This post will teach you how to care for string of pearls plants. Caring for string of pearls—that’s the succulent that looks like peas—isn’t that difficult if you follow just a few steps.
How to Care for String of Pearls
The string of pearls plant—or Senecio rowleyanus, and also referred to as a string of beads or string of peas plant—is a succulent with stunning strings of round, bead-like leaves. The leaves actually look a lot like green peas, but the long, skinny stems the leaves grow from make it look a bit like a pearl necklace.
A string of pearls plant is easy to take care of if you give it the right growing conditions. Unlike the more common houseplants pothos plants and snake plants, string of pearls can be a bit more demanding about their lighting conditions. However, if the plant is happy where it is, it will grow quickly and beautifully!
(If you’re looking for hardy houseplants, see my guides for how to care for pothos plants and how to care for snake plants. I also have a post on my top 6 indoor succulent care tips for plant killers!)
String of pearls plants need bright light, but they don’t need bright light all day. As long as they receive a few hours a day of direct sunlight, they are fine with indirect sunlight the rest of the day. However, more direct sunlight won’t hurt them. In fact, it will help them flourish!
I will confess that I killed a string of pearls many years ago. I thought it would be fine in my sunny plant corner, but it wasn’t getting enough direct light. Now that I have my string of pearls in a windowsill in our bathroom, it has exploded with growth.
Best Soil for String of Pearls
Use a simple well-draining cactus or succulent potting mix. These soils differ from regular houseplant soil in that they facilitate drainage much faster through the addition of things like sand and perlite. Keep in mind that succulents are generally happiest when they have plenty of drainage via a drainage hole in the bottom of their pot.
If you’re wondering how to plant in pots without drainage holes, it can be done. I simply add a layer of small pebbles or perlite to the bottom of the planter. Both are effective. I usually choose one or the other based on what I have on hand or any weight concerns I have about a planter that will be hanging.
This drainage layer prevents the roots from sitting in wet soil if you over-water. Of course, you have to be extra careful not to over water when your planter doesn’t have a drainage hole.
How Often to Water a String of Pearls
Much like its succulent brothers and sisters, string of pearls plants do not need frequent watering. They can retain moisture in their leaves quite well, so they only need a good watering 1–2 times a month. You can reduce this to once a month in the winter when they aren’t actively growing.
Watering your string of pearls too frequently can lead to root rot. It’s best to let the soil become dry before you water it again. If you wait too long to water, you might notice some wilting or flattening/shriveling of the leaves. This can usually be reversed with a good watering if the plant hasn’t been suffering for too long.
Should I Fertilize a String of Pearls?
I don’t fertilize my string of pearls or any of my succulents, and they seem to be doing fine. However, you can fertilize yours during its active growing season (spring/summer) with a diluted houseplant fertilizer occasionally, and it won’t harm it.
Temperature and Humidity Requirements
String of pearls plants are not too picky about humidity. They do well in average conditions. String of pearls also generally tolerates a range of comfortable indoor room temperatures and then some—from 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
It can live outdoors in the summer, but keep it in a shaded area during peak sun/heat hours. Keep an eye on how it’s doing and move it if necessary. I have burned a string of pearls by putting it right into direct sun, and it wasn’t pretty!
While string of pearls is tolerant to some levels of heat, it does not like the cold. Don’t leave it outdoors once temperatures start dropping down into the low 50s. It will probably revolt and begin dropping leaves, which is not a cute look.
How to get a String of Pearls to Bloom
String of pearls plants can bloom! Though, full disclosure, mine never have—boo hoo. If you keep your string of pearls in cooler temperatures during its winter resting season and cut back on water a hair, it may help to promote blooming in the spring. You can achieve cooler temperatures by keeping the string of pearls on a windowsill and away from heat registers; even if the window is closed, it’s still likely one of the cooler spots in your home.
Growing String of Pearls
String of pearls plants can have a long, sleek look if you let their stems grow down uninterrupted. They can grow to be 2–3 feet long and still look beautiful and healthy! However, if you’d like to encourage your string of pearls to be fuller, you can stick the ends of stems back into the soil to create a little loop.
String of pearls plants do not need to be pruned. However, as with all houseplants, a little grooming never hurts! You can easily cut off any stems with leaves that don’t look very healthy. It will not hurt the plant. You can also trim the ends of stems that are beginning to look a little scraggly.
String of pearls plants are not especially vulnerable to pests. However, they are vulnerable to minor pests that you often find in houseplants: fungus, mealybugs, and aphids. You can prevent many pest infections by controlling infections in nearby plants that are more vulnerable to houseplant pests. You can also avoid over-watering.
Repotting and Propagating String of Pearls
You should repot your string of pearls when it becomes root bound. Repotting will help prolong the health of your plant by replenishing the nutrients in depleted soil and giving it more room to grow. Make sure to use a well-draining soil as outlined above.
String of pearls can be easily propagating through rooting cuttings in water or rooting cuttings into moist soil. They will begin to root quickly and sprout new growth. I wouldn’t recommend propagating string of pearls through division of an existing plant. The plant’s leaves can be fragile and separating the roots could shock it a bit.
String of Pearls Toxicity to People and Pets
String of pearls is toxic to people and pets if ingested. It can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea—all of that fun stuff. No thanks. It should be kept out of reach and admired from afar by pets and children who might try to eat it for fun.
Don’t miss my indoor planter DIYs to help you decorate with plants and be sure to read how to plant in pots with no drainage holes!