The string of bananas is a quirky looking plant, native to the continent of Africa. As a succulent, it’s well adapted to living in dry arid environments without much water. Like its Senecio relative, the “string of pearls,” the plant is fast-growing, with vines that can grow 6 feet in length. This makes it ideal for hanging baskets. The leaves are fleshy and banana-shaped, adding to the plant’s decorative appeal.
The plant also blooms flowers during the winter and spring seasons, with distinct cinnamon-like fragrance. The flowers may range in color from yellow and lavender to plain white. Despite its beauty, the plant is often ignored in favour of the more popular string of pearls.
Caring For a String of Bananas
If your one of the rare souls who’ve chosen to adopt this hidden gem of a plant, here’s all you need to know about caring for it correctly.
A string of bananas prefers to be grown between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and is not cold hardy. It’s also not the most frost tolerant plant out there, so If you live in an area that experiences temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, its recommended to grow these plants in containers and bring them indoors.
As for dry areas with mild winters keeping these plants outdoors all year round shouldn’t be a problem. To be more specific, the plants are suitable for USDA zones 10 through 12.
These succulent plants do best in full to partial sun. When grown outdoors, choose a spot that receives plenty of direct sunlight. However, if you live in a climate with the more intense afternoon heat, choose an area that’s only partially sunny. A string of bananas is prone to sunburn if left under extreme heat for an extended period.
When growing these plants indoors in a hanging basket or any other container, be sure to place them in a room that receives a sufficient amount of natural light throughout most of the day. 5-6 hours of view would be ideal. Most houses in the northern hemisphere receive the most light through the south or east-facing windows, making them an excellent spot to grow indoor plants.
If your house is dimly lit and outdoor conditions are not suitable for this plant’s growth, consider purchasing a grow light. There are plenty of different kinds available to purchase online at affordable prices.
If your planning on moving your string of bananas outside after having it grow indoors for most of its life, be sure to make the transition gradually. Most succulents take time to adapt to higher levels of light exposure. Moving them too quickly may burn them.
When watering succulents its best to make your schedule according to the climate, you’re growing them. The most important thing to remember about these plants is NEVER to overwater them. Overwatering is the most significant cause of death among succulents, and it is no different for the string of bananas. Soil that remains wet for too long and is not adequately drained will result in root rot.
The best way to water this succulent is by using the soak and dry method. This involves letting the soil completely dry between each watering session. If you live in a hot, dry climate, you may have to water them more than usual. To know exactly when your plant needs water check the top inch of soil for moisture. If it’s still a little wet, wait a little longer.
In the winters, water these plants even less as it takes longer for soil to dry. Remember, this can’t be stressed enough, underwatering these plants is a lot less harmful than overwatering them.
A good watering schedule is useless without the right soil. The string of bananas requires a well-draining succulent soil mix to grow successfully.
Regular potting soil will store water too long for the plants’ roots to handle. Nowadays finding a good succulent mix is really quite simple. there are plenty of differ types available online.
If you want so save a little money you can always make your own mix using coarse sand, regular potting soil and a good draining material such a perlite.
Fertilizing your succulent isn’t really necessary but if you so wish to supplement its needs go for a well-balanced liquid fertilizer, diluted to half its strength.
Also, be sure to fertilize your succulent only during its active growing period as that’s when its most rapidly taking up nutrients.
Propagating your String of Bananas
If you’ve fallen in love with this plant and thinking of growing more, you’ll be happy to know that they’re super easy to propagate.to become more merely use a stem cutting and follow the steps below.
- Locate a mature and healthy stem and cut it using a sharp, sterilized blade.
- Leave the stem out to dry for two to three days.
- Prepare a pot with your preferred well-draining succulent mix and stick the cut stems inside.
- Wait for the cuttings to take root while misting the soil with water to keep it moist.
- You should see new growth within a few weeks, after which you can switch to a regular watering schedule.
This succulent is classified as non-toxic to both humans and pets since the plant is very closely related to the string of pearls, which is toxic, its best not to take risks and keep it out of reach of your cat or dog.
Signs to watch out for
For first-time plant owners, it can be difficult to tell if they’re growing their plant successfully. Your string of bananas should be perfectly healthy unless you notice the following:
1. Shriveled leaves
Shriveled or wilted leaves are a sign that your succulent isn’t getting enough water. Luckily, this is the most natural plant problem to fix. Just water the plant and it should perk up in a few days. Remember to check the soil regularly for moisture to prevent this from happening again.
2. Mushy leaves
Soft mushy leaves that may also be turning a little yellow is a sign that your plant is being overwatered. This is very dangerous for the plant and not something it may recover from.
The first thing to do when you notice this is to repot the plant in a bed of fresh dry succulent soil. While repotting, check the roots for rot. If you do see some, cut the affected part off immediately. This is crucial if you wish to prevent the decay from spreading and killing the plant.
Once repotted, follow a revised watering schedule to ensure it never happens again.
3. Brown leaves
Brown leaves are a classic sign of sunburn. If you notice browning leaves, move your plant out of direct sunlight to a shadier spot. Unfortunately, sunburn on plants is permanent. The only way to get rid of scorched leaves is to cut them off and wait for new growth.
Pests and Disease
The disease isn’t typical among these plants. The only thing you have to avoid is root rot as a result of overwatering.
As for pests, like many other succulent, your string of bananas is susceptible to aphids and mealybugs.
Mealybugs are hard to spot on a succulent because they love hiding in any small crevice they can find.
A sign that your plant is infected can include misshaped new growth and a white cotton substance between the leaves and stem, which the bugs are known to produce. Fortunately, you can quickly rid your plant of these pests using the following two methods.
The first method involves spraying the plant with 70% isopropyl alcohol. You don’t have to worry about this causing har to your plant. Alcohol evaporates fast and isn’t going to stay long enough to burn any leaves.
The second method you can opt for is using diluted neem oil. Neem oil messes with the bugs’ hormones, preventing them from reproducing and causing further damage to your plant.