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Why Is My String of Dolphins Dying? | 5 Heartbreaking Reasons!

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If you have ever seen a string of dolphins planted in someone’s house, you would know how distinctive and stunning this succulent looks.

The plant gets its name due to the shape of its leaves. The leaves hanging from the stems look like dolphins jumping into the pool. The curved, arched succulent makes for a famous but rare houseplant.

While it is easy to take care of this plant and does not require too much attention, it can sometimes show signs of stress. You may notice the leaves wilting from its bouncy structure and wonder, why is my string of dolphins dying?

The shriveled leaves that look like your plant are dying could be for several reasons.

It is mostly because of negligence in providing one of the prerequisites.

Here we will explore some of the reasons to answer your query.

Let’s begin!

String of dolphins—why is my String of dolphins dying
Why is my string of dolphins dying? – Image via Reddit.

Why Is Your String of Dolphins Dying?

Why is my string of dolphins dying, you say?

You may ask yourself this repeatedly, as it can be heartbreaking to see your favorite plants slowly wither to death.

However, this is not the end of your succulents. You can revive them and ensure they are healthy by knowing the care needs for them.

There are not many factors you need to pay heed to while taking care of this succulent. Your plant will do fine if you keep three essential points in mind.

  • Don’t overwater the string of dolphins, as these plants will die.
  • Keep the humidity in check.
  • Keep them away from direct sunlight.

There are some other causes for the bad health of your succulents.

Let’s explore them all in detail!

1. Adequate Lighting Conditions

Lack of proper lighting can be one of the main reasons the string of dolphins starts dying.

  • These plants are succulents, so they need ample sunlight.
  • However, very bright, direct sunlight can burn the plants, so you have to provide balanced lighting conditions.
  • The ideal sunlight for the string of dolphins is bright, indirect light.
  • If the sunlight is too bright and falls directly on the leaves, you will have to move the plant to a shadier area to prevent it from getting burned by scorching sunlight.
  • One thing to remember here is that succulents do not do well in low sunlight. So, keeping them away from bright sunlight does not mean you have to keep them in complete shade or very low sunlight.
  • The sunlight just shouldn’t be too bright and hot.
  • The string of dolphins needs about 5–6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight.
  • You can also keep them inside near a window where the plant receives more than six hours of medium-bright but indirect sunlight.

If you see the leaves wilting under the sun’s bright light, try to move the plant to a location with more shade and wait to see the results in a few days. If the leaves start gaining their strength back, the issue is too much sunlight.

The same goes for a plant kept in the shade. If shade is the issue, try moving the plant to a sunnier place and see if it helps.

In winter, when there is little sunlight, you can use a LED light or an artificial plant light to fulfill the lighting needs.

Related article: The #1 Reason Behind Why Are My Strings of Dolphins Flat?

2. Shriveling Due to Heat Stress

Unlike other succulent plants, the string of dolphins can survive cold temperatures and cannot do well in high temperatures.

  • The ideal range for outdoor temperature for this plant is between 40–70°F.
  • The important point is that the temperature should not go below 40°F, as too much cold will kill the plant.
  • Heat stress is one of the top causes of the death of this succulent.
  • If you are growing this plant in high temperatures over 80°F, your plant will likely dry out and shrivel.
  • The heat can be even more damaging if the succulent is placed in direct sunlight.
  • Heat stress and too much sunlight can evaporate all the leaf moisture, and the plant will die.
  • The string of dolphins won’t tolerate frost or snow but won’t tolerate too much heat.
  • If you keep it indoors, the ideal environment is one with room temperature.

If the temperature is comfortable for you, it is good enough for the plant. Keep the inside of the room nice and cozy.

3. Repotting Issues and Soil Mix

The string of dolphins must be repotted after a few years, requiring a suitable potting mix to grow well.

If you have been noticing your plant leaves wither and die, especially after changing the soil mixture or repotting them, it could be because you didn’t use the proper soil mixture or didn’t take precautions while shifting it to the new location.

  • For healthy growth, the string of dolphins needs to have a well-draining soil mix.
  • It would be best to buy a potting mix specially made for succulents/cacti.
  • There is no need to transplant the succulents into new pots often. These succulents can do well in limited space as long as it is not too crowded.
  • The ideal time to repot a string of dolphins is after two to three years, as this plant thrives even while slightly rootbound.
  • When repotting your plant into a new pot, buy a pot at least one size larger than the earlier one for root growth.
  • Transfer the plant with patience to avoid transplantation shock.
  • Before putting the plant in the soil or hanging it off the basket, ensure the soil mix and the pot drain well.
  • The pot should have holes for drainage at the bottom, and the soil should allow the excess water to simmer through.
  • Drainage is essential, or excess water can accumulate in the soil and cause root rot which can cause the plant to die.

So, whenever you transplant your plant into another pot, make sure to use a proper potting mix and a well-draining pot.

4. Improper Watering Schedule

Overwatering is a more severe issue for the well-being of this succulent than underwatering.

Like other succulents, the string of dolphins is also trained to survive drought conditions so they can survive for some time on little to no water.

However, improper watering can lead to damage to the leaves and ultimately kill the plant.

  • The critical point is that overwatering is more dangerous than underwatering for a string of dolphins.
  • When you add excess water to the plant, it can accumulate in the soil and gradually block the oxygen and nutrient diffusion into the roots.
  • Too much moisture and lack of oxygen can cause the roots to die, so that the plant will die too.

The best way to tackle this is to know the watering needs of the string of dolphins, and it is not a highly complex task as these succulents have specific watering needs.

  • The rule of thumb is to water once a week, which should be enough to sustain the plant in the spring and summer seasons.
  • In winter, you can reduce the watering to once every two weeks, or even once a month is fine.

However, there is a better way to stay on top of your watering schedule.

  • Always check the soil before adding more water.
  • You should only add water once the top few inches of the soil is dry.
  • You can use a moisture meter or check with your finger.
  • It is better to water only when the soil is dry enough and then add lots of water.
  • When the water starts coming out of the drainage hole, stop watering. Your next watering session should be when the soil is dry again.

Only fixing the watering schedule can prevent most of the problems.

5. Optimum Humidity levels

If there is too much humidity in the place you live, the leaves of the string of dolphins will start falling off.

  • However, humidity is not an issue in most cases, as these succulents survive in warm climates.
  • If you are watering the plant according to the schedule, you won’t have to worry too much about humidity levels.
  • Humidity in surrounding air should be less than 50% as the best humidity levels for the string of dolphins are low.
  • The string of dolphins thrives in dry areas.
  • You can get a dehumidifier if there is too much humidity in your area.

That’s all!

Here’s a YouTube guide if you want to know more about the plant:

Why is my string of dolphins dying? | Dolphin Plant – The Ultimate Guide – YouTube

Let’s head toward the conclusion!


Why is my string of dolphins dying, you asked? I hope that now you have the answer!

If your succulent leaves are shriveling and your plant is dying, you need to take a step back and go over your care routine again.

Make sure you are doing everything right,

Make sure you set up a schedule of the needs of your houseplants and follow it properly to keep your plants healthy and glowing.

Do let us know if your plant survives and thrives.