Last Updated on October 15, 2021 by Sophie
If you’ve ever had a look at trailing succulents, then no doubt that String of Pearls will have been near the top of any list. Gorgeous, vining, and so-called thanks to the fact that they resemble… well, a string of pearls, this houseplant can be a little trickier to care for than some other succulents. Known scientifically as Senecio rowleyanus or Curio rowleyanus, here’s a complete string of Pearls care guide, including watering tips and the best way to propagate this adorable plant.
Please note that the String of Pearls should not be confused with the String of Tears. Though the plants are incredibly similar in appearance (with one having round, pearl like leaves, whereas the other has more oval-shaped leaves, as the names would suggest), they are not the same plant, despite the prevalence of conflating the names that you’ll often seen on the internet. The plant is also closely related to the String of Bananas plant, though is not exactly the same.
First things first, you should know that String of Pearls can be tricky to take care of and many enthusiasts find their plants wilting or passing away within just a few weeks of purchase. If you’re looking for an equally gorgeous trailing succulent that is just as beautiful to look at but much easier to care for, then I recommend looking at purchasing the String of Hearts or the String of Turtles, which are both incredibly easy to propagate.
String of Pearls Care Guide
Watering your Senecio rowleyanus
One of the biggest requirements that the String of Pearls has is a stringent watering schedule. Too much water and the plant will rot and suffer from root rot and too little water, and the pearls will shrivel and the plant will likely not survive. Getting the right balance for watering your Senecio rowleyanus can be tricky, but once you do, the plant is gorgeous and oh-so-worth-it.
If you notice that the pearls are starting to drop off more readily than you would like, or that they are looking a little too ‘full,’ then simply cut back on the watering. The number one sign of overwatering the string of pearls is that the plant leaves start to turn to mush or turn a shade of yellow/ brown and look sickly.
Like the rest of my succulent plants, I find that the best method for watering this Senecio plant is the soak and leave. What this means is that I will leave the plant to dry out entirely between waterings before watering it once more. This significantly reduces the chance of root or leaf rot.
Best soil conditions for the String of Pearls
As a succulent plant with juicy leaves, which retain plenty of water between waterings, the String of Pearls is prone to both root rot, as well as leaf rot if the plant is given too much water and doesn’t dry out again quickly enough. As such, like most succulents, a well draining substrate is an absolute must.
I personally prefer a mix of organic soil with sand and grit. Most garden centres selling indoor houseplants will sell a soil mix which is particularly created for succulents and cacti, though, of course; there is no prescribed recipe and you can simply create your own. If you want to save money, then you can buy a more organic mix and add grit and sand in yourself.
When it comes to repotting the Curio rowleyanus, you’ll find that you don’t need to change up pot sizes on a very regular basis. The root system is very shallow and so you’ll want to plant your trailing vine in a shallow container.
If in doubt, it is preferable to have a smaller pot as opposed to a larger one (which should be well-draining either way- with drainage holes to the base of the pot) in order to prevent the soil becoming waterlogged, and thus allowing the possibility of your plant developing root rot.
Best light conditions for the String of Pearls
Though some succulent plants (specifically Sansevieria plants) can grow and even thrive in lower light conditions, the String of Pearls is most certainly not one of them. For the best possible chance of survival, you’ll want to place your succulent on a bright and sunny windowsill.
How to propagate the String of Pearls
There are several methods you can use to propagate your String of Pearls, though some are more effective and faster than other. The best time to propagate your indoor houseplant is during the spring or early summer (i.e. the growing season) when the roots will root the fastest and the mother plant has the quickest chance of recovery post cuttings. This way, you’ll also be giving your new plants the best possible chance of survival.
The easiest way to propagate your Curio rowleyanus is to simply take a cutting around three to four inches long. Lay this atop of some damp soil (though the substrate should not be too moist). Within a few weeks, the cutting should start to take root and form a brand new plant.
String of Pearls pests
Unfortunately, due to the delicate nature of this succulent, if it is allowed to dry out too much, then it can become particularly prone to plant pests. One of the most common pests to plague the String of Pearls is mealybugs.
These look like small white balls of cotton wool and are fairly easy to remove if caught early enough. The best way to treat mealybugs is by dipping cotton buds in alcohol and gently removing all of the visible mealybugs using this method.
The entire plant should then be sprayed with neem oil or similar so as to ensure that no bugs are left on the plant. The infected plant should immediately be moved away into isolation from any other plants it’s near so as to stop the infection from spreading. The plant should be checked on every few days for the following month to ensure that all the plant pests have been eradicated.
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