7 Tips for the Perfect String of Pearls Succulent Care

The string of pearls is adorned with long shoots and pearl-shaped leaves. Here you will find 7 tips on string of pearls succulent care.

Origins of Senecio rowleyanus

The charming, somewhat bizarre-looking pearl plant is at home in South West Africa, where it grows in a geographically narrow area in the provinces of the Eastern and Western Cape. It often thrives there in the shade of bushes or rocks that protect it from the strong sun. Senecio rowleyanus belongs to the large daisy family (Asteraceae). The Senecio genus, which comprises more than 1,000 species, includes annuals and biennials, perennials and woody plants, as well as some succulents such as the string of pearls plant.

Characteristics of Senecio rowleyanus

Growth

The evergreen pearl plant is a creeping or trailing succulent with only a few millimeters thick, sometimes several meters long shoots. Because of its spectacular appearance it is often cultivated as a decorative plant in hanging baskets — a length of one meter is definitely possible with the long “strings of pearls”. As they grow on the ground, real mats are formed that do not exceed ten centimeters in height. The roots run rather flat and close under the ground, the root system itself is rather weak – this should be taken into account when choosing the pot: it should be rather wide.

Leaves

The pea-shaped leaves, each attached to a tiny stem, are lined up like a string of pearls. This original look has also given Senecio rowleyanus the names “peas on a ribbon” and “string of pearls”. The individual leaves are one centimeter long and medium green in color. They stand alternately close together. On every “pea” you can see a stripe that runs lengthways to the tip. The thick-fleshed leaves serve to store water for the houseplant .

Senecio rowleyanus is sometimes sold under Senecio herreianus. The latter species has rather elongated leaves, so it is hardly possible to confuse them.

Flowers

In late spring or summer, small flowers appear that have an amazing smell of cinnamon and are reminiscent of daisies in terms of structure and color — white, pink, yellow and green. They definitely have an original shape: Directly under the flower head are several greenish white bracts. The bracts are fused to three quarters of their length and have a purple border. The petals are fused tubular, the bent back crown teeth are striking. The anthers stand out in strong violet, the pollen glows yellow.

Not only the leaves, but the flowers of the string of pearls plant are also eye-catchers.

Fruit

In indoor culture there is no development of fruits.

Varieties

Senecio rowleyanus ‘Variegata' has leaves that are patterned light green and white. The variety does not grow as quickly as the wild form and definitely needs sun to develop the color contrast.

String of Pearls Succulent Care

1. Location: Do string of pearls like shade?

This trailing succulent prefers to be in full sun and warmth; a south-west or south-east window is ideal. If you can't offer this to her: she is content with partial shade, but then grows a little more restrained. In the warm season, the succulent can be outdoors in a sheltered, sunny to partially shaded place. She should be spared the blazing midday sun, as well as an abrupt change from inside to outside. It is essential to get used to UV radiation.

In winter, the temperature can drop to twelve degrees Celsius. This lowering is even necessary if flowers are to form. The temperatures shouldn't be below eight degrees Celsius. A low humidity is acceptable to the plant.

2. Substrate

Senecio rowleyanus likes nutrient-poor and well-drained succulent soil best, while the string of pearls plant also gets along well with a nutrient-poor herb soil. You can also easily mix the substrate yourself.

3. Water: How often should you water string of pearls?

7 Tips for the Perfect String of Pearls Succulent Care 2
“Erbse am Band” by blumenbiene is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The succulent foliage clearly shows that only a little water is desired. It is best to always check with your finger whether the substrate has dried to a depth of an inch before reaching for the watering can. The best way to water string of pearls is to penetrate the entire root ball. However, water should never remain in the pot.

Senecio rowleyanus does not really care whether you choose tap water or rainwater, the irrigation water should not be very lime-rich or cold. In winter, when the temperature is low, the frequency can be reduced significantly: the string of pearls plant then prefers to stand almost dry.

4. Fertilizer

No fertilization is necessary in the first year after purchase or after repotting. After that, low doses of succulent fertilizer, given every four or eight weeks in summer, are completely sufficient.

5. Repotting

Is the pot well rooted? Then it's time for the string of pearls plant to get a new, slightly larger container. It should also be flat. Spring is best for repotting. It is best to wear gloves when repotting, as the sap can cause skin irritation.

Senecio rowleyanus that need a new pot can also be divided right away: To do this, cut the root ball into two or three pieces or carefully break it apart with your hands.

6. Pruning

Just let it grow! The longer the shoots, the more spectacular the string of pearls plant looks. If you have to, you can trim too long shoots to a third of their length.

7. Propagation

Nothing is easier than propagating the string of pearls plant: Simply leave cut shoots, which should consist of at least two to three leaves, to dry for two days and then put them in potting soil with a lot of sand, or in succulent soil. If you put several cuttings in one planter, you can soon look forward to bushy young plants. At temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius, the first roots can be seen after just two weeks.

Common Problems with String of Pearls Plant

Lice of all kinds tamper with the young shoots in spring, otherwise Senecio rowleyanus is very robust. Overwatering in particular causes problems as it causes root rot.

Read also:
String of pearls plant shriveling: How to save my string of pearls plant

FAQ's

Is the string of pearls plant poisonous?

As with all Senecio representatives, the leaves of the string of pearls plant are also slightly poisonous. If young children or pets swallow them, vomiting or diarrhea may occur. It goes without saying that you should better put them out of reach!

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