

When growing them outdoors, you may need to provide them with some dappled shade during the hottest part of the day, otherwise you may see signs of scorching.

This can greatly weaken the plant, so be careful to give it the right amount of light.

Soil Requirements

String of dolphins require well-draining soil in order to survive. A succulent compost is best, where it is designed to be as freely-draining as possible, directing water away from the vulnerable roots.

Some people prefer to mix their own, using one part grit and one part compost, to help boost healthy root development.

When And How To Water Your String Of Dolphins

As a succulent plant, you won’t need to water your string of dolphins very often. They retain water in the leaves and stems, which acts as a reservoir for long dry spells.

To help mimic their natural growing conditions, allow the soil to completely dry out between watering. This will make sure that root rot never becomes a problem.

Always water the plant well when it needs it, allowing the plant to get a deep drink. This will help the roots to grow further down into the container. 

During fall and winter, reduce the frequency of watering. The plant’s growth will slow down, and it won’t need nearly as much water as it does in the spring and summer.

Temperature And Humidity Needs

You won’t need to worry too much about humidity and temperatures if you’re growing your string of dolphins plant inside. The dry, warm air inside your home will be perfectly fine for the plant.

It is worth keeping the plant away from fluctuating temperatures, such as on mantelpieces, near doors, or radiators, as this can do some harm. 

Outdoors, it’s worth knowing that your string of dolphins will not cope with freezing temperatures, but they do like it on the cool side.

They are able to withstand temperatures just below 40°F (4°C), but keeping them in a cold or exposed position is not recommended for longer periods.

Fertilizing Your String Of Dolphins Plant

When it comes to fertilizer, your string of dolphins plant isn’t demanding. While you should grow it in soil which doesn’t have a lot of goodness, you don’t need to replace these nutrients.

Fertilizing your string of dolphins on a regular basis will lead to more problems than it will solve. It may even result in the plant’s foliage distorting, to the point where you lose the iconic shape altogether.

Having said that, if you really want to feed them, you can do so once in the first few weeks of spring. This will help support their growth, and might even encourage a few flowers, if the light levels are high enough.

Use an organic fertilizer, but make sure it’s a very weak dose. If you’re using a liquid feed, water the plant immediately afterward to prevent root burn.

How To Repot Your String Of Dolphins Plant

As you might have noticed, a string of dolphins plant is not the most demanding of plants. This also goes for repotting.

You will only need to repot a string of dolphins every few years, only going up one pot size at a time. This is because it doesn’t mind being pot-bound, and it will encourage the plant to flower in May.

If you can, choose a terracotta pot over plastic, as this will help improve the drainage. Letting the roots come into contact with clay, (yes, even fired clay), will also help give the plant a bit of a boost.

How To Propagate Your String Of Dolphins Plant

You can grow a new string of dolphins plant very easily. More importantly, it’s free! 

You’ll need to take stem cuttings, which have two or three nodes each. You can propagate them in water or soil.

If you don’t have a lot of room, a glass of water will do. In this case, you’ll need to make sure to get rid of the lower leaves, to prevent them from rotting in the water.

Once you see roots forming, the cuttings are ready for individual pots of compost.

If you’d prefer to grow your cuttings straight into soil, you can do this too. Some people swear that the roots grown in soil are much stronger than those grown in water.

To propagate cuttings straight into soil, pop them on the soil’s surface, and keep the soil damp at all times. Put the container somewhere warm, and once roots develop, you can plant the cuttings normally.

String Of Dolphins Plant: Common Problems To Look Out For

The string of dolphins is a fairly hardy plant, but that doesn’t mean it’s not completely immune to problems.

Typical houseplant pests such as spider mites, scale, and mealybugs can affect this plant. If you see signs of these villains, the sooner you deal with them, the quicker your plant will recover.

In terms of disease, there’s nothing specific to watch out for, apart from root rot. This is entirely preventable, as this fungal disease is caused by watering the plant too much. 

As long as you let the soil dry out in between watering, this won’t be an issue.

Final Thoughts 

The string of dolphins plant is a worthy contender for any houseplant enthusiast (see also String Of Hearts Grow Guide), even if you’re just getting started in growing your own indoor plants. 

It’s easy to care for and makes a lovely sight, adding trailing interest and novelty into any indoor space. 

It also helps that it’s fairly resilient. Pests aren’t much of a problem, provided that you give the plant the right conditions, which, if you have a large collection of houseplants, makes a great deal of difference.

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