Curio radicans: String of bananas

Family: Asteraceae
Common name: String of bananas, Necklace plant, String of fishhooks, Creeping berry, Banana vine, Fishhook Senecio, Senecio radicans

String of bananas is a beautiful, non-fussy succulent that is ideal for hanging pots and baskets, because of their long trailing stems and banana-like leaves. Most amateur gardeners find succulents difficult to grow, maintain and propagate since they behave very differently from other plants in your garden.

They need very little water and maintenance. They grow very very slowly, and their propagation is not easy. But String of bananas is an exception. They are very non-fussy requiring very little attention.

They grow fairly quickly, and their propagation is very easy. String of bananas is closely related to String of pearls plant, which is much more difficult to grow. String of banana plants looks beautiful hanging from pots or baskets placed high above the ground, giving enough space for the stems to trail down.

Long trailing stems can grow more 60-80 cms long with thick, stubby, succulents leaves that grow in an alternate pattern. The leaves are 2-3 cms long, bending upwards towards a pointy tip. Though it’s rare, these plants produce small white flowers which smell faintly like cinnamon.

String of bananas plants are grown for their ornamental foliage and not for the flowers. When planted on the ground, they can form dense mats of leaves spreading over large areas, since their stems are capable of rooting at the nodes.

These plants are native to the desert regions of South Africa, but they are now preferred succulents all over the world, especially in tropical countries. They can be trained to grow upwards on trellises, but they look their best with hanging tendrils of beautiful, plump stems and leaves.

These plants should be placed in good sunlight and well-drained soil, but they do not need regular watering or fertilization. Being a succulent, it is always better to underwater than overwater them. It’s a good idea to add some compost or slow-release fertilizers into the soil once a year, but not more frequently, as too much fertilization can kill the plant.

Overwatering leads to root rot, and underwatering can cause the leaves to shrivel and brown. They can be grown indoors near sunny windows, but make sure you rotate the plant occasionally to encourage even growth.

String of bananas is resistant to pests and is very rarely affects by aphids, mealy bugs or insects. Addressing these problems early enough can give you a healthy, long-lasting plant.

These plants are toxic to pets and humans, and hence it is a better idea to hang them out of reach of small children and pets. Accidental ingestion can result in nausea, vomiting, skin irritation, drooling, and diarrhea.

Propagation is done very easily through stem cuttings since they can root at the nodes. Cut out a piece of stem, allow it to form calluses by keeping them out for some time, and then plant them in moist, well-drained soil.

Another risk-free method is to bury one part of the stem already attached to the parent plant in the soil. Once this part of the stem takes root, it can be removed from the parent plant, and replanted.