Posted on September 15 2017
We’d dare say that just about all succulents qualify for some degree of radness, but with this plant we really mean it: Senecio radicans. Hey, as far as botanical names go, that’s a pretty ra—er—cool one. This South African native is commonly known as string of bananas because it resembles...strings and strings and strings of green bananas. It’s amazing how well that common name thing can work. Many of us say we’re fond of “hanging out,” right? You might suggest to a friend, “Hey, why don’t we just hang at my place today?” Makes sense, especially for those of us who enjoy the company of our plants and making them a topic of conversation. Well, string of bananas is a totally hang-friendly succulent, with its thread-like, trailing stems of banana-shaped emerald green leaves, making it a natural fit for a hanging basket. In this new Altman Plants video, our own succulent wizard Tom Jesch suggests looking closely at the miniature “bananas." You’ll see a translucent window running the length of each leaf, resembling a thin dark green stripe. These little windows are key players in photosynthesis, allowing sunlight to easily enter the leaf interior and meet up with chlorophyll. The flowers are like pom-poms of many tiny white flowers. We’ll concede that the blooms are not the plant’s raddest feature, but at least they’re fragrant, smelling of cinnamon. The plant is happiest with porous soil that has at least adequate drainage. Water thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch, but give the plant less water during winter months. Frost is not its friend, so protect it during chilly weather. String of bananas is a perfect pal for a patio, although it should look good in most landscape placements. But just as you wouldn’t hang your edible yellow bananas in the middle of the yard, string of bananas isn’t particularly agreeable to a spot that gets hot afternoon sun. It is tougher, though, than another “stringer”: string of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus). String of bananas can be happy indoors too provided it’s given enough light and ample airflow. We’re especially fond of using S. radicans (as well as S. rowleyanus) as a counterpoint in arrangements to rosette-shaped succulents such as echeverias and sempervivums. This dangler’s dependable, solid green color, unique leaves, and long stems add complementary texture to any vertical-friendly planter or basket where there’s some space beneath for free and easy chilling. That can easily be three or more feet of trailing stems if string of bananas is allowed to let it all hang out. Or down, rather. Senecio radicans (string of bananas) is available in our retail and wholesale shops.
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