How to Grow and Care for String of Pearls Plants (Senecio rowleyanus)

Senecio rowleyanus, or Curio rowleyanus, otherwise known as the String of Pearls, is a succulent loved for its trailing vines and charming, spherical leaves. It’s a relatively low-maintenance species that looks great in a hanging planter, as its vines cascade down and lend a unique texture to any space. Here we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about string of pearls plant care at home including potting, planting, the best soil mix, light, temperature, and humidity considerations as well as essential tips for fertilizing, pruning, and propagating.   


String of Pearls Plant Care Essentials

A String of Pearls plant thrives best in temperatures ranging from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the warmer months and between 50 and 60 degrees during its dormant winter phase. This plant will need six to eight hours of bright, indirect light per day. The species enjoys fast-draining soil with a neutral to acidic pH. Water every 7 to 10 days in spring and summer and every 14 to 21 days in winter.


About String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

About String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

Genus, Species, and Plant Family

The string of pearls has two accepted scientific names: Senecio rowleyanus and Curio rowleyanus.

So, that means the plant’s genus is Curio or Senecio, and its species name is S. rowleyanus or C. rowleyanus. String of Pearls is a member of the plant family Asteraceae, or the daisy family, which comprises over 32,000 species of flowering plants.

Origins and History

The string of pearls is native to dry areas of southwestern Africa. In this native habitat, the plant’s vines creep along the earth, weaving together to form a thick ground cover.

This plant gets its name rowleyanus from Gordon Douglas Rowley, an award-winning British botanist who specialized in succulents and cactus plants. Rowley served as president of the African Succulent Plant Society from 1966 to 1976 and had several plants named after him, including the string of pearls.

Over the years, this species has taken several nicknames other than string of pearls. Here are a few names you may hear others use to refer to the Senecio rowleyanus.

  • String of pearls
  • String of beads
  • String of peas
  • String of rosary beads
  • Rosary vine

String of Pearls Botanical Characteristics

String of Pearls Botanical Characteristics

The string of pearls has trailing, string-like vines. These strings produce green, pea-shaped leaves with a dark band called an epidermal window that allows more light to enter the plant for photosynthesis.

In the spring, string of pearls will produce white blooms with curled pink and orange stamens. These flowers bloom for around one month and give off a fragrance similar to cinnamon or cloves.

Similar Species Grown as Houseplants

This plant can grow with solid green leaves or cream-colored variegated leaves. The string of pearls also has a few relatives with a similar texture and growth habit. Here are a few that you may want to consider adding to your houseplant collection.

Uses and Benefits

People cultivate string of pearls most often for ornamental purposes. Senecio rowleyanus is not famous for specific benefits like air purification or Feng shui.

However, the species offers considerable aesthetic value, as it looks beautiful hanging in any space. The plant’s vines spill over its container and contribute a lovely focal point to its indoor environment.

String of Pearls Toxicity and Pet Friendliness

Another great reason to hang your string of pearls plant is that it is toxic if consumed. Humans, cats, dogs, and other animals may experience symptoms like gastrointestinal issues or skin irritation if they ingest any part of the Senecio rowleyanus plant.

String of Pearls Meaning and Symbolism

String of Pearls Meaning and Symbolism

String of pearls does not have commonly known cultural, religious, or spiritual significance. However, some say the plant symbolizes qualities like purity, loyalty, and friendship.

Are String of Pearls Easy to Grow at Home?

String of pearls is an easy plant to grow at home. As long as you meet a few essential requirements, your Senecio rowleyanus will produce lush and lively foliage for you to enjoy.

How Long Will String of Pearls Typically Live?

Unfortunately, string of pearls isn’t typically a long-lived plant. It will usually last for around five years.

However, the good news is that there’s a way to get more longevity out of your string of pearls. You can keep the vines thriving for years and years through propagation.


How to Grow String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

How to Grow String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

String of Pearls Growth Expectations

String of pearls vines will typically trail between one to three feet indoors, growing one to two inches per month until it reaches maturity. The plant’s growth speed will vary, depending on environmental factors.

What to Do Before Planting a String of Pearls Plant

Choose a Location

Before planting a string of pearls, you’ll want to find a great location that meets its growth requirements. Consider hanging the plant in a place that receives an even amount of bright, indirect light. Somewhere close to a south-facing window would be ideal.  

Avoid spots that get drafts or experience sporadic temperature changes throughout the day.

Find the Right Container

Due to its attractive vining foliage, the string of beads plant grows well and looks great in hanging pots and planters.

The best type of pot will be a porous material like terracotta that minimizes moisture retention and offers more oxygen flow for the plant to enjoy. Additionally, you will want to make sure the container has a drainage hole for eliminating excess moisture.

You may also consider placing the plant in a terracotta pot and draping its vines along a windowsill or side table. However, if you take this approach, keep vines out of reach of pets and ensure they receive even exposure to light. 

Gather Your Materials

Now, it’s time to gather the tools you need to plant a string of pearls. Grab its new container and soil, as well as a shovel and gloves if needed. You may also want clippers to help if removing the plant from a plastic container.

What’s the Best Soil Mix to Use for String of Pearls?

How Soil Affects Plant Health and Growth + Why It's Important to Use the Right Type

Your string of beads plant loves a drier environment, so it will do best in a fast-draining soil like a cactus and succulent mix. It’s best to avoid standard potting mix, as its density and moisture retention won’t be ideal for this plant.

However, if you want to make your own soil for string of pearls at home, you can combine three parts standard potting mix with one part sand to achieve the fast-draining quality this plant prefers. This species does best in soil ranging from a neutral to slightly acidic pH level.

How to Plant String of Pearls

Here are some key tips for planting string of pearls.

1. Purchase a cactus and succulent soil or create your own mix of sand and potting soil.

2. Add a layer of this soil to the planter’s base to ensure the plant doesn’t rest too low inside the container.

3. Allow an inch or so of space around the root ball for the plant to grow.

4. Once you put the plant in its planter, add soil around the sides.

5. Spread vines evenly around the planter to ensure they receive even sunlight.

String of Pearls Light Preferences

String of Pearls Light Preferences

Your string of beads plant will do best when placed in a spot with plenty of indirect sunlight. The plant can be more tolerant of lower light conditions than other succulents, especially during winter. This species may enjoy a north or east-facing aspect in the warmer season, as long as it receives enough light during the day.

This plant grows best with around six to eight hours of bright, indirect lighting each day. It may enjoy some direct light during the morning hours, but be sure to protect it from those intense afternoon rays.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to rotate the plant to ensure even light distribution. You may want to rearrange the stems occasionally so that all foliage has access to the sun.

String of Pearls Temperature and Humidity Preferences

Luckily, this plant’s temperature preferences are likely similar to yours. The species does well with temperatures 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the warmer months.

When the days grow cooler, the string of pearls will prefer temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. These lower temperatures will support the plant’s natural dormant phase, so it is rested and ready to bloom once spring rolls around.

As with most succulents, this species enjoys a drier environment. Keep moisture low and avoid placing your string of beads in rooms like the bathroom, where humidity tends to be higher.


How to Care for a String of Pearls Plant at Home

How to Care for a String of Pearls Plant at Home

Watering String of Pearl Plants

Now, this plant does prefer a drier environment, but it’s important not to let it sit for long in completely dried-out soil. Its moisture needs will vary depending on the climate where you live, so you may need to experiment to learn your plant’s preferences.

Typically, the string of pearls will need watering to maintain slightly moist soil during its growing season. This will usually be once every week or two. Use your finger to check the soil once a week, and only water if the soil is dry.

Your string of beads plant will likely need more water in the warmer months and less during the winter. Lowering the plant’s water intake during winter will allow it to enter a dormant phase, which will help it produce its beautiful, fragrant blooms come spring. Usually, around once a month is enough water for this plant in the winter.

How, When, and Why to Fertilize String of Pearls

Fertilizing the string of pearls during its growing season, spring through fall, will help it grow robust, healthy foliage. Use a half-strength fertilizer once a month or so during these warmer months. Follow the directions on your fertilizer’s packaging for optimal results.

Pruning String of Pearls

Pruning String of Pearls

Simply put, the string of pearls does not need much pruning. However, if you notice the vines becoming long and leggy, you may want to prune them slightly for aesthetic purposes. You can also prune the plant’s blooms if you don’t like their look or fragrance, as this will not harm the plant.

Use sharp, clean shears and trim the vines to achieve your preferred length and look. You can do this at any point throughout the year.

Propagating String of Pearls

You can use stems you cut away from the string of beads plant for propagation. Do this whenever you’d like to create a new plant or add volume to the original plant. There are a few easy ways to propagate this species.

  • Propagating stems: Snip a stem from the string of pearls and remove about three inches of leaves. Place the bare part of the stem in soil, either in a new planter or in the original pot, and it will take root.
  • Propagating leaves: Snip a stem from your string of pearls and leave the pearls intact. In a new planter, place this vine directly into the soil in a spiral shape with the pearls facing up and nodes making direct contact with the soil. Keep the soil moist, and the nodes will take root and form a new plant.

When and How to Repot a String of Pearls Plant

When and How to Repot a String of Pearls Plant

The string of pearls plant doesn’t need frequent repotting. However, a good indicator that it’s time to repot is if the plant has become root-bound.

You can check on the root system by gently pulling the plant out of its container. If it is hard to remove, and its roots appear tangled and crowded, it may be time to repot. Roots poking out from the drainage hole is another indicator of a crowded root system.

If your string of pearls needs more room to grow, find a pot one size bigger than its current container for repotting. This can be an inch or two wider and deeper than the current pot. Here are some basic steps to follow when repotting your string of pearls.

1. Place some soil at the base of your pot to ensure the plant doesn’t sit too low in its new container.

2. Once the new pot is ready, ease your string of pearls out of its container. Start by gathering the strings together to make the transfer as easy as possible. This plant is fragile, so make sure to handle it with care during this process.

3. Place the plant in its new pot and add soil around the sides of its root ball.

4. After repotting, gently arrange the plant’s strings around its container to achieve your preferred aesthetic.


Common String of Pearls Problems and How to Treat Them

Common String of Pearls Problems and How to Treat Them

Despite the easygoing nature of this plant, the string of pearls will show a few symptoms if its living conditions need adjusting. Here are a few of the issues you may notice in your string of pearls, along with ways to remedy them.

Signs Your String of Pearls is Underwatered

If your string of pearls is underwatered, its leaves may appear shriveled and dry or flat and elongated. If you notice this change in appearance, slowly increase the watering frequency until you find its preferred schedule.

Signs Your String of Pearls is Overwatered

This plant’s leaves may also appear shriveled from overwatering. This is because too much water can cause leaves to burst and develop a deflated, mushy appearance. If this happens, decrease your watering schedule to find the right balance for your plant.

Signs Your String of Pearls is Receiving Too Much Light 

If your plant is getting too much sun, its leaves and stems may become dry, brown, or scarred. Remedy this by relocating the plant to protect it from direct sunlight.

String of Pearls Temperature Issues

The string of pearls won’t like temperatures below 50 or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant may protest low temperatures by dropping leaves, while excess heat will cause a shriveled, brown appearance. Remedy these issues by relocating the plant to a spot that meets its temperature requirements.

Common Pests and Diseases

Your string of beads plant may develop issues like root rot from overwatering. If this occurs, carefully trim the affected area away from the rest of the plant. Sterilize the planter to remove remaining fungus or bacteria and repot the plant in fresh soil.

This species can also attract aphids or mealybugs. If you notice these pests, spray your plant with isopropyl alcohol each day until they are gone. Ensure your string of pearls has optimal airflow and sunlight, and avoid overwatering to prevent these issues in the future.


Reasons Why Your String of Pearls Isn’t Blooming

Reasons Why Your String of Pearls Isn’t Blooming

Here are a few of the reasons your string of pearls isn’t blooming or growing indoors. Check for these issues and make any environmental adjustments your plant may need to thrive.

  • Sun exposure is minimal or uneven.
  • The plant receives too much direct sunlight.
  • The soil retains too much moisture.
  • You’re fertilizing too frequently, or the fertilizer is too strong.
  • You aren’t allowing the plant to go dormant in the winter.
  • The plant’s container is too large, making it difficult for roots to access water.

Essential Tools to Have Around

Now, let’s make sure you’re prepared with all of the tools for optimal string of pearls plant care. Here’s a list of materials you will want to keep on hand.

  • Shovel
  • Watering can
  • Terracotta pot
  • Clippers for pruning and propagation
  • Gloves to handle the plant if preferred
  • Half-strength cactus and succulent fertilizer
  • Cactus and succulent potting soil or a homemade mix with sand
  • Isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle, if needed to remove pests

Wrapping Up

If you’re looking for a fun new houseplant to bring into your home, a hanging string of pearls makes an excellent choice. The Senecio rowleyanus exudes charm and brings a unique texture into any space. With the proper care and a bit of propagation along the way, this showy succulent will thrive in your home for years to come.


String of Pearls Plant (Senecio rowleyanus) FAQs

No, the string of pearls plant will not do well in direct sunlight. This plant prefers plenty of bright, indirect light.

No, your string of pearls prefers a drier environment and may develop root rot in excessively moist conditions.

String of pearls will grow around one to two inches per month, depending on growing conditions, and take one to two years to reach maturity.

String of pearls usually grows to be between one and three feet long. However, some may grow longer, depending on growing conditions.

The string of pearls plant is said to symbolize purity, loyalty, and friendship.


Full Bio | + posts

Brandy Wells is an American copywriter and content writer living in Spain. From hiking in her hometown near the Smoky Mountains to digging in the dirt in rural Oregon, she has always put a love of nature at the heart of her endeavors. These days, you’ll catch her writing content, and of course, taking breaks to tend to her growing houseplant collection.

Author

Brandy Wells is an American copywriter and content writer living in Spain. From hiking in her hometown near the Smoky Mountains to digging in the dirt in rural Oregon, she has always put a love of nature at the heart of her endeavors. These days, you’ll catch her writing content, and of course, taking breaks to tend to her growing houseplant collection.

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