Senecio rowleyanus (also curio rowleyanus) is a popular hanging succulent known as String of Pearls. It is native to the hot, dry climate of East Africa and grows as a terrestrial plant in its natural habitat. The cascading succulent features long, vine-like stems with spherical, pea-sized leaves, looking like a green pearl necklace. The String of Pearls succulent is also called String of Beads, String of Peas, and Rosary Vines. The trailing vines and plump, grape-like leaves look beautiful in planters, hanging baskets, vertical gardens, and as ground cover.
String of Pearls plants are well-loved for their attractive appearance and their general low-maintenance. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or new to the hanging succulent scene, String of Pearls is the perfect plant for you! Let’s look at how to best grow and care for your String of Pearls indoors and outdoors:
The String of Pearls succulent thrives with a combination of direct and indirect sunlight for duration of at least 6 to 8 hours. As an indoor plant, it will need to be near a window with strong natural light. If you don’t have any bright indirect light indoors, you can also place the succulent 6-12 inches under a fluorescent for about 12 to 16 hours.
As an outdoor plant, the succulent will need some shade as well as direct sun. String of Pearls tends to burn fairly easily in prolonged direct sun. As a result, people will usually allow the plant to bask directly in the weaker morning sun and then place it in a spot with partial shade or more diffused light during peak afternoon sun. In the fall and winter months, the succulent can endure more direct sunlight and less shade.
Coming from East Africa, it isn’t surprisingly that String of Pearls succulents love warm weather. The succulent grows best in warm temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit from spring months to the fall. The average indoor temperature for a String of Pearls should remain between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. String of Pearls plants are not frost tolerant, so during the winter months, they can only endure temperatures around 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Move your String of Pearls indoors during cold winter months and keep them away from drafty, air-conditioned areas.
String of Pearls succulents are particularly sensitive to over-watering since they have shallow roots. As a rule of thumb, water them once of every 2 weeks or once a month during winter months. Make sure the top soil is at least a half-inch dry before watering again. If you plant String of Pearls as terrestrial ground cover, determine your watering frequency depending on the amount of rainfall and sunlight your landscape receives.
For a homemade moisture meter, we suggest simply using a toothpick. Place the toothpick in your planter’s soil before watering and check back regularly to see when the toothpick is dry. When the toothpick is dry, your succulent soil is ready for more water.
Like all succulents, String of Pearls plants need well-draining soil to prevent soggy roots and eventual root rot. In order for succulents to dry out quickly, they need a gritty, textured soil that provides good airflow. String of Pearls particularly enjoys sandy soil or cactus soil mix. However, any potting mix will do. To make your own, take 3 parts potting soil and mix it with 1 part sharp sand.
In addition to soil, make sure you plant the succulent in a pot that has drainage holes. In addition, terracotta or ceramic clay pots are good choices to draw excess moisture from the soil. But keep in mind: even the best succulent soil and pot will not save your plant if you overwater it.
String of Pearls will live for 5 years if cared for properly, but they can keep living continuously through propagation! These succulents grow fast and propagate easily. All you have to do is make some stem cuttings several inches in length, allow the cuts to heal and seal over, lay the cuttings flat on top soil, and wait for them to take root. For more information on propagation, read our article How to Propagate Succulents in 5 Easy Steps.
In addition to their beautiful bead-shaped leaves, String of Pearls succulents also boast gorgeous seasonal flower blooms. The unique white flowers tend to bloom in the spring or summer months and have a cinnamon scent. In order to boost your succulent’s chances of blooming, make sure to keep your String of Pearls cool and dry during the winters months—a handy trick to stimulate the flowering process come spring! However, make note, String of Pearls rarely bloom as indoor houseplants.
String of Pearls succulents are toxic to humans and pets if ingested. Though the plant will not prove fatal to either, the consumption of the plant could result in stomach pains, vomiting, and diarrhea. The succulent also produces a sap that can be irritating to skin or produce a rash upon contact. If you plan to keep a String of Pearls plant indoors, ensure it is in a safe, high place to keep it away from pets or children.
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