Why does my String of Pearls have brown leaves?

Last Updated: May 16, 2022

It can be quite worrying when we start to see brown leaves appear on our houseplants as they are usually a signal that our plant is unhappy and is struggling in its current environment. Some issues are difficult to diagnose, caused by a variety of factors that are hard to prove. However, if your String of Pearls has developed brown leaves, it’s actually quite an easy one to diagnose, as there are only two causes. It is important that you act quickly once spotting brown leaves on your String of Pearls as it is the first step to your plant dying on you entirely. 

Below we will go through each of the two causes of brown String of Pearls leaves so you can figure out what is happening to your plant, as well as how to fix and prevent the issue.

Consistent underwatering is the most common cause of brown leaves

If your String of Pearls has developed dry, crispy brown leaves then most of the time this is caused by consistent underwatering. String of Pearls plants don’t like moist soil and will forgive you if you forget to water every once in a while, however they don’t do well without a single drop of moisture for weeks on end. This can cause the leaves and the root system to dry and crisp up. It is important to inspect the health of the root system at this stage as well to see if there is any damage as if there is, then it means the issue has been going on for a while. Trim away any of the dead roots so your String of Pearls can begin the recovery process.

Your first instinct for an underwatered String of Pearls might be to give it lots of water to make up for the lack of it. But this will actually just cause further issues, beyond the brown leaves, as your plant may go into a state of shock if its environment changes from one second to the next. Instead, gradually reintroduce watering in small amounts over the first week before returning to a more normal watering routine.

If you’re worried that you’re not being too consistent with your watering and this is how the brown leaves occurred in the first place, then it could be worth investing in a moisture meter. These handy little things are pretty cheap and remove all of the guesswork, this is our favourite one from Amazon and it really helps us to know when our String of Pearls needs water and goes a long way to preventing brown leaves.

Pests can also cause brown leaves

A slightly less common reason why your String of Pearls may be turning brown is a pest infestation. It can happen that pests such as mealybugs, spider mites and scale insects take hold of your String of Pearls. Although this doesn’t happen very often in plants that don’t spend any time outdoors, it is a little bit more of a worrying cause.

If you find pests on your plant (or other signs of pests such as holes in the leaves, white powder or webbing) we recommend giving the whole plant a shower. Keep the shower pressure quite low so as not to damage the leaves on your String of Pearls any further. You should also treat your String of Pearls with an organic insecticide to fight the infestation and prevent any more brown leaves

Make sure to check over your other plants in the room to see if any other plants have pests. Keep your String of Pearls (and other infected plants) a good distance away from any of your other houseplants as you don’t want the pests to spread. Pests can jump across the leaves quite easily so it’s important to isolate any affected plants. 

Those are the most common reasons why String of Pearls plants develop brown leaves. Underwatering is quite an easy one to fix and there’s no reason that with a bit of water, and a proper watering routine you can prevent any more brown leaves in future. Pests is a trickier one to solve, as if the infestation has gotten quite far, then it might be too late and the risk of transferring the pests to other plants might be higher than the benefits of keeping this one. 

To find out more about how to best care for your String of Pearls plant, as well as how to spot and fix other issues, check out our String of Pearls care guide. 

Fiddle and Thorn is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

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