Ultimate Guide: How to Care For String of Dolphins

The String of Dolphins, also known as the Dolphin plant is a really unique and hardy plant. It's small and compact and produces hundreds of flowers on every good size stem. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. It works great as a patio plant, cabinet accent or as a houseplant. It can even grow on concrete!
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The String of Dolphins, commonly known as the Dolphin Plant, is a unique species of string succulents that resembles a group of leaping dolphins. The fleshy leaves, which look like dolphins, turn translucent under low light conditions. 

The petals form lovely clusters of delicate blooms with a cinnamon fragrance. In the wild, these creepers can get as long as 3 feet. When grown indoors, the tendrils cascade down in a dramatic display of greenery. This rare variety is not easy to find but is easy to keep happy. Read on for the basics of Dolphin Plant care.

Growth And Care

Generally, succulents are low-maintenance plants, including the Dolphin plant. Below are some factors worth considering for String of Dolphins to flourish:

The Planting Process

Getting your plant from scratch can be challenging. There is no assurance your Dolphin Succulent seeds will sprout when you grow them. Some seedlings may not even have the dolphin shape, so most people prefer cuttings or grown plants.

To plant the seeds:

  1. Please put them in a container with a great soil mix.
  2. Wrap the container and leave a few holes for aeration.
  3. Regularly water your seeds and wait for the seedlings to sprout.
  4. After sprouting, move the seedlings to an enormous container.

Light Requirements

Dolphin plants need plenty of indirect sunlight but can also tolerate low amounts of light because of the leaf windows. We suggest placing your pot next to a sunny south-facing window. Make sure your plant gets no less than six hours of morning sunlight daily. 

You can also use artificial sources to give additional light during low-light periods like winter. Shady locations increase the risk of root rot because of a lack of adequate light.

How Much Water Do Dolphin Strings Need?

String dolphins have fleshy leaves that can hold water for a long time, so they do not need regular watering. However, unlike most succulent plants, Dolphin Strings require slightly more watering.

Use the Soak and Dry method; give the plants a good soak of water up to the point of water running out the pot’s drainage hole. Wait until the soil is dried before watering again to prevent root rot. Water once every week from spring to early fall when active growth occurs and less frequently during the cooler winter and fall months. 

Underwatering is characterized by dry and flattened leaves, while squishy yellow leaves point

to more than enough water. Adjust your watering plan to suit your plant’s needs depending on the specific area conditions.

Temperature and Humidity

Dolphin plants do well in standard home temperatures and humidity levels. In contrast to other succulents, String of Dolphins can take cooler temperatures as low as 4 degrees Celsius during winter. Temperatures below this will destroy the plant because it is a soft succulent and cannot withstand a hard frost. During the growing season, we recommend about 72 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Soil and Drainage

Use a container that has drainage holes because the String of Dolphins can rot when overwatered. We recommend clay pots because they are porous and allow air and moisture to penetrate. The best soil/medium for the Dolphin Plant is a well-draining one.

String of dolphin in the pot.
Clay pot are porous and allow air and moisture to penetrate.

Commercially available soil mixes are available, but you can also come up with your succulent mix. Look out for soil mixes with excellent drainage and a good pH balance. To create your medium, mix two parts potting soil,1 part perlite and 1 part sand.

Pruning For Improved Growth

Prune dying leaves, or plant debris to encourage better growth. Use a clean kitchen knife or pruning shears to avoid diseases. Make clean incisions because too much damage will slow down growth and negatively affect your plant’s health. Do not cut through infected tissue as this will likely spread diseases.

Fertilizer

Feed your String of Dolphins lightly early in the spring when the plant is actively growing to encourage plant growth and blooming. If you over-fertilize the plant, the leaves will lose their dolphin shape. We recommend an organic fertilizer like worm compost. Limit your feeding to only once or twice a year.

Potting and Repotting

The string of Dolphins plants grow slow and, as such, do not require frequent repotting. However, Repotting creates more space to grow and enables you to remove any infection from the roots. 

Report this trailing succulent once every few years to replenish its potting medium and increase container size by a few inches, roughly 1-2. The plant is okay with being slightly root bound because this encourages bloom. 

A hanging string of dolphin.
The plant is okay with being slightly root bound because this encourages bloom. 

To start, you will need water, gloves, a slightly larger new pot, and a well-drained potting mix. Repot your plant in these easy steps:

  • Remove the Dolphin Plant gently from its original pot; you can do this by tilting the pot and lightly tapping the base and sides.
  • Using your fingers, loosen the roots. If the roots are very thick, snap off a little from the root ball.
  • Layer your new pot. Start with grit at the base for better drainage and fill the next layer with soil mix.
  • Transfer your root ball to the new pot and add more soil around the boundaries.
  • Shake the pot so that the potting medium fills the spaces between the roots and soil.

Water the soil first before transplanting to prevent the plant from experiencing a shock. When you are transplanting your Dolphin plant, lookout for any signs of decay. In case of any rot, prune the roots; pruning will decrease the chances of disease transmission and encourage growth.

Propagating

You can propagate your Dolphin plant from stem cuttings. To start, select a healthy stem with lots of leaves, preferably at least 2-3 nodes, for high chances of success. The nodes are points where new roots will emerge. 

Next, delicately cut beneath a leaf using a sharp kitchen knife or a pair of scissors. Pluck out the bottom leaves to lay bare the stem and let it dry for a few days. If you are propagating your stem cuttings in water, pluck the leaves from the bottom node to prevent the leaves from rotting.

A branch of plant being cut.
You can propagate your Dolphin plant from stem cuttings.

Once the cut ends have hardened, stick it on the soil and water it. Place the plant in areas with indirect light and adjust the light levels slowly over the next couple of weeks. Water the cutting once more after confirming that the topsoil is relatively dry. Once the roots form, add more water and don’t let the soil dry out completely.

How to Get String of Dolphins to Bloom

A mature String of Dolphins plant develops clusters of white flowers in the spring to early summer. The quality of flowers will largely depend on the care you gave your plant during the previous dormancy period. You can encourage blooming by trying out these easy hacks:

A freshly bloom flower.
The quality of flowers will largely depend on the care you gave your plant during the previous dormancy period.
  • Reduce temperatures to about 59 Fahrenheit from late autumn to early spring
  • Water your Dolphin Plant only when the soil is dried
  • Exposing your plant to 2-3 hrs of direct sun from late autumn to early spring for good dormancy.
  • Keep your plant slightly root-bound.

Pests and Diseases

The most common problematic pests for the Sting of Dolphins are spider mites and mealybugs. You can bring the infestation under control with early detection and treatment. Always treat any infestation with urgency. 

Spider mites spin webs beneath the leaves, and mealybugs resemble white cotton. Neem oil is effective against spider mites; the pungent smell repels the pests and is safe to use. You can also try spraying with cold water. To remove mealybugs, rub the leaves with cotton swabs soaked in alcohol. For larger infestations, spray the plants with 70% alcohol or isopropyl solution.

A woman touching the plants leafs.
Spider mites spin webs beneath the leaves, and mealybugs resemble white cotton.

Dolphin Plants diseases are mostly fungal issues caused by overwatering. To avoid these diseases, let the water dry out completely in between irrigation, use a well-draining medium, and plant in a pot with drainage holes to release excess water.

Why does my String of dolphins keep dying?

There are five reasons why your String of dolphins is dying:

  1. You are using a soil mix that is not porous and does not offer good drainage.
  2. Pest invasion
  3. You are overwatering your plant, which could lead to root rot
  4. You are not giving your plant enough water, and it is dehydrated.
  5. You are using a pot that is too big, leading to overhydration.

Is String of dolphins toxic to pets?

Unfortunately, String of dolphins is toxic to your furry friends. Keep the plant in a place that is not easily accessible to children as it can be mildly harmful to humans. Symptoms of poisoning include abdominal cramps, vomiting, skin irritation, and in more severe cases, liver failure.

Why do the leaves of my String of dolphins appear flat?

Your leaves are flat because your plant is not getting adequate light. Move the plant to a brighter location.

Bottom Line

Once you get a hold of these rare succulents, there’s no going back. The basics shared here are enough to get you going. With some love and care, these cuties will spruce up your living space.

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