Are you a busy bee who doesn’t get enough time to take care of plants but is extremely fond of growing plants? If so, go for a string of pearls. These natural pearls are no wonder as fascinating as the real ones. It has got a shiny, bright green color which can be easily grown with little care. In addition, these plants purify the air by absorbing harmful gasses. However, these plants should not be consumed.
String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus), also known as necklace plant, is a small, greenish pea-sized succulent belonging to the Asteraceae family. It is called so because of its appearance resembling the beads woven in a string. These are evergreen trailing types and can be grown easily in indoor and outdoor gardens. This plant is often confused with other plants like string of tears and string of frogs but they are different.
String of pearls can be a great choice for the beginner, planning to grow succulents in the garden as it is easy growing, requires minimal watering, does not occupy much space, requires low maintenance, and has a fascinating appearance. It needs care during its initial stages while little care is enough for it to thrive in the environment. It has a comparatively higher growth rate as its growth is visible within a week of propagation.
String of pearls is native to the warm regions of southwest Africa. These rare plants were not developed by hybridization in laboratories and nurseries; rather, they were discovered in their native desert habitat in Africa, trailing and covering the ground. Later, it was domesticated and used as a hanging succulent. Today, it is commonly grown as hanging plants year-round across the world and accepted by thousands of consumers because of its high adaptability, easy management, and beautiful appearance. However, care should be given during heavy rain, very bright sunlight, and frost conditions.
Roots are shallow-rooted reaching a depth of 4-5 cm in soil. Roots arise when the stem comes in contact with the soil.
Stems are trailing types, consisting of a long chain of green pearls. The stem can reach up to 3-4 feet.
The leaves of this plant are modified into succulent, fleshy bead-like structures which store water and these beads can be individually planted as a propagule. This round shape helps the plant in retaining large amounts of water; a round shape decreases the area of exposure and increases the internal sap storage area.
The flowers of the string of pearls are creamish white with pink blushes on top. Strands of steam arising from the flowers topped with a large number of pollens give it a unique view. Additionally, the flowers spread a pleasing smell that resembles the smell of cinnamon. These flowers bloom for more than a month and provide a garden with consistent appeal.
The Quick Over-view of String of Pearls is Tabulated Below:-
Quick overview :
|Common name||String of pearls, necklace plant, rosary vine|
|Botanical name||Senecio rowleyanus|
|Plant type||Trailing perennial succulent|
|Origin||South west africa|
|Nature of plant||Evergreen|
|Life span||Upto 5 years|
|USDA growing zone||9 – 12|
|Flower colour||Creamy colour with purple blush on top and long unique stamens|
|Blooming time||During late spring|
|Light Requirement||Grows better in bright sunlight indoors and in dim light outdoor; for 6-8 hours|
|Cold tolerance||Susceptible to frost|
|Irrigation||In 7 days interval in summer and 15 days in winter or when sol gets dry|
USDA growing zone
String of Pearls is best suited for USDA hardiness zones 9 to 12. This zone has temperature moderately low, rarely dropping below zero. In this region, the minimum winter temperature often range from twenty to thirty degrees Fahrenheit. States include New Mexico, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas.
Although the plant is captivating, it is toxic to both humans and animals. In humans, it causes mild gastrointestinal strains including nausea and vomiting. If one has consumed high doses of these plants, he/she may feel serious pain. In such a case, visit for medical or clinical help immediately. Like humans, pet animals also suffer inflammation, itching, redness of the exposed parts, irritation, diarrhea, etc. Some of the signs are listed below:
- Abdominal pain
- Contact dermatitis
- The pain of exposed parts
- Liver failure
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen abdomen due to fluid retention
- Poor hair coat condition
- Weight loss
Once your pet consumes this plant he undergoes severe pain. In order to prevent this, keep the plant away from the reach of your pets.
Cause of toxicity : The leaves of the plant contain naturally occurring organic nitrogen-containing bases, commonly known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These alkaloids when consumed by pets or humans cause digestive problems including vomiting. Skin irritation and rashes are brought on when the sap comes into touch with the skin. So, care should be taken while handling the plant.
The effects of oral poisoning on the digestive system and contact dermatitis to the skin are the two types of poisoning caused by it. Both cases need to be diagnosed by a doctor.
Variegated String of Pearls
A variegated string of pearls is different from a string of pearls in appearance. The variegated string of pearls has alternate patches of creamish color which lack chlorophyll so that part cannot make food. Depending on the stage of growth, these pearls can be yellow, pinkish, or purplish while the traditional ones are dark green in color.
String of Pearls Care
|Light||Bright light for 6-8 hours especially of morning time|
|Soil||Well drained sandy soil|
|Humidity||About 40 %|
|Water||Only when the soil gets dry or once in every 15 days|
|Temperature||65 to 75 degree F|
|Fertilizer||Liquid fertilizer is preferred especially during spring|
|Repotting||In every 1 or 2 years|
|Pruning||Depends on the length of plant one desires to keep, immediate pruning of dead and dried leaves is important|
The Detailed Over-view for caring of this spectacular indoor succulent plant is explained below:-
Being a succulent, string of pearls requires well-drained sandy soil. It grows well in a succulent mix. To make a succulent mix, take two parts potting soil, two parts coarse sand, and one part perlite. Soil with very high organic matter may cause root rot so minimal organic matter can prove to be healthy for the plant.
It thrives well in the bright light of early hours while it needs to be shifted to dimmer places during very bright and harsh afternoons. Altogether, it grows well if 6-8 hours of light is available per day. The pearls appear dark green in bright light. While shady conditions make it lanky. Also, the distance between pearls is increased in low light which makes it less attractive. If you are planning to keep it indoors, place it in south-facing areas where it gets enough sunlight but in very high temperatures pull it in while in winter place it in southeast-facing windows.
Most of the succulents die because of overwatering rather than underwatering. Water is required initially at the time of planting, later during fertilizer application, and thirdly when the soil becomes dry. To check the dryness, insert your finger in the soil. If no soil sticks in your finger then water the plants otherwise, the water in the pot is enough for some more days. Excess water causes root decay, yellowing of leaves, and poor growth. It is really important to use a pot with a drainage hole. This helps in removing excess water from the pot.
Initial soil mix fulfills its fertilizer requirement for 1st 5-6 months. After 6 months, liquid fertilizer can be sprayed. Liquid vermicompost shows better results in most of the succulents. Liquid fertilizer spreads evenly in the soil and nourishes all the parts. Different liquid-based fertilizers are available in the stores. Also, you can make fertilizer at home from banana peels, crushed egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. Another way for maintaining nutrient levels is to change the soil. Once the nutrients in the pots are used up, exchange the soil with the fresh succulent mix.
The beginning of spring is the best time to repot your string of pearls plant. Make a soil succulent mix. Get a pot with lots of drainage holes to facilitate well-drained conditions. A hanging basket will be ideal for growing a string of pearls.
Pruning depends on the length of the stem you desire to maintain. If you have planted your plant in a hanging basket you can maintain a length of about 20-25 cm and prune the excess parts. However, if your pot is on the surface, you can maintain a length of about 10 cm for each string. Pruning should be done using sterilized secateurs or knives to prevent infection. Besides, prune dead and dried parts. Pruning promotes vigorous and healthy growth.
String of pearls can be propagated either from seeds or from stem cutting. The best time to propagate it is during spring, summer, or early fall. Propagation from seeds is a tricky process and may require special training. Also, seeds take a longer time to grow into a plant. While stem cutting facilitates easy propagation. Stems of any size can be easily propagated. The cut stem takes less than 15 days to develop new parts.
Method of propagation through stem cutting :
- Take a 5-10 cm long stem from the mother plant.
- Remove 3-4 beads from the basal part. These nodes will act as part of root initiation.
- Take a medium-sized pot of your desired shape and add two parts potting soil, two parts coarse sand, and one part perlite.
- Make a hole where you want to plant then place the stem maintaining its polarity (a plant from the cut side from where beads were taken out )
- Water it lightly and keep the pot in a bright spot if it’s indoors. If it’s outdoor place in a dim spot.
The price of a string of pearls ranges from USD 4 to 50, depending on size and species of plant. You can shop for this plant from online sources like Amazon.
String of pearls rarely suffers from pests and diseases making it an ideal plant for home decor. However, if you see whitish cottony structures, it could be the incidence of mealy bugs. These are very minute pathogens and feed on plant saps. If your plant gets infected by mealy bugs, spray isopropyl alcohol all over the plant. Continue spraying every day until the bugs are completely removed.
1. Shriveling of leaves
The major cause of shriveling is due to underwatering. Although succulent stores water but very high temperature for a long period can cause loss of stored water resulting in shrinkage of their leaves. In such a case, water your plant thoroughly.
In some cases, overwatering is also reported to be a cause for shriveling of leaves. This is because when you overwater your succulent it bursts out leaving shrinkled leaves. To save your plant, water a small amount in equal intervals; once every week in summer and once every 15 days in winter.
2. Root rots
When your pots do not contain drainage holes or are clogged with soil, the excess water will remain in the soil: making it damp for a long period. This will cause rotting of roots which will eventually kill the whole plant.
Another cause for root rots is the excess use of fertilizers. Succulents are easy-growing plants which means they do not require timely fertilizer application for maintaining growth. Fertilizing once a year is enough for them. However, over-fertilization can be deadly. To avoid this you can fertilize your plant once every spring, when it is in its maximum growing stage.
3. Falling of leaves
If you find that the leaves are falling, it’s probably because of very low or bitterly chill temperatures. Remember that these succulents can tolerate typical indoor temperatures. So, as soon as you notice your outdoor string of pearls losing leaves, quickly bring it inside.
The other reason for falling leaves is due to the infestation of insect pests such as mealy bugs and aphids. They gradually drain sap from tissues, causing leaves loss, discoloration, yellowing, and stunted growth.
String of pearls is a fascinating succulent originating from the deserts of Africa. It is grown widely in hanging baskets because of its long stems structured with beaded pearls. It is an evergreen plant that can be grown easily both indoors and outdoors with minimal care. So, if you are a beginner and are planning a succulent garden, this plant will add up beauty to your garden.