Bright windows and balconies are perfect places for the quirky succulent String of Bananas (Senecio radicans).
Of course, bananas thrive in bright light, but how much is enough to keep them flourishing?
The string of bananas needs bright indirect light for at least six hours each day. They benefit from a small amount of direct sunlight in the early morning. Avoid the sun’s rays at noon or for an extended period. If there is no natural light in your apartment, turn to artificial lighting.
Exposure to Sun
The string of Bananas is native to South Africa and grows as a ground-creeping vine.
This enables it to spread into any area of light it desires, even if that area is under other plants’ shaded areas.
A home grower requires 6-8 hours of bright, indirect light per day.
Therefore, it will need to grow at its optimal rate as much as possible. This can be quite a challenge to deal with indoors.
All succulents require regular exposure to bright light. They don’t fare well in the shade.
In addition, as their growth slows, they become more vulnerable to pests and infections.
The Direction Of The Sun
The string of Bananas benefits from some direct sunlight, but the angle at which the light is coming is critical.
It’s best to have southern exposure, but a little morning sun from the east is fine.
The sun’s position throughout the day alters the color and quality of the light.
Your plant is more vulnerable to the sun’s ultraviolet rays during the noonday hours.
Plant cells are severely damaged by UV-B light in particular. (Source)
The sun’s angle affects the atmosphere’s ability to absorb different wavelengths of ultraviolet light.
Plants are most at ease in the early morning light.
The intensity of light
The intensity of light that an indoor plant receives will depend on where they are situated with the light.
If you place your String of Bananas too far away from the light source, you’ll be wasting energy.
Its leaves are designed to survive in arid environments, but they perform poorly in low-light conditions.
The closer the String of Bananas is to the window, the more influential the light and the more growth it will achieve.
Aside from window coverings, trees and shrubs outside, and roof overhangs, other factors that influence light levels include the color of the walls.
Where Should You Place A String of Bananas?
It’s best to place your String of Bananas in a south window. South-facing windows are typically well-lit throughout the day, thanks to a powerful but diffused light.
As soon as the plant reaches maturity, its characteristic trains of leaves hang from the basket, making it quite the focal point.
A window with an eastern exposure would also work. Then, in the early morning light, the String of Bananas will be able to bask in the gentle rays of the rising sun.
Signs That Your String Of Bananas Isn’t Getting Enough Light
It’s a leggy plant if it’s all string and no bananas. The plant stretches itself out, using whatever energy it can muster to grow towards the light.
This is known as etiolation, and it’s a common problem for succulents in low light.
Leaning Towards Light Sources
Under-lit String of Bananas tends to grow on the side of the plant closest to their light source. This can make it look as if it’s leaning towards the light.
The string of Bananas Turning White
If your String of Bananas continues to receive poor light, its leaves will eventually lose their vibrant color.
As the plant conserves its energy and supplies, it will become pure white.
This is most visible on the side of the plant that faces away from the light source, but it is present throughout the String of Bananas.
No New Growth
The String of Bananas goes into survival mode without the sun’s light. It will stop producing new leaves and shoots to preserve the existing growth.
The string of Bananas is a slow-growing plant, but it will eventually come to a complete stop. It simply does not have the energy to grow new leaves.
String of Bananas Shriveling
The String of Bananas sacrifices its older leaves as it ages. Then, finally, they wither and die, falling off the string entirely.
Soil Remains Damp
The soil’s ability to absorb water is a sign to look out for.
Even if you don’t water your String of Bananas very often, an excellent, shady location will help the growing medium to retain moisture.
Evaporation will also slow down due to the plant’s low consumption.
How to Provide More Light
Place The Banana String In A Different Location
The simplest way to revive a flagging String of Bananas plant is to relocate it to a brighter area of your growing space.
Move it slowly to give it time to adjust. It’s incredible how well this plant does despite its obvious need for more light to survive.
If the dim light it’s been attempting to exploit suddenly becomes blindingly bright, it may go into shock and collapse.
Once the String of Bananas has settled into its new home, I recommend moving it closer to the light once a day for the first three or four days. After that, it will be able to adjust to the new light levels this way.
Use a Grow Light for Maximum Flexibility
You can grow your plants with a high-spectrum grow light that mimics the quality of sunlight that they need.
Small ‘halo’ style lights for smaller plants to attractive upright lamps that can illuminate an entire indoor jungle are some of the options available. See the Amazon prices here)
If you live in a small apartment with a wrong view or a small office with few windows, a grow light is an excellent tool for bringing a String of Bananas wherever you want.
However, remember that grow lights can cause sunburn and heat stress if used excessively due to their similarity to natural sunlight.
Signs That Your String of Bananas Is Getting Too Much Light
Even though String of Bananas needs a lot of light, you can overdo it.
Keeping the String of Bananas cool and hydrated in the summer heat is critical, which is especially true if you’re lighting it with direct sunlight.
Here are some indicators that your String of Bananas is getting too much light:
Scorched String of Bananas
Scorching is the first sign of issues caused by excessive light. An extremely thin layer of brown or gray can cover leaves closest to a lamp or source of light.
The String of Bananas looks like it’s been sunburnt.
String of Bananas Shriveling
Shriveled leaves on a well-lit String of Bananas indicate dehydration.
The plant’s leaves are rapidly drying out due to evaporation and the physiological demands of the plant.
The vine will eventually lose all of its sweet little leaves as they dry out and fall off.
String of Bananas Pale
A String of Bananas receiving too little light is similar, but the bleaching when the plant gets too much light is permanent.
Ultraviolet radiation has destroyed the leaf’s green pigment, resulting in the leaf’s demise.
This is also most likely to occur on the parts of the plant exposed to direct sunlight or located near a light source.
Brown Spots Or Pale And Translucent Spots Developing On The Leaves
These discolored areas are also areas that are damaged or dying.
Your plant leaves a trail of devastation in its wake as the ultraviolet radiation penetrates its tissue.
The plant’s cells degrade and die, leaving areas of burnt tissue on the String of Bananas.
This is especially true if the blotches change color – a pale or transparent area of the leaf is dead, and as it decays, it will turn brown or gray.
Yellowing And Thickening Of New Growth
This is a sign that a plant is attempting to protect itself from the sun’s heat.
The String of Bananas produces increasingly thick and rigid leaves and stems to keep harmful radiation from entering the tissues. In some ways, it’s like a protective barrier.
The string of Bananas Turning Purple
In contrast to thicker yellower leaves, some String of Bananas will completely change color until they are dark purple.
This is caused by a class of compounds known as anthocyanins.
As a form of sunscreen, they shield the skin from harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays that might otherwise harm it.
Some people find the color very attractive and deliberately sun-stress their succulents to induce a change in appearance. I have written more on sun-stressing succulents here.
What To Do If The String Of Bananas Is Getting Too Much Light?
The good news is that relocating your plant can solve both the problem of excessive light and the one of insufficient light.
Ensure there is no direct sunlight on the String of Bananas. Give the plant some time to rehydrate by giving it plenty of water afterward.
It won’t be long before your cheerful little string is back to its perky best with these hardy plants!