Senecio peregrinus, or string of dolphins, is one of my favorite succulents. I love the way the dolphin shaped leaves seem to jump off the stems, like they're riding waves on the ocean. I like to plant them with string of fishhooks-it seems fitting, and they look great together. I have a strange sense of humor sometimes.
I also used them in my all-time favorite container garden I've ever made. What do you think of my fantasy garden? I call it Dolphins and Dragons. It needs a bit more sun, but it's filling in nicely since I planted it in March of 2019, at our first-ever Premier Succulents workshop. (There was also an unfortunate incident with a falling pot shortly after I brought this garden home, that took out half the leaves on the aeonium and crushed the calico kitten crassula, but that's a tale for another time. Maybe.)
A cross between two other senecio species, S. rowleyanus (string of pearls) and S. articulatus (candle plant), this hybrid thrives in bright light and, appropriately, seems to like a little more water than most succulents. I find that it's best not to allow the soil to completely dry out between watering, or the dolphins start to become shrivel and die. In the spring, small flowers appear, adding to it's attraction.
Like it's pearl parent, string of dolphins has "windows" to allow you to tell if it's hydrated enough. Check the top of your dolphins-if they're tightly closed, it might need a little more water. If your dolphins are flattening out, it's fully hydrated and you can probably cut back on the water a little bit. You can see a sad, flattened dolphin in the following photo. That particular cutting had a hard time getting started, so some of the older leaves are a little odd, but that's ok. We embrace the odd and unusual around here.
If you'd like to encourage your dolphins to multiply, simply pinch the stems and place the cuttings straight back into the soil. They root easily, especially in late summer and fall, and the original plant will branch where it was pinched.
Honestly, the baby dolphins emerging on the stems is possibly some of the most satisfying and adorable propagation I've done. New leaves are always exciting, but tiny dolphins......here's a photo. You be the judge.
As they age, the leaves can reach about 3/4" long, and 1/4" wide, and we've shockingly had some success here at the greenhouse rooting individual leaves. We are always up for an experiment, and can't resist propagating if given a chance, so we tried it. We thought we'd need stem cuttings, and of course you'll have much better success that way, but leaves work too. They take quite some time to produce a plant, but old, thick leaves can sometimes reproduce. It's not 100% success rate, but it's a fun project for kids!
Take a few leaves from the base of your mature plant, set your little ones up with an ice cube tray full of soil, and let them plant the dolphins in the tray, with the part the was attached to the mother plant in the soil. If you have enough leaves, try to put 2-3 in each section, so you have a better chance of getting new plants. Mist the tray lightly every few days, just enough to moisten the top of the soil, and set it in a bright, sunny location. Be prepared to see absolutely nothing happening for months-it's a very very slow process this way. You could also do a separate pot or two of cuttings, and show the kids that there are different ways to make new plants (some faster than others!). Once they're big enough, you can transplant your cuttings into hand painted pots, and give them as teacher appreciation gifts.
If you're getting married and have a beach theme, consider planting cuttings of your string of dolphins into conch shells with echeveria and cotyledon pendens for simple, elegant table decorations, or the same plants into small pots for shower gifts.
The possibilities are endless with this incredible succulent. It's spectacular in a hanging basket in a sunny window, and is sure to grab the attention of everyone who sees it.
If you've got a particularly beautiful pot of dolphins, especially one you got from us, we would love to see it! Head over to our Facebook page and post some photos and show off your plant babies. We'd also love to see your dolphin propagation stations, or arrangements you've made that feature this awesome plant. Thanks in advance for sharing your ideas and photos!
*Disclaimer/shameless plug-Parts of this article were previously posted on our Facebook page. I hope you enjoy this updated, slightly longer version! If you don't have your own string of dolphins yet, be sure to check out our shop! We offer this fun little plant in several sizes, and in our trailing succulent assortment. We also offer discounts for bulk orders, if you need large amounts of dolphins or any other succulent for your wedding or other event! Send us a message for more details!