How to grow and care for String of Tears Plant Indoors

Houseplant, String of Tears Plant

Botanical name: Senecio citriformis
Synonmy: Curio citriformis
Family: Asteraceae

String of Tears Plant also called String of Lemons, String of Teardrops bears erect stems on which oval, teardrop-shaped or lemon-shaped leaves grow. The leaves are green to dark-green with translucent longitudinal stripes. String of Tears is a perennial, succulent vine native to the drier parts of Southwest Africa. 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. This 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. Each leaf bears a translucent window that runs the length of the leaf which allows light to reach into interior of the leaf where photosynthesis takes place.

Other related plants are Senecio rowleyanus (String of Pearls), whose foliage is round (spherical); Senecio radicans (String of Bananas), whose foliage is banana-shaped; Senecio peregrinus (String of Dolphins), whose foliage looks like jumping Dolphins and Senecio herreanus (String of Beads), whose foliage is oval-shaped with purple stripes. The cascading thread-like stems and the odd-shaped foliage make these plants perfect for a hanging basket, table top or a shelf.

How to Grow String of Tears Plant

Light

String of Tears Plant prefers bright light with some morning or late afternoon sunlight. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Water String of Tears Plant moderately during the growing season and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold period to maintain the soil barely moist. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to rotting. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth between 20-270C during the growing season is ideal for String of Tears Plant. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Average room humidity is ideal for String of Tears Plant. It has no need for high humidity. Ensure good air circulation for String of Tears Plant to prevent fungal diseases.

Feeding

Feed String of Tears Plant monthly during the growing season with a succulents fertilizer. This plant is not a heavy feeder so be careful when feeding. Withhold feeding in the dormancy stage. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

String of Tears 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, free-draining and rich in organic matter.

Pruning

Pruning String of Tears Plant involves removal of any dead Tears or stems to keep it neat and tidy.

How to Propagate String of Tears Plant

String of Tears Plant can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings.

Propagating String of Tears Plant from stem cuttings
Take 3-5 in. of String of Tears Plant stem cuttings. Allow the cuttings to dry for about 7 days. Lay the stems on moist free-draining soil and lightly press the stems into the soil at the nodes. Place in a warm place and maintain the soil moist until they are rooted. Allow substancial growth before transplanting the new plant.

Common Problems in Growing String of Tears Plant

  • Sudden leaf loss
  • Watering String of Tears 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 Tears Plant is underwatering. Water String of Tears Plant moderately and allow the soil to dry out but never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

  • Elongated stems and misshappen
  • Elongated stems and misshappen in String of Tears 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 Tears 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.

  • Brown dry spots
  • Brown dry spots in String of Tears Plant are due to underwatering; water String of Tears Plant moderately during the hot season while allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

  • Leaves wilted and discolored
  • Overwatering during the cold period is the cause of wilted and discolored leaves in String of Tears Plant. Reduce watering in the cold season and maintain the soil barely moist.

  • Rot at base followed by stem collapse
  • Rotting plant base and stems collapse in String of Tears 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.

  • Brown, soft leaf spots
  • Brown, soft leaf spots in String of Tears Plant are an indication of Leaf spot disease. Avoid wetting the leaves and improve air circulation.

  • Diseases
  • Common diseases in String of Tears Plant are Powdery Mildew and Leaf Spot.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in String of Tears Plant are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects and Spider Mites.

Toxicity

The foliage of String of Tears Plant (Senecio citriformis) is toxic to humans and pets. If ingested, it can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Contact with the sap may cause skin irritation or skin rash in sensitive skin; always wear gloves when handling. Keep String of Tears Plant from the reach of children and pets.

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