If you like delicate trailing plants, the String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) will probably be your succulent of choice. With slender stems dotted with small, pearl-like leaves, this succulent is a uniquely beautiful succulent to grow.
To enjoy the best your String of Pearls can offer you, read my growing recommendations below, where I cover the basic needs of this bubbly succulent.
Size & Growth
Although these delicate plants start out small, the tendrils can grow up to 2-3 feet long. Compared to other succulents, this is a fast-growing one. They propagate easily too and can be grown indoors and outdoors during summer.
String of pearls enjoys bright light, but not full sun. Indoors, they should be positioned near a window that gets strong natural light.
If they’re positioned close to the windows so that they get direct sunlight, consider moving them a few more feet away from the window to avoid sunburn.
In winter, when days are darker and cooler, they can be placed closer to the window for more light.
Outdoors, the string of pearls should be positioned in a shady area with little direct morning sun or late afternoon sun.
Because bright indirect light is needed for these plants, you can supplement the lack of light with the help of LED grow lamps or LED grow light bulbs.
Like many other succulents, string of pearls is also sensitive to overwatering. Aim to limit watering to only when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch.
Depending on the climate conditions in your area, you may end up watering it weekly or every other week. Make sure you cut back on watering in the winter, when the plant is in a dormancy phase.
Outdoors, you may need to water more frequently or less frequently, depending on how often it rains in your area.
While the string of pearls enjoys predominantly sandy soil, it grows just as well in succulent and cacti mixes. The idea is to have a potting medium that will not retain excess water and allow it to percolate fast out of the pot.
The longer water sits at the roots, the higher the chances for the roots to begin rotting. Apart from avoiding overwatering, the type of potting medium can also help reduce the incidence of root rot.
A good potting medium will retain just a bit of moisture and allows the roots to be well aerated to prevent rotting.
Temperature & Humidity
Average room temperature is ideal for this succulent. Indoor temperatures should be maintained between 70°-80° Fahrenheit, in winter, string of pearls should be kept at around 55°-60° Fahrenheit.
Because the plant is native to Southwest Africa, it can handle drier environments. In short, you don’t need to be misting this plant or increase humidity levels around it.
Normal indoor humidity levels are within the range acceptable for this succulent. Even if the air gets a bit dry, it won’t affect your succulent.
Don’t place the plant close to AC units, heat vents, drafty windows or other sources of cold or excessive heat.
Succulents are not heavy feeders, in fact they can do quite well without help, but a bit of nutrient boost will give them more vibrancy and healthier growth.
Fertilize your succulents only in the growing season, sparingly, every 2-4 weeks or according to the dosage and frequency recommendations of the manufacturer.
Use a fertilizer that’s formulated specifically for succulents and cacti, and start with a well diluted dose to see how your succulents take to it.
Too much fertilizer used too frequently will damage and potentially kill off the plant.
Refrain from using any fertilizer during fall and winter. I only fertilize my succulents once in early spring and once in mid-summer.
Potting & Repotting
For succulents my go-to pot recommendations are terracotta pots and unglazed ceramic pots. They help absorb excess moisture and help the soil dry much faster. Plus, they just look so much better than plastic.
Plastic pots work too if they have draining holes in the bottom to allow water to trickle out. But they do tend to lock moisture in compared to terracotta and ceramic ones.
Because the string of pearls has shallow roots, a deep pot is not needed. Also, don’t pick a pot that’s too big. The plant needs to fit snugly into the pot.
Repotting is usually required every 2-3 years or if the plant shows signs that it no longer fits its current pot (like roots poking out and generally not looking well despite good light and growing conditions).
Repotting will be beneficial not only because it will accommodate the new root system, but also because it’s a good time to change the potting medium for your plant and do a bit of trimming, if needed. Repot in spring as the plant enters into the growing phase.
How to Propagate String of Pearls?
I mentioned that the string of pearls is easy to propagate. This is because they grow roots very easily. Their roots are shallow, but quick to come about, so you can quickly and easily propagate from cuttings.
All you need is to harvest healthy 3-4 inch cuttings, place them on the top of the soil and press them down just a bit. Sprinkle the soil with water every time it starts to dry out and in a matter of 2-3 weeks you should see roots forming.
Alternatively, you can place stem cuttings that have leaf nodes (after removing the leaves) into the soil and keep the soil moist until a new plant gets established.
String of pearls is not only a thing of beauty thanks to its delicate-looking leaves and tendrils, but also because of its sweetly scented white blooms that grow off of curved stems.
The leaves growing on the delicate stems do its name justice. This is not a fussy succulent, despite looking like a high-maintenance plant.
Provided that you don’t overwater and don’t expose it to cold temperatures, it will be one of the sure highlights of your indoor garden.