The string of bananas is native to South Africa and is characterized by banana-shaped leaves and hanging stems. The plant makes a great hanging succulent indoors but can also be grown outdoors. Banana strings thrive in warm areas like most succulents.
Propagating string of bananas is an important aspect of caring for these plants. This guide will help you understand why propagation is important and also the best methods of propagating string of bananas.
What do You Need to Propagate a String of Bananas
- Healthy string of Bananas plant (Senecio radicans)
- Scissors or sharp knife
- Container with water or fresh succulent soil
- Rooting hormone
Initial Steps in Propagating String of Bananas from Cuttings
When you propagate, there are certain steps you need to take for the propagation to be successful. These include choosing the right stem for cutting, making the cut in the right place, and taking care of the cutting properly.
How to Choose a Stem to Cut for Propagation
When cutting a stem, you should always choose one that is healthy, long enough, and mature. Mature stems develop roots faster than the ones that are not. Healthy stems will have fleshy leaves instead of thin and shriveled leaves. And you really want a stem that is at least two inches long.
Where do You Cut Banana Strings to Propagate
Cut the stem of a banana string at least two inches from the base and at least two inches long. The longer it is, the more surface area it has for growing roots. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the stem just below one of the “bananas.”
Three Methods of Propagating String of Bananas
There are three easy methods of propagating string of bananas. All of them can be used for cuttings of various lengths. And beginners can use any of them with relative success.
String of Bananas is a very easy succulent to propagate
Plant Cuttings into New Succulent Soil
After you take the initial cutting, allow a callus to form on the cut edge by leaving it in the air for a day or two. Planting a cutting without doing this could lead to rotting.
Next prepare your soil for planting. Banana strings grow well in a properly drained succulent potting mix. These succulents grow rapidly if fed with fertilizers or compost. Because of this, you can add a little bit of compost into your soil mix. Make sure it isn’t too much though or you will burn the plant.
Using a stick, poke holes in the soil and place the cuttings cut-end first into them. Planting the cutting in this direction ensures that there is a node at the bottom for roots to emerge from. Cover the cutting base using soil and gently pat down.
Rooting could take about 3-4 weeks and during this time, make sure to support the young cutting by placing it in a warm area. Also ensure that the soil is only lightly moist and not soggy.
The cutting is just as likely to rot as a grown plant. Once rooting has occurred, care for your new string of bananas as usual.
Lay on Top of Soil
If you are propagating a string of bananas by laying them on top of a soil, you will need a longer cutting. Typically you’ll want to get a cutting four or five inches long for this method.
Prep Succulent Soil
Before you lay the cuttings on the soil, ensure that it’s well prepared. The best soil is a succulent mixture that drains well. For best results, you can mix your own cactus soil rather than use a commercial mixture.
Apply Rooting Hormone
To help your cutting grow, you can apply some rooting hormone on the part of the cutting that will touch the ground. Cuttings propagate using this method can be particularly difficult to get to root correctly.
Monitor for Root Growth
Roots will start to sprout in about three to four weeks. Until that time, lightly mist the soil whenever it looks and feels dry which is typically about once a week. After the roots are established, stop misting and start watering using the soak and dry method.
Root a String of Bananas in Water
Propagating a string of bananas in water is the easiest method of propagation. It is also the closest to propagating other house plants and so it’s simpler for new succulent propagators. Start by using a sterile and sharp knife to make a clean cut about 4 inches long.
Remove Lower Leaves from Bottom of Cutting
Pinch off the lower leaves of the cutting so that they don’t get submerged in the water. If cutting leaves submerge into the water, they will develop rot and the entire cutting will quickly die. Make sure to leave a growth node at the bottom of the cutting where roots will grow.
Prep Glass Jar
Start by sterilizing a glass jar by running it through the dishwasher or by washing in very hot water. After the jar cools, fill with some distilled or purified water. Tap water is not recommended because it may contain harsh chemicals such as fluoride or chlorine.
Sterilize the jar before propagating in it to prevent rot
Place Cutting in Jar and Fill with Water
Gently place the cut end of your new cutting into the jar so that the bottom ⅓ is under water. You don’t need to allow the cutting to form a callous when propagating a string of bananas in water. Make sure that all of the leaves are out of the water by draping the cutting over the lip of the jar.
Change Water Regularly
Change the water in the jar weekly to prevent microbial activity and prevent your cutting from rotting. This also provides sufficient oxygen to your plants so that healthy root development is quicker.
Apply Rooting Hormone
Even though rooting hormone is optional, rooting hormones speed up the growth of healthy roots if applied correctly. Apply the hormone to your cutting before placing it in water.
You can use a powder rooting hormone or a liquid one. If using a powder one, shake off the excess from your cutting before placing it in water.
Once Roots are Established, Plant in Soil
You should see new roots appearing inside the glass jar in three to four weeks. They appear like fine tendrils. Once roots are established, plant the cutting into well-drained soil and care for like normal.
Propagating String of Bananas from Leaves
It’s possible to propagate string of bananas using leaves but the process could take longer and may have a lower success rate. The leaves tend to rot very fast unlike cuttings.
Choose a plump, healthy leaf and place it on top of a paper towel for a few days so that the cut edges can dry. Then, place the leaf on top of soil and wait for roots to emerge. The plant will survive off the water in the leaf.
Once roots emerge, start to lightly mist them when the plant is dry. To help your leaf to grow, place the plant in a bright but filtered sunlight location once roots emerge.
Should You Use Rooting Hormone when Propagating String of Bananas
Yes, you can use a rooting hormone when propagating string of bananas. It does help roots to grow faster from a new cutting or new leaf. However, it’s totally optional and is only recommended to help speed up the process of rooting. Rooting hormone will not increase the chances your propagation will be successful.
Why Would You Want to Propagate your String of Bananas
There are several reasons why you may need to propagate your string of bananas. Propagating a succulent is not always a bad thing. It’s actually a common technique for reviving a problem plant.
Your String of Bananas is Failing
A banana string can start failing for many different reasons. Common reasons for a string of bananas failing at root rot, extreme cold, or overwatering. All of these problems cause enough damage that the only way to save the plant is to propagate it using healthy stems or leaves from the mother plant.
How to Make String of Bananas Fuller
Pruning a string of bananas can help encourage growth so that the plant appears fuller. You can also propagate your string of bananas into the same pot to increase the strings coming out of the pot to make it look fuller.
A second option is to snip a string of bananas halfway through the stem. Multiple new stems will emerge from the cut and make the plant seem fuller overall.
To Repot Your String of Bananas
Banana strings don’t die from being root-bound and don’t need regular repotting. However, if you want your string of bananas to grow larger overall, you can repot every couple of years to encourage more extensive growth.
Don’t plant your succulent in a pot that is too large
The string of bananas is easy to repot, unlike other hanging succulents, because the leaves don’t fall off easily. If some stems do fall off during the process, replant them just like you are propagating them and they will sprout into new plants.
The best time to repot a string of bananas is during spring and winter months. In the spring, the plant is actively growing and more likely to be capable of repairing any damage done by repotting. In the winter, the plant is at its most dormant and least likely to be damaged.
Trimming String of Bananas
Trimming banana strings can help you get rid of yellow and shriveled leaves. Trimming also helps to maintain the length of the stems because they can grow several inches a year.
Pruning can also encourage stems to grow stronger overall. When trimming, ensure you use sharp and sterile scissors or knives to avoid crushing the delicate stems.
Major Problems You may see When Propagating String of Bananas
You may face some of the challenges when propagating a string of bananas plant. Each is simple to solve if you notice the issues soon enough and move to solve them quickly.
Long Time to Root Growth
Rooting should happen within three to four weeks. When it takes longer than six weeks, it could signify a problem. Delays in rooting could be due to poor lighting, low temperatures, and root rot.
Providing sufficient conditions for rooting such as warmth, bright light, and proper watering can reduce the time it takes for cuttings to root. Applying a rooting hormone when propagating can also help accelerate rooting.
Root rot is a common issue while propagating string of bananas. The main cause is overwatering and poor drainage in the soil. Only water when the soil becomes dry.
When propagating, you should only mist the soil and only after roots are noticeable. Then, check that your container has large enough drainage holes for excess water to flow out.
Root rot is a problem, especially for plants propagated in soil. If the leaves start to look yellowish or droopy, or there is a pungent smell coming from the soil, then you could be dealing with root rot.
Banana strings are mainly propagated using cuttings, though it is possible with leaves as well. The cuttings will grow roots when placed in water, on top of soil, or when planted in new succulent soil.
Propagating string of bananas helps save a failing plant and make existing plants fuller. It is an incredibly important tool in the arsenal of a grower to be able to propagate this plant.