Botanical name: Othonna capensis
Synonmy: Othonna crassifolia
String of Rubies Plant also called String of Pickles, Little Pickles or Ruby Necklace is characterized by thin oval-shaped leaves and reddish-purple stem. The bean-shaped leaves turn a bright ruby red when the plant is grown under bright sunshine. The flowers are a bright yellow color. String of Rubies is a trailing, perennial, succulent vine native to the drier parts of Southwest Africa. In its natural habitat, it grows as a trailer, with stems trailing on the ground, rooting where they touch and forming dense mats. The odd shaped leaves is an adaptation to arid conditions and allows for the storage of water while exposing minimum surface area to the dry desert air which greatly reduces water loss. The fleshy leaves and stems store water, which allows the plant to go for a considerably long period without being watered.
String of Rubies Plant is closely related to Senecio rowleyanus (String of Pearls), whose leaves are spherical; Senecio radicans (String of Bananas), whose foliage is banana-shaped; Senecio herreanus (String of Beads), whose foliage is oval-shaped; Senecio peregrinus (String of Dolphins), whose foliage looks like jumping Dolphins and Senecio citriformis (String of Tears), whose foliage is lemon-shaped. The cascading thread-like stems and the odd-shaped foliage make these plants perfect for a hanging basket, table top or a shelf.
String of Rubies Plant prefers bright light with at least 6 hours of morning or late afternoon sunlight per day. Bright sunshine enhances a bright ruby red color on the leaves and stems. Low light results in a leggy plant. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants
Water String of Rubies Plant moderately during the growing season and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Significantly reduce watering during the cold season to maintain the soil barely moist. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to avoid waterlogging as it can lead to rotting. Learn more on how to water houseplants.
Average warmth between 20-270C during the growing season is ideal for String of Rubies Plant. Keep the plant away from draughts; it does not like sudden changes in the temperature. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.
Average room humidity is ideal for String of Rubies Plant. It has no need for high humidity. Ensure good air circulation for String of Rubies Plant to prevent fungal diseases.
Feed String of Rubies Plant twice during the growing season with a succulents fertilizer. This plant is not a heavy feeder so be careful when feeding. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.
String of Rubies has a small root system so frequent repotting is not necessary. Repot the plant at the beginning of the growing season only when it becomes crowded in its current pot. Use a pot 1 size larger and one that has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging as it can lead to rotting. Use a shallow pot and be careful not to bury the stems to prevent rotting. The best soil should be loose and free-draining.
Pruning String of Rubies Plant involves removal of any dead leaves and stems to keep it neat and tidy. Trim the stems at the beginning of the growing season if they become straggly to rejuvenate growth.
String of Rubies Plant can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings.
Propagating String of Rubies Plant from stem cuttings
Take 3-5 in. of String of Rubies Plant stem cuttings. Ensure each cutting has at 2-3 leaf nodes. Allow the cuttings to dry (callous) for about 7 days to avoid rotting. Press the cut end into moist free-draining soil or lay the string on top of the soil and lightly press the leaf nodes into the soil. Place in a warm place and maintain the soil moist until they are rooted. Allow substancial growth before transplanting the new plant.
Watering String of Rubies Plant with very cold water is one cause of sudden leaf loss. Use water at room temperature to avoid shocking this tropical plant. The other cause of sudden leaf loss in String of Rubies Plant is underwatering. Water String of Rubies Plant moderately and allow the soil to dry out between waterings but never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.
Brown dry spots in String of Rubies Plant are due to underwatering; water String of Rubies Plant moderately during the growing season while allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Overwatering during the cold period is the cause of wilted and discolored leaves in String of Rubies Plant. Reduce watering in the cold season and maintain the soil barely moist.
Rotting plant base and stems collapse in String of Rubies is an indication of basal stem rot disease which is brought about by overwet conditions. Avoid overwatering during the cold season. Use the upper stem to propagate new plants and discard the infected parts.
Elongated stems and misshappen in String of Rubies plant during the cold season is due to too much water; water less and maintain the soil barely moist. If it happens during the hot period, the cause is too little light; String of Rubies Plant prefers bright light with some direct sunlight. Too little light will cause the plant to grow weak, elongated stems in an attempt to reach the light source.
String of Rubies Plant (Othonna capensis) is non-toxic to both humans and pets. The plant is safe to grow in the home.