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How to Propagate String of Buttons (Two Simple Ways)

You need more string of buttons plants in your life and home. But you don’t have to go out and buy a new string of buttons (Crassula perforata) plants because propagation is a great way to add to your collection of a string of buttons.

To start a new string of buttons, you need to cut off a healthy piece of the stem. Then, after allowing the cutting to callous over for a couple of days, plant it in a potting medium that is newly prepared and has good drainage. It is also possible to propagate cuttings in water.

Why Propagate String of Buttons?

1- Save A Dying String Of Buttons

This tough succulent has a reputation for being nearly impossible to kill. However, the only thing that can ruin a string of buttons is overwatering.

Propagation may be your only option if all other methods of plant revival have failed to save your dying plant.

Fortunately, you can start over by taking a few healthy, well-established cuttings from your failing string of buttons.

To top it all off, there aren’t any significant challenges in growing this succulent from cuttings.

The most likely reason for a string of buttons to die is root rot from being wet for a long time.

However, your plant can also die from a heavy insect infestation or a severe bacterial or fungal infection.

Yellowing leaves, followed by persistent wilting and widespread rot, are warning signs.

2- It Has Outgrown Its Container 

Propagation is an excellent method for a string of buttons that has outgrown its pot.

Do this at the beginning of spring to give the pups their own home and give the mother plant enough room to grow.

3- Increase Your Succulent Collection And Share Some With Others

Succulents are one of my favorite plants to give as gifts to family, friends, and coworkers. However, I don’t want my collection to get smaller.

That’s why I recommend starting new plants from healthy cuttings to make more strings of buttons to give to family and friends so they can enjoy them too. Sharing is caring, people!

Remember that separating pups is a great way to keep your string of buttons at the correct size.

In addition, it keeps your plant from getting too big and looking shabby.

When Should I Propagate My String of Buttons?

Consider that string of button cuttings can take a while before establishing themselves. So, propagate your plant early.

Ideally, you should propagate your plant in early spring, starting the new growing season.

Early spring is the best time to take cuttings or divide string of buttons to reduce propagation shock. Cuts will heal and callous more quickly, for example.

In addition, your plant and pups will be healthy enough to fight off diseases that happen when the weather is warm.

However, the season is not the only deciding factor. You should also consider why you’re propagating your button string in the first place.

For example, if your plant is dying, propagating sooner is better.

Does Your String of Buttons Have to Be Healthy to Propagate Successfully?

No, your string of buttons doesn’t have to be entirely healthy to propagate it successfully.

However, the emphasis should be on only healthy, well-established cuttings from undamaged or unaffected parts of your string of buttons.

Let’s not forget that propagation may be your last resort when dealing with a failing string of buttons.

But, conversely, it may be the only tool in your arsenal for starting afresh when your plant is devastated by root rot or other fatal ailments.

If your plant shows root rot, it pays to act promptly.

However, if the rot disease is so severe that your plant won’t recover, take a few healthy offsets, divisions, or cuttings.

String of Buttons Cuttings

You must get rid of any affected plant matter before propagating.

The rule of thumb is to propagate from the upper parts of the plant that are often the last to fall victim to overwatering and root rot.

So, always take leaf cuttings from the upper end of the stems.

You’d want to propagate a healthy string of buttons if it’s an expected propagation.

However, propagating a weakened, sickly, or stressed plant may kill the parent plant.

Moreover, divisions or pups won’t thrive if derived from a weak plant.

How Long Does It Take to Propagate String of Buttons? 

Again, it can take longer for cuttings from a string of buttons to start growing roots.

It can take up to two weeks or more before you begin to see roots sprouting from the cut end of the stem.

It helps if you leave a few leaf nodes because roots like to grow from these growth points.

That’s not the end of the story. It could take up to three weeks for new growth to appear on the cuttings’ uppermost sections.

In a nutshell, propagating a string of buttons from cuttings takes four to five weeks.

If you’re not a patient gardener, the rooting hormone may help your plant.

Adding a small amount of highly diluted soluble fertilizer to the soil can also speed up the propagation process.

However, fertilizing isn’t always a good idea when repotting or propagating a succulent.

This is because fertilizer salts can settle in the growing medium and harm new or frail roots. The outcome is inevitable if you’re not careful.

What You’ll Need

Prepare your pen and notebook. Here’s what you’ll need to propagate a string of buttons:

  • A clean, sharp, and sterile pair of pruning shears, scissors, or knife
  • Proper-sized grow pot (I usually use a 6-inch terracotta pot)
  • A well-draining growing medium — A ready-made cactus or succulent mix (Check Amazon’s latest price here) will also fit the bill.
  • Rooting hormone (this one is optional, but I strongly recommend it)
  • Screen protection like burlap, net, or cheesecloth (needed if pests are an issue)
  • Irrigation water (I prefer bottled water, but distilled or filtered water is fine)

Ideal Conditions for Propagating a String of Buttons

A string of button divisions, cuttings, or pups will require many of the same conditions as their mother plants.

Even though these succulents are hardy, it will be easy to make more of them if you provide the following:

Ideal Temperatures

Climatic conditions in their native South Africa have prepared a string of buttons for reasonably high temperatures.

Keep the temperature between 65°F and 70°F (18°C and 21°C) to make it feel like the native environment.

Also, you should protect your newly grown plant from cold drafts, frost, and temperatures below 32°F (0°C).

Bright, Indirect Light

A string of buttons is a full-sun-loving succulent. Showing divisions and cuttings in direct sunlight prevent leaf scorch and dehydration.

Cuttings or offsets exposed to the harsh sun produce discolored, malnourished new growth.

You notice a wilted appearance or development of the spots on leaves. So, ensure your plant gets plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.

Place your plant a few feet away from a window facing south. Use a curtain or sheer drape to block out the sun’s harsh rays.

High-quality grow lights can also provide adequate light to cuttings or young plants for healthy propagation.

Correct Pot

Using the wrong size container to propagate buttons invites root rot. Instead, use clay or terracotta pots that won’t make the soil soggy.

Terracotta pots are typically more robust, longer, and better suited for succulents that require good drainage. They also help your plant’s roots grow.

Make sure the container has drainage holes. These holes drain excess water that could suffocate fragile new roots.

Clean Tools

Ensure the pruners, trowels, pots, and other propagation tools are clean and sterile.

Use a chlorine or alcohol solution to clean them before and after each use (the latter is especially crucial for disinfecting cutting instruments).

The Right Soil Medium

A string of buttons succulent requires well-drained soil. Bark, pumice, and sand are ideal.

I discourage the reuse of growing mediums because they frequently contain disease pathogens or harmful chemicals.

The Right Amount of Water

Over-watering propagated cuttings can harm their new roots. If too much water is around it, the cut end will start to rot before roots grow.

Even worse, root rot can destroy new roots before they are healthy.

These succulents prefer dry conditions. Therefore, before you water again, you should ensure the medium is dehydrated.

This should happen every 7-10 days or sooner during the growing season.

For a string of buttons, the soak-and-dry method is the best way to water them.

First, allow the soil to absorb water until liquid flows out of the drainage holes. Then, make sure to drain the saucer well before putting it back.

Proper Environment

You must propagate in an area that is shaded from direct sunlight. Protect your propagated plant with burlap, net, or screen if you have a pest problem.

Rooting Hormone

Cuttings from a string of buttons are notorious for being difficult to root. However, once the roots have sprouted, everything will be fine.

I suggest putting a small amount of rooting hormone on the cut end of the cuttings to make roots grow faster.

Ways to Propagate String of Buttons

Method #1: Propagating from Cuttings

Stem cuttings make propagating buttons easy. However, growing a plant from a leaf cutting can be challenging because you need the whole leaf that wraps around the stem.

  1. Take a few healthy, established stem cuttings from your string of buttons. For best results, cut 3-12 inches from the top end of the stem. The lower part of the stem is usually barked and will have a tough time developing roots.
  2. Leave out the cuttings for 2-3 days to build calluses 
  3. Although optional, it would help if you dipped the cut end in rooting hormone
  4. Prepare a pot of well-draining soil medium. I like to blend perlite with a cactus mix in a 1-to-1 ratio. You can also mix in some bark and coarse sand to boost drainage.
  5. Once the cutting is healed, stick it into the growing soil medium.
  6. Place your plant in a warm place that gets bright, indirect light. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight. Regular misting can help prevent cuttings from drying out.
  7. After two weeks, you’ll notice new roots developing at the cutting base. 
  8. The cutting should be fully rooted after four to six weeks. After that, provide the usual care for a string of buttons.

Method #2: Water Propagation

  1. Take healthy cuttings and stick the cut ends in clean, purified water
  2. Place in a brightly-lit spot away from direct sunlight
  3. Mist your plant if it feels dry
  4. Roots will start emerging in roughly 2-3 weeks
  5. Transplant to well-draining soil medium after many roots have developed (after around four weeks)

The string of Buttons Propagation Problems

  • Brown leaf edges are caused by too much sun or inconsistent watering. Check that the soil medium is evenly moist.
  • Shriveled foliage – Underwatering is the culprit here. Give it a good drink of water.
  • Root rot – Overwatering is indicated by mushy, brown leaves. Root rot will kill your string buttons if left unattended. Make sure the soil is arid before you water it again.

How to Care for String of Buttons After Propagation

A string of buttons after propagation needs the same care as a typical succulent:

  • Position it in an area with plenty of bright, indirect light
  • Ensure the soil dries out thoroughly before watering again
  • Provide warm temperatures of about 65 – 70ºF (18 – 21ºC).
  • Protect from frost and temp below 32ºF (0ºC).

How Do You Propagate a Variegated String of Buttons?

Like a standard variety, a variegated string of buttons can be propagated by stem or leaf cuttings in soil or water. You can separate and plant pups or offsets to start new plants if it has them.