String of Pearls


Top Tips

  • String of Pearls must endure periods of near-dry in between waters - if you're stuck with when to water it, think of the ukhouseplants' phrase of 'Drenches Between Droughts'.
  • Be careful when watering - allowing excess moisture to sit on the leaves above the soil will result in them yellowing and rotting off. Either be careful when watering, or irrigate using the bottom-up method.
  • A few hours of morning or evening sun is mandatory, especially in the winter months.
  • Avoid situating it in a dark location due to the exaggerated phototropism (growth towards light) and leggy internodes.
  • Supplement at monthly intervals all year round, using either a Cactus or Houseplant feed, or a general plant fertiliser.
  • Repot every two or three during the spring, using a Cactus & Succulent potting mix.
  • Take vine cuttings during the spring or summer to put back into the soil to promote a bushier head.

•Water - πŸ”Έ

The phrase 'drenches between droughts' should always strongly be associated with String of Pearls. During the growing period, allow the soil to fully dry out in between irrigations for at least a week, while reducing this further during winter. Either use fresh bottled water or let tap water to sit for at least 24hrs as failure to do so may damage the roots due to the chemicals and colder temperatures over time. Instead of pouring water directly through the foliage, irrigate using the bottom-up method by placing the pot on a saucer of water (25% of the pot submerged) until fully absorbed. Wetting the foliage every time you come to hydrate the plant will allow excess moisture to settle, causing the leaves to yellow and rot away. If this has happened, take vine cuttings to root in water, before placing back into the soil to promote a bushier appearance. Under-watering symptoms include deflated leaves, little to no growth and gradual foliage decline. Be sure to study its environment; a position that offers too much sunlight will dry out the soil far too quickly and will eventually scorch the plant's leaves; move to a darker location. Over-watering symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, wilting, mushy leaves or stem and plant death. Again, study where it's situated in your home. If it does not receive proper light, root rot may occur over time and for more severe cases, hit the link below to learn more about how to address it.

Identifying Common Houseplant Pests & Diseases


•Humidity -

This isn’t a factor; however, those situated in dark locations or bathrooms must not be misted as powdery mildew or botrytis can easily develop. A quick hose-down once a month will help with hydration of leaves, but will also help wash off excess dust and possible pests.


•Location & Light - πŸ”ΈπŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

The brighter, the better; a shadier spot will slow down growth and increase the chances of root and foliar rot. If the String of Pearls is situated in strong sunlight, don't allow persistent droughts to occur as it'll weaken the plant over time, leaving it dehydrated and sun-scorched. Find a medium that compliments both the light levels and rate of growth; it's recommended to situate it next to a north-facing window, or a few metres from south-facing one.


•Fertilisation - πŸ”Έ

Once a month all year round using half-strength general plant fertiliser or houseplant feed. If you decide to use 'ready to pour' fertilisers, be sure to water the soil down before application to avoid root-burning.



Common Issues with String of Pearls

Root rot is a big issue; typical symptoms include yellowing lower leaves, stunted or softened growth often accompanied by vine collapse. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect its root systems. Yellow roots symbolise good health, however, if they're brown and mushy with the soil being quite soggy, action must be taken immediately. More information about addressing root rot can be found on this link.

Yellowing leaves or a bold top are products of excess moisture being allowed to sit on the foliage, commonly sped up by too little light or poor air circulation. Although irrigation from the top is acceptable, it's recommended to use the bottom-up method to reduce the chance of rotten foliage. For specimens that have a bare head, improve growing contains by using the bottom-up method and increasing light levels slightly. Promote a bushier appearance by taking vine cuttings and placing them halfway down into the soil. Immediately remove yellowed or rotten debris as this will harbour both bacterial and fungal diseases that can both spread across to other sections of the plant.

Failed vine cuttings are a common issue among amateur gardeners, with damaged wounds or too small vines being the usual culprits. Although propagating String of Pearls is relatively easy, people still find it hard to ace. Not only will the size of the vine dictate its success, damaging the leaves or vine can also hurt the chances of it rooting. For more information about how to take vines, click on this link.

Too much sunlight will cause a red tinge to the foliage. Although the String of Pearls is best grown in locations offering around two hours of direct sunlight a day, prolonged periods of intense rays cannot be tolerated. Reduce the amount of sunlight received to just one hour a day, while keeping the growing conditions relatively similar to reduce the effects of environmental shock. Although its new growth will develop into its original green texture, sunburnt leaves will remain red or yellow for the rest of its functioning life.

Vine propagation of String of Pearls.

How to Get String of Pearls to Flower

Although trying to get a String of Pearls to flower may sound complicated, mature specimens (2 years +) could easily produce blooms during the summer, if its previous dormancy period has been served well. As ukhouseplants been challenged many times on this subject, we've created an acronym to help you through this process; SHORT. The combination of persistent droughts, cooler temperatures and long nights during winter will all contribute to the flowering process that'll take place in the following season. Repotting isn't mandatory, but instead might hurt the chances because of transplant shock. The following steps only need to be taken from late autumn to early spring, to provide the best chances of flowers.


Sunlight

Be sure to provide a bright location with a splash of winter sunlight. Avoid the use of artificial lighting during the night to help its winterisation.

Hydration

Reduce watering so that the soil stays fully dry for around ten days to reduce the chance of root rot and replicate its dormancy period.

Occasional Feeds

One or two feeds using Cactus & Succulent Fertiliser is all that is needed to supplement a String of Pearls, as too nutritious soil reduce the chance of blooms.

Reduce Everything

This one is to remind you that everything needs to be reduced - especially the temperature.

Temperature

Reduce the temperature by around 5℃ or place in a room which is within 13℃ - 18℃  (55 - 65℉).  As most houseplants are sensitive to temperature change, we can't empathise how important this is to replicate their dormancy period. If all of the steps are fulfilled, a mature String of Pearls could produce beautiful light pink clusters of flowers in the early summer.


Laying the vines onto to the soil, instead of submerging them is the easiest way to propagate. Try coiling the vines up as well to reduce the rate of water loss via transpiration.
Origins

Senecio rowleyanus originates from the Cape in South Africa and is part of 1'300 other flowering species that from the Senecio genus. In Latin, Senecio can be translated to 'old man', referring to the fruits' hairy appearance. You may have noticed some bands around the pearls, these are in fact 'epidermal windows' that allow light into the centre, increasing the leaf's surface area and photosynthetic rates.


Temperature

15°C - 26°C   (59° - 78°F)
H1a - must be grown as a houseplant or under glass all year round. Do not allow temperatures to dip below 13℃ or permanent damage may occur (leaf or flower loss, yellowing leaves etc.). Situating a String of Pearls in draughty locations isn't advised due to their sensitively to cooler temperatures.


Spread

Up to 80cm in length with its width solely relying on diameter of the pot that it's in. The ultimate height will take between 3 - 5 years to achieve, but can live over twenty years or more in the right care.

Pruning

Remove yellowed or dying leaves and plant debris to encourage better growth and improve the all-round appearance. Pruning must be done with clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases; remember to make clean incisions as too much damage can shock the plant. Vine cuttings can be taken to halve the height of the specimen, as well as doubling your stock.


Propagation

Vine Cuttings - Choose the healthiest stems located at the vine terminals; these should be damage-free and full of stored moisture. Cut off at least five inches and remove the older half of the leaves for the reduction of bacteria. Either situate the vines in tepid water or directly into compost. Although it's recommended to use the first method, both versions have similar success rates.

Soil - Use a well-draining potting mix, preferably Cactus & Succulent Compost, and coil the vine in a circular shape, pinning it down with a paper clip. Try not to cover the vines and leaves with soil as this will harm its light-capturing efficiency, along with higher rates of developing a disease. Place the potted cuttings into a transparent bag and mist the soil and foliage once a week to maintain high humidity. Situate it in a bright, indirect setting with temperatures above 18°C (64°F). Open the bag every few days for a few minutes and remove any yellow or rotten debris to present a healthy growing environment. Once new foliar shoots develop along the nodes, remove the bag and treat it like a normal specimen with the care tips provided above.

Water - Place the bottom half of the vine (closest to the soil) in tepid water until roots develop - be aware that this process may take up to two months! Replace the water every few days and immediately remove any yellow or rotten debris to maintain good growing conditions. Once the vine produces roots, coil the growth onto a bed of Cactus & Succulent Compost with the appropriate sized pot. Mist the soil once a week and place the potted cuttings into a transparent bag to maintain high humidity. Situate it in a bright, indirect setting with temperatures above 18°C (64°F) to stimulate new growth. Open the bag every few days for a few minutes and remove any yellow or rotten debris to present a healthy growing environment. Once new foliar shoots develop along the nodes, remove the bag and treat it like a normal specimen with the care tips provided above. If you need any more help regarding succulent propagation, don't hesitate and send us an email via this link!


Flowers

Small, trumpet shaped white flowers will develop along the vine during spring to early summer, once the plant has matured. The quality of its blooms largely relies on the quality of the dormancy period served in the previous winter.

To replicate it's dormancy period, reduce temperatures down to around 15°C  (59°F)  from late autumn until early spring, with little waterings. Allow all of the soil to thoroughly dry out for at a fortnight in between irrigations, and never apply cold water as this can damage the roots. Provide a few hours of off-peak direct sunlight with little fertilisation throughout this period.


Repotting 

Repot every other year using Cactus & Succulent Compost and a larger pot. This is an excellent time to check the roots' condition, as well as division. As all succulents are prone to root rot, have a look around the bottom half of the root ball for any brown or broken down roots. If this is the case, remove the affected areas with clean utensils and ease off with the irritations. Click on this link to learn about how to perform the perfect transplant. Accidentally snapping vines in half is part and parcel of repotting String of Pearls; if this has happened, don't panic! Simply read the 'Propagation' section of this article to learn about how to root the broken vines.


Diseases & Pests

Typical diseases associated with String of Pearls are root or leaf rot, leaf-spot disease & powdery mildew. Keep an eye out for scale, aphids, spider mite, whitefly, mealybugs & thrips. For more information on how to address any of these issues, click on this link.  Identifying Common Houseplant Pests & Diseases


Toxicity

This plant is classified as poisonous. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.


Retail Locations

Some garden centres will stock this plant from time to time, for around the same price as online specimens

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