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String of Pearls Care

String of Pearls or String of Beads (Senecio rowleyanus) is a succulent and does well in dry conditions. It is a plant in the daisy family Asteraceae and is a flowering plant. The general care instructions of succulent and cacti plants therefore apply. It is considered to be an easy plant to grow indoors as long as you are not overwatering.

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String of Pearls Care 1
The name string of pearls is derived from its growth habit as it produces pearl-like beads that grow on the multiple vines these houseplants produce. They can be kept indoors and outdoors, depending on your climate zone.

Especially in hanging baskets and containers placed on higher positions such as drawers the String of Beads the are eye candy. They just look so adorable when the strings are flowing over pots. It’s hanging vines further create a dramatic effect and will give your home a jungle look.


String of Pearls Tips & Tricks

String of Pearls Care Basics

Soil: Use cactus potting soil for your string of pearls. Regular potting soil will also do as long as you add in a third of sand. Sandy mixes with good drainage are needed for an optimal string of pearls care.

Light: The String of Pearls needs no more or less than 2 to 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. They do well in bright indirect light and can be placed in front of a bright window where they get no more than a couple of hours of direct sunlight. They are burnt easily if they are in direct sunlight for too long. Fluorescent light between 12-16 hours is a great alternative in case your apartment or house doesn’t offer suitable windows.

Watering: This is how most String of Pearls face death. Remember it is a succulent and water accordingly. Specifically, in winter you should let your String of Pearls dry out before watering. When the plant is underwatered you will see that the beads are flattening. This is a very good indicator. We water our string of beads about once a week and let it be soaked completely so the soil can dry out completely until the next watering. 

Temperature: String of Beads like it warm in spring, summer and autumn and cool in winter. Winter temperatures between 55 – 60 °F ( 13 – 16 °C) are optimal whereas all the other seasons should be in the range of  70 – 80 °F ( 21 – 27 °C).

Humidity: As they are succulents, humidity is a foreign word in terms of string of pearls care. Low humidity with humidity levels below 40% is optimal.

Fertilizer: Fertilize from spring to fall. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks and use half of the suggested strength. This regimen of using half the strength recommended applies to most potted houseplants. Reduce fertilizing to every 6 weeks in winter.

Propagation: It is best to propagate String of Pearls in Spring or Summer. Take cuttings of about 4 in or 10 cm and put them either in damp soil or Spaghnum Moss. Rooting cutting directly in water does also work. It mostly comes down to your preference. Make sure that the beads are almost covered by soil but not entirely. New roots will form from where the beads are attached to the stem.

Growth: String of Pearls can grow up to 3 feet long. They grow fast and propagate easily. A good way to get a bushier string of pearls is to propagate the plant frequently by following the suggestions above.

Potting: They are very drought tolerant and should be put in a pot with a drainage hole. Repotting annually in spring is advised as they can be vigorous growers under good care.


Propagation of the String of Pearls

String of pearls care is easy and propagating senecio rowleyanus is easy as well as it is with most succulents. What you need to know is when to best propagate it, the right sized cuttings to take and also what medium you will use to root your cuttings in.


String of Beads: Propagation from stem cuttings


Cuttings are the easiest way to propagate your string of pearls. Take cuttings from your main stem and keep the size of each cutting about 4 in or 10 cm. This way your chance of successfully multiplying your string of pearls is the best. Generally, when taking cuttings it is best to have them dry out for a couple of hours before you place them into damp soil or moss.

Cut the stems with a clean knife or scissors. To make sure your blades are free of any bacteria, applying rubbing alcohol and placing your scissors or knife in a flame is a foolproof way of ensuring your propagation tool is free of pathogens and ready to do the job. Once this is done you can cut your string of pearls between two beads at the described length.

The best seasons to take cuttings are spring and summer. This is when the plants are actively growing and will have no trouble of recovering from a little snip here and there.

As an indoor or outdoor gardener, you are constantly working on keeping your plants in check. Since the vines with their little green beads are growing quite rapidly and can also get pretty dense, it is just a natural thing to take cuttings that then can be used either to create a new plant or be put back into the original pot to get a fuller pot.

Only take cutting of green healthy looking stems as anything else will dramatically reduce your changes of success.


String of Pearls: Rooting stem cuttings

Once you took cuttings of your string of pearls, the next step will be to make them root successfully. This step is slightly more demanding than snipping of the cuttings from the mother plant. For this step prepare your potting mixture of choice but make sure that it consists of at least 30% sand.

A generally cactus potting mix is the most suitable medium for string of pearls from our point of view. Prepare the soil so it is slightly most but refrain from soaking it too much as your stem cuttings will rot. The cuttings itself have no roots and need to take in the humidity through the stem and produce roots as soon as possible.

Before placing the cutting into the soil make sure that you are taking off the bottom pearls, so you have a stem of a few inches that can be covered in soil. The beads itself are the leaves of the plant. Placing them in the soil would be a sure way for the beads to rot. 

Before placing the stems in the soil using a pen or stick to make sure you create e small hole in the soil where the cuttings can be placed. Then put the cuttings in by covering the clear stem by gently pushing soil against the stem cuttings.

You can also place the cuttings on the soil. We had a lot of success with this method when propagating the Chinese money plant or jade plant. It seems counterintuitive at first but once roots start to grow they will grow towards the soil and will start to root.

A common mistake is to keep the cuttings in a dark place. This will not work as at this stage sufficient light is crucial. Therefore, once the cuttings are in or on the soil you want to move them into a bright spot with sufficient indirect sunlight or fluorescent light. In addition in the stage of rooting cuttings warmth plays a key role. The temperature will make a real difference as warmer temperatures will enhance root growth.

Now that the cuttings are in the right location with sufficient light and warm temperatures around them, the waiting game begins. String of pearls care and also propagation is quite easy, but the cuttings take a long time to root. 3-4 months is more the rule than the exception. During that time you will need to make sure that the soil stays slightly humid.

This is best achieved by using a spray bottle every couple of days. Also here we need to say that overwatering would mean the end of your string of pearls propagation. So hold back on water as much as possible. 

After about a month you can stop keeping the soil constantly damp. It will no be best to slightly let the soil dry out and start watering when the top soil is dry.

After a while, your cuttings will take roots and will start to produce new stems and grow beads. Hooray, you successfully propagated your string of beads.

An alternative way is to use sphagnum moss or water. We have successfully propagated string of pearls in water multiple times and it is a good alternative to soil. If you are using water make sure the water is neither too hot or too cold. Room temperature is best.

Place your cuttings into the water and make sure the beads are staying out of the water and not in it.



String of Pearls: Propagation from seeds


Propagation from seeds for string of pearls is similar to how you would propagate any other cactus or succulent seeds. You will need warmth and humidity. This is best achieved by using a ziplock bag. Use a small nursery plastic pot and put soil in it. Moisten the soil slightly so it is damp but not soaking wet. Then put the string of pearls seeds in the soil. Make sure you keep some distance between the seeds so they have sufficient space to grow.

Put the ziplock bag under a fluorescent light or in front of a bright window. Make sure that it is kept warm as this is a prerequisite for the seeds to germinate and the string of pearls plants to grow well.

Do not open the ziplock bag for several months until you see that the seeds have germinated and the string of pearls are starting to grow. The ziplock bag will help greatly to keep the moisture.

Once the string of pearls produced several beads you can slightly open the ziplock bag just a few inches/centimetres and open it up a bit more every week until your propagated string of pearls plants are fully accustomed to the climate outside of the bag.

This is when you can take them outside and grow and take care for your string of beads as you would for a mature plant.


String of Pearls Care Tips

These are the most important string of pearls care tips:


  • Do not overwater your string of pearls. You are dealing with succulents, that needs to be watered every now and then


  • They actually thrive best on neglect. Let them be and enjoy them without touching and watering them too much. They are delicate.


  • Use the right potting mix that is well-draining. Potting mixes that are not containing sufficient sand will become soggy and stay moist for too long and might rot your plants


  • Propagate your string of pearls often and stick the cuttings back into the pot. This way you will end up with a full plant.


  • Make sure your string of pearls gets bright indirect light. 2-3 hours of direct sunlight is fine but make sure they don’t stay in direct sunlight for too long.


How to Water String of Pearls in Pots

When you water your string of pearls, water them thoroughly. This means watering heavily and then letting your string of pearls dry out. Generally, in our case, it takes about a week until we have to water again.

You can water from the top or from the bottom, both are fine. But you will need to make sure that the water is flowing right through the soil as this is a good indicator for well-draining soil.

Make sure you are using a pot with a draining hole as otherwise excess water will stay at the bottom of the pot and will first rot the roots of the string of pearls and then kill the entire plant.


What Does the String of Pearls Look Like?

String of pearls is a perennial plant that has a unique look. It has little green beads and stems in between. When looking at a string of pearls you cannot resist thinking about a unique necklace created by nature.

When the string of pearls is happy the pearls or beads are compact and round. When it is unhappy eg. underwatered its beads will look flatish. 

There also is a variegated form of string of pearls called a variegated string of pearls. These have yellowish lines on the otherwise greenish pearls. You may ask where the leaves are of this plant? Well actually, the beads are its leaves.


The Origin of the String of Pearls

The string of pearls was named after British botanist Gordon Douglas Rowley He was a botanist and specialized in Cacti and succulents. The string of pearls is a native of southwest Africa and inhabits drier places.

In its natural habitat, they are growing on the ground and are not hanging. It prefers indirect sunlight and can therefore often be found on rocks and ground in the shade where they tend to form dense mats.

The small beads that look like peas developed to store water and only offer limited surface area. This is specifically important as the string of pearls inhabits arid areas where water is rare. 

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli

Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.