Home Guide String of Dolphins Flat Leaves – How to fix it!

String of Dolphins Flat Leaves – How to fix it!


Senecio peregrinus, commonly known as String of Dolphins, is a beautiful trailing plant with dolphin-shaped, unique leaves. It is a succulent whose thick leaves grow on long branches that dangle down from a pot. It is why this plant is grown in hanging planters mostly. The arching leaves of this plant have pointed parts on either side that resemble the pectoral fins of dolphins. This is why this succulent got the name String of Dolphins or Flying Dolphins. It is an easy-growing plant, but many growers complain about having String of Dolphins flat leaves. This plant loses its uniqueness with flat leaves and appears just like any other houseplant with flattened leaves.

It is a common problem that has a simple solution. So if you are searching for an answer, let us help you with it.

What Causes String of Dolphins Flat Leaves?

As this plant is succulent, it is a sun-loving plant. It needs sunlight, actually a lot of it, to grow properly. If it does not receive sufficient light exposure, its leaves begin to flatten up to increase its surface area. This is because, with increased surface area, they can absorb more sunlight. So, a String of Dolphins growing flat leaves means poor sunlight exposure.

This lovely plant also shows some early signs before growing flat leaves. If you notice some of its branches stretching towards the light, it means they are not receiving enough sunlight exposure. In such a condition, you should immediately move the plant to a brighter spot to prevent the growth of String of Dolphins flat leaves.

How to Test the Light Intensity?

You can test how much light your String of Dolphins is getting in a particular spot. This test can also be conducted in other spots around the room to decide which place is getting the optimum light intensity for this plant. You can then relocate your plant to that brightly lit spot. You must do this test at midday or afternoon.

To carry out the test, take a sheet of paper and hold it in front of the window indoors. Now hover your other hand in between the light and the paper. Your free hand must be at least a foot away from the paper.

If there is a sharp shadow on the paper, the spot gets bright sunlight. But a soft shadow indicates that the place is receiving medium to low sunlight. 

How Much Sunlight Does String of Dolphins Need?

Some people mistake moving their plant outdoors when it is growing flat leaves. The direct sun does more damage to its foliage than low light. It can burn the leaves in no time. So if your plant has wilted leaves, it means you are doing something wrong, and the plant is receiving too much direct sun.

String of Dolphins needs bright but indirect sunlight to grow properly. You should ensure its pot is away from a spot where direct sun rays can fall upon its foliage. Partial shade is perfect for this succulent species. Partial shade means receiving 2-3 hours of morning sun and shaded from the intense afternoon sun rays.

How to Increase Lightning?

String of Dolphins growing flat leaves cannot carry out photosynthesis properly due to poor light conditions. So in such a case, you should increase lightning for it.


You should move your plant to a much brighter spot for better light exposure for String of Dolphins flat leaves.

A south-facing window is the best place to grow String of Dolphins. This window receives ample sunlight during the day. But do not place the pot right on the windowsill.

If you do not have a south-facing window, you can also place this plant in a west-facing window. Place the plant just a foot away from the window to remain safe from the direct sun.

If you have an east-facing window, you should place this plant right next to it as it receives much less light than the south and west windows.

Light-colored walls

As we all know, dark surfaces absorb light, but light surfaces reflect sunlight. If a room has darker paint, it appears dark. Even if the room has a southern window, it appears darker than a room with white-painted walls and no windows. It is why you should place your plant in a room with light-painted walls so that maximum sunlight is reflected from the walls and falls on the String of Dolphin flat leaves.

Artificial lights

When the light levels are low in colder months, you can also use artificial lights to increase the light exposure for String of Dolphins. You can buy specialized grow lights or use the standard fluorescent lights for your plant. You must keep these lights on for at least 12 to 18 hours a day. Do not leave the lights on for the whole day as this plant also needs to rest. You should turn off the lights at night.


If you want to grow this plant in a particular corner of your room, far from the window, you can provide it with the required light exposure by hanging mirrors in the room. When a mirror is hanging opposite a window, it reflects light. This reflected light falls on String of Dolphin flat leaves if this plant is placed parallel to the mirror on the other side of the room.

So, you can get creative with the hanging mirrors and the placement of your plant if you know how to redirect sunlight.

String of Dolphins Care Guide

Your effort to regulate sunlight exposure for String of Dolphins flat leaves will go in vain if you do not fulfil its other needs. Each of its requirements plays a role in the growth of its foliage, so you should fulfill its every growing condition for healthy growth.

Here is a mini care guide for String of Dolphins that will help you keep your plant healthy and happy.


This plant is succulent, so it does not need frequent watering. You should water it just once every week in the growing season and once every month in winters.

Soil Type

You should plant it in well-draining soil. A succulent or cactus mix is perfect for its growth. Its potting soil must be kept partially acidic to neutral with a pH of 6.6 to 7.5.


As already explained, this plant grows best in bright, indirect sunlight.


This plant is not fond of highly humid environments. It can thrive in average household humidity as low as 40%.


It grows best in warmer temperatures, ranging from 18°C to 22°C. It is not a cold-hardy plant, so do not leave it outdoors in winters.


It is not a heavy feeder; you should fertilize it only once or twice a year with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Its fertilizer must be diluted to half its strength before use.


This plant can stay root-bound for some time, so you do not need to repot it every year. You can do the repotting after every 2 to 3 years.


To encourage more growth, you should prune all the dead and yellow leaves before every growing season.

Final Thoughts

String of Dolphins is an eye-catching plant that looks great, trailing from a pot when grown as a houseplant. Unfortunately, due to certain conditions, the leaves of this plant turn flat and dim the overall glamor of this plant.

But now that you know the main reason behind String of Dolphins flat leaves, you can easily adjust its growing conditions and bring its thick and appealing succulent leaves back.

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