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Ron Finley Teaches Gardening

If you're looking for a low-maintenance, non-toxic houseplant, the string of buttons plant is a great choice.

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Ron Finley Teaches GardeningRon Finley Teaches Gardening

Community activist and self-taught gardener Ron Finley shows you how to garden in any space, nurture your plants, and grow your own food.

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What Is the String of Buttons Plant?

String of buttons (Crassula perforata) is a succulent plant with thick, triangular leaves packed snugly around stems that grow upright. String of buttons goes by a number of other common names, including necklace vine, pagoda plant, and stacked crassula. As a native of South Africa, this plant does well in full sun to partial shade and only needs to be watered when the top layer of soil becomes dry to the touch.

Ideal Conditions for Planting String of Buttons

Indoors, string of buttons plants do well in any hardiness zone so long as they receive enough light—about six hours a day in partial sun to full sun. Outdoors, they do best in warmer climates, or zones 9 and higher. These plants are also ideal for planting in terrariums or hanging baskets.

How to Grow and Care for String of Buttons

In terms of plant care, string of buttons succulents are relatively easy to maintain.

  1. Give string of buttons enough sunlight. As plants that are sensitive to both extreme heat and freezing temperatures, string of buttons plants grow best in areas with a happy medium of sunlight. For example, direct sunlight in the summer may help deepen the variegated colors of some varieties, but too much full sun can fry the bright green leaves and cause them to fall off their stems. Give your plants indirect sunlight all day long or direct sun for up to six hours a day.
  2. Plant string of buttons in well-draining soil. As succulents, string of buttons plants need ideal soil that will drain quickly and prevent root rot. Rocky, sandy soils or potting soil formulated for succulents are ideal growing mediums for string of buttons succulents. You can also add perlite to regular potting soil to improve its drainage abilities.
  3. Let the soil dry between waterings. Water your string of buttons plants thoroughly but infrequently. To avoid overwatering and prevent root rot, allow the soil to dry completely between waterings. You’ll find your plant may need more water in the growing season—spring through summer. Once fall rolls around, water it less frequently.
  4. Fertilize every few weeks. For the most part, string of buttons plants don’t need much fertilizer. If maximizing growth is your goal, apply a liquid fertilizer formulated for succulent plants every few weeks in the spring and summer months. Keep in mind that repotting may be necessary as your plant grows too big for its container.
  5. Prune your plant as needed. Although you don’t necessarily need to prune these plants to keep them alive, you can cut back your string of buttons plants every few months to improve their appearance and maintain their starting size.
  6. Keep an eye on pests. String of buttons plants are fairly resistant to pests, but indoor plants may attract mealybugs or spider mites. Spraying non-chemical deterrents like neem oil can help eliminate spider mites and mealybugs and prevent pests from attacking the plant in the first place.
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How to Propagate String of Buttons

String of buttons plants make propagation easy. Use these tips to grow many new plants over time.

  1. Cut off a stem, leaf, or rosette. To begin propagation, gently twist a leaf from a stem or cleanly cut off a stem.
  2. Let a callus form. Before you take your stem or leaf cutting and plunge it into fresh soil, allow a callus to form on the cut edge. Calluses provide growing points for new roots and prevent the succulent leaf from soaking up too much water.
  3. Prepare a clay pot. Choose a porous clay or terracotta pot with drainage holes and well-draining soil. Choosing a porous pot will minimize the risk of overwatering. Although your cutting will need water and moisture in its early days, you can water it less as it matures.
  4. Place the cutting in a pot of damp soil. Once the callus has formed, fill your clay pot with damp soil, and place the leaf or stem cutting into the soil.
  5. Keep the soil moist in the early stages. While mature succulents don’t need constantly moist soil, the potting mix should always be damp to the touch until new plants establish themselves.

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Grow your own garden with Ron Finley, the self-described "Gangster Gardener." Get the MasterClass Annual Membership and learn how to cultivate fresh herbs and vegetables, keep your house plants alive, and use compost to make your community - and the world - a better place.

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