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10 Reasons Why You May Be Having Problems Growing A String Of Pearls Plant Indoors

Many struggle with growing String Of Pearls as a houseplant. Here are 10 reasons why you could be having problems growing a String Of Pearls plant indoors. We want you to be able to grow this fascinating succulent successfully.

String Of Pearls plants in 4" pots sit in plastic trays. the text reads "10 reasons you may be having problems growing a string of pearls plant indoors"

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:

Reasons you may be having problems growing a String Of Pearls plant 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.

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.

Frequent misting.

Save that for the air plants. Your String Of Pearls doesn’t need it. Misting leads to rot.

A String Of Pearls plant with long trails hangs in a window.

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.

Many String Of Pearls plants in 4" pots are lined up in plastic trays

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 String Of Pearls plant with stems trailing down sits on a white table

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!

Happy gardening,

Nell-Foster-Joy-Us-Garden

 

 

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8 comments:

  1. Ah, another post about string of pearls…you are a temptress, Nell. I’m going to have to get one of these beautiful plants. Thank you for your site and your posts! Your site and videos help me get through the long Minnesota winters!

  2. Cindy – Oh, the String Of Pearls are the temptress not me! Many have problems with this plant & that’s why I wanted to do this post & video. I grew up in New England & recall thos snowy, cold winters well. Thank you for your kind words – remember, spring is just a week away! Nell

  3. Hi! Calling in from Nashville TN ;). Just recently got a beautiful SOP plant, and I’m looking for the right pot to get for it. I’ve read your post and understand it needs to drain well, but I’m unsure of what size to get. The plant was purchased in a 6inch pot, not too deep (which sounds to be a good thing. Should I just leave it in that? It’s not too purty. Also getting a wall hanger so I can put it closer to my window (it won’t be directly in sunlight).

  4. Hi Kelsey – I’ve found that the type of pot (terra cotta, plastic grow pot, etc) doesn’t matter too much with SOP. And, they don’t have an extensive root system so don’t rush to repot it unless roots are coming out of the drain holes. A succulent & cactus mix ix best for planting. Nell

  5. Hi there! First of all, thanks for such informative posts. The less talented gardners of the world appreciate them.
    Secondly, I’m growing a string of pearls near my window at the moment. I live in a temperate climate, but in the summer it does tend to get hot. Currently they’re not in direct sunlight, but I’m finding that some of the strands of pearls are drying up into hard brown dehydrated balls, while the rest of the plant seems to be doing well. I’m finding a few strands that also seem to be slightly shrivelled, and almost a darker green/blue colour. Does this strike you as an over or under watering situation… I’m currently watering about once a week.

    Thank you so much!!
    Emma

  6. Hi Emma – Thank you! I try to explain things as clearly as possible because gardening, like anything, can be daunting at first. Many people struggle with SOPs so you’re not alone. Mine get the occasional shriveled up pearls & stems because of the dry climate I’m in along with very hight summer temps. Hard, dehydrated, green/blue sounds like too dry or they dried out for too long at 1 time (that’s all it takes!). I water mine 2x week in the summer but they grow outdoors in the AZ desert. A thorough watering once per week in summer should do it. Water less often in winter. Nell

  7. Hi Nell, sadly my SOP just kaputed. I am confused by the warning about root rot, you and a lot of sites say prevent this by letting the soil dry out, but I just read this Instagram, who seem to suggest that SOP can flourish if left in a glass of water indefinitely. Can you help clarify?

    httpss://www.instagram.com/p/BhpAQMrgTTO/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

  8. Hi – I have never propagated 1 in water & have never seen it done. Neither have I grown 1 in water. I imagine their very thin stems would rot out. Nell

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