How to Grow and Care For String of Tears (Senecio Herreianus)

The String of Tears (Senecio herreianus or Curio herreianus) is an interesting succulent plant hailing from Namibia in South Africa. 

This member of the Asteraceae family is a tender perennial succulent desired for its creeping stems and attractive, tear-shaped foliage. 

string of tears (Senecio herreanus) closeup
String of tears aka Senecio herreanus | alona – Adobe

This plant is a close relative of Senecio rowleyanus (String of Pearls Plant) and Senecio Radicans (String of Bananas Plant).

The plant’s genus name, Senecio (sen-NEESH-shee-oh) is Latin and means “old man”. 

This is a reference to the hairy aspects of the blooms.  

The specific epithet, herreianus (her-ray-ee-AY-nus) honors botanist, Hans Herre, who was an expert on the topic of South African succulents. 

Common names for this plant include:

  • String of Watermelons
  • String of Raindrops
  • Gooseberry Plant
  • String of Beads
  • String of Tears

String of Tears Care Guide

Size & Growth

  • The String of Tears is typically a low growing, trailing plant. 
  • Stems may attain a length of one foot in ideal circumstances.
  • The String of Tears has trailing stems ranging in shade from green to purple. 
  • The stems are fairly stiff and can grow to be more than a foot long. 
  • They have a trailing or creeping growth habit depending upon how they’re planted.
  • The leaf shape is of a teardrop or raindrop. 
  • They are equipped with clear leaf windows allowing more light to get in. 
  • When you peek in the window, you will see the interior of the leaf has very fine purple stripes.
  • When the plant is grown in bright sunlight, the purple hues of the stems and leaves will become darker.

Flowering & Fragrance

Senecio herreianus String of Tears produces cinnamon-scented, trumpet-shaped white flowers during the spring and summer.

Light & Temperature

The String of Tears does best in partial shade or indirect bright light rather than in the full direct sunlight. 

As a houseplant, it does well in an east-facing or west-facing sunny window.

If you’re growing the plant outdoors, you should bring it in before the cold months of winter. 

Alternately, if you’re growing it as a groundcover, take cuttings to keep indoor plants as houseplants and return them to the outdoors when winter is over.

This plant is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9b-11b.

Watering & Feeding

  • All plants of this type are adapted to live in fairly arid environments. 
  • They are able to store water in their stems and leaves for long periods of time.
  • Water as you would any trailing succulent or cacti sedum. 
  • Wait until the soil is almost entirely dry and then water very deeply. 
  • Allow water to run through the soil and out of the drainage hole of the container.
  • Fertilize these succulents once a year during the summer. 
  • Use a weak solution of a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Soil & Transplanting

The String of Beads likes a dry, loamy, sandy, or gravelly soil with a neutral pH level. 

A sharply draining succulent soil or cactus mix is a good choice.

As with any succulent or cactus, always use containers with ample drainage holes.

Grooming & Maintenance

When kept as a trailing houseplant, String of Tears should be pruned regularly to maintain a full shape. 

Poke the stem cuttings back into the same potting to fill in any empty spots.

The plant in this video is a hybrid cross, but care instructions are applicable to all Senecio.

How To Propagate Senecio Herreianus String Of Tears

String of Tears Senecio Plant is very easy to propagate. 

In its native setting, the stems simply trail along the ground and set down roots as they go. 

In the wild, this plant forms dense mats.

Take cuttings anytime you like throughout the year. 

Propagate by poking the end of the cutting into loose soil or simply setting the cutting on top of loose soil. 

Press it down gently to make sure you have good soil contact, and it will soon begin setting down roots.

Senecio Herreianus Pest or Disease Problems

For the most part, this hardy succulent is pest and problem-free when properly cared for. 

Overwatering can cause root rot and stem rot and will also make the plant susceptible to succulent mealybug attacks.

If your plant develops any of these problems, approach it by decreasing watering and using an insecticide in the case of mealybugs. 

Alternately, take healthy cuttings, ditch the diseased plant, and start over again. 

If you do this, be sure to use new or thoroughly cleaned containers and fresh potting soil and perlite mix.

Rinse the cuttings thoroughly to get rid of any mealybugs and allow them to air dry before setting them on the soil surface to grow.

Is The Senecio Plant Considered Toxic Or Poisonous?

Although there doesn’t seem to be specific information regarding toxicity in Senecio herreianus String of Tears, it’s worth noting several of its cousins are somewhat poisonous and shouldn’t be eaten.

For example, Senecio rowleyanus is considered mildly toxic to humans and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting if consumed. 

In light of this, it just makes sense to keep String of Tears out of the reach of children and pets.

Is Senecio Herreianus Considered Invasive?

Although Senecio herreianus String of Beads is not listed as invasive, care should be taken when planting it outdoors in areas where it is winter hardy. 

It does have a profuse growth rate, spreads easily and could quickly adapt to become invasive. 

Take steps to keep it in your garden.

Suggested String of Tears Uses

Like the String of Pearls this attractive ornamental succulent is an excellent choice for use in hanging baskets. 

The trailing stems and interesting leaves cascade merrily over the edges of containers. Why not enjoy growing hanging baskets of both String of Pearls and String on Tears?

In conducive climates, String of Tears could make a nice groundcover and would be an interesting addition to a rock garden or trailing over a rock wall.

JOIN Our FREE Plant Care Newsletter 

By entering your email address you agree to receive a daily email newsletter from Plant Care Today. We'll respect your privacy and unsubscribe at any time.