In this article, we’d discuss how to propagate string of dolphins and the pitfalls you must avoid.
The guide also includes important care tips to help you nurture the plant into those gorgeous green dolphins seemingly trying to break free from trailing vines.
With their dolphin-shaped leaves on trailing vines, you’d only get nods of approval if you feel the Strings of Dolphins are the closest thing to a group of leaping dolphins outside of a dolphinarium.
These succulent hybrids of the string of pearls and the candle plant, are awesome ornamental plants usually displayed from hanging baskets.
Hardy in zones 9a through 11b, the frost-intolerant plants are mostly cultivated indoors.
They are pretty easy to care for and like most succulents, can survive a bit of neglect.
That said, a string of dolphins propagation might become necessary due to old age or is failing for some reason.
If you love having them around, propagation is pretty much the best option because they are hard to get and can be expensive.
String of Dolphins Propagation
String of Dolphins, goes by several common names like Dolphin plant, Dolphin necklace, and Flying dolphins.
The native of the southwestern region of Africa is a partial succulent.
It can store water in the leaves enabling it to withstand drought-like conditions for some time.
The plants are difficult to get and can be quite expensive compared to other houseplants.
Fortunately, all you need is just a matured plant or some cuttings from a friend or family to be well on your way to having as many dolphin necklace plants as you desire through propagation.
Propagating the plant is pretty straightforward. And you get the choice of choosing to propagate it via the leaves or using the stem cuttings.
However, propagation via stem cuttings in either water or soil are the most common methods and these are the methods we’d focus on here.
That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to propagating the string of dolphins:
- You don’t necessarily need a healthy plant to propagate.
Fact is, many gardeners quickly propagate their string of dolphins when it appears distressed and failing.
- The best time to propagate the string of dolphins is in the growing season.
This gives the young roots and plants a greater chance of surviving.
- It takes at least 2 weeks for the stem cuttings to root. It could take longer especially when using leaf cuttings. You need to be patient.
- Rooting hormones can help speed up the rooting process. But successful propagation doesn’t depend on it.
- The potting soil used must be similar to the potting soil of the matured plant.
Plus, you must ensure the growing conditions are close to perfect in terms of the standard string of dolphin growing conditions.
So, let’s start with the type of soil you need and the growing conditions that must be provided to ensure that everything goes according to plan.
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Potting Soil for String of Dolphins Propagation
String of dolphins thrives best in dry, well-draining soil as you’d expect from a succulent.
Any standard potting mix specifically formulated for succulents (cactus mix for instance) would be perfect.
If you want to go down the DIY route, a 2:1:1 mixture of potting soil, perlite, and sand would be awesome.
This is a well-draining mix with just the right soil aeration and moisture retention capacity for succulents like the string of dolphins.
In the absence of the above ingredients, you can also consider an equal mix of peat or compost and sand.
To further enhance aeration and nutrient absorption, simply throw in some perlite and bits of charcoal to the mix respectively.
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Growing Conditions for String of Dolphins Propagation
As well as the soil requirements, these conditions are vital prerequisites when propagating dolphin plants:
Water – Because string of dolphins can retain water in their leaves, they don’t require frequent watering.
A schedule of once every 2 weeks is considered normal. But the sticking point is to water the soil only when it is almost bone dry to prevent root rot.
And when you do, make sure excess water is dripping out of the drainage holes before stopping.
Lighting – They grow best when exposed to at least 6 hours of sunlight daily but can adapt to moderate lighting when grown indoors.
Humidity & Temperature – For tropical succulents, string of dolphins surprisingly can handle temperatures as low as 40℉.
However, they are happiest when the temperature is within the range of the average room temperature.
And in terms of humidity, they can grow well in average indoor humidity levels.
Fertilizer – String of dolphins are low feeders.
They don’t require frequent application of fertilizer to thrive but won’t mind a small dose of plant supplement in the growing season to aid growth. But it is unlikely a young, newly propagated flying dolphin plant would need fertilizing.
The nutrients in the potting soil should be enough.
if you have to fertilize, use products specifically formulated for succulents.
Organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion and worm compost are highly recommended.
How to Propagate String of Dolphins
Propagating dolphin plants involves three basic stages:
- Getting your stem cuttings
- Rooting the cuttings in water or soil
- Transplanting the rooted cuttings into a pot
How to obtain string of dolphins stem cuttings
For this stage, you’ll need a sharp pair of cutters.
A pair of scissors or snips would be okay. Before you begin, make sure you sterilized the blades by cleaning them with rubbing alcohol or soap solution.
Then rinse the blades with clean water and allow them to dry.
With the sterilization done, you can proceed.
- Look for mature, healthy vines and cut off about 4 -5 inches
- Make your cut between two nodes (or on the internode). The node is where the leaves grow from. Each stem cutting must have at least two nodes.
- Remove all the leaves on the lower part of the cuttings.
You are now ready to root the stem cuttings.
String of dolphins propagation: Rooting stem cuttings in water
Items you’ll need
- Stem cuttings
- Jar of water
- A pot filled with potting soil
- Put your stem cuttings into the jar of water making sure at least a couple of nodes are submerged in water. You can have multiple cuttings in the jar
- Place the jar where the standard growing conditions are present.
- Observe the water every week for signs of murkiness. Replace it if it becomes cloudy.
- In about two weeks, the stem cuttings would start sprouting roots.
- When the root tendrils are about 2 inches long, simply transplant the cuttings to a pot filled with the right potting soil.
Place the pot where it can get the ideal growing conditions. And care for the young plant as you would the adult plant.
String of dolphins propagation: Rooting stem cuttings in soil
Items you’d need:
- Stem cuttings
- Pot filled with potting soil
- After obtaining the cuttings, allow the tip to callus. This should take 2-3 days.
- Next, place the stem cuttings on top of the potting soil. You can smear the tip with rooting hormone if you have it. This promotes faster rooting but it is optional.
- Place the pot where it gets the best of the growing conditions.
- Water the soil if it is dry.
- In a couple of weeks or more, young roots would begin to sprout from the callused tip.
- Given enough time and care, the roots should grow down into the soil and become established.
While this method of propagating the string of dolphins is easier, there are a couple of pitfalls to navigate.
For instance, cuttings are susceptible to diseases from fungi and bacteria in the soil. So you need to ensure the soil is sterilized and from these plant pathogens.
Secondly, the risk of over-watering is always lurking. You don’t have to bother about watering even if the soil is barely moist. Give the soil a few days to dry out before watering.
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String of Dolphins Propagation & Care Tips
- The best pots to use are terracotta pots because they help drain excess moisture from the soil; easily preventing root rot due to soggy soil.
- If you are using tap water for irrigation, let it sit overnight in a container for the chemicals to dissipate before watering the soil.
- Use only pots with drainage holes at the bottom
- Be wary of over-watering because too much water is the most common cause of mortality as a result of root rot.
What’s certain is that string of dolphin propagation is remarkably easy and very rewarding.
This is fortunate for lovers of the plant because they are relatively hard to get and not inexpensive when you are lucky to come across some in a garden center or store.
Part of the charm of growing, caring for, and propagating this succulent is the low-maintenance profile.
As long as the growing conditions are present, the drought-resistant dolphin plant can survive all sorts of neglect.
The biggest hurdle to overcome in terms of propagation and care is ensuring the soil is not over-watered. Get this right, and you’d have lots of gorgeous flying dolphin plants adding an aquatic atmosphere to your home.