As long as the environment and care routine is right, you’ll have no problems caring for your String of Pearls and they actually become quite low-maintenance plants. However, as soon as something isn’t quite right, they can become pretty fussy and may begin losing their leaves/pearls. But don’t worry, as long as your plant hasn’t lost all of its leaves, there is still hope and a good chance you can still revive your dying plant and bring it back to full health. Below we will be going through each of the different reasons why your String of Pearls might be losing its leaves, so you can figure out which is affecting your plant and how to fix it.
Cold temperatures can result in String of Pearls plants losing their leaves
One of the most common reasons why String of Pearls start losing their leaves is due to inconsistent temperatures, particularly cold temperatures. If your plant is exposed to low temperatures (the ideal temperature for String of Pearls is between 18°C – 24°C), it can often cause them to go into shock and some leaves will drop from the plant.
Over time, if your String of Pearls is consistently exposed to really low temperatures, it can cause plant death as not only can’t they grow well in these conditions, but the risk of root rot is much higher as it’ll take a lot longer for the potting mix to dry out after watering.
Cold drafts can be caused by a range of things but doors or windows with small cracks are your plant’s worst enemy. If they are too close to drafty windows or doors then the cold air from outside during winter can be pretty damaging to your String of Pearls and will more often than not cause them to lose some leaves. But it’s not just wintertime that you have to be careful about cold drafts; String of Pearls will struggle if too close to any AC vents so move them at least 1m away to prevent leaf drop.
We really recommend buying a digital thermometer to check the temperature around your String of Pearls. It will help you spot any fluctuations and can be super beneficial to all of your houseplants to make sure they are in the ideal temperature range (hotspots can also cause some really serious issues).
Waterlogged soil might also be why your String of Pearls is losing leaves
Too much water can also lead to your String of Pearls losing leaves. If you notice the stems and leaves are a little softer than usual this may be because the pearls are filled with water and about to burst or fall from the plant. Waterlogged soil can also cause root rot which means your String of Pearls isn’t able to get all the nutrients it needs and becomes unstable and droopy.
Whilst overwatering and consequent root rot is an issue for many plants, because String of Pearls plants have very delicate roots, it can very quickly develop into quite a serious issue.
Before you start holding off watering your String of Pearls, it’s important to confirm that it is in fact overwatering and soggy soil causing your plant to lose its leaves.
To do this, check the moisture levels in the soil immediately. If the soil is quite waterlogged and clumpy then replace it with fresh dry mix which will allow your String of Pearls to begin the process of recovery and growing new healthy leaves. Don’t wait for the soil to dry out naturally as this only risks more damage to your plant and may result in your String of Pearls losing even more leaves/pearls.
When replacing the potting mix, trim away the rotten roots. These will often look dark brown or black in colour and be very soft to touch. Once the roots have started to rot, there is no reversing this. Removing them will help encourage new healthy roots to grow and won’t mean your String of Pearls plant wastes any energy trying to revive them.
In future, to prevent overwatering to cause your String of Pearls to begin losing leaves again, hold off watering as much or as frequently as you did before. Always make sure the potting mix has enough time to dry out fully (a moisture meter can really help with this) and remove any excess water from the planter or saucer about 15 minutes after watering. This should help prevent your String of Pearls from losing too many more leaves in future.
Top tip: waterlogged soil can give off a damp, musty smell so give your plants a smell every now and again to help you spot the issue even before your plant begins losing leaves.
A consistent lack of sunlight can also cause a String of Pearls to start losing leaves
String of Pearls thrive in bright, indirect light and will struggle with anything less. Insufficient light levels will start to cause your String of Pearls to start losing some of the older leaves to keep their energy reserves for the new healthy growth. It’s just a process of prioritisation as your plant will want to continue growing and developing even if the light levels aren’t high enough. This is actually one of the most common causes of leaf drop for String of Pearls.
Luckily, this is often one of the easier issues to fix. The best thing to do is find a better spot for your String of Pearls in your home so that it receives a little more natural sunlight throughout the day.
When choosing a new spot for your String of Pearls, make sure that it won’t receive any direct light (especially in summer) as you don’t want to burn the leaves on your plant. Instead, find a spot with great bright but indirect light to keep your plant thriving.
If you aren’t able to find a good spot with ample sunshine, then you might want to think about investing in a grow light to supplement light levels and prevent your String of Pearls from losing any more leaves. They can really help with keeping your plants happy throughout winter when you might not be able to find a brighter spot for your plant.
One thing that not a lot of plant parents think about doing is moving your plants depending on the season. During winter you might need to relocate some of your plants a little closer to the window to maximise on the light during the day. This can help stop leggy growth, leaf drop or brown leaves occurring during the darker months of the year.
Your String of Pearls might also be losing leaves due to pests
A slightly less common reason why your String of Pearls might be losing leaves is a pest infestation. It can happen that pests such as mealybugs, spider mites and scale bugs take hold of your plant and exhaust the pearls enough so that they drop off the plant.
This does become more common if your String of Pearls is spending any time outdoors so make sure to give your plants a full check when moving them indoors to stop the spread of pests among your houseplants.
Take a close look over your String of Pearls to spot any signs of pests. This includes insects themselves but also small brown or yellow spots, webbing or white powder across the pearls. Any of these signs indicates that pests are the reason why your String of Pearls is losing leaves.
If you find pests on your String of Pearls it’s important you give your plant a thorough wash in the shower. Keep the water pressure very low as they have very delicate vines and remove the worst affected areas to curb the growth of the infestation. You should also treat your String of Pearls with an organic insecticide and neem oil to get rid of the pests.
Sometimes natural causes can lead your String of Pearls to lose a few leaves
Occasionally it is totally normal for your String of Pearls to be losing a few leaves so if the rate of leaf drop is slow then it might be nothing to worry about at all. String of Pearls plants are very delicate so if they are knocked a little then it can cause the odd pearl to fall off. Your plant might also be losing leaves due to natural ageing. These will often be the smallest and oldest pearls from the top of the plant.
Take a look over any of the pearls that have fallen off your plant for any other signs of distress. We also recommend monitoring the speed at which your String of Pearls is losing leaves to see if it is increasing or if it is more than the new leaves it is growing. Either of these means that there is probably something more serious going on.
Those are the four most common reasons why String of Pearls plants can start losing their leaves. When your plant loses its leaves it’s often a way for it to tell you that it’s shocked or stressed so it’s important to find out what is causing it and make the right steps to not only fix the issue but prevent it from happening again. If the problem is getting quite bad then we recommend taking a small cutting of your String of Pearls to propagate it (one that is healthy with no signs of pests or other problems) so that if the worst happens, you still have a little bit of healthy plant you can grow.
To learn more about how to take care of your plant (and avoid more leaves falling off or other issues occurring), check out our String of Pearls care guide.
Written by Joanna Turner