The Fascinating Ruby Necklace Plant

Discover the mesmerizing world of the Ruby Necklace plant, also known as String of Rubies or String of Pickles. This captivating succulent, belonging to the Asteraceae family, is closely related to popular trailing succulents like String of Hearts, String of Dolphins, and String of Pearls. What sets String of Rubies apart is its ability to change color when stressed, transforming from lush green to a vibrant red that resembles precious gem pendants on a necklace.

Native to South Africa, the String of Rubies is a resilient and low-maintenance plant. It thrives in warm climates (USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b) and can be successfully grown both outdoors and in indoor hanging baskets. Its purple-pink stems and long narrow bean-shaped leaves store water, making it a perfect choice for those with busy lives. And let’s not forget its beautiful yellow daisy-like flowers that add a touch of brightness to any living space!

General Care

1. Embrace the Light

For the Ruby Necklace to truly shine, it needs plenty of bright, direct light. This sun-loving succulent can tolerate direct sunlight, but be cautious of scorching rays. If grown outdoors, provide some shade during the intense afternoon sun. Indoors, place your Ruby Necklace in a well-lit spot with bright indirect light. In darker winter months, consider using a grow light to ensure your plant receives the necessary light it craves. Insufficient light can cause the leaves to turn green and the plant to become leggy.

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2. Water with Caution

The Ruby Necklace is a drought-tolerant succulent and does not require frequent watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so it’s important to water thoroughly and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Ensure any excess water drains out completely to prevent waterlogging. To determine if your plant needs watering, insert your finger about two inches into the soil. If it comes out dry, it’s time to give your Ruby Necklace a refreshing drink.

3. Soil Selection

Opt for porous, well-draining acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5 for your String of Rubies. You can easily find succulent and cactus mixes in gardening stores, or create your own blend by combining two parts traditional potting soil, one part perlite, and one part sand. Avoid using moisture-retaining soil as the Ruby Necklace prefers to steer clear of damp conditions.

4. Temperature and Humidity

String of Rubies flourishes in warm temperatures, with a preference for no lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintain room temperature between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels between 30-50%. Avoid placing your Rubies near cold windows, vents, or heating sources to prevent temperature shocks.

5. Fertilizer – Less is More

Ruby Necklace doesn’t require frequent fertilization. If you wish to encourage new growth during the growing season, dilute a succulent fertilizer in a 50/50 mixture with water and fertilize every few weeks. Opt for a low-nitrogen fertilizer to safeguard the roots from burning.

Extra Care

1. Potting and Repotting

  • Potting: When selecting a pot for your Ruby Necklace, prioritize drainage. Porous materials like concrete, ceramic, or terracotta pots are ideal for promoting proper drainage.
  • Repotting: While String of Rubies is a fast grower, it doesn’t require frequent repotting. This compact plant doesn’t mind being a bit rootbound, so aim to repot every 2-3 years with a pot one size larger. Repotting should be done during the growing season (spring-summer). Be gentle when handling the delicate stems and leaves, and don’t worry if a few leaves or stems accidentally break—they can be used for propagation.
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2. Pruning for Perfection

Regular pruning is unnecessary for the String of Rubies, but if your plant becomes leggy or you desire a shorter length, pruning is possible with clean, sharp scissors or a knife. Removing dead or damaged leaves will help keep your plant tidy. Additionally, these cuttings can be used to propagate new plants.

3. Propagation Made Easy

String of Rubies can be easily propagated using stem cuttings. Follow these steps:

  • Cut stems about 4-6 inches in length, as close to the root as possible. Ensure each stem has 2-3 nodes.
  • Allow the cuttings to callous over for 1-2 days.
  • Dip the ends of the cuttings in a rooting hormone and place them on a well-draining succulent soil mix.
  • Mist the cuttings frequently to keep the soil moist but not soggy, and place them in a bright, well-ventilated spot.
  • Once the roots have established, you can transfer your baby Rubies to their own pots and follow the care guide provided above.

Alternatively, you can propagate your String of Rubies in water. Simply place stem cuttings with 1-2 nodes in a glass or transparent plastic jar filled with clean water. Change the water weekly, and once the roots reach a few inches in length, transfer the new Rubies to soil.

4. Blooming Beauty

The Ruby Necklace produces lovely small daisy-like flowers that resemble delicate yellow crowns. Under ideal growing conditions, your Rubies can bloom throughout the spring and summer. To encourage blooming, provide increased light exposure and use diluted fertilizer.

Common Pests and Diseases

String of Rubies may face issues related to poor drainage and overwatering. Keep an eye out for root rot, mold, and fungal diseases, as these are common problems for succulents. Additionally, be vigilant for pests such as mealybugs and scale, as they can be detrimental to your plant if left untreated. Regularly inspect your Rubies for any signs of trouble or disease to prevent unwanted pest infestations.

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Ruby Necklace Plant

To learn more about the Ruby Necklace Plant, visit the Ames Farm Center website.