Indoor plants are enjoying another renaissance, both globally and locally. The last time plants were trending was in the 1970s – the best indoor plant books are from the ‘70s! But now new ones are appearing as the current plant awareness unfolds. In the Cape, the dramatic heart breaking drought of the past 3 years has heightened everyone’s awareness of our interdependence and our very real need for plants – and indoor plant sales have soared. So indoor plants are trending!
Let’s look at some Trending Trailing Plants…
Also known as String of Hearts, Chain of Hearts and Rosary Vine – and even Bushman’s Pipe – it’s yet another indoor plant indigenous to South Africa. A tiny trailing succulent plant with mottled green and silver leaves on thin trailing stems, it produces an interesting lantern-shaped flower in soft purple and plum tones, pollinated by flies (Lawler, 2016). The underside of the leaves are plum-coloured, so it is best shown off when hung up high. It has small irregularly shaped corms which store water. It can grow 75cm long trails (Kirsten, 1988: 130). They like a rich well-draining soil mix with compost.
Affectionately called Donkey’s Tail or Burro’s Tail, a well grown plant has long thick ‘tails’ which make a dramatic display. The tails are fragile, so have to be handled with care, as leaflets easily break off and leave scars. This Mexican succulent is often chosen simply for its amazing blue-green colour! It can take full sun (Koster & Sibley, 2017: 32. Kirsten, 1988: 136)
Commonly called String of Beads or String of Bananas or String of Fishhooks, this succulent is indigenous to the Little Karoo in South Africa and known amongst the locals as katballetjies, bokballetjies, bokbos or baboon toes – and it’s edible! It was a food known to the Khoi-khoi, as researched by Renata Coetzee, our own food historian (Coetzee, 2015: 101). In nature, it grows thick mats of ground cover. In pots, trails can grow as long as 1m, and benefit from the occasional trim. Interestingly, the leaves have partially transparent sides to allow as much sunlight as possible to shine through (Koster & Sibley, 2017:34).
Commonly called String of Pearls. This succulent is indigenous to the drier parts of Namibia, where it trails on the ground, forming dense mats, often growing in the shade of other plants. It is a sought-after indoor plant because of its long trails of ‘pearls’. It is essential to consider its origin, and keep it very dry and yes, it can tolerate some shade (Heibel & De Give, 2015: 195).
Care and Planting
These plants are best displayed in hanging pots or in a beautiful container placed on a high shelf. All four of the above trailing plants are easy to grow, prefer a little neglect, semi-shade to high light, & very little water, especially in winter. Allow to dry out completely (test dryness of soil to 2 finger joints depth), before watering moderately. It is best to place them in a sheltered position in the rainy season.
If you find the right position such as a covered verandah with lots of light, or a high light indoor spot, you will be richly rewarded with long, densely grown trails.
Coetzee, R. (2015) A Feast from Nature. Hermanus: Penstock Publications (2018 Reprint: African Sun Media)
JoyUsGarden. (2018) ‘Fishhooks Senecio: This Trailing Succulent Is So Easy to Grow’, Instructables. [Online] Available at: https://www.instructables.com/id/Fishhooks-Senecio-This-Trailing-Succulent-Is-So-Ea/ (Accessed 21 July 2018)
Kirsten, K & Reid, O. (1988) House Plants of South Africa. Cape Town: Human & Roussouw
Koster, M & Sibley, E. (2017) Urban Botanics: An indoor plant guide for modern gardeners. London: Aurum Press
Langan, A & Vidal, J. (2017) Plant Style: How to greenify your space. Australia: Thames & Hudson
Lawler, C: (2016) ‘The Manscape: Origin Stories of Super Plants’, The Planthunter, February 23, 2016 [Online] Available at http://theplanthunter.com.au/botanica/every-day-heroes/ (Accessed 21 July 2018)
Solomon, L. (2009-2017) ‘Senecio Radicans’, Kumbula Indigenous Nursery. [Online] Available at https://kumbulanursery.co.za/plants/senecio-radicans/ (Accessed 21 July 2018)