A string of pearls

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The Senecio rowleyanus is a striking and attention-grabbing plant. This unusual succulent is more commonly known as the String of Pearls plant.

Named obviously after all those perfect round green beads, or pearls, hanging down long, slender stems.

The pearls require little hands-on care and are easy to propagate.

How many pearls would you like my dear?

A String of Pearls plant can be grown outdoors, but it can also do really well indoors with the correct soil, watering and light situation.

Being a succulent, the pearls store water inside. This is good because it means it can handle a little neglect.

Give it the right care and you will be showered in pearls.

String of Pearls Plant Care Tips

The String of Pearls plant is a great choice as an indoor hanging plant since it is very easy to care for.

Start with having the basics right. Soil, light, and water. Your String of Pearls will grow long and full in no time.

Soil for a String of Pearls Plant

The most common reason for a String of Pearls plant to run into problems is root rot, caused by overwatering.

Slow down your watering frequency and make sure your pearls are in a fast draining succulent potting mix. Take it a step further, by adding some pumice or perlite to the soil.

The Sting of Pearls plant likes a lot of light. It can handle a spot on a sunny window sill. Direct light is ok, but preferably not all day long.

If you can, give your plant a few hours of direct morning sun, followed by bright, indirect light for the rest of the day.

When to Water your String of Pearls Plant

Look at your pearls. When they start to shrivel, and the soil feels dry, it is usually time to water.

During the summer the pearls are in their active growing mode and receive more natural light. This time of year, water when you notice the soil starts to dry out.

In winter the plant is resting. So it needs less water. Water sparingly just enough to moisten the soil. Wait until the soil is nearly dry throughout before you water again.

String of Pearls Common Problems

Don’t see your String of Pearl problem listed? Leave a comment with your question down below, and I will try to answer it asap. Let’s talk plants!

What to do if my String of Pearls plant becomes straggly?

It happens. Just cut those straggly stems off.

Propagate them to start a new plant, or place them back into the original pot to create a fuller plant. (See propagation tips below)

Why is my String of Pearls plant shriveling up?

It is perfectly normal to have an occasional pearl shrivel and wilt away. But if there is obviously more going on, start by checking the soil.

Is it dry? If it hasn’t been kept too dry for too long, you should be able to easily revive your plant by giving it a good watering.

If you notice shriveling and drying pearls while the soil is still wet or moist, the reason could be that you overwatered your plant, or, if you have just planted the stems, they might not have rooted yet.

How to save my String of Pearls plant?

If your String of Pearls plant is slowly deteriorating because you have overwatered it, don’t just sit by and watch.

If there are still some healthy parts left, propagate those stems, and try again. (See how to propagate your String of Pearls below)

Is the String of Pearls plants toxic to pets?

Yes, the String of Pearls succulent is considered toxic if ingested. Be sure to keep the plant out of reach of children and pets.

Read More: Indoor Plants and Pets. How to keep it safe.

How to Propagate a String of Pearls Plant

There are a few reasons why you would prune and propagate your String of Pearls.

It could be because it’s growing so much and trailing so long, that you have to control the length. It might have become a little leggy. Or maybe you want to share the love and give a cutting to a friend.

You can easily start a brand new String of Pearls plant, or make the mother plant lusher and fuller by transfering the cuttings back into the original.

Carefully take your stem cuttings. Make them at least about 4 inches long. Remove a few pearls from the bottom of the cutting.

There are two ways to root the String of Pearls cuttings.

First, you can water root your pearls. Place the cuttings in a small bottle of water and wait for the roots to grow. This way when you place the cuttings into the soil, roots are already established and the cuttings can start growing in the soil right away.

Read More: How to water root your indoor plants. It is so easy to make more plants. For free!

Second, you can choose to bypass the water rooting and just go straight for rooting in soil.

Place your cutting on top of the potting soil, covering the bottom part where you have removed the pearls.

Lay the stem so the pearls are on the soil. The String of Pearls puts out roots along the stem, so make sure it is in contact with the soil to have it root more quickly.

While you wait for roots to establish, water very lightly to prevent overwatering. Moisten only the top of the soil.

Your String of Pearls cutting won’t just grow longer, it will also branch out from the entire stem.

Before you know it, you’ll have new pearls popping up everywhere.

Want your own String of Pearls? You can your plant delivered to you through Amazon or Etsy.

How to Propagate Succulents from Leaves and Cuttings

Watering your leaf or cutting

While full-grown succulents don’t need to be watered every day, leaves and cuttings do. That said, you’ll want to avoid giving them too much water, which will cause them to turn orangey-brown and die.

Here’s what I’ve found works best…

If you’re working with leaves, set them on top of the soil, making sure their ends don’t actually touch the soil at all, and water them each time the soil dries out. I use a spray bottle to get the top of the soil wet.

Some experts recommend putting the cut end of the leaf in the soil–but most of the leaves I tried to plant this way either rotted, or just grew roots but never started a new plant.

Unlike leaves, cuttings do need to be put in the soil. Since they’re almost a full-grown succulent already, all they need is to be planted and watered, and they’ll start to grow roots!

Like leaves, cuttings should be watered each time you notice the soil is dry. Once you’ve got your watering pattern down, your cuttings will start to put off new roots and leaves within a few weeks.

Wait for Results

It takes some time for new rosettes and roots to form on succulent leaves and cuttings. The amount of time it takes will vary depending on the time of year, temperature of the area you’re propagating in, type of succulent you are propagating, how humid the air is, etc.

That said, you can generally expect to see some results within 2-3 weeks.

You can see a continuously updated set of leaf propagation photos here.

Succulent Propagation Success Rate

If some of your cuttings or leaves die, don’t worry–more than half of my first batch didn’t make it. Some won’t grow as much as their siblings, while others will put off a bunch of roots, but no leaves. Every cutting is different, and it’s totally normal to lose some!

As your new plants start to grow, make sure to keep the roots covered with soil, or they’ll dry out and your plants will probably stop growing.

Most succulents take several months to grow to “normal” size–while some may take as long as a year. In other words, this isn’t a super-speedy process–but it does work!

Give it a try, and soon you’ll be addicted to propagating your plants!

And if you haven’t already, be sure to grab my free cheat sheet to see what problems you might face while propagating succulents from leaves and how to fix them. Click here to grab the cheat sheet.

The String Of Pearls plant had me at first sight.

I knew that was a plant I wanted for my very own one day. When I moved to Santa Barbara, quite a few pots had been left behind at my new home by the previous owner so I zoomed in on one of them for a String of Pearls.

Fortunately, they’re easy to find here so 4 years ago I bought a 2″ plant and in it went into the large pot on the patio outside my dining room to living with the Coprosma, Plectranthus and whatever seasonal annuals catch my fancy. It grew fairly fast and tend to trail rather than spread so I figured it was time for a little propagation.

Now I’m going to share with you how easy it is to propagate and care for these fascinating succulents. Be sure to check out the video at the end so you can see for yourself.

Propagation

As evident in the picture above, I’ve been cutting them off when they hit the ground. They trail down about 3′. Where they’ve been cut, a split or 2 occurs. From there, they keep on growing from there.

This would usually trigger any other plant to spread but with this one, it just keeps growing lengthwise and not widthwise. So it was time to pull out my floral nips (their long pointed blades are great for taking cuttings) and get busy.

I cut off a few of those long, slender stems and stripped the top round leaves (aka “the pearls) off so I could stick those stems right back into the pot. I make sure at least 3 or 4 leaf nodes are down into the soil – that’s where the roots emerge from.

This pot is filled with a good organic potting soil and regularly top-dressed with both compost and worm compost so no soil prep is necessary here. I have lots of succulents in my yard which I normally heal off. But, with these stems being so minuscule in diameter, I skip that step and directly plant them back in.

Update: Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.

How to Care for a String of Pearls Plant

The light exposure is bright but not direct – the Coprosma shades it from any direct afternoon sunlight. Soil that is well-drained, such as potting soil or cactus mix, is very important because they like to completely dry out between waterings.

Those round little pearls store water in them. Like any succulent, what I am going to tell you next is important to its survival:

Do not overwater this plant.

I can selectively and routinely water the Coprosma, Plectranthus, and annuals. This gives the String of Pearls a drink when I feel it needs it.

As for insects and diseases, mine stays free and clear. So, there’s no personal advice I can give on that. By the way, they do flower but the small white, fuzzy blooms are pretty insignificant when it comes to size. But boy, they are sweetly scented! This plant is popular because it’s unusual and a conversion piece, not for a showy flower display.

You’ll find these posts & videos to be helpful:

Tips For Growing A String Of Pearls Outdoors

10 Reasons You May Be Having Problems Growing A String Of Pearls Indoors

So there’s an up-close and personal of those adorable little leaves which I call “peas.”

You can grow a String of Pearls as a houseplant. I’ve done a post & video on that which you can see here. Have you had any success with growing it indoors? Please do tell if you have!

Happy gardening,

Oh, please be sure to check out our book Mother Nature Inspired Christmas Ornaments. I’ve used cuttings of this plant to adorn some of the ornaments I made in the book. I planted those String Of Pearls cuttings in another container after the holidays were over. Think of it this way: I now have even more to design with!

Additional Care Guides on String of Pearls and More:

10 Reasons Why You May Be Having Problems Growing A String Of Pearls Plant Indoors

Tips For Growing A String Of Pearls Plant Outdoors

Propagating A String Of Pearls Plant Made Simple

7 Hanging Succulents To Love

Propagating String Of Bananas Plant Is Fast & Easy

How To Grow String Of Hearts

We have much to talk about regarding succulents here!

String of Pearls: Senecio rowleyanus

The succulent string of pearls, with its small green bubbles along a slender stem, recalls the plastic pop-apart beads of childhood dress-up bins. It can’t help its quirkiness. Read on for everything you need to know about this slightly offbeat succulent.

Above: Delicate string of pearls plants start small, but tendrils can grow up to two or three feet long. Photograph via Etsy.

Also known as “string of beads” or “rosary,” this succulent is a perennial vine of the Asteraceae family and is native to southwest Africa. Like most succulents, it requires very little hands-on care.

Above: A strand (shown at lower right) complements other succulents in a pot or planter. The collection of Succulent Cuttings is $24.99 on eBay.

After you have one string of pearls plant, you can easily propagate new ones (or make your original look fuller) by placing cuttings into soil and allowing them to take root.

Above: Photograph by Mike Steinhoff.

In addition to its unique foliage, string of pearls can produce tiny white flowers with bright-colored stamens. (Some say the blooms smell like cinnamon.) To encourage spring flowers, cut back on water and move the succulent to a slightly cooler area (around 60 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the winter months.

Above: Photograph via Bonanza.

Cheat Sheet

  • String of pearls does well in bright light. Consider placing it on a sunny windowsill or, if bright sunlight is limited, leave it under a fluorescent light during daylight hours.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of room for your plant to sprawl. Consider displaying it in a hanging basket so tendrils can cascade downwards.
  • Be sure the plant (and any fallen beads) are out of reach of children and pets: This succulent can be toxic when consumed.

Keep It Alive

  • Keep string of pearls in average indoor temperatures, around 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and avoid drafty areas.
  • Like most succulents, string of pearls is drought tolerant. Make sure to plant it in a pot with a drainage hole and use potting mix suitable for cacti. Soak the soil thoroughly in when watering, then make sure to let the topsoil dry out completely before watering again.
  • To prune, simply trim off any bygone stems or beads.

Above: String of pearls adds dimension and detail to bouquets and arrangements. Photograph by Rosekraft via Etsy.

A potted plant adds a dash of irreverence to a room. For more houseplants-as-focal-points, see our posts:

  • Gardening 101: Sansevieria
  • Gardening 101: Philodendron
  • Gardening 101: Monstera

Finally, get more ideas on how to successfully plant, grow, and care for string of pearls with our String of Pearls: A Field Guide.

Interested in other succulents or cacti? Get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various succulents and cacti with our Succulents & Cacti: A Field Guide.

String of pearls, Senecio rowleyanus.

String of pearls is an unusual succulent with nearly spherical leaves from South Africa. Named after British botanist Gordon Rowley, the species was recently moved from huge genus Senecio (which contains not just succulents, but also common weeds like common groundsel) into the new genus Curio, but is likely to be identified as Senecio rowleyanus in literature and the horticulture trade. This tender evergreen perennial in the daisy family (Asteraceae) is native to dry areas of the eastern Cape of South Africa. There is also a variegated form with wide white stripes and sections (which might actually be S. herreianus which has slightly larger, elongated and striped round leaves and is also called string of pearls or string of beads).

The small leaves are the size and shape of small peas.

The plant grows from weak surface roots, producing trailing stems up to three feet long on the ground which can root where they touch soil to form dense mats. It often grows under bushes or between rocks which provide some protection from intense sunlight. The alternate, water-storing leaves are the size and shape of small peas (each to 1/4” diameter) with a small pointed tip on the end and a thin stripe of dark green along the side. The round shape of the leaves minimizes the surface area exposed to dry desert air and therefore reduces evaporative water loss, but also reduces the surface area where photosynthesis can occur compared to a normal thin, flat leaf. The ban of darker, translucent tissue on the side of the leaf is an “epidermal window” which allows light to enter the interior of the leaf, effectively increasing the area available for photosynthesis. This adaptation to arid environments is seen in several other succulents from southern Africa, including the related Senicio radicans, and in baby toes (Fenestraria spp.) and Haworthia cooperi which grow underground, exposing only the leaf tips.

Senecio radicans among rocks (L) and closeup of leaves (LC); Fenestraria in habitat (RC) and closeup (R).

String of pearls blooms in summer, producing ½ inch compound, daisy-like flowers of white discoid flowers with long red stamens and bright yellow anthers on 1½ inch long peduncles. The small flowers are not showy but are fragrant; it is said to have a sweet and spicy, cinnamon-like scent. The flowers are followed by multiple seeds, each with a white cottony pappus which aids in dispersal by the wind.

String of pearls produces white flowers with long red stamens and yellow anthers (L) followed by cottony seed heads (R).

String of pearls is commonly grown as a houseplant or an outdoor ornamental in frost-free climates. It is often grown in hanging baskets to allow the trailing stems to spill downward. But it could also be grown in a flat dish allowing it to maintain the trailing growth habit seen in the wild. Indoor containers can be moved outside for the growing season, but need to be acclimated gradually to prevent sunburn, should be protected from excess rainfall, and must be moved back indoors before frost.

Pots of string of pearls for sale.

Like other succulents, this plant is relatively low maintenance, and only needs bright light, well-drained soil, and infrequent watering. Root rot from overwatering is the most common cause of its demise. Grow in a very well-draining soil mix, such as cactus mix or add inorganic materials such as small pea gravel, sharp sand, poultry grit or pumice to potting medium (up to 1:1 mixture). Use a shallow container since the plants will not produce an extensive root system (and if they are unable to quickly remove moisture from a large soil volume, they will be more susceptible to root rot). Clay containers are better than plastic or ceramic because the material allows evaporation through the sides so the soil will dry out more quickly. Allow the potting medium to dry out completely between waterings, providing more water in summer than in winter when the plant is not actively growing. Providing a rest period during the winter with cool (55-60°F), dry conditions may promote blooming in summer. Plants need to be watered is when the leaves start to look a bit shriveled. Repot every year or two, or fertilize lightly in spring. Mealybugs or aphids may infest plants, but otherwise they have few pest problems. The leaves are slight toxic; ingestion may cause vomiting or diarrhea the plant’s sap may cause skin irritation or rash in sensitive individuals.

Propagate string of pearls by taking 3-4 inch stem tip cuttings. Strip 3-4 leaves from the bottom of the cutting and place in or on moist potting mix (lightly cover the last few bottom nodes) and roots should quickly develop at each node. Mist the soil surface to avoid overwatering until the roots are established. This plant can also be grown from seed, but it is not commonly available.

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison


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