Do you want a hanging succulent that’s easy to grow? You may love String of Bananas. I’ll show you how to grow a string of bananas plant outdoors.
If you’re looking for another fantastic hanging plant to grace your porch or patio, then head’s up on this one. String Of Bananas, or Senecio radicans, is easy to grow and easy on the eyes too. I’ve lived in mild climates for over 32 years now and in the past 13 years have grown succulents year-round in my gardens.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years – I’m passing it on so you too can have success growing a String Of Bananas plant outdoors.
String Of Bananas is related to the Pearls and the Fishhooks because they’re all in the genus Senecio. I’ve found that caring for String Of Bananas is almost identical to the String Of Pearls but it differs in a few ways. More on that later.
Growing a String Of Bananas Plant Outdoors
Moderate to fast. It seems to love the heat (but not the sun!) here in Tucson.
I’ve seen them sold in 3″, 4″ & 6″ pots. The trails can reach 6′ long. My String Of Bananas, planted from 2 tiny cuttings brought from my Santa Barbara garden, is already 44″ long & growing.
I’ve always seen this plant growing in containers. Because of its attractiveness & the long trails, it’s great in hanging pots.
String Of Bananas trails like crazy. You can see why it makes a great hanging plant.
Mine grows under a covered patio to protect it from the strong desert sun. The light is nice & bright. You’d consider it to be bright shade. In Santa Barbara where I previously lived, this plant could take more sun because of the maritime layer & the fact that the sun isn’t as strong there. Just know that this plant, like other fleshy succulents, will burn in a heartbeat if exposed to too much strong, hot sun.
I can tell you how I water my String Of Bananas & you can adjust accordingly for your conditions. In the summer, I water once a week. Last year we had a very hot June (110F+) so I upped it to twice. In the cooler months, I water every 2-3 weeks. In Santa Barbara, I watered less often.
This plant is subject to root rot so be mindful of that. You don’t want to keep it consistently moist but you don’t want to let it go bone dry for days either.
String Of Bananas is cold hardy to around 30F. If the evening temps are going to dip below 30 like they did a few times this past winter, I throw a towel over the pot. On the other hand, this plant can take heat because it’s survived 1 1/2 summers here. The bananas look a little less “plump” in late June but bounce back beautifully come fall.
A close up on the leaves – just like plump little baby bananas!
I never fertilized my succulents & most don’t need it. In spring, I top them with 1/2″ of worm compost & 1″ of compost over that. Worm compost is my favorite amendment which I use sparingly because it’s rich. Here’s why I like it so much. I’m currently using Worm Gold Plus.
I use Tank’s local compost. Give Dr. Earth’s a try if you can’t find anywhere you live. Both worm compost & compost enrich the soil naturally so the roots are healthy & the plants grow stronger.
Liquid kelp or fish emulsion would work fine too as well as a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer (5-5-5 or lower). Dilute any of these to half strength & apply in spring. If for some reason you think your String Of Bananas needs another application, do it in summer.
I give most of my houseplants a light application of worm compost with a light layer of compost over that every spring. Easy does it – 1/4 to 1/2? layer of each for a larger sized houseplant. Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.
It’s very important that the mix drains well. I use a local succulent & cactus mix which is very light & chunky. It doesn’t hold any excess water. If you can’t find a mix where you live, here’s 1 you can buy online. You may want to up the ante on the drainage factor by adding some pumice or perlite.
I’m propagating both of these plants right now so I can plant them back in the pot to fill it out. The stems on the String Of Bananas are thicker than the String Of Pearls. I believe this makes the SOBs a bit harder & easier for many to keep alive.
I find this 1 pretty easy to repot because the leaves don’t readily fall off. You just have to be careful not to break the trails. It’s important that the crown of the plant (the top where all the stem growing out of) doesn’t sink much lower than 1″ below the top of the pot. If not, water can collect in the pot making it harder to dry out & rot the crown.
Repotting is best to do in spring or summer.
There are a few reasons I’ve pruned a String Of Bananas: to take cuttings, to control the length, to thin out & to take off any dead stems or dead flowers. I avoid doing any in the 2 coldest months here in Tucson.
It’s fast & easy. I’ve done a separate post & video on propagating a String Of Bananas for you.
Mine have never gotten any but they can be susceptible to aphids & mealybugs. Be sure to click on the link show you can identify them & see the methods of control.
I’m not 100% sure of this because they’re not on the ASPCA list. Because they’re related to String Of Pearls which are considered to be toxic, I say this 1 is too. So, if your pets are prone to chewing on plants, keep it out of their reach.
Oh yeah! The white fluffy flowers are borne on long stems which curve slightly upwards. They aren’t as fragrant as the String Of Pearls flowers but they’re pretty none the less. The bloom time here is winter as for a lot of succulents. The shorter days and cooler evenings play into this.
This picture of a flower isn’t the best (it’s past its prime) but you can get an idea what they look like.
Growing a String Of Bananas Plant Outdoors for the Summer
If you live in a cold climate, your String Of Bananas would greatly appreciate a summer vacation in the great outdoors. Make sure it doesn’t get any strong, direct sun or it’ll burn in a heartbeat. Everything I’ve written above applies except for 2 things I want to point out.
If you get a lot of rain over the summer months, you might consider placing yours under protection. A covered patio or screened porch would be fine. If a String Of Bananas gets too wet & doesn’t dry out, it could rot & the stems & bananas will turn to mush.
And, when you bring it back into your home for the cold months, be sure to give it a good hosing down (gently – not like a firehose blast) to knock off any hitchhiking pests &/or their eggs.
What is the Difference Between String Of Bananas and String Of Pearls?
I’ve found these 2 things to be true after growing both of these plants for at least 7 years. 1) String Of Bananas grows faster; considerably faster. 2) String Of Bananas is easier to maintain & keep looking great. This might be due to the stems being thicker on the SOBs. A couple of blog readers have commented & said they’ve had success with SOBs but none with SOPs.
Coming up soon is growing a String Of Bananas as a houseplant. Whether you grow it indoors, outdoors or both, this hanging succulent is definitely one you should consider getting. Never too many succulents I say!