Taking care of your string of pearls

So when I started my Instragram account I never thought that the question I would get the most would be:

“How do I stop killing my string of pearls”.

The easiest answer to that question that has an accuracy of 99% without seeing the actual plant would be: stop overwatering it.
But there is a very good reason why so many people accidentally kill their string of pearls.

First a little bit of information about this plant.

Senecio Rowleyanus, is a quirky looking succulent native to Western Africa. Shops sell them as easy plants since they don’t need a lot of care when the conditions are right. They don’t like to hang in a place where there is a draft.

   Only water the plant when the soil feels dry.

   They can’t handle direct sunlight but do require a lot of filtered light

   Optimal temperatures lay between 18-24°C

So with that being said. Let me tell you why it goes wrong so very often…

Many of the string of pearls you buy at a nursery are potted up in plastic (mine was). And unlike clay/terra cotta pots (were the water can evaporate because they are porous) plastic pots hold water. And when water stays in the pot too long all types of fungi tend to grow in the soil. Which will very likely result in the premature death of our favourite succulent.

When your plant dies within four weeks after you got it go back to the shop where you bought it. If you didn’t overwater it at home the chances are very high they overwatered it there. Even though the soil seems dry when you buy it, the damage might be done already.

The rotting starts on top of the soil, but since it’s a hanging plant you might not notice it until you see dried out strings and dried out pearls.

And here is the moment that things get a bit tricky.
Sometimes your string of pearls can overcome the overwatering, it might have some root rot. And that results in a couple of dried out strands. But the plant might live through it.
But when you see a shriveled (part) of a plant your head screams IT NEEDS WATER NOW. And thats what most people do, which results in the death of the plant.

So what to do when this already happened?

In what stage is your plant at this point?

1. You overwatered and the soil stayed wet for too long but dried out anyway.
You overwatered, the soil dried out and and your plant survived miraculously. When this happened you might notice some dried out pearls but maybe also some new growth. Still check the soil, it might be wet on the bottom. Replant in a planter that can breath and only mist the plant with a spray bottle.

2. You overwatered and you see fungus on the first pearls and maybe some dry pearls.
First. Remove all dead and/or rotting stems and pearls. Check out for excess water in the pot and make sure you get it all out. If there are not too many pearls covering the top of the pot try to expose the soil surface to light and air. Or replant the whole plant in dry soil when pearls do cover the soil surface are, chances are the rotting will only continue.

3. Damage is done. Plant is totally rotting on the top. 
Plant is not coming back at this point. Wishful thinking. If you have some good string left cut them off and make sure there is no rot on them (otherwist cut them back some more). Let them dry and the ends collapse for a few days. Get some new dry soil in a planter and put the part where you made the cut 2/3 cm into the soil and lay the rest of the cutting on top of the soil. Water with a spray bottle so you drown your pearls a seconde time! At this

I shared this picture on Instagram stories a while ago, this was my mums pearls. It could not be saved. The plant was too far gone..
So in the first and second picture you can see the plant, it still had some nice strands. I cut them off and let them dry a couple of days (pictues 3).


So.. how to prevent this?

So i think this is pretty obvious by now, don’t overwater your pearls. Mist it with a spraying bottle.
But the easiest way is to not do this is to put it in a terra cotta planter and only water when the soil feels dry.

Don’t leave it in your plastic plant shop pot and never ever put it in a pot without drainage holes.
You’ll be able to enjoy your string of pearls for a very long time 🙂

So long story short

  • Shriveled pearls are a sign of overwatering, not underwatering.
  • Mist the plant with a spray bottle so you don’t get access water in the bottom of the planter
  • Always use a planter with drainage holes.
  • Take it out of your plastic nursery pot after you buy it.
  • Terra cotta planters for the win. Especially when it comes to string of pearls.
  • And don’t give up on this plant! If you screwed up a couple of times, try again. It’s such a beaty and totally worth it!

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