The string of pearls (Curio rowleyanus) is an elegant, delicate-looking plant that seems more like a seaweed than a succulent. But this West Africa native is a member of the Aster family, and its increasing popularity is well deserved; few houseplants have such unique forms or growth habits, and next to none look as good in a hanging basket.
If you’re looking to become a string of pearls plant parent, read on for the low-down on light, water, fertilizer and humidity requirements, as well as propagation and pest control tips.
String of Pearls Details
Curio rowleyanus, syn. Senecio rowleyanus
AKA String of Pearls, String of Beads
Light: Bright, indirect light
Water: Let soil dry between waterings
Temperature: 70 – 80 degrees
Height: Up to two inches but can trail many feet with adequate care
Pests: Mealybugs, Aphids
Disease: Root rot
Toxicity: Toxic to pets and humans
Benefits of Growing a String of Pearls
So, you’re wondering how to grow a string of pearls? If so, you may already be convinced it’s the right plant for you. But if you’re on the fence about getting one, there are some benefits of the plant that you should know about.
The string of pearls is a cascading plant that looks great when placed in a hanging planter. If you give the plant everything it needs to survive, it will start trailing down the side of the pot.
Because this plant looks great in a hanging planter, there are many ways you can position it in your home. Unlike a tree or any other large indoor plant, you don’t need to rearrange your furniture to find a place for it.
Because this plant isn’t very common, it’s a great conversation-starter. If you place the planter in your guests’ line of sight, they’ll be sure to notice and comment on your plant. It almost looks like something out of a fairytale.
Even if you have a simple decor, the string of pearls will make your space quirky. It’s an easy way to make your home unique.
Who has time to take care of a needy plant? If you’re short on time, the string of pearls may be the right greenery for you. It’s an indoor plant that’s easy to care for, and forgiving of your flaws. If you forget to water it, the plant won’t shrivel and die. It takes some serious neglect to kill the string of pearls.
Most indoor plants are slow to grow. If you start with a small plant, it could take years for it to look well-established. But the string of pearls is a rapid grower. It will grow in only a short time, which makes it easy to fill your pots with vibrant greenery. You can even propagate your plant to make more.
How to Care for Your String of Pearls
With the right care, this plant will thrive. Here are a few basic details that you should know about this indoor plant.
Inside your home, this plant needs strong natural light. If you choose to keep it outside, the plant needs some light and some shade. For the best results, find a spot with direct morning light and afternoon shade. In direct sun, the string of pearls will burn.
When the winter approaches, the lighting in your home may change. It’s important to consider how much sun the plant will get and to move it if necessary. If your home doesn’t receive enough light for your plant, you can make it work. A fluorescent light could give you enough light to keep your plant happy. Just make sure it gets about 12 to 16 hours of light each day.
If you keep your home between 70 and 80 degrees, your string of pearls will be content. However, you don’t need to blast your heater in the winter. You can keep your home between 55 and 60 degrees in the winter, and the plant will do well.
Although the string of pearls can handle those cooler temperatures, it cannot handle cold drafts from air conditioners and windows. When the weather changes, be mindful of how drafts could affect your plant. These plants aren’t tolerant of frost, so keep yours inside inside for the winter weather.
The string of pearls is a succulent that doesn’t like to be overwatered. In fact, it stores water so it can last through periods of drought. Generally, you should water your plant once every two weeks. But that changes in the winter, as you need to water your plant less. Once it gets cold outside, switch your watering schedule to once every month.
To make sure you’re not overwatering the succulent, check the soil. The top half-inch of soil should be dry before you water it.
You don’t need to fertilize your string of pearls frequently. If you fertilize it too much, you’ll kill your plant. In the spring and summer, water your plant once every two or four weeks. However, take a break from the fertilizer when the cold weather approaches. Because the plant doesn’t grow much in the fall or winter, you don’t need to fertilize it.
There aren’t many varieties of the string of pearls. However, the plant does have some close relatives that you might like. The Senecio citriformis has leaves that are shaped like teardrops. Much like the string of pearls, this plant has a tendency to trail downwards. Meanwhile, Senecio herreianus has purple, oval-shaped beads.
Like most succulents, the string of pearls is relatively easy to propagate. The plant has shallow roots and grows new roots with ease.
One of the easiest ways to propagate a string of pearls is with cuttings. If you can get a cutting of about three inches long, you should be successful. Place the cutting down in soil and push down on it. In a short time, roots will start to grow. Another option is to take a cutting and remove some of the leaves. Then, place the cutting in the soil and cover the bare stem of the plant.
To keep your plant looking great, you can prune it. Cut off any dead stems or beads. If some stems have lost beads, trim those off as well.
In addition to making your plant look better, pruning comes with another benefit. It allows your plant to grow back as a better and more compact shape.
Where to Buy
Because a string of pearls is becoming quite popular, it’s widely available. You can find it at most garden centers and through online retailers. However, cousins of the string of pearls are more difficult to come by.
Bloomscape offers a trio of trailing succulents in pots of your choice.
String of Succulents Trio (4-inch Custom Planters)
The String of Succulent collection is a fun, unique collection of three succulent plants that spill beautifully over their pots as they start to trail. They include String of Pearls, String of Pickles, and String of Bananas.
Plants.com also has a beautifully potted hanging planter of string of pearls.
String of Pearls in White Hanging Planter
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but String of Pearls is everyone’s. Its vines can hang as far as 3 feet long with plump bead-like leaves. Bonus: in the right environment, aromatic flowers can make surprise appearances in winter or spring! Plant Perk: Thrives on neglect, so you can breathe easy. Propagates easily.
Shop Succulents (through Amazon) also offers a wide array of potted succulents, including this 6-inch hanging growpot of Curio rowleyanus.
Shop Succulents String of Pearls (6-inch)
Senecio Rowleyanus is known for its beautiful green pearl like shape and classical draping form. This succulent plant is the ideal hanging succulent and does well both indoor or outdoor with enough bright light. String of Pearls plant is a beautiful option for use in succulent weddings, design, single planters, succulent terrariums or arrangements, or even in-ground in your garden!
How Can I Get My Plant to Bloom?
Most people don’t even realize that their plant is capable of blooming. But, if you learn how to grow a string of pearls, you can make it bloom. It typically flowers in the spring after the cold weather.
You can encourage your plant to bloom by decreasing the frequency of plant watering. Keep the plant at a temperature of 60 degrees, and your plant may be ready to bloom in the spring or summer. When it does bloom, the string of pearls has small white flowers that smell like cinnamon. They last for about a month.
Why are the Beads on My Plant Shriveling?
Typically, shriveled leaves in a plant is a sign of underwatering. But the string of pearls isn’t your typical plant. Shriveled leaves may be a sign of too much or too little water.
Fortunately, determining the issue is easy. Feel the soil to examine how much water is in the soil. If the soil doesn’t feel wet to the touch, underwatering could be the issue. But if the soil is wet, then you’re watering your plant too much. Adjust your watering schedule to save your plant.
Why Are the Leaves Turning Yellow?
So, your plant’s leaves are turning yellow? There are a few possible reasons for this, but the most likely cause is unwanted insects. Aphids or mealybugs often find their way onto indoor plants. When they get on a string of pearls, the pests cause leaves to yellow or drop. Sometimes, they cause soot to form.
Once you see signs of pests, you need to act quickly. You can get rid of them by spraying the plant with water or insecticide. However, it might take more than one treatment to kill the insects.
What Type of Soil Do I Need?
The string of pearls needs soil that drains well. While some people use regular potting soil for their succulent, this isn’t the best choice. Regular soil holds too much water and will cause your plant to develop root rot.
Most garden centers sell a succulent and cactus mix, but you can also make your own soil. As long as it’s airy and drains well, your plant will be happy.
What Causes Root Rot?
One of the most common issues in these plants is root rot. As you might expect, the primary cause of this is overwatering.
The root system on the string of pearls is small, so it needs a small pot. If the pot is too large, the soil will remain wet and the roots in your plant won’t get dry enough. To prevent this from happening, keep your string of pearls in a small pot and avoid overwatering it.
String of pearls plants are beautiful, interesting, and easy to care for at home if you follow these guidelines. Like many other succulents, it’s a slow-growing beauty that can keep your home green and fresh for years to come.
We hope you found this guide useful! Let us know what other plants you’d like to see a care guide for in the comments. Happy indoor gardening!