The String of Buttons, Crassula perforata, is a great addition to your houseplant collection or in an outside garden. They are easy to care for and their unusual form compliments many other succulents. It is also one of the best terrarium succulents.
String of Buttons, Baby’s Necklace, Necklace Vine, Stacked Crassula, Pagoda Plant
Scientific Binomial Name
Crassula perforata Possible synonyms: Crassula perfossa, Crassula conjuncta, Crassula nealeana; Incorrectly called Crassula pagoda
Description of String of Buttons, Crassula perforata
The String of Buttons is a shrub-like sprawling succulent that has stems and leaves that look like they are stacked on top of each other. It is relatively fast growing compared to other succulents. The short leaves are triangular, short, broadly ovate in shape. The green-gray leaves gracefully spiral around each stem. The edges of the leaf are what make this succulent spectacular. The edges are a rosy pink color and are a beautiful contrast to the gray. Depending on the growing environment they may also have small pink or white dots scattered along the margins of the leaf.
These plants form small colonies since it is an aggressive suckering plant. It has been referred to as a “scrambling” succulent since it can grow over and through other bushes as it colonizes.
The many Crassula species are sometimes described as growing in a ‘stacked’ formation. There are many hundreds of Crassula species as well as hundreds of beautiful hybrids.
Mature Size: Height 1’ – 2’ (30cm – 60cm); Spread 2’ – 3’ (60cm – 90cm)
Outside Spacing: 36” (90cm)
Uses: These are preferred for every type of landscaping but especially as a border plant and as a groundcover. They are used more and more in xeriscape landscapes. They are ideal for hanging baskets and in terrariums.
The following video shows 10 images of a variety of some beautiful Crassula perforata hybrids. The most popular String of Buttons or Baby’s Necklace is #9 at :54!
Growing Conditions for String of Buttons, Crassula perforata
Light: Thrives with full sun but will do fine with partial sun. You will obtain a better leaf color when the plant has full sun. In very hot locations it will need some shade in the afternoons.
Temperature: Ideal summer (65ºF/18ºC – 70ºF/21ºC).and winter (50ºF/10ºC).
Soil: Needs well-drained soil but is fine with any pH level. It does best with a slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 6.0.
Flowers: When growing in the wild star-shaped, soft yellow flowers appear in small clusters. In your house or garden don’t be surprised if these randomly bloom almost any time of the year.
Hardiness Zones: 9, 10, 11
General Care for String of Buttons, Crassula perforata
Water: Every String of Buttons succulent should be watered only when the soil has dried out. Overwatering is fatal to these plants so be careful. When used in a container be sure to never let the String of Buttons sit in water.
Fertilizer: During the start of the growing season, once a week, if needed, apply a diluted ¼ strength controlled-release fertilizer that is a balanced 20-20-20 solution. For younger plants use a fertilizer with less nitrogen.
Pests and Diseases: Watch for aphids, mealybugs and vine weevil. These are particularly susceptible to mealy bugs as well as fungal diseases. They are deer resistant.
Propagation: The String of Buttons plant is easy to propagate from offsets, division and leaf cuttings. They are slower to start rooting so be patient. Roots often sprout better from leaf scars so it helps to leave one or more nodes bare when you plant it. The lower parts of older stems are too woody to propagate well. It is better to take cuttings from higher up the stem where it is not woody. Also be careful not to start with a stem that is dehydrated. Find one that is ‘juicy’ with good color.
The best way to learn how to propagate Crassula perforata is to just give it a try!
Repotting: You will likely not need to repot this plant very often, if at all. If you decide to repot it is best to do it during the warmer weather.
Medicinal and Other Uses
Why is my Crassula perforata dying?
The most common reason for the Crassula perforata to start dying is root rot. The root rot usually develops from prolonged exposure to standing water. It is fine to pour lots of water on a String of Buttons but it is essential that it quickly and thoroughly drains through the bottom of your container.
How can you tell if your succulent has root rot? Typically the stems, leaves and roots will turn brown or black and they will be mushy. Usually by the time you discover root rot it is too late to save the plant. It is easy to propagate String of Buttons, however, so take some healthy cuttings to start a new plant.
Popular Hybrids of Crassula perforata
‘Buddhas Temple’ – Flat and thin green leave that are tightly stacked and appear folded up at the edges. The stems grow into a square column. It produces beautiful spherical orange, red or white flowers.
‘Giant String of Buttons’ – Has larger leaves that are a pale green with a deep pink around the edges.
‘Ivory Pagoda’ – Large leaves that are a soft blueish-green ivory color with distinct red edging.
‘Variegata’ – ‘Variegated String of Buttons’, ‘Variegata’ and ‘Variegated Necklace Vine’ are the common names for a great looking cultivar of Crassula perforata. It is similar to the String of Buttons variety but it has a variegated pale green leaf with a more subtle color on the edges. Many of the Crassula perforata ‘Variegata’ have lovely green and yellow or whitish stripes. The ‘Variegated String of Buttons’ is a good greenhouse plant.
To End Confusion
Many call the Crassula perfoliata and the Crassula perforata by the wrong names. Only the names are similar because the plants look much different. The Crassula perfoliata is much larger with brilliant flowers.
The String of Buttons may also be referred to as the ‘Baby Necklace Succulent’ or ‘Crassula Baby Necklace’ but they are the same plant.
The String of Buttons will attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Be prepared to trim off the dead flowers quickly after they die. They do not bloom for long and the dead flowers and stems are unattractive.
The Crassula perforata looks very similar to the Crassula socialis, Ring Plant. We prefer the Crassula perforata as a houseplant since it has smaller tighter leaves that are more colorful and dramatic.
From the University of Connecticut, Biodiversity Education & Research Greenhouses – Describes Crassula perforata as, “Small shrub with branches to 60cm; greyish green leaves, not caducous, to 2 cm long, constricted towards base and fusted to the opposite one; whitish flowers.”
From Wiley Online Library – Leaf Epidermal Hydathodes and the Ecophysiological Consequences of Foliar Water Uptake in Species of Crassula from the Namib Desert in Southern Africa – This interesting article describes the research and results of studying the leaves of Crassula and their ability to absorb water on the leaves. The study found, “In summary, the results of this study unequivocally indicate that many plants in the genus Crassula are capable of absorbing water deposited on their leaf surfaces, and, furthermore, that this absorbed water may subsequently stimulate CO2 fixation rates, even in tissues distant from those wetted. The ecological implications of these findings are obvious given the environmental conditions commonly found in the Namib Desert where all these species were originally collected. It appears likely that the combination of extreme aridity and frequent nighttime fogs, accompanied by heavy dewfalls, constituted a powerful selective force in the evolution of these plants. Absorption and utilization of water condensed on the shoot surfaces of these species should enhance the survival of Crassula species during extended periods lacking rain but with frequent dewfalls or fogs. Field confirmation of these laboratory findings and extrapolations is necessary before the ecophysiological significance of this phenomenon is fully understood.”
Under “Leaf Thickness” it mentions, “In some species, e.g., Crassula perforata, these diel changes were surprisingly large, constituting nearly 20 % of the minimum leaf thickness measured. Despite the daytime increases, thicknesses of all leaves decreased on a net basis after each 24-h period.”