Loved for their unique plump round leaves, the String of Pearls is one of those houseplants that is fine until it’s not. If the environment and care routine are right for the plant, then it’ll grow new beads and vines quicker than you can count them. However, if something isn’t quite right you might start to notice your String of Pearls turning yellow. If this does start happening, you’ll want to figure out what the cause is pretty quickly as yellow leaves are only a few steps away from your String of Pearls dying altogether.
Below we will be outlining all of the different causes of yellow leaves on String of Pearls plants, with everything you need to know about treating the issue and stopping it from progressing any further.
Too much water can quickly cause yellow leaves
9 times out of 10 your String of Pearls will be turning yellow due to overwatering. This problem is also often accompanied by your plant losing leaves so watch out for that too. String of Pearls plants hate sitting in soggy soil and it can quite quickly cause a number of issues for your String of Pearls. The most serious issue it causes is root rot which can happen very quickly as the roots on String of Pearls are very delicate and short. This means even the slightest issue in the soil can cause your String of Pearls to show signs of unhappiness such as yellow leaves.
Rotting and mushy roots will mean that your String of Pearls is unable to take up nutrients which is why the little plump pearls will start to turn yellow.
There are a few simple ways to find out if your String of Pearls’ soil is waterlogged:
Remove your String of Pearls from its pot
If there are a significant amount of yellow leaves on your String of Pearls then we recommend taking your plant out of its pot straight away. If the soil feels very moist and clumpy then there’s a good chance that the yellow leaves are caused by overwatering.
If the soil is bone dry then when you put your finger in the soil it will just be like dust which will fall off your finger. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty then you can also use a chopstick where the same rule applies. If the chopstick comes out clean then it’s time for water.
Picking up your String of Pearls
Another way you can check the moisture levels in the soil is by regularly picking up your String of Pearls. This is a great method to get to know your plants and soon you’ll have a really clear gauge as to when they need watering. The lighter the plant is, the less water there is in the soil – it’s that easy! Luckily, String of Pearls are very light houseplants as they don’t have thick stems and their root system is pretty light as they are cascading plants so picking them up shouldn’t be too difficult. It does mean, however, that it’s best to stay away from this method with large plants as it can cause back injuries.
Use a moisture meter
If you’re still struggling to find the right balance of water for your String of Pearls then you’ll want to use a moisture meter. You simply pop it in the soil and it will give you a reading of the moisture in the soil. They are super affordable little gadgets which are a great investment for every budding plant parent! We recommend this one which is available at Amazon.
How do I fix a waterlogged String of Pearls?
If the yellow leaves on your String of Pearls are caused by waterlogged soil then it’s super important that you act quickly to prevent your plant from dying. As these plants have quite delicate roots, even a little bit of root rot can cause large issues. Instead of letting the soil dry out naturally, you want to replace it straight away once you notice it is waterlogged. This will prevent any further yellow leaves from developing on your plant and the roots can start to recover and healthy growth should resume soon. Make sure to use a high-quality well-draining potting mix like this one which you can pick up on Amazon.
After replacing the potting mix, prune away all of the yellow leaves/ vines. Once they have turned yellow the damage is done and they won’t go back to the luscious green colour they once were, unfortunately. Pruning off the leaves and stems where the plant is damaged will help your plant recover quicker as it won’t be wasting any energy on trying to keep these dying leaves alive. Instead, it can focus on new healthy growth.
In future, to prevent any more yellow leaves, try to regulate your watering and always check that the top of the soil is dry before giving your String of Pearls any more water. You also need to adjust your watering routine according to the seasons. During the growth period of spring and summer, your String of Pearls will require water about once a week. However, in winter months about once every month or two is enough as the days are a lot shorter and colder so your plant will be dormant.
The correct light level is a really important element to monitor when taking care of your String of Pearls. If your plant is receiving too much bright direct sunlight each day you may start to notice yellow patches forming on the side of the plant that is facing the sun.
If your String of Pearls is receiving too much light then make sure to move it to a slightly shadier spot in your home immediately. You may be able to move it closer to the window in winter when the sun isn’t as strong so keep an eye on lighting changes throughout the year. If you prefer you can carefully trim away the burnt patches on the leaves so your String of Pearls looks healthier and can focus on producing new healthy growth.
Pests also cause yellow leaves
Another slightly rarer but worrying cause of yellow String of Pearls leaves is a pest infestation. Pests such as aphids, spider mites or scale insects may have made your plant their home. The pests will exhaust the leaves and causes them to go yellow and eventually fall off your plant. We recommend using a magnifying glass to spot the pests on your plant.
Treatment of pests can vary but the first thing you must do is isolate your plant and keep it far away from any of your other houseplants. Check other plants over which were close to your String of Pearls as pests can move around plants if they are close. Then trim off the worst affected leaves to curb the infestation a little before showering your plant and treating it with neem oil.
If you have caught the problem early then there is a good chance your String of Pearls will return to its usual health. However, if the pests have taken over the majority of the plant then this is more unlikely. There have been times where we have had to get rid of a plant because the infestation was widespread and the risk of spreading it to other houseplants was too big.
Those are the three most common reasons why String of Pearls plants develop yellow leaves. We recommend going through each of the reasons whilst inspecting your plant to see which of the causes fits what’s going on with your String of Pearls. Once the issue is diagnosed, it’s important to treat it straight away to prevent more yellow leaves from developing on your plant as the longer you leave it, the harder it will become to treat the issue and get your plant healthy again.
To learn more about how to care for your plant, as well as how to spot and treat other common problems that you might face, check out our detailed String of Pearls care guide.
Written by Joanna Turner