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String of Pearls Care

String of Pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus), a rapid-growing perennial flowering vine from the daisy family Asteraceae, is indigenous to the deserts and drier areas of southwest Africa. There’s also a variegated variety of the plant with yellow lines on the green pearls.

The plant spreads along the ground in its natural habitat, rooting where stems touch the soil and form thick mats. It habitually escapes direct sunlight by growing in the shade of plants and rocks. 

It was named for Gordon Rowley, a botanist specializing in Cacti and other succulents. It’s commonly named for the leaves that look like green pearls that are a quarter of an inch in diameter. The odd shape of the leaves is due to the plant adapting to dry locations and allows the plant to store water.

Its stems can grow about 3 feet long. It normally flowers in the summer and its small tubular white flowers and colorful stamens grow in clusters. They generally last about a month and have a spicy aroma similar to cinnamon. 

Senecio-Rowleyanus

They also produce seeds that can be collected and propagated. While the plant can flower indoors, it’s more difficult than if they grow outside as they need some sunlight. 

It is popularly cultivated indoors, usually in hanging containers or baskets with its leaves falling over the edges. The plant adds interest to a room particularly if placed on shelves, high tables, and window sills. It can be grown outdoors or indoors and is considered an easy, low-maintenance plant to grow indoors as long as you are not over-watering. Its care is comparable to succulents and cacti.

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Sunlight

It requires not more than 2 to 4 hours of sunlight daily. It grows well in indirect bright light and can be positioned opposite or close to a window where sunlight comes in the morning. The foliage can get burnt if the plant gets too much sun. 12 hours of LED or fluorescent light is a good substitute in case you don’t have appropriate windows in your home. 

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Water

It is succulent and should be watered as you would do for succulents and cacti. Water it well, usually around a week before being watered again when the soil dries out. Reduce watering in winter.

Do not over-water the plant as wet soil will give rise to roots, eventually killing the plant.

The “pearls” will start to become shrivel when the plant is under-watered, a good sign that it is thirsty. This is a drought-tolerant plant and can endure under-watering but cannot tolerate over-watering. Change in shape is a good pointer of whether it needs water or is getting too much.

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Humidity

This is a succulent that grows in arid areas and therefore prefers low humidity. A humidity level below 40% is ideal.

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Temperature

It likes it warmer with temperatures between 70 – 80°F with a low range of 55 – 60°F. As with most plants, avoid drafty areas as its leaves might start dropping.

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Soil

Potting mixes for cacti is best for the plant. Regular potting soil with a third of sand mixed in will also do. Soil mixes with good drainage are necessary for ideal care and growth.

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Repotting

Repotting annually is recommended as they grow vigorously with good care. Since the plant is very drought tolerant, it should be grown in pots with plenty of drainage holes. Potting mixes that don’t contain sufficient sand will become soggy and stay moist for too long and might rot your plants.

The plant should not be planted too deep as this can cause rot to form because they get wet. The soil has to be only half an inch from the top, with vines trailing out, not sitting on soil in the pot. If the stems rest on the soil, both the stems and the pearls will become mushy and begin to rot. 

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Propagation

It is better to do this in warmer months. Cuttings must be about 4 inches long, cutting between the leaves and placed either in soil or water. Ensure the leaves are partially buried in the soil. Rooting will begin where the leaves develop from the stem. Usually, it’s best to let calluses form before planting.

Propagating from seeds is similar to propagating cacti or succulent seeds. Prepare a pot with soil, water the soil, ensuring it is not water-logged, sow the seeds, making sure to keep some space between to grow.

Additional Care

Don’t over-water this plant; this is a succulent that needs to be watered much less than usual plants thrive best on neglect. Leave them alone and enjoy them without touching and watering them too much since they are delicate plants that can get damaged.

Fertilize it in the warmer months with an all-purpose fertilizer (liquid is better) every fortnight and diluted to half the suggested dose. Using half the recommended dose applies to almost all houseplants. Don’t feed it in winter. A layer of worm compost is a better alternative as it’s quite rich in nutrients.

This plant grows quickly, getting very dense, so pruning is necessary. The cuttings can be used to grow new plants or planted back into the original container. Pruning is also necessary to control its size or appearance. 

Cut off dead stems and leaves, along with any stems that have become bare. 

This plant doesn’t have a large root system so using a pot that’s too large can make the soil soggy, leading to root rot. 

Common Problems

It doesn’t have any pest or disease problems, so doesn’t require much care or maintenance.

One sign that the plant is having problems is when the stems and pearls drop or become bare. This is probably because the plant is exposed to cold drafts.

Pearls shriveling up is either a sign of excessive sunlight or not enough water. Move it to a better location and follow your regular watering schedule.

Stems disappearing or dying due to root rot caused by overwatering, too much feeding can lead to fertilizer burn causing root damage remember, succule

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