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Rejuvenating My String Of Pearls Plant

My 4' long String of Pearls, or Senecio rowleyanus, took a bit of a nosedive. See what happened & what I'm doing to rejuvenate this unusual succulent.

a hand is holding a healthy string of pearls stem & an unhealthy string of pearls stem

My String Of Pearls succulent didn’t visit a spa or take a sabbatical but it’s on the road to recovery

My String of Pearls plant, or Senecio rowleyanus, took a bit of a nosedive. Alright, truth be told, it’s a shadow of its former self. Fortunately it’s on the road to recovery and because it grows fairly fast, it should be looking all plump, sassy and filled out by next Spring. Read on to find out what happened and how I’m rejuvenating it.

looking into a beautiful Southern California garden with a gravel hardscape & bright blue patio set

This is the entry into my front garden. The aforementioned succulent grows in a pot on a patio at the end of the pathway.

The String Of Pearls was growing along happily as can be last year and I had to routinely prune its long trails up off the patio. You can see its glory days in this post here. Then, late last Fall, my neighbor cut down another large pine tree which filtered out some of the strong afternoon sun that streamed into the garden.

Fast forward, we had a very dry and very warm Winter followed by a copy cat Spring. This, along with my “neglect by habit”, caused the String Of Pearls to head south. Dried pearls are nowhere near as purdy as those fresh green ones.

4' trails of string of pearls succulent trailing over a large pot

 Here are my pearls cascading over & down the pot last Spring. I  had to prune them up off the patio every 2 months in the growing season.

a large ceramic pot with sparse stems of string of pearls trailing over it

Here they are this October, boo hoo. A mere wisp of their former selves. You can see more of them in the video below.

What I mean when I said “neglect by habit” is that I don’t water my succulents in the Winter (except for those on my covered porch). The days get shorter, the weather cools and the rains come so there’s need. Plus, even plants in a temperate climate like Santa Barbara need to go through a period of rest when they’re not actively growing.  But, our California drought has taken its toll, even on some of the succulents.

No time for crying.  I took action. First, I cut out all the strands with the dried pearls except for one. I took as many cuttings from this plant as I could from the strands that were growing on the ground or had branched off a main strand. I also took a cutting from a plant in another pot which you’ll see a few pics down.

You can get 1 (or more!) HERE.

a hand holds an unhealthy string of pearls stem & a healthy string of pearls stem

I’ve cut the dried String Of Pearls out but left 1 strand so I could show you how different it looks.

short & scraggly stems of string of pearls growing out of a pot

Here are some of  cuttings with those nice, plump pearls rooting in as you read this.

As the icing on the cake to celebrate the onset of my plant’s recovery, I added and top dressed with my favorite amendment: worm castings.  These are great for succulents because work slowly and last a long time. Read why I  think worm castings are the cat’s meow here.

a broken blue pot sits in a garden with succulents growing out of it

You can see the String Of Pearls peeking out from underneath my Aeonium Suncup.  It’s very happy in the crack of this broken pot. I cut a couple of the strings which were trailing onto the ground & had rooted to use as cuttings to plant in the other pot.

close up view of string of pearls stems growing out of a pot

These pearls are very happy underneath the cover of the Aeonium. Partial sun, protected from hot, direct rays, is best for String Of Pearls. See how nice & succulent they are?

There you have it, plain and simple, even a well seasoned plant person like myself can run into “horticultural issues” every now and then. I just wanted to share this in case something similar happens to you. Fortunately succulents are easy as can be to propagate by cuttings so I’ll do a video next Spring to show you how they’ve progressed. Phew … I’ve redeemed my green thumb in stellar standing!

Here’s my previous post on Caring For & Propagating a String Of Pearls plant

4" pots of string of pearls succulents on a nursery bench

This is what my String Of Pearls looked like in the greenhouse when I bought it as a little 4″ young’un.

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34 comments:

  1. Pingback: String Of Pearls: This Fascinating Beauty Makes A Great Houseplant - |

  2. Hi Nell,
    Not sure if you remember I posted a comment couple weeks ago about cuttings I got “string of pears” and they were dying? Well now they are dead 🙁 but after reading this article of your’s I know why my died, I left them in the direct summer hot sun. I have purchased some more and this time I know not to leave them in the direct sun and will find a shady but bright area for them. Thanks again!

  3. Hi Gabrielle – Yes, SOP likes to be in nice, bright light but not in hot, direct sun. Mine live outdoors in bright shade & get about an hour or 2 of morning sun every day. They’re very happy & are actually flowering now. Happy New Year! Nell

  4. Hi,
    Just wondering, are some seasons/times better for propagation than others? I have a few cuttings but it doesn’t seem like they are rooting at all, and it’s been at least 6 weeks. Some of them are starting to shrivel. I have done my best not to give them too much love (usually my issue with succulents), do you have any other advice for me?
    Thanks!

  5. Hi Natalie – I completely missed your comment so sorry for the late reply! I propagate at all times of the year here in temperate Southern California but the best times are from spring though fall. Rooting occurs much faster in the warmer weather or in a warm greenhouse. Succulent cuttings which are propagating like nice, bright light but no direct sunlight. Use a mix like succulent & cactus mix because it’s light & easy for the roots to pop out. I keep them dry for a 2-5 days after planting & then water them thoroughly. Keep them on the moister side when rooting but not too wet. Hope that helps! Nell

  6. If your string of pearls are JUST dehydrated and not sun scorched/burned, than most people don’t realize that if you give the soil a good soaking, the pearls will plump right back up in a few days. There may be a few little pods that have died and you can pick those off but the rest should be fine. I bring my succulents in for the winter due to snow, and let them dry up. They sit in a 50-60 degree room and come spring/summer, I soak the soil, sit the pot back out in the sun (once there is no chance of frost again) and they come back to life!! Then I continue with my normal once a week misting for the rest of the year until winter time. If you are worried about the few strands that stayed plump, maybe remove those until the other ones plump up again and then pop them back into their original pot. Succulents are so resilient.

  7. Yes Joelle, succulents certainly are resilient. Thank you for sharing how you over winter yours! Nell

  8. I keep my SOP in a bright room inside my home in Boise Idaho. My SOP have always been very healthy and easy to take care of indoor & outdoor when I live in San Diego but in Idaho the summers are so hot I’ve been keeping my SOP indoors . I keep the house at a comfortable temperature. Never hot or cold. But since living in Idaho I’ve had such a hard time with them. Sometimes when I come home from work I’ll notice over half my plant has “melted into a jelly” what am I doing wrong? Thank you for all the advice!!!
    Dee

  9. Hi Dee – I just moved to the Arizona desert & keep my SOP outside but in the bright shade. They’re doing just fine. Hmm – melted into a jelly – could you be keeping them too wet? Nell

  10. Donna Lensmeyer

    Some of My SOP’s are pink. Are they getting too much light?

  11. Hi Donna – Yes, SOP’s can turn “pinkish” if they’re in too much sun along with too much heat. I live in Tucson, AZ now so my SOP’s are in bright shade & they’re doing just fine. Nell

  12. Nell, I have bought at least 3 pots of pearls and baby toes and I can’t for the life of me keep them alive. I don’t know where to put them or how much to water them. I’ve tried everything. I just bought a 3 in 1 meter to see if this helps with sun and water. I live in southeast GA. I’ve tried to sunniest window, I’ve tried the unsunniest, I’ve tried a coffee table with windows that get light but not a ton….but they still die. They start to shrivel, then turn dark, then just flat out die. I keep all my succulents inside because I’ve tried putting them outside and they don’t seem to like the weather.

  13. Hi Dana – Indoors succulents like a lot of light bur no prolonged hot, direct sun. If they are turning dark, sounds like they’re too wet. The soil they’re planted in might be a heavier, richer soil than they’d like. In the winter I water my succulents every 3-5 weeks. Hope that helps, Nell

  14. Hi! Lovely post!

    I just got a plant and I’m worried that i had over watered it and it’s dying.

    Some “stems” connecting the pearls are black and shriveled.

    I’m worried that they’ll all die.

    What can I do now?

  15. I keep killing my SOP! They are in a southern facing window. It has well draining soil. They all shrivel up and then die! Any suggestions?

  16. Hi Ann – You’re either watering it too much or too little. I don’t know how often you’re watering it. You want to water the plant thoroughly, let all the water drain out (you don’t want it to sit in water) & not water again until the soil is dry. In these winter months, that will be every 3-6 weeks. Nell

  17. HELP! I just noticed my beautiful SOP are dying. I’d like to save what I can. Just cut and repot? Should I use anything other than just good ol cactus soil? I picked this plant up about 2-3 weeks ago at an amazing nursery and have not watered it but it’s still wet and clearly rotting.

  18. Hi Taylor – Succulents, & other houseplants, need less water in the winter. Yes, you can cut them off & repot. Either plant right away or let them heal off for a day or 2. Use succulent & cactus mix. Nell

  19. Hi Adeline – Sometimes you can’t save a succulent which has been over watered. You might need to transplant it into fresh mix. Let it dry & ease up on the watering in the future. Nell

  20. Hi Nell,

    Thanks for this post, I found it very useful. I live in a tropical island with plenty of sunlight year round (30 degrees and above), and my balcony garden faces the western side, so my plants tend to dry out in the afternoon sun. I keep my SOP inside, near a bright frosted window. It was growing beautifully but is now having some dried strings. Any idea how I can revive them?

    Aisha

  21. Hi Aisha – You’re welcome. Once the strings start to dry, there’s not much you can do about it. If there’s any green left on the strings, you can cut it off & propagate it. I’ve found that SOPs needs watering more frequently than other succulents because of those thin stems. I cut mine back selectively to rejuvenate it. Nell

  22. I always end up killing these, and I don’t know what I am doing wrong. Maybe its watering. So, I wait till the soil is dry – but how do I actually water them? Do I soak them? Do I spray them?

  23. Hi Gretchen – I always water mine well (until the water thoroughly drains out) & then wait until they dry out before watering again. As houseplants they can be a bit tricky because those stems are so small. Soaking is definitely best. Spray them once or twice a year if they’re dirty &/or covered in dust. The pearls don’t like to stay wet. Nell

  24. Hi! I have a bunch of SOP all shriveled but still green. It shriveled a week after Ive purchased it and repotted. Ive read somebody let theirs sit in a pot with water and the beads turned plump after a month. I did the same, keep out of direct sun and let the pot sit in water. I know this is unconventional and opposes all laws of succulent care but what choice do I have. I havent been able to revive it despite bottom watering every week plus misting everyday.

  25. Hi Ethel – If the plant is too dry, the pearls look dried up. If it’s too wet, they look soft & mushy. I always water mine when it’s dry & let the water completely drain out. Nell

  26. Stephanie Bennett

    Hi! I LOVE my string of pearls and wanted to get another one. my local nursery is selling “string of pearls” for $37.99CDN and “string of beads” for $17.99CDN. Both are insanely expensive but I was wondering why the price difference?? aren’t they both the same? The “pearls” has more round pea like leaves and the “pearls” is more like little cappers or teardrop shaped. Are they the same plant? different morphs?

    Thanks much!
    Steph Bennett

  27. Stephanie Bennett

    sorry – edit for above! – the string of pearls is more round and the string of beads is the tear shaped one.

  28. Hi Steph – Wow, that’s expensive! The names String Of Pearls, String Of Beads & Rosary Plant get used interchangeably. The most common here in the US is Senecio rowleyanus which is SOPs. Technically, the pointed, teardrop SOBs is Senecio herreianus. It’s like Thanksgiving Cactus are generally called & sold as “Christmas Cactus”. I find the SOPs to be more commonly sold here in the US & priced closely to the SOBs. I have no idea why the price difference. Price & demand maybe?? Nell

  29. Just commented back Steph. I know the SOPs to be more round too. Nell

  30. Hello,
    I am looking for help. My plant has strange white spots. The balls ceased to be firm and seemed to be dull. The plant has been hanging for 1.5 weeks in the southern window. When transplanting (universal soil + de-acidified peat + coarse sand) I kept the plant in water to clean the roots from peat. I watered my plant 2 days ago. Did I do the right thing? Is it sunburn or lack / excess water?

    I attach photos (no virus, I just wanted to upload a URL to the photo so you can see what the plant looks like. I used the site: imgbb.com):
    ibb.co/kiBXhJ
    ibb.co/d1B9Uy
    ibb.co/hmVgbd
    ibb.co/hv3Zwd

    Help!

  31. Hi Kamila – I can’t open the images so I can’t help you out. It could also be mealybugs. Nell

  32. I’m wondering how

  33. How do I make my SOP look fuller? It had a near death experience when it got too dry a little while ago, but I managed to save some strings and now they’re growing alright, but look very scanty. Propagate more and tuck them into the soil with the exising strands?

  34. Amelia – Taking cuttings of the healthy growth, new mix which drains well & not over watering. Nell

  35. Hi Amelia – SOPs have a growth habit on the thinner side. If yours have gotten very thin, it could be due to too much water, too little light, wrong soil mix, etc. You can propagate those thin stems & propagate. Here’s another post which might interest you:https://www.joyusgarden.com/10-problems-growing-a-string-of-pearls-plant-indoors/ Nell

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