Are you struggling to keep your string of pearls alive? After several years of taking care of this succulent, I’ve figured out a few must-dos to keep it thriving. Here are my secrets!
To grow the string of pearls successfully, it is crucial to 1) provide adequate indirect lighting, 2) water only when dry, 3) choose well-draining soil, 4) fertilize infrequently, and 5) use suitable pot size. Furthermore, pruning the stem promotes new healthy growth.
The String of Pearls can be slightly temperamental if the condition is not suitable. That is why I will tell you in detail the growing conditions that would make caring for them a lot easier.
The string of pearls is a unique plant that requires certain conditions to thrive. That’s why most beginner gardeners barely manage to keep them alive. As an experienced gardener myself, I want to impart valuable tips so you’ll grow your string of pearls successfully.
The string of pearls do best near an east-facing window where they can receive at least 6 hours of bright indirect light every day. Dark rooms and toilets are not suitable locations for this plant.
I have been growing the string of pearls for a long time, and I have noticed that they like lots of indirect natural bright daylight. The plant can tolerate low levels of direct light though. For example, 3 hrs of gentle early morning and late afternoon sun is preferable when the sun isn’t so harsh.
Here is an indoor string of pearls basking under indirect sunlight.
In spring or summer, the best location for the plant is an east-facing window inside. If you’re going to put it outside, make sure it’s somewhere with only dappled sunlight, like under bigger plants. During the dark winter days, move the plant a bit nearer to the window so they’ll get more light.
When the string of pearls looks pale contrary to the usual vibrant green, it is because of insufficient light. Consider moving it closer to the light source. Another sign of lack of light is when the growth looks stretchy with leggy vines and spaced-out beads.
On the flip side, too much direct light can cause brown spots and shriveled patches to appear on the leaves. The harsh sunlight is causing the leaves to burn. If you suspect it must be the cause, move the plant back to a lower light or provide shade from the intense light.
Watering is the part where most gardeners make a mistake in growing the string of pearls. The rule of the thumb is to water only when the medium is dry. Water deeply until the water comes out from the bottom, and wait until the soil is almost dry before watering again.
The string of pearls are drought-tolerant plants, meaning they can go long without water. These plants are not fond of soggy soil and rot quickly with overwatering. They do not need frequent watering, but when you water, drench thoroughly and allow the soil to dry out before the next cycle.
The string of pearls store a lot of water in their leaves. So if they appear plump, it’s a sign that they’re not thirsty yet, and it’s fine if you give them another couple of days before watering. Wrinkled leaves on the opposite can signify a super thirsty plant, or it may be due to overwatering.
You definitely know which one is of the two by remembering if the soil was always wet in the last weeks or not. I recommend watering your string of pearls every 7-10 days during the summer months because it’s enough time for the medium to dry out.
However, when the soil dries out more slowly during cooler months, adjust watering every 3 to 4 weeks.
Water imbalance is likely to kill the string of pearls. Although the plant can cope better with underwatering than overwatering, both have destructive results. Here are the effects of improper watering on the string of pearls.
|Shriveled/ wrinkled leaves||Dropping, mushy, shriveled leaves|
|Wilting stem||Softened stem|
|Brittle roots||Rotten roots|
Important Tip: Always feel the dryness of the medium before watering your plant. It is very easy to kill the string of pearls by overwatering, and I’ve done that so many times before. Hence, it is crucial to check the potting soil to avoid a saturated medium.
The suitable potting soil for the string of pearls should be gritty to drain well. However, it should also contain a bit of organic materials to aid with moisture retention. An ideal well-draining substrate ratio includes 70% inorganic compound and 30% organic base.
Drainage is key for growing the string of pearls. They do not like staying wet for too long. But this does not mean that they dislike water. They enjoy the water, but not for lengthy periods in damp soil. Root rot and infections thrive in constantly saturated soil.
The simplest technique that works for me is formulating the potting soil that suits my growing practice. My DIY gritty soil mix contains 60% pumice stone, 20% coco coir, 10% perlite, and 10% vermicast. This combination of organic and inorganic matters drains appropriately and does not compact over time.
The soil mix doesn’t need to have an exact measurement. As long as the medium has excellent drainage and is not too dense, then the string of pearls will likely thrive on it. Below, you can find some excellent succulent soil mixes suitable for the string of pearls.
The string of pearls doesn’t require frequent feeding. In fact, excess fertilizer can damage the plant. Apply fertilizer once or twice a month during their growing season in spring and summer. Use only very diluted liquid fertilizer or controlled-release pellets.
Their succulent leaves help retain moisture and nutrients. Hence, there’s no need to feed often, especially when the plant is dormant and doesn’t need extra nutrients. So, no feeding outside their growing season to prevent plant damage.
I use Osmocote fertilizer in the garden because it is easier to apply. The best part is that it gradually releases the nutrients to the soil, which is good to avoid nutrient shock or fertilizer burns. For every 5-inch pot, I sprinkle one teaspoon of pellets, avoiding the stems and roots.
You can also use the liquid form fertilizer, but make sure to follow the proper dilution ratio so your plant will not suffer from too much fertilizer. Overfertilization can cause brittle roots, burnt stems, and withered leaves with brown spots on leaves.
Here are the fertilizers that are good for your string of pearls.
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The pot size and quality are essential factors for the string of pearls to grow properly. Select a suitable size that is large enough to allow the plant to fill to the brim. A pot that is too big stays moist for too long, causing root rot. Also, make sure that the planter has enough drainage.
The string of pearls has shallow roots, so avoid using deeper pots as they don’t dry out easily and risk overwatering. Usually, they are grown on hanging pots and allowed to drape. Terracotta planters or unglazed clay are best for the string of pearls.
Using terracotta pots can be a great way to regulate watering if you always tend to overwater. Terracotta is a porous material that allows water and air to pass through. So if you go a little bit overboard at some point in your watering, terracotta will help extract some moisture from the soil.
Find beautiful terracotta pots like the ones below online.
The string of pearls doesn’t need to be repotted often. It can go for several years without being repotted unless it becomes too congested and root-bound. When it grows too long, you can cut off several stems for propagation.
When I repot my string of pearls, I transfer it to a pot 1 to 2 inches larger than the original container to provide more space for the plant. But if the plant is too thick and lush that it needs breathing space, I cut it down to several clumps and repot them separately.
Another important thing to note when repotting is to make sure that the round leaves should be at the same level as the brim of the pot. In this way, the plant can get enough air circulation.
When the string of pearls gets too long or becomes leggy, carefully prune the stems between the round leaf and propagate to grow new plants. Trimming the stems will encourage new growth to appear more compact and bushy.
Dead stems or stems that have lost a lot of leaves need to be removed to improve the aesthetic of the plant. Always use sharp and sterile scissors to reduce damage and the risk of pathogens.
The usual propagation methods for the string of pearls are through stem cuttings and offsetting. Cuttings are either rooted in the soil or water. Some experienced gardeners start from seeds and leaves. However, they are much more difficult to perform and cultivate.
The fastest and easiest way to propagate the string of pearls is through stem cuttings. There are two ways to propagate cuttings.
1. Planting directly to the soil – In this method, the stem cutting is directly laid or stuck on the soil to allow roots to develop.
2. Water propagation – This technique uses a clear jar with clean water instead of soil. The tip of the cutting is slightly dipped in the water until roots will start to appear. When lots of roots have emerged, the cutting is then transplanted to a suitable soil mix to establish growth.
The string of pearls is also prone to pests and insect infestation. Common pests that attack the string of pearls are mealybugs, scales, and aphids. They will be able to kill the plant if left unchecked for a long time.
The soft stems and hidden spots underneath the rounded leaves are the favorite hiding place of these nasty pests. They like to suck on the juicy sap off the string of pearls and build their colonies until the plant loses its vigor.
Here are the potential pests that cause the string of pearls to turn yellow, drop leaves, and get sooty stems.
- Mealybugs – these insects appear like white fuzzy material on the base of the leaves or under stems. They secrete a honeydew liquid, making the string of pearls sticky and moldy.
- Scale Insects – some round waxy brown dots on the stem and leaves can be scale insects. Like mealybugs, they exude the sticky honeydew.
- Aphids- these pests usually attack the tip of the stems where younger tissues are present. The honeydew they excrete causes black sooty molds to form on the stem and leaves.
- To achieve a healthy, vibrant string of pearls, it is essential to provide adequate indirect lighting, water only when dry, choose well-draining soil, fertilize infrequently, and use suitable pot size.
- Transplant string of pearls if it gets overly crowded on the pot or when it becomes root-bound. If the stems get too long or leggy, prune the string of pearls to encourage more compact and fuller new growth.
- Cloning of the string of pearls is faster and easier using stem cuttings. It can either be rooted directly in the soil or water.
“Choosing Clay or Plastic Pots for Plants,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln
“Controlled-Release And Slow-Release Fertilizers As Nutrient Management Tools,” University of Florida
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