You’d be surprised how simple it is to propagate a String of Dolphins (Curio peregrinus) plant.
This charming cross between the Candle Plant and the String of Pearls combines the Candle’s distinctive leaves with the Pearls’ playful trailing vines.
How similar is this new plant to its parents? Is it as simple to propagate?
A string of Dolphins will happily multiply from a single leaf. They will produce roots in a few weeks to two months if placed in an appropriate potting mix and given consistent moisture and light.
I’ve written another article about propagating String of Dolphins from a vine. While it takes more patience than using a length of vine, you can reproduce a String of Dolphins from a single leaf. Let’s get started!
Propagating String of Dolphins from A Single Leaf
You will need the following:
- A single leaf from a String of Dolphins plant.
- Potting soil.
- A shallow container with a clear lid. Produce containers like berry tubs are ideal.
- Clean garden shears or scissors
- Small shallow pot
- Small trowel for planting. A large spoon will do in a pinch.
- Spray bottle of clean water for misting
- Rooting hormone (optional)
Find a healthy leaf and cut it off the parent plant with scissors or shears. Make sure you have a small amount of stem attached.
After that, place the little Dolphin somewhere cool and dry for the night. This will allow the stem’s tip to dry out. The dried tissue, known as a callus, will protect against fungal infections and rot.
Fill a shallow plastic container halfway with potting mix. Spritz the soil with water to keep it moist but not wet.
Place your Dolphin on the surface of the potting mix, with the stem against the soil. You should not bury it. Instead, dust the callus of the leaf before placing it in the container if you’ve chosen to use a rooting hormone (Amazon link).
While they will root without it, a rooting compound will help speed things up and give you stronger roots.
Close the lid of your container and position it in a well-lit area away from direct light.
Your Dolphin leaf will develop roots over the next few weeks. After that, it’s just waiting and seeing its needs.
Check on the leaf every morning and, if necessary, mist the soil’s surface. After all, there are no roots deep in that soil, so there’s no need to soak it. It only takes a light spritz to keep things moist.
Make sure the container is well-lit but not in direct sunlight. Errant sunlight will bake your delicate leaf.
Individual leaves can take three to six weeks to establish root. Larger leaves will root faster because the Dolphin can devote more resources to those new roots. Tiny Dolphins could take two months or more.
When the leaf is secure in the soil, it’s time to move the Dolphin to its first adult pot. It’s time to pot if you can gently press the Dolphin without moving.
With your roots ready, it’s time to choose the best pot for your baby String of Dolphins. A pot no more than an inch or two across and no deeper than it is wide is ideal for a tiny plant.
Because these succulents have shallow roots, too much water trapped beneath them will cause rot.
Fill a pot to two-thirds depth with potting mix once you’ve found it. Water it thoroughly.
Next, carefully scoop up the new String of Dolphins plant, roots, and all with your trowel or spoon. Fill in any gaps in the mass before placing it in its new pot.
You can water the Dolphin heavily in its new home and place it in a well-lit area of your growing environment.
Its requirements are now nearly identical to its parent plant, the String of Pearls. It needs lots of bright, indirect light to grow well, and you should only water it when the top layer of soil is dry.
Optimum Conditions for Propagating from A Single Leaf
A young String of Dolphin plants thrives in bright, indirect light. However, while a mature plant enjoys basking in the early morning sunbeams, a baby Dolphin is too delicate and risks sunscald or dehydration.
Bright but diffuse light is what you need for propagation. I’ve found it very effective to shade my propagation with a piece of office paper or even a thin napkin resting on top of the lid.
Enough light will still reach the leaf to promote the growth of roots, but they’ll be protected from the sun’s powerful rays.
Your new String of Dolphins will require loose, free-draining soil with plenty of inorganic material.
It is especially vulnerable to root rot while still developing its first set of roots, so the soil blend must support and protect it.
I make my own by combining one part high-quality potting soil, one part perlite, and one part coarse sand. Commercial cactus and succulent mixes (Amazon link) will suffice if you don’t want to fuss.
A newly propagated String of Dolphins plant requires constant moisture. Their delicate new roots will be damaged if they dry out, but they are susceptible to root rot if their soil becomes too wet.
Using clear plastic containers with lids has always yielded the best results for me. It gives you complete control over your tiny Dolphin’s surroundings.
The sealed lid reduces soil evaporation and creates a gentle, nurturing humidity around the Dolphin. The little leaf doesn’t require much fresh air; opening it once a day is sufficient.
Your new String of Dolphins plant will grow best if you keep it warm like a baby. For best results, they prefer temperatures ranging from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21-26 degrees Celsius).
However, they will have the best chance of growing solid roots if kept at a constant temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold.
That’s all you need to do to propagate a string of dolphins from a single leaf.