The string of pearls: Care and propagation

 

Know in one minute about the string of pearls plant

  • The string of pearls  is beautiful, creeping, flowering succulent, and famous for its pea shape leaves 
  • It removes indoor air pollutants and purifies the air.
  • This plant also fights against infectious bacteria and cancer.
  • Plant string of pearl plant in well-drained sandy soil with normal room humidity.
  • Watering only when the top few inches of soil are dry. 
  • Feed the plant with mild fertilizer to obtain the best growth.
  • Avoid direct sunlight and keep the plant in indirect bright light.
  • This plant prefers a warm temperature of 70° – 80° degrees Fahrenheit.

Introduction

The string of pearls (Curio rowleyanus or Senecio rowleyanus, family Asteraceae) is a beautiful, creeping, flowering succulent. In its natural environment, its stems trail on the ground, rooting where they touch and forming dense mats.

They usually grow in the shade, protected by other taller plants like bushes or rocks. Apart from this, the string of pearl is low maintenance fast-growing plant and can be grown indoors or outdoors (above freezing temperature)

Common name

This plant is known as String-of-pearls or string-of-beads or string of rosary beads. 

Geographical distribution

This tender evergreen daisy plant is native to dry areas of the Eastern Cape of South Africa. 

Botanical description

  • The string of pearls leaves are fleshy spherical, beads that are often grown as a hanging plant, and extend up to 2 to 3 feet.
  • Pea shape leaves minimize the surface area exposed to desert air and therefore reduces evaporative water loss.
  • It also contains thin thread-like stems that produce tiny white flowers that smell a bit like sweet, spicy cinnamon and vanilla.
  • The flower contains bright yellow anthers and multiple seeds dispersed by the wind (1)

 The string of pearls care

Common problems with a string of pearl plants are this plant requires proper light, water, fertilizer, soil, and temperature conditions. Let’s discuss each of these conditions in detail with this plant may survive year after year. 

1. Light

The string of pearls plants requires bright light but not direct sunlight.

For Outdoor: If they are outdoor they like shaded areas with few hours of direct sunlight per day or bright indirect light.

For Indoor: If they are indoor they like to be placed near the window with strong natural light.  However, this plant needs plenty of light all year.

2. Temperature

The string of pearls plant prefers a warm indoor temperature of 70°-80° degrees Fahrenheit and avoids drafty areas.

During winter, keep the plant at cooler conditions, around 50° to 55° F that is best for its growth.  

3. Humidity

Low or average room humidity is best for this plant (40 percent or lower). 

4. Soil

Like any other succulent, well-drained sandy soil is best, to avoid root rot of these plants.  

5. Water

It is very important how to water the string of pearls plant because this plant is very sensitive to overwatering and may cause root rot.

This plant requires watering thoroughly when the top layer of the soil dries out before watering it again. Watering once every 2 weeks, allowing the soil to dry out between watering.

In addition to this, mature plants need less water than younger ones so decrease the frequency of watering as the plant matures. Once per month watering during the dormant winter period. 

6. Fertilizer

Although the string of pearls plants is friendly, easy, and quick growing, they still need a lot of attention and care. So make sure you feed them a balanced fertilizer solution during spring and summer months about every two-three weeks. Suspend fertilizing during the dormant winter period.

7. Potting and Repotting

Repotting of the string of pearls plants should be done every year at the beginning of spring. Moreover, this plant does not need a very big pot because it has very shallow roots so use a shallow container.  

8. Pruning

Prune the string of pearls plants is necessary to obtain the best shape and maintain its size or appearance. It should be done by removing dead or damaged dead stems and pearls. Cuttings can also be rooted simply by inserting the ends in a pot of soil. 

The string of pearls propagation

The string of pearl plants is an ideal choice to use as hanging baskets to little teacups, they can grab people’s interest. There are a few questions that arise about how to propagate these amazing plants. 

The string of pearls plants can be easily propagated using stem cuttings and replant it in potting soil. Mist and spray the soil surface until the roots are growing out. This plant can also be grown from seed but it is not commonly available.

The string of pearls toxic to cats or dogs 

The string of pearls is toxic to cats, dogs, and even humans if left untreated. When ingested, this plant may cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or drooling to the animal. The contact with the plant’s sap may cause dermatitis, skin irritation, or rash to humans  (2).

The string of pearls medicinal value or health benefits

1. Easy to Maintain

A string of pearl plants is the easiest houseplant to grow because this plant is drought tolerant thus survived in shortage in the water supply. Moreover, it doesn’t need regular watering and fertilization. 

2. Fast grower

These are fast-growing plants and grows fully in less time. Thus this plant is a good choice for home and produces offsets rapidly. 

3. Improve mood

This plant produces small, white fuzzy flowers that smell like sweet, spicy cinnamon and vanilla. This flower helps to keep calm and improve mood.

4. Antimicrobial properties

The essential oil obtained from this plant is a fight against different bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus.

It also inhibits the growth of Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris, and Klebsiella pneumonia). Furthermore, it also shows antibacterial activity against Mycobacterium phlei that cause tuberculosis and fungi Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae (3).

5. Anticancer properties

String of pearl plants contains Spathulenol, germacrene B, myrcene, and viridiflorol. These compounds inhibit the growth of brain tumor cells and liver carcinoma cells thus protect from cancer (4).

The string of pearls indoor air purifier

Indoor air pollution is one of the major concerns that may cause asthma, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and loss of focus. However, string pearl plants not only add beauty to the indoor environment but also cleansing the air and removing toxins.

Q&A

Does the string of pearls need direct sunlight?

Nope, string pearl plants don’t like direct sunlight and they will get burnt easily. However, this plant needs plenty of bright light all year. 

How do you care for a string of pearls?

String pearl plants are easy to care for need relatively low maintenance. They only need a place with bright indirect light, providing a well-draining sandy soil, and watering it every 2 weeks. Simply trim off and repot every year or two or fertilize lightly in spring.  These conditions will make your plant a stable environment for growing healthy and happy. 

What does the string of pearls mean?

The string of pearl means a beaded necklace with its fleshy, spherical, green, pea-like foliage. These leaves are alternately arranged on pendant stems (5).

How long does it take for a string of pearls to grow?

The string of pearl plants is easy to grow and takes 3-5 weeks for the roots to quickly develop. This plant can bloom both indoors and outdoors. 

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