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So I’ve been on a string-of-[insert plant name here] kick recently. Last week I wrote about string of hearts care. This week I want to write about another awesome plant—string of pearls! Read on for an easy string of pearls care and propagation guide.
The string of pearls is native to parts of Southern Africa. It’s a very unique-looking plant, and although it might not look like other succulents you’re familiar with, it is actually a succulent!
You might also hear this plant referred to as “string of beads” or its scientific name, Curio rowleyanus.
Why does my string of pearls keep dying?
To figure out why your string of pearls isn’t doing well, it’s important to understand that this plant is a succulent! The most common ways to kill a succulent is by overwatering, followed by lack of sufficient light, and one of these two reasons is probably why your string of pearls is dying. We’ll review those two aspects of proper string of pearls care in the next few sections.
String of Pearls Care
Does string of pearls need direct sunlight?
The ideal lighting for string of pearls is lots of bright, indirect light. They can take a little bit of direct sun, but too much may burn the pearls.
If you don’t have enough natural light in your home, you can still own a beautiful string of pearls! Check out my easy guide to grow lights for plants which can help you if you need to add more light. And, my easy guide to natural light for indoor plants will help you to find just the right spot in your home for your string of pearls to be happy.
How often should I water my string of pearls?
As a succulent, the string of pearls doesn’t need to be watered often. Bottom line—you should let this plant dry out before watering it again. Now, how often you’ll actually water it will of course depend on how long it takes to dry out, which is determined by things like climate and the amount of light it receives.
As a plant that likes to remain on the dry side, the string of pearls is susceptible to root rot, so make sure you’re using your finger to check the moisture level of the soil before you water it.
When the pearls start to shrivel, usually it means the plant is too dry. However, they can also sometimes shrivel if the plant is too wet which is why you should get in the habit of checking the plant’s moisture level to help determine the cause of the problem.
As the string of pearls is native to dry areas, they don’t need any additional humidity in their environment to thrive.
String of pearls needs a very well-draining potting mix. It’s important the potting mix doesn’t get compacted, which will prevent it from draining adequately.
String of pearls does not need much fertilizer, but if you’d like to fertilize it, you can use a balanced liquid indoor plant fertilizer once a month during the growing season (spring and summer). Be careful not to overfertilize it which can end up harming the plant.
Strings of pearls are delicate plants with shallow root systems. Therefore, they don’t need to be repotted every year if you see the plant is still growing well.
Repot your string of pearls if you can see that it’s getting too large for its pot.
Repot your string of pearls if it appears to just not be growing as well as it used to.
You should also, very gently, tip the pot on its side and partially remove the plant to check to see if it’s rootbound once a year or so. If a lot of roots are circling around the outer part of the soil, then it’s probably rootbound and also time to repot!
Repot the plant in one the next size up from its current pot that has good drainage. You can even choose a shallow pot if you’d like since their root systems are shallow. Be gentle when repotting since the plant is delicate, and repot during the growing season (spring and summer), if possible.
You may find yourself needing to prune an older string of pearls in order to freshen it back up or needing to give your string of pearls a “haircut” in order to control its size. Pruning can help promote new growth leading to a fuller plant, as well.
To prune your string of pearls, use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to snip off any dead parts or parts that have grown “leggy,” which means the string is long but with fewer pearls, leading to a sparse look. (Note: if your plant is extremely leggy, it’s usually due to a lack of sufficient light).
If you prune off any pieces that have simply grown too long but are still healthy, you can save them to propagate!
How do you propagate a string of pearls?
Propagating string of pearls in potting mix: Method one
Propagating string of pearls is pretty easy! To propagate your string of pearls, use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to snip off a few cuttings just below a node. Let the cutting callous over for a day or so, which will help keep out harmful bacteria.
Strip off some of the pearls that are close to the base of the cutting and stick the base of the cutting into a pot with potting mix. There should be a few nodes that are under the surface of the potting mix because the nodes are where the new roots will sprout from. Try not to bury any pearls under the surface.
Water your cuttings and place them in a location with bright, indirect light. Do not overwater the cuttings, but still keep the top of the potting mix moist. You can do this by misting it every few days.
In a few weeks, you can test your plant by giving it a VERY gentle tug. If you feel some resistance, the root system has developed and you can treat it like a normal plant.
Propagating string of pearls in potting mix: Method two
Another way to propagate string of pearls in potting mix is to snip off a section, like you did in method one, but instead of planting one end into the potting mix, lay the entire cutting on top of the surface with the nodes pointing down into the mix. New roots will sprout from the nodes down into the mix.
The, continue to care for the cuttings same as you would in method one.
Propagating string of pearls in water
You can also propagate string of pearls by repeating the steps in method one, but instead of placing the strings in potting mix, place them in a jar of water so that the nodes are under the surface. Set the jar in an area with bright, indirect light, and replace the water once a week or so when it gets a bit grimy.
Once the roots are a few inches long, which can take several weeks, you can transfer the cuttings into a pot with potting mix.
Propagating string of pearls directly into potting mix is so easy that I don’t necessarily recommend the water method unless you’re someone who really likes to see the roots as they grow.
Is the string of pearls plant toxic to pets?
Yes, the string of pearls is toxic to cats and dogs, so be sure to keep this plant out of your furry friends’ reach!
Where can I buy a string of pearls?
I always recommend checking on Etsy for plants that may be difficult to find at your local store. At least in my area, string of pearls is hard to find. I love shopping for plants on Etsy because there is such a huge variety of plants available, and I get to support small businesses! Check out these string of pearl plants on Etsy!