This post will teach you how to propagate string of pearls. String of pearls plant propagation is easy—in fact, it’s one of the easiest plants to propagate. Learn how to do it in both water and soil!
How to propagate string of pearls from cuttings
I recently wrote about how to care for a string of pearls plant—or Senecio rowleyanus, also referred to as a string of beads or string of peas plant. It’s a beautiful succulent with long string-like stems covered in round pea- or bead-like leaves. Hence the name string of pearls or string of beads.
You might not traditionally associate succulents with trailing plants, but there are plenty of gorgeous trailing succulents out there! String of pearls is one of the most popular types, and you can find it in many local nurseries and garden centers.
Table of contents
Here’s what this post covers. If you’re looking for something specific, feel free to click the link below to go directly to that section of the post!
- Why propagate string of pearls?
- Can you propagate a string of pearls from one pearl?
- Can you root string of pearls in water?
- How long does string of pearls take to root in water?
- When do you plant the cuttings in soil?
- Can you propagate string of pearls in soil?
- How long does it take for string of pearls to root in soil?
- A time lapse of my string of pearls propagation
- Why won’t my string of pearls propagate?
Why propagate string of pearls?
If a string of pearls plant is happy where it’s at and you’re giving it the proper amount of light and water, it will grow like a weed. The stems and leaves can 3 feet long or more, and you can loop the stems back in to the plant to encourage fuller growth.
Pruning or trimming your string of pearls plant is a great way to keep it looking healthy and happy. Although frequent pruning isn’t necessary, most plants enjoy a little extra TLC in the form of a haircut every now and then. And since string of pearls is a succulent, it’s extremely easy to propagate and grow new plants from cuttings!
There are two great ways to propagate string of pearls plants: by rooting cuttings in water and by rooting cuttings in soil. But unlike many other succulents, I recommend using a stem cutting method for this plant—not a leaf cutting.
Can you propagate a string of pearls from one pearl?
Let’s talk about why I recommend stem cuttings over single pearl propagation before we dive into propagation steps. Yes—it is possible to propagate a senecio rowleyanus from one pearl. The plant reproduces by producing small offsets or “pearls” that you can remove from the main plant and pot on their own.
To do this, you can gently twist the pearl from the main plant. Then nestle the pearls with the growth point side down into well-draining soil. Don’t bury them, just keep them on their surface with the growth point making contacts.
You’ll need to keep it in a warm, bright spot but out of direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. The pearl will soon establish roots and begin to grow. This is a perfectly fine method to use if you’d like to give it a go!
However, I generally recommend stem cuttings to propagate string of pearls because it is so easy—and it is much faster than using single pearls. The pearls can take a long time to root and grow. And since they are in direct contact with the consistently moist soil, I find that the chance of rot is higher.
Can you root string of pearls in water?
Propagating string of pearls in water is very easy. It’s a very similar process to propagating pothos cuttings in water. You simply take stem cutting from your existing plant, I’d say about 3–5 inches long. Then you gently strip the leaves off of the bottom third of the stem. This is the area that will go in water.
Be very careful when stripping the leaves from the stem. The stems are incredibly fragile, and you can easily take the stem with you when you remove the leaves.
I use a mason jar to propagate many cuttings. But since the string of pearls cuttings are so much shorter and more fragile, I use a small glass bowl. It’s the perfect size to let the leaf-less stems rest in water. Then I set the bowl in an area that gets good light, right by our sliding glass door that gets midday, afternoon, and evening sun.
How long does string of pearls take to root in water?
Within a few days, you’ll see thin white (almost translucent looking) roots begin to emerge from the nodes on the stem. The cuttings in this picture began to root in only a few days! But I left them in the water for three days total so the roots could get nice and long.
The length of time it takes a string of pearls to root in water depends a lot on the conditions you have it in. What is the light like? How about temperature and time of year? Plants take root the fastest in the spring and summer when there is more light and higher temperatures.
You can also consider dipping the growth points of cuttings in a rooting hormone before planting them. But this is an optional step that I usually reserve for harder-to-root plants.
When do you plant the cuttings in soil?
Once the roots were ready for soil, I gently planted the cuttings into a small container to root in well-draining soil. I keep a few small containers on hand to root cuttings like this. You could also use a plastic cup with holes poked in the bottom. You don’t want to just drop them into a huge new pot!
Be careful not to knock off the new roots while planting; they are still fragile. After a few weeks of further establishing roots, it’s safe to say you have a new thriving plant. Back off the watering when you notice new growth, and begin letting the soil dry out a bit more between waterings.
The plant needs a bit of extra moisture when rooting. But once it is rooted and you have an established plant, overwatering could contribute to root rot and kill the plant.
Want more easy, drought-tolerant plants? Check out my Peruvian Apple Cactus Care guide, my tips for Fairy Castle Cactus Care, my Fern Leaf Cactus Care guide, and my post about Prickly Pear Cactus Care guide!
Can you propagate string of pearls in soil?
Another option is to propagate string of pearls plants directly in soil. Generally I do not like propagating plants directly in soil because I can’t see what’s going on with the roots. However, string of pearls is quick to root in soil, and direct-to-soil propagation is a great option.
The steps for propagating string of pearls cuttings in soil are very similar to rooting them in water. Except I’d make the cuttings a hair longer. Instead of 3–5 inches, I’d recommend 5 inches so you can get them securely planted.
You’ll still remove the leaves from the bottom third or so of the cutting to expose plenty of nodes. Then, instead of laying it in water to root, you’ll plant it gently in some well-draining potting soil. Don’t pack it down too tightly. Much like with water rooting, you can opt for rooting hormone if you’d like.
Keep the soil lightly moist to encourage root growth. Take care not to over-water, and ensure you’ve got adequate drainage. Nothing will kill your new little baby quicker than water log!
Another option is to use a small container with plenty of holes in the bottom and bottom water the cuttings. Bottom watering will allow the plant to take up water through its drainage holes and can help you avoid overwatering. See my post How to Bottom Water Plants for more.
How long does it take for string of pearls to root in soil?
Much like water propagation, the new plant should begin to root quickly. It can be frustrating when you can’t see what’s going on below the soil surface. However, if the pearls and stems still look healthy, you’re likely dealing with a successful propagation!
Make sure to keep the cutting in a warm, bright spot. After a few weeks, you can try to tug the cutting very gently to see it you’re met with a bit of resistance. If you are, then that is a good sign the cutting has taken root.
Another good sign is new growth on your stems. Once you either meet resistance from light tugging or see new growth on your stems, begin watering the plant as you would a normal string of pearls.
A time lapse of my string of pearls propagation
I took a quick time lapse of photos from a string of pearls propagation I did a few years ago. Once the cuttings has sufficiently taken root, I potted them up to the little planter in the first pic below.
Note that this was a bit on the large side for a pot, but I felt like a risk taker. The soil is succulent soil and the pot has drainage holes, so it did dry out relatively quickly. Oh—and I had it in my brightest windowsill.
I actually started this propagation in the fall, so it took a while to really get going. I did have it on a little heated space with a grow light, so that helped a lot in the winter. But once spring hit, the plant grew very quickly and filled out the little pot! That’s the second photo below.
I eventually decided to pot this up slightly to a little hanging container I had. I used succulent soil and repotted very carefully. Remember, the stems on these plants can be sooo fragile. I acclimated this plant to full sun outdoors, too.
And then, maybe in August or so, I transferring it to a larger painted terracotta pot. I then hung this pot on my deck post hanging garden (see how I hang the pots from posts here). This gets a TON of direct light all day. The plant was completely acclimated to direct light by now, and you can see that it really enjoyed it in the second pic below!
Why won’t my string of pearls propagate?
There could be several reasons why your string of pearls is not propagating. Here are a few things I recommend checking on and adjusting to see if that helps!
- Insufficient light: If your plant is not getting enough light, it may not have the energy to grow roots.
- Incorrect temperature: String of pearls plants prefer warm temperatures; if the temperature is too low or too high, it may affect the plant’s ability to propagate.
- Over-watering or under-watering: String of pearls plants prefer well-draining soil and do not like to be waterlogged; however, they need moisture to grow roots. It can be a delicate balance!
- Age of the plant: String of pearls plant take some time to mature and produce offsets. If the plant is not mature enough it may not be able to propagate.
- Poor quality cutting: If the cutting is damaged, diseased, or not healthy, it will greatly decrease the chances of rooting.
Because string of pearls plants are so easy to propagate and grow, you can create many, many plants out of just one. They make wonderful gifts since they are so unique looking and easy to care for! Put a new plant in a cute pot with a nice note outlining care instructions—it’s the perfect gift for any aspiring or existing plant lover.
Also consider rooting multiple cuttings at once and potting them together to create a full new plant. As a bonus, pruning can also help your mother plant produce healthy, full new growth. It’s a win-win! 🙂