What is a Dolphin Succulent?
Dolphin Plant, or String of Dolphins (Senecio peregrinus), is a rare succulent variety that looks like a pod of leaping dolphins. This uncommon hybrid is a cross of String of Pearls (S. rowleyanus) and Candle Plant (S. articulatus). It can be difficult to find and requires a bit of special care, but it is well worth the effort. Read on to find inside information from our growers on how to cultivate a healthy, bountiful Dolphin Succulent of your own.
Where to Find
Mountain Crest Gardens is currently offering the Dolphin Plant in limited quantities. They come potted up in a well-draining, breathable terracotta pot that’s perfectly suited to their needs. Supplies are limited, so if it's currently out of stock, sign up to receive an email when more are ready to go. Multiple small batches will be made available throughout the year.
Dolphin Succulent Seeds
Buying succulent seeds can be a risky business. Even with diligent care, some seeds just won't sprout and with a hybrid like S. peregrinus, you can’t quite predict that the seedlings will have dolphin-shaped leaves. While there are some reputable succulent seed distributors, it is a market rife with scams.
Dolphin Plant is one of the "string" succulents, which grow long, vine-like stems that can reach 1.0' to 3.0' long. In the wild, these Senecio varieties creep along as a ground cover, but they really shine in a hanging pot where they can create a dense cascade of greenery.
The leaves of the Dolphin Plant are fleshy, notched crescents that truly resemble dolphins. In addition to their unbelievable shape, each leaf has a wide, translucent "leaf window" running lengthwise. This adaptation allows sunlight to irradiate the leaf interior and helps the plant tolerate low light conditions (Succulent Leaf Windows).
Senecio are in the Aster or Daisy family and, like daisies, their flowers have lots of narrow white petals. The petals are clustered in a sphere and form a pompom of a bloom. Even better, the flowers have a lovely cinnamon fragrance.
Growth & Care
Like most succulents, Dolphin Plants thrive in well-draining soil. They can rot if overwatered, so be sure to use containers with drainage holes in the bottom. Select a gritty soil like a cactus/succulent mix from a local garden center. You can also prevent rot by keeping the plant in a well-ventilated area.
|A strong back-light glows through a dolphin's leaf window, seen on the right.|
Dolphin Plants need sunlight, but thanks to their leaf windows they can tolerate slightly less light than some non-green succulent varieties. To strike the right balance, try placing it outdoors in the shade or indoors near a sunny window. Watch for signs of Too Little Light and Too Much Light, and adjust as necessary. Dolphin Plants also grow well under a T-5 fluorescent or LED Grow Light.
Succulents are adapted to dry climates and tolerate periods of drought. Dolphin Plant, however, thrives with a bit more frequent watering than most succulents. Be sure to drench thoroughly enough for water to run out the pot’s drainage hole (no misting) and then allow the soil to dry. Use our Complete Guide to Watering to learn the signs of both under- and over-watering in succulents. You will find that the Dolphin Plant needs less frequent water during its winter dormancy.
String of Dolphins is a "soft succulent", meaning that it is not frost hardy. It does best when kept between 50F and 80F, so know your Grow Zone, watch your daily minimum and maximum temperatures, and bring this dolphin indoors when the weather is anything but mild.
Share Your Experience
Very few people have heard of this rare novelty, much less seen it up close. If you have one of your own, feel free to share photos of your plant and tips for other budding Dolphin Succulent enthusiasts on our Reviews Page. Enjoy, and may all your succulent cultivation go swimmingly!