Most commonly known as String of Rubies or String of Pickles, Othonna capensis ‘Ruby Necklace’ belongs to the Asteraceae family and is related to the Senecio genus, which includes the popular String of Hearts, String of Dolphins, and String of Pearls. String of Rubies is a fascinating plant and stands out from other trailing succulents because it changes color when stressed. This sun-loving succulent will transform its foliage color from lush green to vibrant red under lots of bright direct sunlight. The delicate shape and red colors of these leaves are similar to precious gem pendants on necklaces, giving it the name 'Ruby Necklace'.
Native to South Africa, String of Rubies is very hardy and low maintenance. It is perfect for both outdoor gardens if you live in a warm climate area (USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b) and indoor hanging baskets. Its purple-pink stems and long narrow bean-shaped leaves can store water inside, making it a wonderful and easy-care plant even for busy people. Aside from the vivid red shade of the foliage, String of Rubies also boasts beautiful yellow daisy-like flowers that can brighten up any living space!
Ruby Necklace, as a succulent, is drought-tolerance and can withstand low watering and neglect, but it still has some care requirements you need to pay attention to.
Ruby Necklace develops its red coats with lots of bright, direct light. This plant loves the sun and can tolerate direct sunlight, as long as it is not scorching intense sun. If you plant this succulent outdoors, make sure it has some shade during the afternoon, when the sun rays are harshest. Indoors, Ruby Necklace can thrive in a lit spot with lots of bright indirect light. This plant needs at least a few hours of lighting daily, so you can consider investing in a grow light if there is not enough light in your room during the dark winter months. In low light conditions, the leaves of Ruby Necklace will turn green and the plant can become leggy.
Ruby Necklace will need at least a few hours of lighting daily
Ruby Necklace is drought-tolerant, and it has a typical watering need of a succulent. This plant does not need frequent watering and overwatering easily leads to root rot. You should water thoroughly, let the soil dry out between watering, and always let the excess water drain out completely to prevent water logging in the pot. To check if your String of Rubies is ready for watering, stick your finger about two inches into the soil. If your finger comes out dry, it’s time to give your plant a drink.
Your String Rubies thrives in porous, well-draining acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. You can choose any type of succulent and cactus mix, readily available in gardening stores. Alternatively, you can mix your own soil by using two parts of traditional potting soil, one part of perlite, and one part of sand. Avoid using rich soil that retains moisture for too long, as Ruby Necklace does not like sitting in damp soil.
4. Temperature and Humidity
String of Rubies prefers warm temperatures and does not do well when the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This plant can thrive at normal room temperature (60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity (between 30-50%). Avoid placing your Rubies near cold windows, venting areas, or heating sources.
As with most succulents, Ruby Necklace does not need frequent fertilization, if at all. If you want to support new growth during the growing season, you can dilute a liquid succulent fertilizer in a 50/50 mixture with water and fertilize once every few weeks. Don’t forget to choose a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen to avoid burning the roots.
1. Potting and Repotting
Ruby Necklace needs well-draining soil, so prioritize drainage when you choose a pot for this plant. Pots made from porous materials like concrete, ceramic, or terracotta are the best in promoting drainage.
String of Rubies is a fast grower when compared to other succulents, but it is still a compact plant and does not require frequent repotting. This trailing plant does not mind a bit rootbound, so you should repot it every 2-3 years with a pot only one size larger. Repotting should be done only during the growing season (spring-summer). The stems and leaves are fragile, so make sure you handle this succulent with care during repotting. Don’t worry if you accidentally break a few leaves or stems. These cuttings can be used for propagation.
String of Rubies does not need regular pruning, but if the plant becomes leggy, or if you want to shorten its length, pruning can be done with a sharp, clean pair of scissors or a knife. You should also remove dead or damaged leaves to keep the plant neat and tidy. You can keep the cuttings for propagation.
Like other trailing succulents, propagating String of Rubies is easy using stem cuttings. Follow these simple steps:
- Cut a portion of the stems of around 4-6 inches in length as close to the root as you can with a sharp, clean pair of scissors or a knife. Make sure you have at least 2-3 nodes on each stem.
- Let the cuttings callous over for 1-2 days.
- Dip the ends of the cuttings in a rooting hormone and lay the cuttings on a well-draining succulent soil mix.
- Mist the cuttings frequently to keep the soil moist (but not soggy) and place them in an airy, bright spot.
- Once new roots are established, you can plant your baby Rubies in their own pots and follow the care guide above.
Alternatively, you can also propagate your String of Rubies in water. Any glass or transparent plastic jar filled with clean water would do. Make sure you place at least 1-2 nodes in the water. You should change the water once a week and only plant new Rubies in the soil once the roots are at least a few inches.
Ruby Necklace has beautiful small daisy-like flowers that bloom on top of the plant, looking like pretty yellow crowns. If given an ideal growing condition, Rubies can bloom throughout its growing season in Spring and Summer. To encourage blooming, you can increase the amount of light exposure and give your plant some diluted fertilizer.
Common Pests and Diseases
As a succulent, String of Rubies may have a lot of problems due to poor drainage and overwatering. Root rot, mold, and fungal diseases are among the most common issues. You should also watch out for pests like mealybugs and scale, as if left untreated, pest infestation can be deadly for your plant. Inspect your plant regularly for any signs of trouble and disease to avoid unwanted pests.