String Of Pearls – you’re downright fabulous growing as a houseplant and in a container in the garden. I’ve grown them in both situations so can we be honest here? Growing them outdoors is much easier, for me anyway. I want to share with you why growing a String of Pearls plant indoors can be a bit tricky so hopefully, this will help you to keep yours looking as beautiful as those strands around Audrey Hepburn’s neck in Breakfast At Tiffany’s.
The most common signs that a String Of Pearls isn’t doing well are: the stems and pearls are thinning out, pearls are shriveling, stems are disappearing, and the stems are dying. Our most popular blog post is on String Of Pearls so I get a lot of questions regarding String Of Pearls dying. These succulents can be hard to find and expensive in some areas – time to update and dive in a bit further into this topic.
Why String Of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) can be tricky as a houseplant:
10 Reasons Why You May be Having Problems Growing String Of Pearls Indoors:
The soil is too heavy which makes it stay too wet.
Succulents need excellent drainage. Some growers use the same potting soil straight across the board for all their plants or perhaps you’ve planted it yourself.
When I repot my String Of Pearls, I use a local succulent & cactus mix which is good & chunky allowing the water to easily drain out. If you’re using a store bought succulent & cactus mix like this one, you might consider adding some pumice or perlite to further up the ante on the aeration & lightness factor.
I give most of my houseplants a light application of worm compost with a light layer of compost over that every spring. Easy does it – 1/4 to 1/2? layer of each for a larger sized houseplant. Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.
Too much fertilizer (too often; too heavy on the ratio) or the wrong fertilizer.
This can cause root burn. I’ve found that succulents don’t need a lot of feeding – just once in the spring & maybe a repeat application if necessary in the mid-summer. I fed mine indoors with the usual: a 1/2″ layer of worm compost topped with a 1/2″ layer of compost in the early spring.
Worm compost is my favorite amendment, which I use sparingly because it’s rich. I’m currently using Worm Gold Plus. I use Tank’s local organic compost. Give Dr. Earth’s a try if you can’t find anywhere you live. Both enrich the soil naturally & slowly so the roots are healthy & the plants grow stronger.
If you have any liquid kelp or fish emulsion, those work fine too. There are fertilizers formulated for succulents & cactus but I’ve never tried those. Whatever you use, easy does it as succulents don’t require much feeding.
Save that for the air plants. Your String Of Pearls doesn’t need it. Misting leads to rot.
A String Of Pearls plant hangs in an east window where it receives bright light but is not touching the glass.
Your plant is in hot, direct sun.
Don’t keep it hanging in a south or west window. The glass gets hot & causes burn. It can be in the room with these exposures, just 5-10′ away from the window, depending on your climate. I live in the Arizona desert with lots of strong sun so my String Of Pearls would have to be at least 10′ away from south or west (even east when it’s hotter) windows.
No adjustment for the darker, cooler months.
This is true of all houseplants as they rest at this time. You may have to move your String Of Pearls to a brighter location in your home. And, back off on the watering. If you water your plant every 7-10 days in the summer, then every 14-21 days in the winter will be better.
It’s planted in a pot that’s too big.
A String of Pearls plant doesn’t have a big root system. A pot that’s too big can cause the mix to stay too wet. The majority of the stems will rest on the mix which can also lead to rot.
Pots of pearls at the nursery. You can see how the crowns of plants are sitting almost level with the tops of the pots (more on this 2 points below).
These last 4 reasons are what I believe to be the most important:
Not enough light.
Outdoors String Of Pearls need filtered light or bright shade. Indoors they need strong natural light – a medium to high light exposure to grow successfully. Not enough light + too much water = bye bye sweet succulent.
Planted too deep inside the pot.
I’ve seen this many times where the crown of the plant has sunken down 1″ or more. This can cause the crown & stems to rot out because they stay too wet & the aeration is decreased. It’s best if the crown is only 1/2-1″ below the top of the pot. This, along with too much water, also = bye bye.
Too much water.
This happens much more often than under watering. Simply put, ease up on the liquid love. You want the plant to go nearly or completely dry before watering again. It’s hard to for me to tell you often to water your String Of Pearls because there are many variables which come into play.
This post and video on houseplant watering 101 will shed some light on this. You don’t want to keep the plant wet but you don’t want it to go dry for days because those thin stems don’t hold as much water as other succulents do.
The plant was wet when you bought it.
The plant was soaked when you bought it (some big box stores & nurseries water their plants every day) & it never got the chance to dry out. My friend lost a pothos because of this.
Most pots have at least 1 drainage hole, so check to make sure yours does otherwise the water won’t flow out. Every now & then, a drainage hole gets blocked. You can open it back up with a chopstick, toothpick, knitting needle, etc
A young, healthy String Of Pearls. The top pearls are plentiful & plump & the plant’s starting to trail.
- Tips for growing a String Of Pearls outdoors
- The sweetly, spicy scented flowers of the String Of Pearls
String Of Pearls is definitely a plant with character and seems to be loved here, there and everywhere. I hope this helps keep yours healthy, happy and looking good!
If you need more assistance with String of Pearls, check out these posts!
- How to Care for and Propagate a String Of Pearls Plant
- Tips For Growing A String Of Pearls Plant Outdoors
- Propagating A String Of Pearls Plant Made Simple
Looking for More Houseplants?
- 7 Hanging Succulents To Love
- How To Grow String Of Hearts
- Propagating a String Of Bananas Plant Is Fast & Easy
Read more about succulents here.
You can find more houseplant info in my simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive.