How to Care for Your String of Pearls Plant: The Essential Guide

Last Updated: October 16, 2023

String of pearls care

String of pearls care

Native to the arid plains of Southwest Africa, the String of Pearls has become a favourite globally. Despite its exotic origins, it’s surprisingly low-maintenance, making it perfect for both seasoned horticulturists and green-thumbed novices alike.

To help you keep your String of Pearls happy and healthy, our care guide will go through everything from light requirements to propagation, ensuring your plant thrives for years to come.

Origins and Characteristics of the String of Pearls Plant

The String of Pearls is native to Southwest Africa but its botanical name, Senecio rowleyanus, pays homage to British botanist Gordon Douglas Rowley who brought it to the limelight.

The String of Pearls is a trailing houseplant with vines of vibrant green, bead-like leaves that drape down, giving it a distinctive appearance.

But wait, there’s more! They don’t only look great but are also a pro at purifying air. It’s no wonder these enchanting succulents are fast becoming a must-have in homes and offices alike.

Key Characteristics:

  • Tolerance: Thrives in dry, well-drained conditions. Not a fan of too much water.
  • Light: Loves bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sun can cause sunburn.
  • Temperature: Prefers moderate temperatures, around 70-75°F (21-24°C).
  • Soil: Grows best in well-draining soil, like a cactus mix.
  • Growth: With the right care, expect your String of Pearls to cascade several feet down.
  • Bloom: Occasionally, you might be surprised with tiny, white flowers.

Why String of Pearls is a Must-Have for Your Home

Low Maintenance

One of the best things about the String of Pearls plant is its low-maintenance nature. Perfect for those of us with busy schedules or without the greenest of thumbs, this plant doesn’t demand much attention, yet it continues to flourish.

Air purifying 

Did you know that the String of Pearls plant is a natural air purifier? That’s right, it removes toxins from the air, promoting a healthier living environment.

Aesthetic Appeal

With its unique cascading stems and pearl-like leaves, the String of Pearls plant is an instant attention-grabber and will stand out in every room!

Boosts Mood and Reduces Stress

Studies have shown that being around plants can help reduce stress and anxiety so while this isn’t a benefit specifically for the String of Pearls, it is an added bonus for every plant!

The Best Lighting for a String of Pearls

Your String of Pearls adores bright but indirect sunlight. This means it shouldn’t be getting too many direct sun rays hitting the pearls. East or North facing windows are the most ideal for your String of Pearls. Be it a windowsill, a shelf, or a hanging basket, make it a spot drenched in gentle light.

Lighting in Different Seasons

As the seasons change, so should your lighting strategy. In the summer, your plant enjoys morning sunlight but prefers to chill in the shade during the scorching afternoon. When winter arrives, keep it in a well-lit area as daylight hours diminish. You can get away with your plant receiving a bit more direct sunlight during autumn and winter as the weaker sun won’t burn your plant as quickly.

Can they survive in low light?

In the absence of adequate sunlight, don’t fret, as a fluorescent grow light can serve as a decent understudy, ensuring your String of Pearls continues to glow even during darker days. Consistent low light will start to have an impact though and you may find your plant is growing slower, smaller and is losing leaves.

Watering your String of Pearls

When it comes to watering your String of Pearls, the golden rule is ‘Less is More’. This plant is a succulent, which means it stores water in its stems and leaves. It’s important to give it a good drink but then it can go for quite a while without needing another.

On average, watering once every two weeks during the warmer months and once a month during winter should be enough. But remember, this isn’t a set-in-stone rule and we don’t believe in keeping rigid watering routines as there are so many ever-changing factors that impact how much water your plant needs. Look out for signs that your plant is thirsty – if those pearls start to look a bit shrivelled, it’s time for water.

Watering Technique

Give your String of Pearls a good soak, letting water drain through the pot’s holes, then let it dry out completely before watering again. This helps prevent water from stagnating at the bottom of the pot, which can lead to root rot pretty quickly.

Consider the Climate

The climate you live in will also affect how often you need to water. If you live somewhere hot and dry, your String of Pearls may need watering more often. If you’re in a cooler, more humid environment, it might need less. Adjust your watering habits accordingly.

Choosing the Ideal Soil for your String of Pearls

Loam-based soil is best for your String of Pearls. This well-drained, nutrient-rich soil allows the plant to drain excess water while storing the necessary moisture and nutrients it needs to thrive.

A mix of sand or perlite with the loam-based soil provides that extra drainage and prevents your plant from getting its roots too wet.

A sprinkle of organic compost on top acts as a slow-release fertiliser, providing a steady stream of nutrients over time. While this is an optional addition, it can go a long way to keeping your plant healthy.

Choosing the Perfect Pot for Your String of Pearls

Choosing the perfect pot for your String of Pearls needs to balance aesthetics, practicality, and the unique needs of this succulent.

The Material Matters

It might surprise you, but the pot’s material can significantly impact your String of Pearls’ health as it means water absorption and evaporation can vary significantly. Generally, terracotta pots are the go-to choice. Being porous, they allow excess moisture to escape, keeping your plant’s roots delightfully dry.

Size Does Matter

When it comes to pot size, your String of Pearls prefers to be very slightly rootbound, so opt for a pot that’s just slightly larger than the root ball. This prevents water from lingering in the soil, a surefire recipe for root rot.

Don’t Forget Drainage

A pot with one or more drainage holes is vital to prevent waterlogged soil. They will allow any excess water to flow out into the saucer or planter.

Temperature Requirements for Your String of Pearls

String of Pearls plants prefer a warm environment and really don’t like cold drafts. Typically, they thrive in temperatures between 70-75°F (21-24°C). While they can handle a little chill, temperatures below 60°F (15°C) are a no-no. They are also sensitive to sudden temperature changes. So, avoid placing them near drafts, air conditioning vents or heaters.

Fertilizing Your String of Pearls Plant

When to Fertilise:

  1. Spring: This is the ideal time to start feeding your String of Pearls and they’ll appreciate the extra nutrients to help them burst back into life. Make sure the winter weather is behind you before starting.
  2. Summer: Continue the feed through summer, as this is when your plant is doing most of its growing.

What to Use:

Look for a water-soluble, well balanced fertiliser. The magic numbers you’re after are 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium). Remember, you don’t want to overdo it – a half-strength solution every month should suffice to avoid over-fertilization (this can cause yellow leaves and leaf drop so dilute the fertilizer more than recommended to avoid this).

How to Apply:

  • First, water your plant well. Hydrating the soil before fertilising helps to prevent root burn.
  • Next, add the fertiliser to your watering can and mix until dissolved.
  • Now, simply water your plant as usual, ensuring the fertiliser solution reaches the roots.Remember, your String of Pearls doesn’t need a heavy feed. Stick to this routine and you’ll have a happy, healthy plant.

Pruning your String of Pearls Plant

The mention of the word pruning is often met with a lot of nervousness. But with String of Pearls, it’s actually a really easy and important step in their care routine. Pruning can not only help to remove old and leggy growth, but it can also help to stimulate growth hormones found in the vines to create a fuller plant.

  1. First, identify the strands that have become too long or started to look ‘leggy’. You also want to spot any that are turning yellow, brown or are crisping up.
  2. Next, with a clean, sharp tool, snip off these strands just above a leaf node.
  3. If you are pruning growth that is simply too long, but otherwise healthy, you can propagate these vines!

Propagating Your String of Pearls

Propagating your plant can be a great way to create a fuller plant or new plants altogether. And if you’ve already got enough houseplants, then gifting cuttings to friends and family can be a really nice idea.

Before you get started there are a few things to note. Ensure you are propagating in spring or summer for the best results. You also only want to propagate healthy parts of your plant.

Here’s a brief step-by-step of how to propagate your String of Pearls:

  1. Take the cuttings you’ve pruned (see above), and set them aside for a few days to callus over.
  2. Next, place the callused cuttings in well-draining soil, ensuring the leaf nodes are in contact with the soil.
  3. Water sparingly until you start to notice new growth. And voila, you’ve just created a new String of Pearls plant! You can either pop it right back into your mother plant or you can leave it to be a whole new plant.

Common Pests and Diseases that Affect String of Pearls Plant

Although rare, it can happen from time to time that your String of Pearls starts to suffer from pests or disease. The key thing here is treating the issue early so make sure to check on your plants regularly. Below is a list of the most common pests and diseases:


These little white bugs, fondly referred to as fluffy cotton balls, are the usual suspects. Not only do they suck the life juice out of your plant, but they also leave behind a nasty, sticky residue called honeydew. A mealybug infestation will grow quickly so act fast to get these under control.


Aphids, also known as plant lice, are tiny insects that come in various colours. They love to feast on new growth, causing the leaves to curl and become discoloured.

Spider Mites

Spider mites create a fine, silky web on the plant and cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop.

Root Rot

Root rot is caused by overwatering, leading to a soggy soil environment which is the perfect breeding ground for fungi. Pay attention to your watering routine to keep root rot at bay.

Light Burn

Too much of a good thing can be harmful, and this is true for sunlight too. Excessive direct sunlight can lead to light burn, causing the leaves to turn yellow or white. Your String of Pearls loves a good sunbath, but remember, it prefers indirect rays.


Common Problems with your String of Pearls

Here are some common issues that you might run into. It’s important to diagnose any issues early to give your plant the best chance of bouncing back. This is why we strongly recommend giving your plant a monthly check-up so you can spot any issues at their early stages.


And there we have it, your complete guide to String of Pearls care. This little gem may seem delicate, but with the right conditions and care, they can become fairly easy to care for. The main things to remember are to water sparingly, provide ample sunlight, and avoid temperature extremes. These simple steps are the secret sauce to keeping your String of Pearls happy and healthy.

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