Updated June 2023.
Senecio Peregrinus, or also known as String of Dolphin or Dolphin plant, is the kind of succulent that would make you fall in love instantly! It’s a rare animal-like variety that develops some beautiful curvy leaves, which perfectly resemble a pod of little jumping Dolphins. And like other “String of” plants such as hearts, bananas, turtles, and pearls, String of Dolphins is a cross-pollination of Senecio Rowleyanus (String of Pearls) and Senecio Articulatus (hot dog cactus). It can grow up to 3 ft long and 15 cm (6 inches) tall, which makes it look great spilling out of a hanging basket or trickling down over bookshelves or even on the edge of a stair rail.
On top of that, this succulent is relatively easy to grow. However, you may want to give it a bit of extra care and attention, considering how challenging it is to find their variety. Luckily, we got you covered and listed everything you need to know about how to take care of one.
[Toxicity]Is String of Dolphins Toxic to Pets?
Sad to say but String of Dolphins is toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets. So make sure to place this plant away from your furry friend and as well as from your children’s reach as it can also be mildly toxic to humans.
Symptoms of poisoning: Abdominal pain, drooling, skin irritation, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, liver failure, etc.
You can see more about Toxic & Non toxic succulents for pets.
1. Light Requirements
Like String of Pearls, the String of Dolphins may easily get sunburned when exposed to too much sun. They are not heat-loving succulent so don't give them direct sunlight when it is getting too hot. If you want to place them together with your other plant collections outside, place them in a shaded spot where they will get indirect or filtered sunlight all day. They are often grown in zone 10 so they are not cold-hardy either.
Place String of Dolphins in a shaded spot where they will get indirect or filtered sunlight all day.
However, if growing them as a houseplant, you should place them in a south-facing window where they can get at least 6 hours of morning sunlight per day. You may also put them under a T-5 fluorescent or LED Grow Light if needed during winter.
2. Ideal Temperature
The ideal temperature for String of Dolphins is around 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Unlike other succulents, String of Dolphins loves cool air and can withstand temperature as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit during winter. In the summer months or during their growing season, it is ideal for them to have around 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, keep in mind that the String of Dolphins are “soft succulent” meaning, they will not survive a hard frost. So if the temperature in your area gets colder than 30 degrees Fahrenheit, it is advisable to plant them in a container where they can easily be transferred inside.
3. Soil & Fertilizer
Like most succulents, the String of Dolphins can rot if overwatered. Therefore, choosing a well-draining soil like a cactus/succulent mix and plant them in a container that has drainage holes in the bottom.
String of Dolphins doesn't need much fertilizer, as over-fertilizing it may result in losing its iconic jumping dolphin look. It is best to feed them only once or twice a year at the beginning of spring and when they start to bloom.
4. Watering Needs
Unlike some rare succulents that can get super tricking with watering, it is pretty easy to water String of Dolphin. The best way to do this is by giving them a good soak of water until it runs out the pot’s drainage hole, and allowing the soil to dry completely in between waterings.
Do this once per week during their growing seasons (which usually happens in Spring to early Fall) and once per month during their dormant period every winter. You can adjust watering schedule to meet each individual plant’s needs based on your specific area conditions.
The String of Dolphins goes dormant in the winter season and therefore would require cooler temps, around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit and far less watering during this time. With that in mind, your watering should be cut back to only once a month to keep this succulent grow happy and healthy.
[Blooming]How to make String of Dolphins bloom?
Once a String of Dolphins matures, small clusters of dainty and white flowers with cinnamon-like fragrance along this succulent vine may develop during the spring to early summer months. And the quality of the flowers it displays largely depends on the care it receives during its previous winter dormancy.
Photo credit: thehorticult.com
In helping you achieve this, here are the few things you can try to encourage your String of Dolphins to bloom:
- Starting from late autumn to early spring, reduce the temperature this plant gets down to around 59 Fahrenheit.
- Ensuring that the soil is dry out completely in between irrigation thoroughly.
- Providing 2 to 3 hours of off-peak direct sunlight with little fertilization from late autumn to early spring to ensure a good dormancy.
- Keeping this succulent slightly root-bound.
[Repotting]How to repot String of Dolphins?
String of Dolphins thrive well in a little crowded conditions, so make sure to use a container only a bit larger than them.
Even though the String of Dolphins likes to be slightly pot bound as this lead in better blooms, repotting this trailing succulent once every 3 years during the Spring season will not only give it more space to grow as you'll be using a larger pot for its new vessel but also allows you to remove any infection from its roots during the process.
To begin, here are the materials you need to prepare:
- Water your String of Dolphins 24 hours before repotting. This will help avoid the plant from being shocked by transplanting.
- A good pair of gloves so that your hand won’t get any dirt
- New pot that's one size largerthan the old one. Terracotta pot is highly recommended as it helps absorb excess soil moisture. Also, make sure it has adequate drainage holes to lessen the risk of root rot and waterlogged soil.
- A porous and well-drained potting medium. A mixture of 40% Coco coir , 20% Perlite, 15% Orchid bark, or 50% perlite and 50% Soil Mix is highly recommended.
Now, let’s start repotting!
- Step 1: Carefully remove the String of Dolphins from its old pot. Till the pot sideways and gently tap the bottom and as well as the sides to help it slide out without damaging the roots much.
- Step 2: Inspect and loosen the roots with your fingers. If you see that your String of Dolphins has grown very thick roots, then it's best to cut off at least an inch from the root ball. Also, make sure to slice through the tangled roots using a clean sharp knife to promote new root growth to fill the soil in its new pot.
- Step 3: Fill the bottom quarter of the new pot with soil mix. For better drainage and to encourage a stronger root system, it’s best to add a thin layer of grit to the base of the pot.
- Step 4: Place the root ball into the pot, then add more soil around the edges. Preferably, you'd want the top ridge of the pot to remain above the soil line, as water may run-off when irrigated. And make sure to lightly shake and tap the pot for the potting medium to fill the small space between the roots and soil.
Once you are done repotting, make sure to take good care of your String of Dolphins until it stabilizes from the stem to prevent any issues or problems to occur, and since overwatering may invite pests, ensure that the soil is dry in between waterings.
[Propagation]What Is The Best Propagation Method for String of Dolphins?
While leaf propagation is not an option, you can propagate String of Dolphin easily from stem cuttings. Here is how you do it:
First, pick a sturdy, healthy stem with plump leaves then carefully cut below a leaf using a clean, sharp knife or a pair of scissors. Make sure the stem is around 5" or more. Remove the bottom leaves to expose the stem and let it dry out for about 2 days.
You can propagate String of Dolphin easily from stem cuttings.
Once the cut end have calloused well, stick it on good draining soil then water the soil deeply. Place the cutting in partial shade, avoid direct sunlight. Slowly introduce it to more sunlight in a course of 1-2 weeks.
Water the cutting again when the top soil is fairly dry. Give your cutting more water in 2-3 weeks or once the roots have formed. Don't forget that the soil needs to be soaked thoroughly and to never let it dry out completely.
You can also watch this video to see some tips for growing a String of Dolphins!
[Common Problems]Common Problems for Dolphin Succulent
Underwatered and Overwatered String of Dolphins
Compared to other Senecio like String of Pearls, String of Dolphins prefers a bit more watering, which mostly makes them suffer from being under-watered.
So keep in mind to always check their leaves for a sign to help you determine if they lack watering or not.
Always check their leaves for a sign to help you determine whether your String of Dolphins is over or underwatered.
When you see signs like dull, deflated and dry leaves, that implies that your Dolphin is underwater. On the other hand, if you see squishy, yellow or transparent leaves, it means your Dolphin is getting more water than needed.
Pest and Disease
When growing indoors, the plant may suffer from spider mites or mealybugs. Spider mites are likely to spin webs on the undersides of the leaves while mealybugs appear as white cottony growth.
In removing mealybugs, try using cotton swabs soaked in rubbing alcohol. For spider mites, bring it outside and spray it with cold water. For more information on how to deal with pests, check out our guide here.
Now, if the procedures above don't solve the issue, using miticide for spider mites and insecticidal soap for the mealybugs might get the job done.
Disease of String of Dolphins is generally limited to fungal issues, which can easily be avoided with proper watering, well-draining soil and a pot that can release excess water.
[FAQs]Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why do String of Dolphins turn brown?
Browning of a string of dolphin leaves could be either caused by overwatering or underwatering. When this happens, make sure to check the dryness of the soil and adjust your watering technique appropriately to prevent further damage.
2. Why are the leaves of my string of dolphins flat?
The small dolphin-shaped leaves can start to lose their shape or flatten out due to overwatering. Hold off with your watering until the soil dries out before hydrating the soil again. In a few days, the dolphin leaves should regain their curved shape and look like miniature dolphins jumping out of the water.
3. Why is my dolphin plant dying?
Too much and too little watering are the most common reasons why a String of Dolphins die. So if the plant appears to be overwatered, make sure to hold off with your watering until the soil dries to save it.
However, if the potting medium is dry and the plant's leaves appear shriveled, give the soil a good soak of water to help bring it back to life.
All in all, String of Dolphins is a beautiful little draping succulent. Whether mixed with other succulents or on its own in a hanging basket, it will definitely give a unique charm. So make sure to properly care for your Dolphins for them to continuously thrive and bring that little ocean spirit into your home.
See more about WHY IS MY STRING OF DOLPHINS SHRIVELING AND DYING?
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