String of Pearls is adorable succulents with the fattest leaves you’ve ever seen! Upon first glance, you’ll think you’ve just come across a plant bearing round green fruit.
But if you look closer, you’ll find that they’re actually incredibly round leaves!
That’s right; this succulent boasts a series of fleshy spherical leaves growing in a string-like fashion.
This series of small spheres resemble a pearl necklace, hence the name “String of Pearls.”
Like any plant, your String of Pearls will require tender love and care in order to thrive. Sometimes, plant owners do their best to give their succulents their full attention yet still find that their String of Pearls is dying.
The trouble with such scenarios isn’t all that simple. In most cases, plants tend to die out when they aren’t getting enough attention.
But when it comes to succulents like the String of Pearls, you’ll find that the problem isn’t lack of attention; it’s not giving the plant the correct form of attention it needs.
In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about this magical plant, including the reason behind your plant’s untimely death and how you can stop your String of Pearls from dying while you still have the chance.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is a String of Pearls Plant?
- 2 Why Is My String of Pearls Dying?
- 3 Final Thoughts
What Is a String of Pearls Plant?
The Senecio Rowleyanus plant, commonly known as String of Pearls, is a fleshy-leaved succulent native to the drier parts of southwest Africa.
This plant blooms once a year during the warmer months, producing little white flowers that smell like cinnamon.
String of Pearls make a great houseplant and considered an indoor vining houseplant.
Wild varieties of String of Pearls can be found trailing across the forest floor in dense, heavy mats.
When you’re growing them at home, though, or buying ready-made versions from the shop, it’s better to keep them inside small containers.
This plant can grow up to 2 feet long under ideal conditions. It needs sandy, well-drained soil and bright but filtered sunlight in order to grow well.
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Why Is My String of Pearls Dying?
Is your String of Pearls dying? Are you unsure why?
Don’t worry; we’ve got answers!
Below are a number of potential reasons behind your String of Pearl’s unfit state:
You Planted Your String of Pearls in Heavy and Wet Soil
Succulents like String of Pearls require an extremely specific soil environment in order to thrive. The ideal soil conditions for a plant like this would be semi-arid, aerated soil with excellent drainage.
It’s best to use special succulent soil for this purpose. If you can’t find that, try using cactus soil instead. Some people prefer using a mix of cactus and succulent soil to achieve perfect drainage.
If you use the wrong soil to plant your String of Pearls in, you’re bound to notice keynote signs of untimely plant death, such as root rot or flaccid leaves.
For example, many people use potting soil without realizing just how awful this can be for String of Pearls…until it’s too late.
Potting soil is too heavy for this lightweight succulent. Heavier soils tend to retain larger amounts of moisture, which can lead to root rot.
We suggest you use soils made specifically for succulent plants.
- Organic cactus and succulent soil mix
- Professionally formulated for use with both jungle and desert cacti
- Provides the drainage cacti need to flourish; ready to use; pH balanced
Excessive soil wetness tampers with the way the plant absorbs water and essential salts from the ground.
If the soil has too much water, the water pressure levels within the plant will deviate from their ideal point, resulting in reduced active uptake of salt ions.
When String of Pearls is unable to get enough nutrients from the soil, its fundamental plant functions begin to collapse due to a lack of organic raw materials.
As a result, the succulent may wilt, lose color, or show other obvious signs of plant death.
So, if you’ve noticed any of these signs, be sure to investigate your soil conditions!
If you’re worried about not being able to maintain or create ideal soil conditions, you can always buy pre-planted succulents that come with ideal soil settings, so you don’t have to worry about a thing!
However, if you already own a pre-planted String of Pearls, you can always add some pumice or perlite to the succulent soil mix. Doing so will improve aeration and soil lightness.
Wrong Fertilizer Used
Using the wrong fertilizer is a big no-no. While succulents don’t generally need much fertilizer, it won’t harm you to treat your little plant to some extra nutrients each spring.
Giving your String of Pearls too many fertilizer treatments will lead to more problems than you’d expect, so be sure to maintain a light hand!
If you use the wrong fertilizer, your plant will suffer from something called “fertilizer burn,” which causes root damage. If you do want to use fertilizer, it’s better to use worm compost.
Start with a ½ inch layer of worm compost and top it with a ¼ inch layer of regular compost. Do this once a year in early spring for best results.
If you don’t want to use worm compost, don’t worry; popular alternatives include using liquid kelp and fish emulsion.
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Store-bought String of Pearls generally come with a small, handy manual that’ll serve as a guide for the plant’s fertilizer requirements.
If you already own one of these, or are planning or ordering a pre-planted String of Pearls succulent, be sure to go through this manual for additional guidance!
Too Much or Not Enough Sunlight
Your beloved String of Pearls plant appreciates bright sunlight but won’t do well in direct or harsh light conditions.
This plant is happiest when receiving bright but filtered sunlight, so try and find a placement spot that meets this criterion.
You must protect your String of Pearls from the afternoon sun. Morning sunlight is best because that’s when the sun is bright but not harsh or extra hot.
If you expose your plant to too much sunlight, it will start showing signs of premature plant death.
While String of Pearls doesn’t appreciate full or harsh sunlight, it still does need bright lighting conditions to survive.
If your plant is constantly living under the shade, you’ll find its growth to be remarkably stunted.
If you’re keeping your plant indoors, try placing it near the window but far enough from the windowsill to make sure it isn’t catching too many rays.
Some people also like to add a slightly larger plant into the String of Pearl’s pot. Such plants will grow overhead the succulent and shield it from too much direct sunlight while still allowing it just enough light to thrive.
Succulent Plant Pests or insects
Just like any other plant, String of Pearls is not immune to attack from plant pests. The most common pests that affect succulent plants are aphids and mealybugs.
Aphids are light green in color, while mealybugs have a fluffy texture and full-white body.
A signature telltale sign of the mealybug is a trail of white power spanning across your plant.
These insects are known to secrete a sugary substance that can encourage mold and fungal growth. It can also make your succulent highly susceptible to bacterial infections.
Aphids have fat bodies that resemble teardrops. You’ll find them feeding off your plant’s leaves and stem.
Like mealybugs, aphids expel a sugary substance called honeydew which can encourage fungal and bacterial growth upon your plant.
Sometimes, you might spot ants trailing along with your plants, too. Ants are attracted to the honeydew produced by aphids and mealybugs and will protect these pests to make sure their honeydew production isn’t hampered.
If your String of Pearls is experiencing an aphid, ant, and mealybug attack, you’ll need to gear up and prepare for attack!
Mealybugs and aphids typically need to be handpicked off of the plant (or individually picked using tweezers).
You should also spray your plant with neem oil at least once a day.
Neem oil contains strong anti-fungal agents that can prevent fungus and mold from infecting your plant. Neem oil is also great at keeping pests at bay, so be sure to use it when needed!
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Insufficient Adjustments for Winter Time
Just like human beings, plants need to make the right adjustments to get through the wintertime, too!
If you’ve recently noted a change in the weather and are wondering why your String of Pearls isn’t looking as great as it was before, chances are you haven’t made the right adjustments for wintertime.
The winter sun generally isn’t bright enough for succulents, which is why you should move your plant from a shaded area into a place where it can catch enough sunlight.
You can also skip the step that calls for sunlight filtration and directly expose your plant to the light.
However, if you live in an area where the winter sun is bright as ever, don’t expose your succulent to it. For harsh lighting conditions, filtered sunlight is best.
You should also make sure your plant is getting the right amount of water. While String of Pearls needs more water in the summertime, this isn’t the case for the winter months.
You should water your succulent once every one to two weeks in the summer and once per 14 to 21 days in the cooler months when evaporation rates are lower than normal.
Remember that this plant can’t withstand the harsh cold, so be sure to keep it indoors and away from the frost if you live in an area that experiences snowfall.
Overwatering your Succulent Plant
Overwatering your succulent is the best way to kill it.
String of Pearls doesn’t need excessive water. In fact, you shouldn’t water it more than the recommended amount, or else you’ll find your plant looking sadder than usual.
Overwatering your String of Pearls can cause root rot. When a plant’s roots begin to rot, its entire internal water transport system will suffer.
When plants cannot transport water through the stem and to the leaves, they will start dying out.
Water is an essential part of respiration. Plants must respire in order to convert stored food (sucrose) into spendable energy.
When your plant doesn’t get enough water, or if its transport system is faulty, it cannot synthesize the energy it needs to function. As a result, the succulents’ cells will die out, and their tissues will collapse.
String of Pearls appreciates drier soil conditions, so be sure to use a well-draining soil mix.
A well-watered String of Pearls succulent will have heavy, fleshy leaves. If the leaves are losing their color and going from a healthy green to yellow or brown, you might be giving it too much water.
Sometimes, though, plants may change color due to nutrient deficiencies, so noting leaf color isn’t always the best way to tell whether or not your plant is getting enough water.
If you’re uncertain about when to water your String of Pearls, don’t worry. You can easily figure out the answer by closely monitoring your succulent’s leaves.
When these pearl-shaped structures start to shrivel or shrink slightly, it’s time to water them.
If you’ve already overwhelmed your String of Pearls with too much water, don’t panic. You can still save the plant by changing its potting conditions.
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In order to do this, first, find some fresh succulent or cactus potting mix. Next, carefully uproot the plant and place it safely to the side. You must empty out the pot before adding fresh, dry soil.
Once you’ve got a bed of succulent soil placed within the pot, carefully install the String of Pearls back into place.
Don’t water the plant right away. Instead, wait for a few days till your plant start looking better.
When the leaves begin to show those telltale signs of shriveling, venture forth and give your String of Pearls a moderate dose of water.
String of Pearls is a beautiful and unique succulent. Succulents generally aren’t too demanding; they’re much easier to care for than larger plants and need less tending to.
However, certain unfavorable conditions can make your String of Pearls uncomfortable.
Luckily, the guide given above can help you discover the reason behind your plant’s progression towards death. Once you’ve figured out the problem, you can go ahead and fix it!
Variegated String of Pearls
- Ships in the 4” pot
- Turns to pink seasonally!
- Blooms tiny white flowers
- Training succulent
- Avoid frost and direct sunlight
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.