How to Plant, Grow, and Care For String of Rubies

String of Rubies succulents have intriguing personalities. This plant's leaves turns ruby red in intense light. Ruby Necklace and String of Pickles are plant names for its scarlet, bean-shaped leaves. 

1. Native Area

Subtropical String of Rubies is from the Cape Province of South Africa. Rock flats in the southern Drakensberg are home to the plant. Tunisia and Algeria naturalised it.

2. History

Irish botanist William Henry Harvey named String of Rubies in 1865. In 1901, L.H. Bailey described Othonna capensis in the American Horticulture Cyclopedia. Renaming the genus Crassothonna capensis changed the plant's name.

3. Characteristic

Its flowers show that String of Rubies is an Asteraceae. Small daisy-like yellow blossoms. The flower stalks curve upward to suspend the blossoms from the leaves when the plant is hanging.

4. Uses

String of Rubies is a decorative with no functional value. In hardiness zones 5-10, it can be planted outside as a ground cover or rock garden accent.

5. Planting

Most String of Rubies are grown as houseplants or potted outdoors due to their growth patterns. Pot or plant a mature plant in well-drained soil. Cuttings should be left on top of the soil, not planted deeply. 

6. Light

Put your plant in a sunny window with six hours of direct sunlight daily. For outdoor gardening, select a sunny spot in the morning. Since afternoon sun is hotter, find a site with early sun and afternoon shade. 

7. Water

I find this plant difficult to water. Overwatering a succulent can cause root rot. It seems to like more water than most succulents in my container garden, so my advise may seem contradictory. 

8. Soil

String of Rubies plants need sufficient drainage. Their roots are moisture-sensitive, therefore damp soil can cause root rot. This plant likes soil pH 6.0–6.5. Commercial cactus and succulent potting mix is reliable. 

9. Temperature and Humidity

The optimal temperature for this plant is 50°-80°F (10°-27°C). Your plant will suffer cold damage if left outside below 50°F. I bring mine indoors when nighttime temps in the 40s (~4°C) are possible.

10. Fertilizing

This succulent needs sparing fertilisation like most succulents. Fertilise once or twice a year in spring and summer to promote new growth. To avoid overfeeding, use a slow-release fertiliser with a 0.5-1-1 nitrogen ratio.

11. Pest

The most frequent domestic pests are scale and mealybugs. Good news—both insects are easy to spot and identify. Mealybugs are white and fuzzy, while scale insects are spherical and hard. Usually amber or brown. 

12. Leggy Growth

Woody, leafless tops are common on this plant. A sick-looking plant can result. Even when the plant isn't sick, it can seem horrible. Using hairpins to secure stems might help your plant fill out at the top. These stems root in soil like cuttings. 

Floral Separator

Also see

A Comprehensive Guide to Lighting For Houseplants