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The String of Pearls plant is an easy-to-grow succulent with pea-like leaves arranged in an alternate pattern on a thin stem and is excellent for hanging baskets.
A string of Pearls plants is sensitive to direct sunlight, overwatering, and cold. The most common cause of succulent houseplants dying is root rot, a product of wet soil and insufficient root zone aeration. A string of Pearls thrives when they get enough indirect light and aren’t overwatered.
Table of Contents
- About The String of Pearls Plants
- A string of Pearls Care
- Propagating String of Pearls Plant
- Potting and Repotting String of Pearls Plant
- Common Pests
- How to Get String of Pearls Plant to Bloom
- FAQs on String of Pearls Maintenance
- In Summary
About The String of Pearls Plants
The String of Pearls plant is native to the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, where humidity levels are around 73% RH and summer daytime temperatures are everywhere 80°F/27°C. Winter nighttime temperatures seldom dip below 44°F/7°C.
The region is semi-arid, with an average monthly rainfall of 2.2 inches/55 mm in summer and 1.3 inches/33 mm in winter.
Several succulent species are native to South Africa, and the Eastern Cape is host to several genera, including the String of Pearls’ Curio genus. The genus is part of the daisy (Asteraceae) family and was moved from the Senecio genus.
The String of Pearls plant creates a green bead waterfall feature cascading out of a hanging basket when grown indoors.
Growing The String of Pearls Plant Outdoors
In the United States, you must live in USDA hardiness zone 9b (minimum temperature 25 to 30°F/-3.9 to -1.1°C) and above to grow the String of Pearls outdoors. It works exquisitely as a featured ground cover in the right clime.
A string of Pearls Succulent Basic Needs
In its natural habitat, the String of Pearls relies on several shallow root systems spread across the vine to supply its water and nutrient needs. It is a winter-dormant succulent with a growing season that starts in early spring.
If laid on bare soil, a String of Pearls string is quick to root, one of its essential survival strategies. Mid-summer, a series of Pearls flowers produce a half-inch daisy-like flower with seeds on several extended pins – almost like an inverted dandelion.
In its natural habitat, the seed is spread by wind and germinated in spots that offer partial shade. However, most propagation in nature is by asexual spreading. The life cycle is perennial, but plants seldom last beyond five years.
Plants Similar to the String of Pearls Plant
Below are nine other plants from the Curio genus. How many have you grown?
|C. articulatus (Candle Plant)||C. radicans (String of Bananas)|
|C. citriformis (String of Tears)||C. repens (Blue Chalksticks)|
|C. crassulifolius (Blue Fingers)||C. rowleyanus (String of Pearls)|
|C. ficoides (Big Blue Chalk Sticks)||C. rowleyanus’ Variegatus’ (String of Pearls)|
|C. herreanus (String of Watermelons)||C. talinoides (Narrow-leaf Chalk Sticks)|
So? Are you heading off to the garden center and getting some friends for your String of Pearls plant? Consider the C. herreanus with its tiny melon-shaped leaves or C. radicans with banana-shaped leaves. The variegated String of Pearls. What about the variegated String of Pearls succulent?
A string of Pearls Care
A string of Pearls plants is classified as low-maintenance, needing occasional watering, enough light and humidity and the warmth an indoor environment generally offers.
Bloggers often refer to String of Pearls plants as “delicate plants.” While the String of Pearls string is delicate and can be severed easily, the growth habit is pretty robust. In the case of String of Pearls, light doesn’t mean fragile.
A string of Pearls allows you to create lovely hanging baskets, unlike any other plant. It produces a green waterfall of cascading life, quite different from most succulents. It is incredibly vibrant if well cared for, and I will show you how.
A string of Pearls Light Needs
I’m fascinated by the different survival strategies different plants and creatures develop. The String of Pearls plant has adapted to its environment fabulously. Think about it
- Spherical-shaped leaves to minimize water loss through transpiration
- Adapted stomata cycles – CAT photosynthesis allows the plant to absorb the sun’s energy in the day without breathing, avoiding water loss.
- Dark, translucent bands on the leaf allow light to enter the leaf’s interior to maximize the area available for photosynthesis.
- The String of Pearls plant spreads out on the ground’s surface, developing roots from its lateral nodes to better access water and nutrients.
- Its flower stems are long, and the flowers are pom-pom-like, fitted with tassels that allow seeds to be carried by the wind.
Light is essential for plant survival. As an autotroph, plants produce food using sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to produce carbohydrates. To balance water loss and light availability, String of Pearls plants live in partial shade that offers two to six hours of direct sunlight, primarily indirect.
This mixture of direct and indirect sunlight works well for them. Their epidermal window, the band across the plant’s leaves, allows them to capture enough energy for their food production needs.
Unless you have a sunny window, light levels indoors are generally low. Ensure your String of Pearls gets enough light, but avoid extended periods of direct sunlight. Intense sunlight will scorch the leaves.
A fluorescent light fixture produces enough bright light to support the String of Pearl’s growth. LED lights are less cumbersome and make sufficient bright light for a String of Pearls needs.
Their smallness and cost-effectiveness allow you to position them where the plant will benefit most. To enable your String of Pearls to breathe, don’t give it more than 12 hours of light daily.
A trick developed over hundreds of thousands of years allows succulents not to open their stomata during the intensity of the midday sun, avoiding moisture loss. Only in the darkness of the night do the stomata open to access CO2 and oxygen for photosynthesis and respiration.
Unlike most succulents, specifically cacti, a string of pearl plants doesn’t handle the direct sun well.
Regarding effective String of Pearls care, soil quality is among the most critical factors. The String of Pearls plant is adapted to produce roots quickly across the length of the vine.
It needs well-draining soil to allow the roots access to water and oxygen. There are several good potting soil options, but my advice (and practice) is to make your own.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own potting soil, get succulent soil like a cactus potting mix.
While most houseplants require you to balance water availability with drainage, ensuring the roots have access to water, air, and nutrients, succulents are way more manageable. The most significant difficulty for gardeners is their disbelief that a plant can survive with so little water.
Your String of Pearls doesn’t require you to manage cation exchange capacities, added compost, and all the stuff most house plants need. The general available potting soil is suitable for most houseplants (debatably), but your String of Pearls will flourish in a sandy soil mix in a shallow pot.
Before you head off and plant your String of Pearls in the sand, there are some considerations. Below is a good cacti-cum-succulent soil mix to consider. We want a potting soil mix that allows adequate drainage and some water retention (very little).
To boost drainage, we need to use a non-organic medium. There are several you can consider
- Sharp sand
- Expanded shale
Of these, perlite holds the most water. Fifty percent of your succulent soil mix should be one or more ingredients from the list above, and the remainder can be coconut coir with some hardwood bark.
Watering String of Pearls
As you saw above, soil choices are closely related to water management capacities. Water management is often the most challenging part of String of Pearls care, and gardeners often overwater these plants, leading to root rot.
Your String of Pearls plant needs you to keep the soil dry occasionally. Only watering when the ground feels dry can keep your String of Pearls healthy and root rot-free.
The fungal growth that causes root rot affects the String of Pearls’ ability to absorb water, so the plant often presents as being dehydrated. Don’t be tempted to give it more water; it only exasperates the situation.
Your String of Pearls’ blooming period is mid-summer, and dry spells promote blooming. It’s almost as though the plant thinks, “I’m going to die! I better ensure I leave a legacy.”
Keeping your String of Pearls healthy requires you to
- Water only when the soil is dry
- Water a day after the soil dries. The String of Pearls has shallow roots, so once the soil is dry, it needs the subsequent water supply. Extended periods of drought should be avoided, and thisthisthisthisthis is generally indicated by the leaves wilting and losing their luster.
- Ensure the soil drains well and is not compacted. Repot and replace the pot with a fresh soil mix if compacted.
- Ensure the pot has adequate drainage holes and that these aren’t blocked.
- Remember that the String of Pearl’s watering needs are higher in the growing season (summer), and to water less during the String of Pearls’ dormancy (winter)
Temperature and Humidity
We saw that the String of Pearls plant lives in a medium-humidity environment (73%) in comfortable temperatures, similar to most indoor environments. So, growing String of Pearls indoors provides it with an ideal setting.
Unlike the aroids, succulent plants do well at lower humidity levels; Please remember that winter temperatures should be monitored and outdoor plants brought indoors. Also, AC use in winter tends to dry the air out, so watch those humidity levels.
A String of Pearls, like many other plants, requires fertilizer to maintain growth. However, unlike other plants, your String of Pearls is less demanding.
Only use a diluted liquid fertilizer during the growing season if you do. Remember that your sol is primarily inorganic, so use a little succulent or cactus fertilizer. It is always better to give smaller quantities regularly than bigger doses at the beginning of the growing season (as is often the habit).
In the winter, you don’t need to fertilize your String of Pearls because the plant is dormant and doesn’t require additional nutrients.
Pruning is not essential to the String of Pearls’ care regime, mainly used to remove dead stems. However, it offers a way to harvest a String of pearl stems (commonly called a string) cuttings for propagation.
Pruning generally increases foliar density and helps manage etiolation (legginess). Increased light levels must accompany pruning to collect etiolation.
Propagating String of Pearls Plant
You can grow a String of Pearls for cuttings propagated in soil or water. The easiest way to propagate String of Pearls is by cuttings or layering.
New plants can be grown from parent String of Pearl’s succulents in a few weeks by cutting a stem off or while it is still attached to the older plant. The latter is called layering and requires removing a few leaves (pearls) and burying the section in the soil.
Once the roots are established in the buried section (after a few weeks), you can snip the stem between the new and older plants to develop an independent new plant.
Check out my String of Pearls Propagation: The Ultimate Guide for the how-to of it.
The idea is to grow a new plant with a String of Pearls string. Before taking a stem cutting, select a healthy, robust plant as a stem donor. Stem cuttings clone the genetic material of the parent plants, so a healthy plant produces healthy children.
Use a 4-inch (10 cm) stem tip cutting to propagate the String of Pearls. Remove three to four leaves from the end closest to the cut and set the bare stem cutting on a moist potting mix or in water. That’s the super abbreviated version.
Propagation By String of Pearls String Layering
The trailing stems of the String of Pearls naturally support the plant by rooting in situ. We’re going to use this natural inclination to grow new plants. When you damage and cover a section of the pearl string (stem) in soil, it grows roots.
Choose a healthy string and damage it by removing two or three pearl-like leaves before covering it lightly with soil. You want to extend the string over a new container that will be the String of Pearls’ new home to avoid needing any transplanting.
How to Grow String of Pearl Plant From Seed
The String of Pearls can produce several tiny white flowers (daisy-like) that have several seeds on each flower. You can harvest these, but being an indoor plant, they will be sterile unless you manually pollinate your String of Pearls.
Growing them is a challenge, and finding them online is almost impossible. You can try, but seeing as you have a plant, why not just use asexual propagation using cuttings?
Potting and Repotting String of Pearls Plant
Choosing A Pot For String Of Pearls Plants
The main goal, beyond aesthetics, is to provide your String of Pearls plant’s roots with a safe home. Two factors are essential: root depth and water’s ability to move through the pot.
Clay pots are great in that they’re permeable, allowing moisture to move out of the pot from the sides. Terra cotta presents well, especially as a backdrop to vibrant green foliage.
A well-draining pot is non-negotiable, so we need big drainage holes allowing water to flow through without accumulating in the pot. Grow a String of Pearls in well-draining soil in pots, enabling some water fluidity for a hassle-free plant.
Unglazed ceramic pots are less permeable but often more appealing. If you use these, put a smaller clay pot inside the pot chosen for its visual impact. Just ensure the water is all drained out before placing the pot in the ceramic pot.
Excess moisture is the most significant risk to your String of Pearl’s plant health. This is a greater risk in winter as the plant is dormant, meaning there is limited respiration and transpiration activity.
Allow your String of Pearls to rest in winter, cutting back on water and fertilizer. Please keep it in a warm location where it gets enough light.
You will know that dormancy is over as soon as you see some new growth. Even in this season of change, avoid too much moisture.
A string of Pearls plants is not particularly vulnerable to pests. Still, it’s worth watching for aphids, fungus gnats, and mealybugs.
Aphids are notorious pathogen spreaders, attracting ants that feed on their honeydew.
Neem oil works to deter pests from eating your plants but does manage their populations. You can also use a commercially available insecticide spray designed for houseplants, and they usually do the trick!
How to Get String of Pearls Plant to Bloom
The String of Pearls is a summer bloomer and can be tricked into blooming by catting fertilizer and water supply.
FAQs on String of Pearls Maintenance
Even if you’re a novice gardener, you can grow String of Pearls plants. I hope you do, and also try some of the other succulents.
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Thursday 30th of March 2023
This was beautiful Admin. Thank you for your reflections.
Wednesday 5th of April 2023
Glad you enjoyed the article. Tony