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Home / How To / Gardening / Plant Portraits / String of beans

String of beans

By Nancy Norris | December 27, 2021

This succulent-like plant with trailing vines can be used to create a unique scene

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Model restaurant scene with pergola
Model restaurant scene with pergola
A lovely scene on the Switzerland Trail Railroad. The string of beans represent greenery growing on the pergola. Photo by Nancy Norris

Common name: String of beans


Latin name: Senecio radicans


Plant type: Perennial

USDA Hardiness Zones: 8-10

Cultural needs: Sandy, well-drained soil, in sun or part shade

Plant size: 1″ high trailing to 2′ or longer

String of beans’ succulent bead-like leaves grow from stringy stems and present a unique opportunity for railroad gardeners. The designers, Joel Waszak and Martha Miller of Colorado, greened up the pergola above the waiting platform to enhance a lovely depot they built for their Switzerland Trail Railroad (above). Although we can’t see where the “vines” are planted, we can assume they are next to the arbor structure. However, the limp stems must be lifted onto the structure, as they don’t twine like ivy or other vines. Joel and Martha live in Zone 5, so they will need to transplant their string of beans into a pot and bring the plant indoors for the winter.

Close up of string of beans plant
A closeup of dwarf blue chalk sticks. Photo by Nancy Norris

Other senecios, like string of pearls (S. rowleyanus) and string of bananas (S. radicans glauca), also bear fat leaves on stringy stems. The large genus of senecio is grouped in the daisy family due to their yellow, pink, or white-petal flowers, but the leaves look more like desert plants. Native to South Africa, senecios don’t dry out as readily as thin-leaved plants because they store water in their leaves. For a groundcover of 1/4″ thick, deserty-blue leaves, try dwarf blue chalk sticks (S. serpens ‘Mini Blue’), shown at right.

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