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Why Is My String Of Dolphins Shriveling and Dying?

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Why Is My String Of Dolphins Shriveling and Dying?

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String of Dolphins, or Senecio peregrinus, is a hybrid plant that resulted from the crossbreeding of two other succulent species: Senecio rowleyanus (String of Pearls) and Senecio articulatus. This captivating plant features fleshy, elongated leaves that are shaped like little dolphins with pointed "tails." The leaves are a bluish-green color with a subtle glossy texture. The vines grow in a cascading manner, making them suitable for hanging baskets or trailing over the edges of containers. Its unique foliage and vining growth habit have made it a sought-after plant for many houseplant lovers. 

String of Dolphins is generally considered to be relatively easy to care for, making it suitable for both experienced and novice plant enthusiasts. However, it doesn’t mean that this plant is trouble-free. One of the most common problems with String of Dolphins is the shriveling of stems and foliage, and if left untreated, the whole plant will eventually die. It's therefore very important to identify and address this problem promptly to prevent further damage. Here are a few possible causes and solutions for shriveling in String of Dolphins:

Improper watering

While shriveling leaves commonly indicate dehydration, a shriveling and dying String of Dolphins can either be underwatered or overwatered

Underwatering

When a succulent String of Dolphins is underwatered, it lacks sufficient moisture to maintain turgidity in its leaves and stems. As a result, the plant can start to show signs of stress, including wilting and shriveling. When it comes to slightly shriveled leaves on a string of dolphins succulent, there's generally no need to worry. These leaves are not permanently damaged and will regain their plump shape once watering is resumed. However, if you notice very shrunken and dry leaves at the tips of the stalks, they may be beyond saving and should be pruned or removed from the plant. 

Pruning these severely damaged leaves will help redirect the plant's energy toward healthier growth. Remember to use clean and sharp pruning tools to minimize any potential harm to the plant. Water your plant thoroughly, and give the plant a good soak until water drains out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. This ensures that the entire root system receives water. However, it's essential to allow excess water to drain away to prevent the roots from sitting in water.

String of Dolphins. Strings Succulent. Watering String of Dolphins

Pruning these severely damaged leaves will help redirect the plant's energy toward healthier growth.

Overwatering

Overwatering is usually a more serious problem for succulents. When a succulent is overwatered, it can develop root rot, which impairs the plant's ability to absorb water properly. As a result, the leaves and stems may begin to shrivel and show signs of stress. Over time, if left untreated, your String of Dolphins may continue to decline and eventually die. 

Check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels excessively wet or consistently damp, the soil is likely retaining too much moisture. You should also check for signs of root rot, which are a foul smell, and mushy stems and roots. To treat this issue, remove your plant from the pot and let the root air-dry. Replace the soil and repot your plant in well-draining, fresh clean soil. 

Heat stress

Heat stress can be another potential cause for shriveling in String of Dolphins. High temperatures can lead to excessive water loss from the leaves, causing them to shrink and shrivel. Heat stress can occur both indoors and outdoors, particularly during hot summer months or when the plant is exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods without proper protection.

To address heat stress and prevent shriveling in the string of dolphins succulent, consider the following steps:

  • If the plant is located outdoors, consider moving it to a spot with partial shade or filtered sunlight.
  • If the plant is indoors, ensure that it is placed in a well-lit area with bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid placing it near windows where it can be exposed to intense heat and direct sunlight.
  • Adequate air circulation is important for succulents to regulate temperature and prevent excessive moisture loss. Ensure there is proper ventilation around the plant, both indoors and outdoors.
  • During periods of heat stress, the string of dolphins may require more frequent watering to compensate for the increased water loss. However, it's crucial to strike a balance and avoid overwatering.
  • Maintain a suitable temperature range for the succulent, preferably between 65-80°F. Avoid exposing it to extreme heat or sudden temperature fluctuations.

Inadequate lighting

Inadequate lighting can be a cause of shriveling in String of Dolphins. As succulents, including the string of dolphins, require bright light to thrive, insufficient light can lead to weak and stressed growth, resulting in shriveling leaves. When a succulent doesn't receive enough light, it can't photosynthesize effectively or produce enough energy to sustain its growth and maintain turgidity in its leaves. This can cause the leaves to become weak, floppy, and ultimately shrive.

To address inadequate lighting and prevent shriveling in this succulent, consider the following steps:

  • Place your String of Dolphins in a location where it can receive bright, indirect sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours a day. If natural light is limited, supplement with a grow lamp. Position the lights close enough to provide sufficient intensity without causing heat stress.
  • Rotate the plant regularly to ensure even exposure to light on all sides. This helps promote balanced, healthy growth.
  • While providing adequate light is important, be cautious not to subject the plant to direct, intense sunlight for extended periods, especially during hot summer months.
  • Monitor the condition of the leaves and overall growth. If you notice signs of elongation, stretching, or pale coloration, it may indicate that the succulent is still not receiving sufficient light. Adjust the placement of the plant or increase the light intensity accordingly.

Place your String of Dolphins in a location where it can receive bright, indirect sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours a day.

    Transplant Shock

    Transplant shock can be another cause of shriveling in String of Dolphins. Transplant shock occurs when a plant is moved or repotted, and it can disrupt the root system, leading to stress and temporary wilting or shriveling of the leaves. If you suspect that your succulent is suffering from transplant shock, give it an optimal environment to grow and some time to recover. This includes a stable temperature between 65-80°F, airy, bright space away from direct sunlight, adequate lighting, and proper watering. 

    To avoid transplant shock, here are some tips:

    • Only repot during the growing season (spring-summer).
    • When transplanting, be as gentle as possible to avoid damaging the roots. Handle the plant with care and try to keep the root ball intact.
    • During the recovery phase, minimize additional stressors such as temperature extremes, excessive handling, or exposure to drafts. 
    • Maintain a stable and suitable environment for your String of Dolphins to recover. 

    Pest Infestation

    Pest infestations can also cause shriveling in String of Dolphins. Pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, or scale insects can feed on the plant's sap, disrupt its nutrient uptake, and cause stress, which can lead to shriveling leaves. When your succulent is infested with pests, it may exhibit various signs of distress, including wilting, leaf discoloration, and shriveling. If left untreated, your String of Dolphins would suffer more damage and eventually die. 

    To address a pest infestation and prevent further shriveling in the string of dolphins succulent, follow these steps:

    • Identify the pests: Inspect the plant carefully, paying attention to the undersides of leaves, stems, and the joints. Look for signs of pests such as visible insects, webbing, or sticky honeydew residue.
    • Isolate affected plants: If you detect a pest infestation, it's essential to isolate the affected succulent to prevent the pests from spreading to other plants.
    • Remove pests manually: For small infestations, you can use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to manually remove the pests. 
    • Use natural remedies or insecticides: If the infestation is more severe, you may need to use natural remedies like neem oil or insecticidal soaps specifically formulated for succulents.
    • Remove the damaged leaves and stems and give your String of Dolphins plenty of bright indirect light and a stable temperature so it can recover and continue to grow. 

    See more about HOW TO CARE FOR STRING OF DOLPHINS

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