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How to Grow and Care for String of Pearls (Complete Guide)

String of flowers houseplant in terracotta flower pot at home

String of Pearls is a unique and beautiful succulent that is valued for its distinctive appearance. The plant is native to Southwest Africa and is characterized by its trailing stems that bear spherical leaves. Its name is derived from the spherical beads that closely resemble pearl strings.

Ever since I discovered the string of pearls plant, I’ve been fascinated by its unique appearance and easy-going nature. This captivating succulent, scientifically known Curio rowleyanus, is a member of the Asteraceae, or daisy family.

With its trailing stems adorned with pea-like leaves, this charming houseplant spills over the edges of planters and hanging baskets, making it an eye-catching addition to any indoor space.

In addition to its unique leaves, it also produces white flowers with long red stamens and bright yellow anthers. Though the flowers aren’t showy, they release a sweet and spicy scent that smells like cinnamon.

If you are interested in growing this plant, this article will give you valuable information on how to plant, grow, and care for the String of Pearls plant.

Succulent String of Pearls plant with nature background

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Botanical Name: Curio rowleyanus (formerly Senecio rowleyanus)

Common Name: String of pearls, string of beads, string of peas, rosary vine

Family: Asteraceae

Plant Type: Succulent

Hardiness Zones: 9 – 12 (USDA)

Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun

Soil Type: Sandy, well-drained

Soil pH: Neutral to acidic

Bloom Time: Summer

Flower Color: White

Native Area: Africa

Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets

String of Pearls Plant Care

The String of Pearls plant is a popular succulent houseplant that is native to Southwestern Africa and belongs to the Asteraceae family. This unique plant has small, round leaves that resemble pearls, which grow on thin, delicate stems.

It’s important to note that this stunning succulent is toxic to humans and pets, and can cause dermatitis and severe skin irritations amongst other symptoms. Keep it away from pets and children and I highly recommend wearing gloves while handling it.

In general, string of pearls is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to care for, making it a great choice for beginners. But certain things such as high humidity, poor drainage, overcrowding, and insufficient light can weaken your plant.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to some string of pearls plant care tips that I’d like to share with you as a master gardener. Let’s look at them in more detail:

Light

The String of Pearls plant prefers bright but indirect light. This means that it is important to place it near a window or in a bright room, but not in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and cause heat stress. If you notice that the leaves are turning yellow or brown, it may be a sign that the plant is getting too much sun.

If you live in an area with limited natural light, you can also use artificial grow lights to provide the plant with the necessary light it needs to thrive.

A woman’s hand holding small terracotta pot with String of Pearls plant in sunlight

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Soil

The String of Pearls plant requires well-draining sandy soil. You can use a cactus soil mix that has sand and perlite added to it. This will help to ensure that the soil drains well and prevents the roots from becoming waterlogged.

It is important to note that the String of Pearls plant is sensitive to overwatering, so it is crucial to ensure that the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can cause root rot, which can be fatal to the plant.

Water

String of Pearls plants are drought-tolerant, and you should only water them when the soil is dry to the touch. It is important to avoid over-watering the plant as this can cause root rot. The plant should be watered about once every two weeks or less.

If you are unsure whether the plant needs to be watered, you can check the soil moisture level by sticking your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, it is time to water the plant.

Make sure to keep the plant’s soil lightly moist during its growing season (spring and summer) and then reduce watering during winter months.

Temperature and Humidity

String of pearls (Curio rowleyanus) in a blue ceramic pot isolated in white background

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

The String of Pearls succulent thrives in indoor temperatures between 70-85°F. It is also comfortable with normal humidity levels and does not require extra moisture, misting, or a humidifier. The plant is one of the easiest to care for because it requires minimal attention to humidity levels.

If you live in an area with low humidity levels, you can place a tray of water near the plant to increase the humidity in the surrounding environment. This can help to prevent the leaves from drying out and becoming brittle.

Fertilizer

String of Pearls plants do not require much fertilizer. If you wish to provide a boost of nutrients to the plant, use a succulent water-soluble fertilizer. The plant should be fertilized in the spring and summer only.

It is important to note that over-fertilizing can cause the plant to grow too quickly, which can make it more susceptible to pests and diseases.

With proper care and attention, the String of Pearls plant can thrive and grow for many years. Its unique appearance and low-maintenance nature make it a great addition to any home or office.

Types of String of Pearls

If you are looking for a unique and beautiful plant to add to your collection, the String of Pearls plant is a great option.

There are many closely related plants to String of Pearls, and they feature different shaped leaves that look more like teardrops, watermelons with stripes, or even bananas. Let’s look at these closely related cousins from the same diary family in more detail:

Curio radicans‘: This variety is also commonly known as String of Bananas and appears to be fuller and not as trailing as string of pearls and has tendrils with banana-shaped leaves.

String of Bananas or Curio Radicans plant hanging in a pot in nursery garden

Curio radicans – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Curio herreanus‘: This variety is commonly known as string of watermelon or string of beads and features tiny melon-shaped leaves with purple striping.

String of watermelon (Curio herreanus) succulent in a yellow cup

Curio herreanus – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Curio citriformis‘: This variety has both trailing stems and even erect ones filled with teardrop leaves and small white flowers that bloom between late summer and winter.

Curio citriformis in a white pot

Curio citriformis – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

No matter which type of String of Pearls plant you choose, you are sure to be impressed by its unique and eye-catching appearance. These plants are a great way to add some greenery and visual interest to your home or office.

String of Pearls vs String of Tears Plant

String of pearls (Curio rowleyanus) and string of tears (Curio citriformis) are closely related and look quite similar but are different plants.

String of pearls leaves have a pea-shaped appearance and can grow up to three feet long while string of tears leaves remember raindrops and the vines grow up to 12 inches instead.

How to Propagate String of Pearls

String of pearls succulent plant in pot for propagation

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Propagation of String of Pearls is easy and straightforward. You can propagate the plant through stem cuttings, which is a cost-effective way to expand your collection of plants. Here are the steps to take:

Step 1: Choose a Healthy Stem

When propagating String of Pearls, it is essential to choose a healthy stem. Look for a stem that is at least two inches long and has several leaves. The stem should be firm and not mushy or discolored. Using a clean and sharp pair of scissors, cut the stem from the parent plant.

Step 2: Allow the Cutting to Dry

After cutting the stem, allow it to dry for a day or two. This will prevent the cutting from rotting when you plant it in the potting mix. Place the stem in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight.

Step 3: Dip the End in Rooting Hormone

Once the cutting has dried, dip the end in rooting hormone. Rooting hormone is a powder that contains growth hormones that stimulate root growth. It is available at most garden centers and online stores. Dip the end of the stem in the rooting hormone, tap off the excess, and plant it in the potting mix.

Step 4: Plant the Cutting in Potting Mix

Plant the cutting in a potting mix that is well-draining. You can use a cactus or succulent mix, or make your own by mixing equal parts of perlite, sand, and peat moss. Make a small hole in the potting mix, insert the cutting, and gently press the soil around it.

Make sure to use a container that has ample drainage holes at its base. I recommend going with terra cotta or clay pots since they will help wick away excess moisture from the soil to avoid root rot and other common problems.

Step 5: Water Appropriately

After planting the cutting, water it appropriately. Water the soil until it is moist but not soaking wet. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which can kill the cutting. Water the cutting once a week or when the soil is dry to the touch.

Step 6: Keep in a Bright and Warm Place

Different string of pearls hanging in a pot at a plant store

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

String of Pearls requires bright but indirect sunlight. Place the cutting in a bright and warm place, away from direct sunlight. A windowsill that faces east or west is an ideal location. The cutting should start to develop roots in a few weeks.

Propagation of String of Pearls is an easy and rewarding process. With a little patience and care, you can have a new plant in no time. Happy propagating!

Potting and Repotting String of Pearls

When it comes to potting and repotting your String of Pearls plant, there are a few things to keep in mind.

These plants are slow-growing and do not require frequent repotting. In fact, they are happiest when they are left to grow in the same pot for a few years. This is because they have a shallow root system that does not need a lot of space to grow.

However, if you do need to repot your String of Pearls plant, it is best to do so in the spring or summer. This is when the plant is actively growing and can recover from the stress of being transplanted more easily.

When choosing a new pot, make sure that it has good drainage holes and is only slightly larger in diameter than the current pot. This is because the small roots of the String of Pearls plant may struggle to absorb moisture in a large pot.

When repotting, use a well-draining succulent soil mix. This will help prevent overwatering, which can be a common problem with String of Pearls plants. After repotting, water your plant thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again.

With proper care and attention, your String of Pearls plant will continue to thrive and grow for many years to come. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this unique and beautiful plant is sure to bring joy and beauty to your home or garden.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases for String of Pearls

Closeup of gardener woman hand holding hanging Senecio Rowleyanus commonly known as a string of pearls

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

String of Pearls plants are a beautiful and unique addition to any indoor garden. However, just like any other plant, they are prone to pests and diseases that can harm their growth and overall health.

One common pest that attacks succulent plants, including String of Pearls, is the mealybug. These small, white insects feed on the plant’s sap, causing damage to the leaves and stems. If left untreated, a mealybug infestation can quickly spread and cause significant damage to the plant.

Another common bugs that can attack String of Pearls plants is the spider mite. These tiny pests can be difficult to spot as they are often found on the undersides of leaves. Spider mites feed on the plant’s sap, causing yellowing and browning of the leaves. If left untreated, a spider mite infestation can cause the plant to become weak and eventually die.

Other pests to watch out for include gnats, ants, and aphids. To prevent pest infestations, it is essential to regularly check your String of Pearls plant for any signs of pests.

If you do detect pests, it is important to treat the plant quickly to prevent the infestation from spreading. I recommend using neem oil and insecticidal soap to treat the plant before considering synthetic pesticides.

There are many natural and chemical treatments available to help eliminate pests, so be sure to choose one that is safe for your plant and effective against the specific pest you are dealing with.

In addition to pests, String of Pearls plants are also susceptible to plant diseases, with root rot being the most common. Root rot is caused by over-watering, which can lead to the roots becoming waterlogged and unable to absorb nutrients.

To prevent root rot, it is essential to ensure that your plant is not over-watered and that the soil is well-draining.

Another disease that can affect String of Pearls plants is leaf spot, which is caused by a fungal infection. Leaf spot can cause brown or black spots to appear on the leaves, which can eventually lead to the leaves falling off.

To prevent leaf spot, it is essential to ensure that your plant is not over-watered and that the leaves are kept dry.

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