How to Grow and Care for String of Pearls

Written by Natalie Anstey

 In This Article:

The String of Pearls is a popular succulent native to Africa, and is a favorite among novices for its ease of care!

With its trailing leaves and its unique shape, these drought-tolerant plants make a great houseplant for anyone!

Botanical Name:Curio rowleyanus
Common Name(s):String of Pearls, Rosary Vine, String of Beads
Plant Type:Succulent
Place of Origin:Africa 
Sun Exposure:Direct sun or indirect sun
Watering Schedule:Every 14 days
Seasonality (best time to plant):Spring through autumn
Bloom Time:Spring through autumn
Toxicity:Unsafe for cats and dogs

String of Pearls Water Needs 

During the growth period of spring through autumn, water your string of pearls every 10-14 days or when the top inch of soil is totally dry. During the winter when the plant goes into dormancy, keep the plant just moist enough so that the pearls do not shrivel and die off.

Be careful not to overwater as this will cause root rot. The best way to combat this is to ensure proper drainage along with holes in the bottom of the pot. The pearls naturally store water so any overwatering could cause the foliage to become distorted or rot also.

Rule of (Green) Thumb: Although this plant is very forgiving, many plants do not like to be watered with tap water and it is best to try and use water that is free from chlorine and chemicals. Filtered or rain water will be fine or if not possible use tap water that has been left overnight.

String of Pearls Lighting Needs 

A light and bright spot is very important for the string of pearls, with a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun being  required in order for it to thrive and flower. Position in a spot that receives full sun in the morning and tails off towards the afternoon for best results. 

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String of Pearls Temperature & Humidity Needs

Native to Africa, the string of pearls prefers a warm spot that reaches temperatures above 65-70℉ from spring to fall. In the winter this can be reduced down to 50℉. Keep this plant out of drafts as this will confuse the plant and may cause foliage to shrivel or drop. 

The string of pearls prefers low humidity and can tolerate a dry surrounding of the average home with relative ease. Thriving in humidity levels of 40% or less, a drier spot is the perfect place for your string of pearls - any more than this and the pearls may begin to rot.

Rule of (Green) Thumb: If you are worried that the surroundings are too humid, open windows or run a fan in the room. If this is not possible then it may be worth investing in a dehumidifier

String of Pearls Soil & Fertilizer 

The string of pearls like a free draining, sand-based compost which is high in acidity and low in nutrients to replicate their natural habitat. They will however be more than happy in a soil specifically used for succulents and cacti. The key is to ensure there is sufficient drainage to avoid root rot!

Fertilize once a month in spring and summer with a weak solution of fertilizer diluted down to half. During fall and winter reduce to once every two months.

String of Pearls Repotting

Although other plants do not like to be repotted too often, the string of pearls is such a prolific grower that you can safely repot it once a year. The best time to repot is in spring and transplant it to a pot only one size bigger. 

Your plant may need to be repotted earlier if it is showing signs of overcrowding, the roots are pushing out of the bottom of the pot, or if your plant’s health is declining as this could be down to root rot. Unlike other plants, the string of pearls does not like to be snug in its pot - the roots like to spread and remain untangled in order for it to push out the long stems.

String of Pearls Propagation

One of the many reasons why the string of pearls is so popular is because it is super easy to propagate! The average string of pearls has a lifespan of about 5 years, but you can prolong its lifespan by taking cuttings.

The ideal time to take a cutting is during the summer as the plant will be in its growing season and so will take better: 

1. Take a long and healthy stem of 10cm - 15cm in length with as many pearls as you can muster and cut it off.
2. Leave the cutting to dry for a few days so that the cut heals or callouses over.

From here you can follow any of these steps for propagation: 
1. Dip the end in rooting hormone and plant in sandy soil/succulent compost and water and monitor.
2. Simply plant the cutting in a sand based soil/succulent soil as is, making sure to water and monitor.
3. Place the cutting in a small glass of water, making sure none of the pearls are underwater as they may go mushy, and after 2-3 weeks roots should begin to form. Once the roots have formed, you can plant in fresh soil. 

Rule of (Green) Thumb: When handling the String of Pearls ALWAYS wear gloves, this plant is toxic.

String of Pearls Common Pests & Diseases

1. Root Rot - This is caused by overwatering. Signs of root rot include pale leaves and/or mushy stems. If the stems or foliage have gone mushy then it may be too late, but if just the leaves are affected then repot in free draining soil with gravel and water sparingly.

2. Aphids, Mealy Bugs, & Spider Mites - Unfortunately due to the plant's juice-filled pearls they can attract hungry insects who feast on newly formed buds that are full of juicy sap. You may be able to see the insects or at least their trail of destruction as foliage will wilt and look dehydrated. Remove by hand or spray with insecticide/neem oil.

3. Underwatering - Underwatering commonly shows up as shriveled up foliage. If you are sure that there are no pests that could be gorging on the plant then maybe bring forward your watering regime by a few days and see if that helps.

String of Pearls Toxicity

Although they might look like little peas that are ripe for eating, the string of pearls is toxic for both humans and our furry friends. Due to its cascading nature position up high to allow the pearls to tumble down and to keep out of the reach of inquisitive pets.

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