How To Propagate String of Bananas | Curio Radicans

A string of Bananas might seem like an odd name for a houseplant. But all it takes is one look at this species (Senecio radicans syn. Curio radicans) to understand the inspiration behind its common name.

Many gardeners are drawn to the String of Bananas plant for its unique appearance. As if that wasn’t enough of a reason to add this succulent to your collection, it’s also incredibly easy to grow. And if you’re interested in trying your hand at propagation, few species are as foolproof as this one.

In this article, I’ll teach you how to propagate a String of Bananas using 3 different methods.

How To Propagate String Of Bananas

In my experience, String of Bananas are very eager to propagate themselves and don’t require any special coaxing to take root. All you really need to do is provide the right environment and the plant will take it from there. 

If you’ve ever propagated a succulent from a stem or leaf cutting, the entire process will be extremely familiar. However, String of Bananas is also an excellent plant for complete beginners interested in propagation.

A string of Bananas propagation usually has a very high success rate. You can increase the odds of success even further by applying rooting hormone powder to cuttings and taking a few more cuttings than you might need.

1. Propagating in Water From a Cutting

One of my favorite ways to propagate String of Bananas is to root cuttings in a regular glass of water. This method is great because it requires minimal effort to get started and you can see progress in real-time. You can use this same method on pretty much all of the stringy succulents, such as string of hearts or string of turtles.

To get started, select a clear glass container. In my experience, something like a standard mason jar is the perfect size for this purpose. Thoroughly wash the container and fill it with a few inches of clean water. I recommend using filtered tap water, distilled water, or any water that has sat out for at least 24 hours to remove excess chemicals.

Place the cut end of your String of Bananas cutting in the water, ensuring that the top part of the stem is above the water. If you have a slightly longer cutting, you can gently drape the non-cut over the edge of the container.

Keep the container in an appropriate location that receives adequate sunlight and warmth. Change out the water at least once per week to keep it clean. You can safely transplant cuttings to the soil once the roots are at least 1 inch long.

Place your string of bananas stems in water to take root
Place your string of banana stems in water to take root

2. Propagation in Soil From a Cutting

For this method, you’re basically going to plant your String of Bananas cutting like you would a mature plant. The only difference is that your cuttings won’t yet have roots of their own.

Fill a small container with well-draining soil, such as that sold for cacti and succulents. Only use containers that have ample drainage in the bottom.

Gently press the cut end of your String of Bananas cutting into the soil. I like to bury an inch or so, depending on the total length of the stem. I also recommend elevating the rest of the cutting above the soil to prevent any rotting.

Care for your potted cuttings as you would any other String of Bananas. Water carefully during the first few weeks — some gardeners opt to mist the soil during this period — since there aren’t any roots yet to keep the stem in place.

These string of bananas have rooted in soil
These String of Bananas have rooted in soil

3. Placing Cuttings On Soil or Sphagnum Moss

Another option is to place stem cuttings on the surface of a moisture-retaining material like potting soil or sphagnum moss. Simply fill a small pot with your chosen material and secure a piece of stem to the surface using a piece of wire, bobby pin, or similar item. Keep the container moist and in a well-lit location until roots develop and the cutting can be properly planted.

Why choose this propagation method over just planting a String of Bananas cuttings in the soil? There are a couple of good reasons!

Perhaps the biggest benefit of rooting cuttings on the surface of a potting medium is that you can do so without actually severing the stem from the parent plant. This way, the stem continues getting support from the rest of the plant until it grows its own root system.

This technique is also a great way to root very short stem cuttings that can’t be easily planted using the method above. You can even propagate individual Strings of banana leaves in some cases, though I don’t personally recommend it.

How To Take A Cutting – Step by Step

A String of Banana plants is very forgiving when it comes to sourcing cuttings for propagation. But that doesn’t change the fact that higher-quality cuttings will almost always produce better results overall.

I only recommend propagating healthy plants that are free of pests and diseases. If your String of Bananas is stressed or ill, it’s best to treat these issues before taking cuttings. Once you have a healthy String of Bananas in your possession, follow these tips for the best cuttings possible:

  1. Take cuttings from the ends of long, mature stems without any signs of damage.
  2. Ensure cuttings are at least 2 to 3 inches long with several leaves. Leaves grow from nodes and it is these nodes that are the sections of the stem most capable of producing new roots. 
  3. Remove the bottom leaves from the cut ends of cuttings that will be rooted in soil or water.
  4. Always use sharp, sterile tools when taking cuttings to reduce the spread of diseases.
  5. Allow stem cuttings to dry out and form a callus to prevent rot during early root development. According to MasterClass, it typically takes 3 to 7 days for String of Bananas cuttings to callus.
Roots will grow from the many leaf nodes along the pink stem
2. Roots will grow from the many leaf nodes along the pink stem

Best Time to Propagate String of Bananas

The best time to propagate your String of Bananas plant is when it’s actively growing in the spring or early summer. Timing is most important when propagating a String of Bananas kept outdoors since they are directly exposed to the changing seasons.

If possible, I recommend taking cuttings as part of your String of Bananas’ routine pruning. It’s a great way to reduce waste while creating new plants at the exact same time.

Caring For String of Bananas After Propagation

Freshly rooted String of Bananas cuttings requires the same type of care as a mature plant. I do, however, recommend keeping a close eye on young propagated plants that may be more sensitive to things like moisture levels and changing temperatures.

If you need a quick refresher on how to best care for your String of banana plants, here’s my expert advice:

Light

Like other succulents, String of Bananas grows best when exposed to bright, indirect light. These plants prefer at least 6 hours of sun exposure per day, so I recommend placing them in a south- or east-facing window to meet those needs. You can also grow a String of Bananas outdoors in the summer — or year-round in warmer climates like USDA zones 10 through 12).

Adequate sunlight is key to growing a dense, attractive String of Bananas. If you notice your plant becoming leggy and the leaves coming in sparse, it likely needs more light.

Temperature & Humidity

A string of Bananas is adapted to arid climates with relatively high heat and low humidity. Keep plants away from cold drafts and other extreme temperature changes. Most Strings of banana plants can easily tolerate household humidity as long as the rest of their watering needs are met.

Soil

Plant your String of Bananas in sandy, fast-draining soil. I like to use a store-bought cactus and succulent potting mix. Using soil that is too rich for your String of Bananas’ needs will increase the risk of root rot. You can improve the drainage of any potting soil by adding inorganic materials like perlite, vermiculite, or sand.

Watering 

These plants are very drought-tolerant and should be watered as infrequently as possible to prevent root rot. I recommend allowing the soil around your String of Bananas to completely dry out between waterings for the best results. 

I also recommend watering deeply each time you do so. Irrigate until water flows freely from the drainage holes in your plant’s container. This ensures that the entire root system is well-watered while also flushing chemical salts from the soil.

Fertilizing

Feed a String of Bananas with a liquid cactus and succulent formula designed for potted houseplants or your preferred organic fertilizer. 

Your String of Bananas won’t need much fertilizer to thrive. These plants are metaphorical camels in terms of nutrition, so 1 or 2 light feedings during the growing season can easily carry your String of Bananas for an entire year. As with watering, it’s best to err on the side of too little fertilizer versus too much.

FAQ How To Propagate String of Bananas 

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.