Growing Guide For String of Tears

string of tears

The String of tears (Curio citriformis or Senecio citriformsis) is a trailing succulent plant native to South Africa. It has waxy veined leaves, that are spindle-shaped.

String of Tears is an excellent choice for a beginner gardener, as most succulents are. It does not require much attention and if you know what you’re doing, the plant will thrive without many problems.

It looks unique compared to other succulents due to its shape. It’s a guaranteed eye-catcher and great for filling high places in your rooms since its stems will point downwards. String of tears is often confused with string of watermelons (Curio herrianus) and sometimes with string of pearls (Curio rowleyanus).

In this article we will help you grow the String of Tears plant. How much light it needs, when to water it, how to fertilize it and what soil to plant it in and more.

Scented Flowers

String of Tears will produce flowers when in the right conditions. Its blooms are white and shaped like a trumpet, to some they smell like cinnamon!

Basic Care

Its natural habitat is in South Africa. String of tears naturally grows in rocky outcrops in clay soils. Trying to replicate these conditions may sound difficult, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.


String of tears grows best in bright indirect light. It would be wise to find a location, where string of tears can enjoy indirect sunlight 6 hours a day. It can tolerate less sunlight, but it will not grow as much.


String of tears can tolerate periods of drought, which is why the plant is easy to care for. You should water this perennial succulent when the top inch of the soil is completely dry.

Depending on the humidity level and heat in your home, you should water the plant once every week or once every other week. As with most succulents, it is prone to root rot. During winter months, reduce watering to once a month.

String of tears
String of tears

Soil & Fertilizer

The perfect soil for this plant is well-draining and loamy, with neutral pH level (6.5-7.5). Regular store-bought cactus or succulent soil can work well. Use containers with drainage holes, to prevent overwatering this plant.

String of tears is not demanding in terms of nutrients. To improve growth, you can feed it balanced water-soluble fertilizer once a year during the growing season (spring to fall). Avoid burning the plant with fertilizer, dilute it before feeding.


This beautiful succulent is not tolerant of cold. The temperature should always be above 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius). This is important for gardeners, who like to bring their houseplants outside for the summer. When temperatures start dropping, you should bring your plant inside.

Ideal temperatures for growth are 64 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius). String of tears is cold-hardy in USDA Hardiness zones 9b-11. When growing Curio citriformis outside in the garden as a groundcover, you must give it a little more water.

The humidity level isn’t very important for this plant, it thrives in most household conditions when given enough water. It naturally grows in an arid environment, high humidity levels may not be the best for this plant.


For succulents, always use a pot with drainage holes! Also, find a pot that is deep enough for the roots to develop. String of tears is excellent to grow in hanging baskets as the branches will droop down, however it might need some support to do this.

Curio citriformis should be repotted every 2 or 3 years, depending on growth. Once the roots start poking out of drainage holes, it is time to repot. The best time to do this would be in winter or fall.


String of tears does not require much maintenance, but it does require some regular pruning. If you do not prune the plant, it might grow too tall and fall due to its weight.

Pruning will give it a better look and you can also propagate new plants out of the cuttings! Do not get too enthusiastic about pruning! Never prune more than 1/3 of the plant. Wear gloves when pruning or propagating this plant.

Mildly Toxic

String of tears is mildly toxic, ingesting it is not advised. It should be kept away from pets and children.


String of tears can be propagated via stem cuttings. You can propagate multiple plants into a big pot, to have a lush-looking plant.

#1 Propagating via stem cuttings

  • Take a stem-cutting about five inches (12 cm) below flowers
  • Remove leaves from the bottom half of the cutting
  • Let it the cuttings dry for a day or two
  • Insert the bottom half into a cactus mix
  • Cover the soil with a small layer of organic mulch
  • Water it deeply


Curio citriformis is a sturdy plant when it comes to diseases. Especially if the plant is healthy. However, it can suffer from fungal diseases (rust or powdery mildew), verticillium wilt, and botrytis blight.

To prevent fungal diseases, avoid misting the plant and high humidity. Good air circulation is a must to prevent fungal diseases as well.

To treat Botrytis Blight or other fungal diseases use a fungicide and do not water the plant for a week or two.


Whiteflies, spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, and scales can infest this sweet-looking succulent. Early detection is key with pests, make it a habit to check on your plant regularly. Once you see little crawlers or something flying near the plant, it might be a good idea to identify them. Once identified you can take appropriate action.

Final Words

String of tears is an excellent choice for a beginner gardener or someone with a busy life. Day-to-day, the plant does not need much attention. The ideal place for this beautiful succulent is in bright direct light and a high place, so its drooping beautiful stems with lemon-shaped leaves get the attention they deserve.

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