New to succulent growing and in search of a species to start with, or just looking for something that’s low-maintenance but still spectacular? Meet Crassula perforata, also known as the string of buttons. This South African succulent is one of the most popular species available today due to its easy care and decorative, shrubby growth pattern.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about growing a string of buttons yourself!
|Name(s) (common, scientific)
|String of buttons, Crassula perforata
|Once fully dried
Crassula perforata natural habitat
As mentioned in the intro, the string of buttons is naturally found in South Africa. Here, it grows in areas that can be rather inhospitable, like rocky slopes surrounded by other bushes and shrubs.
Its sprawled growth pattern with tall stems (more than 1ft./30 cm high) and plenty of offsets allow the wild string of buttons to thrive and compete with other plants.
Crassula perforata light and temperature
Because the string of buttons naturally grows in such harsh habitats, it’s no stranger to sunlight. In the wild, these plants usually won’t be shaded much: they grow among other low bushes in areas that will generally lack taller trees that would block out the light.
In the home, this means your Crassula perforata won’t just tolerate plenty of sun. Like other succulent species, it has actually evolved to need it, stretching and withering slowly in areas that don’t receive bright light.
Place your Crassula perforata in front of a window, preferably one that receives direct sun for part of the day. This especially applies in summertime when the species is actively growing; in winter, it can go with a little less light as long as you also reduce waterings.
If you’re worried your string of buttons is lacking sun, try growing it outdoors in the warmer months so it can soak up some light. This has the added advantage of bringing out the lovely rosy shades on the edges of its leaves!
Do keep in mind that the outdoor sun is a lot harsher than indoors and you might want to keep this one away from the aggressive afternoon rays to prevent sunburn. Acclimate the plant slowly to avoid issues.
Did you know? A sun-starved string of buttons is easy to recognize, as it will lose its bushy shape and new leaves will be further apart in new growth. The plant might also drop its older lower leaves.
The string of buttons is not too picky when it comes to temperature, although it’s not extremely frost-hardy. Some light frost might be tolerated as long as the soil is kept absolutely dry, but your safest bet is to bring the plant indoors once things start nearing 0 °C/32 °F.
Indoors this plant can be kept anywhere, though keep in mind that growth will stall when it gets chilly. Differences in day and night temps, as well as summer and winter, will help imitate the natural state of the string of buttons. However, this can be hard to achieve in the average home.
When it comes to high temps, the string of buttons is a real trooper. As discussed in the previous paragraph it might need a little protection outdoors if you live in a warm area, but indoors it will rarely get hot enough for things to become problematic.
Crassula perforata soil and planting
The string of buttons is a succulent, which means: succulent soil. Almost all succulents are intolerant to standing water as they have evolved to quickly absorb as much moisture to survive in the often dry areas they naturally occur in. Their roots rot easily, so we must make sure to use a soil mix that allows all excess water to drain right away.
The easiest succulent mix is 50% potting soil and 50% perlite, which happens to work perfectly for the string of buttons. The succulent soil mixes produced by many big horticulture brands don’t contain enough grit, so try to avoid those. If you do want to buy a premade mix, try going for bonsai grit instead.
Since it’s all about drainage with succulents, you’ll have to find a pot for your string of buttons that allows this. Experienced houseplant enthusiasts might find it possible to keep a succulent healthy in a pot without drainage, but if you’re a beginner I wouldn’t recommend risking it.
The easiest option for planting your string of buttons is a plastic nursery pot with a decorative overpot, although any planter with a drainage hole will work. Drill one yourself if you have to!
The string of buttons’ tall growth makes it perfect for pairing with lower succulents like rosettes or creeping species. Finish the planter with a hanging type for a full look. Not sure about the hows and whats of Crassula perforata soil and planting? The article on how to plant succulents indoors should prove helpful.
Watering Crassula perforata
Although succulents like the string of buttons are adapted to dry environments and can go without water for a while, they are by no means the ‘no water’ option some think they are. They do better with regular waterings, especially in summer. You might end up watering yours more than you’d think!
- The exact amount of water your string of buttons needs depends on the amount of light it’s getting.
- Outdoors in the middle of summer it can be every few days, indoors during the same season it might be every two weeks.
- During winter when things cool down and the plant’s growth halts, you might only have to water once a month.
- To water a succulent correctly, wait until the soil is bone dry and then flood it until it drips freely from the drainage holes. Let the pot drain until the dripping stops and then repeat. You can find more information in the article on watering indoor succulents.
- Your string of buttons will tell you itself whether it’s receiving the right amount of moisture. A healthy specimen has plump leaves, whereas one that’s too dry will show shriveled foliage. Overwatering causes leaves to yellow, soften and eventually fall off. If this happens you might need to uproot the plant and check its roots, as they are extremely prone to rot and might already be damaged. If this is the case, follow the instructions in the paragraph on propagation.
Crassula perforata fertilizer
Most succulents are used to growing in poor soil and don’t need much (if any) fertilizer to thrive. This is no different for the string of buttons, although the occasional feeding will still be appreciated during the growing season.
If you want to give your Crassula perforata a boost, you can use a regular balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength with water. There are also special succulent fertilizers out there. Be sure to only apply when the plant is actively growing and possibly blooming during summer.
Propagating Crassula perforata
Turning one string of buttons into many is a breeze and an easy way to fill out a pot without having to wait, or to obtain new plants to give away. The easiest way to propagate Crassula perforata is to take a stem cutting. This involves simply pinching off the top of a stem, leaving it to dry for a day or two and then placing it in a succulent soil mixture.
The cutting will quickly sprout new roots and continue growing. No worries about the mother stem being ugly and headless: she’ll sprout multiple new tops in no time.
Buying Crassula perforata
The string of buttons is one of the most common succulent species out there. You should have no trouble finding it in your local plant store or garden center. You might even be able to obtain a cutting from a fellow plant lover!
Is Crassula perforata toxic to cats and dogs?
Nope! Crassula perforata is not listed on the ASPCA website as toxic to cats and dogs. So no worries if someone decides to take a bite.