Crassula Perforata: The No-Sow String of Buttons

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Crassula perforata is an impressive-looking succulent that’s great for beginners. It comes in varying shades of green, blue, grey, and pink. The chunky, triangular leaves spiral around the stem, hence the common name String of Buttons. Such a charming plant will elevate any space, including yours!

String of Buttons is versatile in its planting locations. It’s commonly found in terrariums and rock gardens. Because of its sprawling nature though, it also grows well as a ground cover and in hanging baskets. When planted outside, it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

Hopefully, you’re considering growing Crassula perforata by now. So let’s learn all about the succulent that’s “cute as a button”.

Good Products for String of Buttons:

Quick Care

A cute praying mantis hanging out atop the string of buttons
A cute praying mantis hanging out atop the string of buttons. Source: jordansmall
Common Name(s)String of Buttons, Necklace Vine, Pagoda
Plant
Scientific NameCrassula perforata
FamilyCrassulaceae
Height & Spread30-60 cm tall, 60-90 cm spread
LightPartial sun to partial shade
WaterWater when soil is dry; typical water needs for a succulent
SoilLoam, Sand; Well drained
Fertilizer1/3 strength balanced fertilizer every other week of the growing season
Pests & DiseasesAphids, mealybugs, vine weevils, root rot

All About String of Buttons

Crassula perforata, also called Pagoda Plant or Necklace Vine, is a fast grower. It shoots up and out in the spring and fall and goes dormant in the summer. The stems clump together like a shrub and grow over other plants. They will even grow through neighboring bushes. 

When matured, your Necklace Vine might surprise you with some flowers in the spring. These small, star-shaped beauties grow in clusters of yellow, white, or pink. To increase the chances of flowering, give your plant a slight night and day temperature difference. It also needs a colder, but above freezing, winter temperature.

Because it’s native to South Africa, Crassula perforata needs a warm climate. If you live in zones 9-11, you’re one of the lucky ones who can grow this plant outside year-round! Don’t worry if you live in a colder area though because it makes a great houseplant as well.

Types of Crassula Perforata

The Crassula genus has over 300 species! Many of these species share common names, such as ‘String of Buttons’. Because of this, it can be tricky to track down exactly what you’re looking for. To help, here are two common varieties of the Perforata species.

Crassula perforata Variegata, ‘Variegated String of Buttons’, ‘Variegated Necklace Vine’

Crassula perforata variegata close up - you can see the slight color change on the leaves
Crassula perforata variegata close up – you can see the slight color change on the leaves. Source: Ezequiel Coelho

The word ‘variegated’ means having different colors, so you can imagine how this one stands out. The Variegata variety has a myriad of colors from green to yellow to pink. Some have rainbow-esque edges and others are striped.

Crassula perforata ssp. Kougaensis, ‘String of Buttons’, ‘Necklace Vine’

Crassula perforata ssp. Kougaensis is a pretty basic subspecies of this plant
Crassula perforata ssp. Kougaensis is a pretty basic subspecies of this plant. Source: World of Succulents

This subspecies is pretty standard looking. The leaves feature vibrant, reddish-pink edges. They’re also speckled with pink or white dots.

Crassula perforata is frequently confused with Crassula conjuncta, which has slightly different leaves. Their care is very similar, but we will only refer to the Perforata species in this article.

Pagoda Plant Care

The Pagoda Plant has typical succulent needs. Once you get the hang of it, this low-maintenance plant is fairly easy to care for.

Light & Temperature

Your Necklace Vine plant needs 4-6 hours of partial sun with partial shade. The more sun it gets, the more vibrant its color will be. However, direct sun and high heat can easily burn the leaves. You can balance this by choosing a spot that gets shade around 2-3 PM but is otherwise sunny. Another option is planting it where there is filtered or indirect light. If you’re growing this succulent indoors, choose an East, West, or South facing window.

Crassula perforata is sensitive to sudden light or temperature changes. When making any adjustments, always do so gradually so your plant can acclimate properly.

Temperatures below freezing are usually too cold for Crassula perforata. If you’re growing indoors because of this, keep the temperature around 65-70° F during the summer. In the winter, this plant prefers temperatures around 50° F. You don’t have to freeze yourself though! Just move the succulent away from heating vents and it should be fine.

Water & Humidity

It’s very important not to overwater succulents, and Crassula perforata is no exception! They don’t need lots of water because they have water storage in their leaves. Too much will make the succulent soft and mushy. If you underwater though, the plant will droop and the leaves will shrivel.

Water this plant only when the soil is completely dry. If you’re not sure if it’s dry or not, don’t water it. Any kind of succulent is much better off being underwatered than overwatered.

String of Buttons doesn’t like high humidity. To keep it happy, only water it at the roots and keep it in a well-ventilated space.

Soil

Well-draining soil is an absolute must for Crassula perforata. If its roots are sitting in water, they can easily start to rot. Store-bought cactus and succulent soil drain well. You can also mix perlite or sand into potting soil. Remember to periodically check that the soil is draining well. If it’s holding too much water, mix in more sand.

Necklace Vine isn’t picky about pH levels, but grows best in 6.0 (slightly acidic).

Fertilizer

Fertilizer isn’t required but will help with growth and flowering. If you choose to, use ⅓ to ¼ strength liquid fertilizer every other week during the growing season. If your Crassula perforata is young, use a low nitrogen fertilizer. Mature plants are fine with a balanced 20-20-20.

Controlled release succulent fertilizer is a good alternative to liquid. This should be applied only at the beginning of the growing season.

Repotting

Repot your String of Buttons when it outgrows its container. This succulent grows a few inches each year, so choose your pot size accordingly.

It’s recommended to repot String of Buttons while it’s dormant and in warm weather. Then it will have lots of space when the growing season starts!

If you find any rotting roots while repotting, trim them off and let the cuts dry before planting. Change the soil to one that drains better.

Propagation

Crassula perforata can be propagated from cuttings, division, and offsets.

Propagating from Stem or Leaf Cuttings

For stem cuttings: Cut off the top inch or more of a healthy Necklace Vine, then remove the bottom leaves so at least half an inch of the stem is bare.

For leaf cuttings: gently remove the leaves without leaving any part on the stem.

Because Necklace Vine leaves grow in sets of two, you can gently twist them on the stem so they break off in one piece. Let the wounds on your cuttings dry out for a day or two. Once they’re ready, it’s time to plant!

Plant your cuttings in well-draining soil. Stem cuttings can simply be inserted in the soil. Leaf cuttings can be laid on top. Mist the cuttings with water and keep them out of direct sunlight until they’re rooted. Rooting hormone is optional but helpful. 

Once your cuttings are settled in, gradually increase the light they receive. Water them normally at least once a week, until the plants are matured.

Propagation from Offsets

This method follows the same procedure as cuttings. Offsets are rosettes on long, thin stems that the plant sends out above ground. Cut them off an inch below the rosette.

If your String of Buttons is getting too large, you can literally split it in two! Gently remove it from the soil and dust off the roots. You’ll see that this plant is really a clump of many stems and roots. Break the plant in two with your hands or a sterile knife. Replant them in dry soil and don’t water them for a few days. If the wounds don’t dry out, they can rot or get infected when watered.

Pruning

Pagoda Plant can be pruned for cosmetic reasons. When the flowers die, they leave behind long, woody stems that are easy to remove. You can also prune back the plant if it’s getting too large for your taste.

When pruning, make clean cuts with sterile clippers. Keep the area dry so it won’t grow bacteria while healing.

Troubleshooting

A variety of the Pagoda Plant called 'Giant'
A variety of the Pagoda Plant called ‘Giant’. Source: Zruda

Crassula perforata has its share of problems just like every other plant. That’s why preparedness and a sharp eye is vital for keeping your succulent happy and healthy.

Growing Problems

Etiolation is when a plant stretches out in search of light. Because succulents are valued for their plump and compact leaves, this can mess with their look. If your Pagoda Plant is starting to stretch, gradually move it to a sunnier spot. If the plant is already stretched more than you like, you can prune back the long stems.

In the summer, you may find brown spots on the leaves. This is usually sunburn caused by too much heat and direct light. If you adjust the plant’s location right away, the damage will most likely be external only. Crassula perforata should be moved gradually so it can adjust to the light difference.

As mentioned, shriveled leaves and a drooping plant are symptoms of underwatering. Mushy, brown, or translucent leaves usually mean you overwatered. Adjust your watering and soil as needed.

Pests

Aphids are tiny pests in a variety of colors. You’ll usually find them on the underside of leaves – their food sources. The honeydew they secrete can grow black mold and attract ants. If there’s a large number of aphids in one spot, you can simply prune the leaf. Insecticidal soap and orange guard spray will control them also. To prevent aphids, try using Diatomaceous Earth, neem oil, or Ladybugs.

Crassula perforata is also susceptible to Vine Weevil, a flightless black beetle. These pests are nocturnal, but the damage is clear during the day. You’ll see C-shaped holes and wilted, yellow leaves. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth or grits at the base of the plant to prevent them. Because Vine Weevil is fairly resistant to sprays, remove them manually at night.

Mealybugs are another pest to watch out for. They’re small, white bugs that drain the sap from plants. Remove them with insecticidal soap or a mix of liquid dish soap and water. You can also attack them individually with a q-tip dipped in 70% rubbing alcohol.

Diseases

Root rot is the most common threat to String of Buttons. It usually starts at the roots when the succulent is overwatered. You may also see it in the stem and leaves. Rotted sections will turn brown or black and be mushy. Root rot makes them more susceptible to bacteria, so they need to be treated early on.

Remove root rot by cutting off the infected sections. Let the wounds callous over before replanting in new, well-draining soil. After replanting, don’t water your Pagoda Plant for a few days so it can recover.

If your Pagoda Plant’s roots are too rotted to save, take a cutting from the top to propagate. Then you’ll get a fresh start with this succulent!

FAQs

Q. Is Crassula perforata toxic to pets?

A. Neither PetMD nor American Veterinarian list String of Buttons as toxic to pets.

Q. Can you save an overwatered succulent?

A. Usually, you can! Repot the succulent in new and completely dry soil. Remember to brush off the old, moist soil from the roots first. Don’t give the plant any water for a few days or until it recovers.

Q. Why are the leaves falling off my succulent?

A. Old leaves at the bottom of the succulent fall off naturally. If newer green leaves are dropping, you’ve probably overwatered.


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Rachel Garcia
Succulent Fanatic

Kevin Espiritu
Founder

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