Variegated String Of Pearls Plant

The Senecio Rowleyanus Variegata or Curio Rowleyanus, otherwise known as the variegated string of pearls, maybe the best plant for busy people as it is easy to take care of and can still survive even if you forget to water it.

The variegated string of pearls plant is a rare trailing succulent with eye-catching green and white pearl-shaped leaves cascading downwards. It is one of the most sought-after succulent vines that are native to the drier parts of southwest Africa.

Table of Contents

Size and Growth

The Senecio Rowleyanus ‘Variegata plant has leaves which are the size and shape of small pearls that are slightly see-through at the tip and bright-green in color, these pearls are about ¼ inch in diameter with trailing stems that can grow up to 2 to 3 feet.

If properly cared for, this plant can grow quickly with its eye-catching texture and color, plus its cascading leaves. It can grow 2 to 4 inches tall and 36 inches long, so be sure to position the plant on high areas to allow the stems and leaves to trail down

The variegated string of pearls plant can even be planted on the ground, in warmer climates and will thrive if left to blend among other plants and fill in gaps.

They grow pretty much all year round, slowing a little in the cooler months. White flowers appear on small stalks and sometimes develop slight pink variegation.

The petals curl backward and each individual flower head contains many smaller flowers with pistils creating a tiny swirl.

Take note that this succulent plant can be toxic to humans and animals if consumed.

How to Plant Variegated String of Pearls

Using Seeds

Step 1: Pollination

To be able to plant the variegated string of pearls, you need seeds that are pollinated. 

Pollinated flower heads open into a fluffy ball, while unpollinated ones may still look fluffy but are not viable or will not germinate. So you should pick the fluffy opened heads because they provide a much better germination rate.

Step 2: Soil Mix

Prepare your succulent soil mix. You can either buy a ready-made mix or make your own by mixing three cups of sand with three cups of gardening soil and one and a half cups of perlite or pumice.

The reason why we need to use pumice or perlite is to allow aeration and drainage. Pumice has the ability to hold together nutrients and moisture which is useful for planting succulents. Sand, on the other hand, is used to make the mix less compact and aids in drainage, while the gardening soil can provide nutrients for the succulents.

Step 3: Germination Period

Plant the seed straight into the succulent potting mix and do not let it dry up.

If you do not have time to water it every day, put a plastic bag over the pot and tie it in a knot. This method will keep the potting mix wet during the germination period of the variegated string of pearls plant which can be anywhere between a few weeks to 2 to 3 months.

Take note that the seeds can germinate quicker in spring or summer.

Using Stem Cuttings

Step 1: Cut

Use a sharp, sterile knife or pair of scissors and cut a stem as cleanly as possible with at least 4 inches in length.

Put a kitchen paper in a tray or container and place the stem cutting on top. 

Remember not to put the cutting into the soil during this point.

Step 2: Dry

Keep the stem cutting dry for the next 5 days or more to allow it to build a protective barrier, otherwise called as “callous off”

Step 3: Soil

Once the callous has appeared, then you can now lay the cutting on top of a thin layer of succulent soil on a nursery pot and wait for the roots to grow. This process can take a few weeks, so remember to water the soil when it is completely dry.

Step 4: Pot

When you see the roots appear, plant it in a pot with succulent soil or potting mix.

Mound the soil up around the roots so that it will sit slightly projecting slightly from the pot.

Press down to secure and then cover with a layer of grit.

Do not water at this point.

Step 5: Water

The following day, lightly water the plant and press down the soil once more.

During the morning and afternoon, position the potted succulent in an area where it can receive full sunshine. However, move away from direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day.

Tips for Propagation and Cultivation

Planting Tips

Soil

In order for the Senecio Rowleyanus ‘Variegata to thrive, receive enough oxygen and prevent root rot and disease, you have to use a well-draining potting soil mixture that is made from peat-free soil or coconut coir mixed with grit, sand or perlite.

It is important that you plant using the right type of soil to encourage healthy growth and prevent root rot and disease.

You can either buy a ready-made mix or make your own sandy soil by mixing three cups of sand with three cups of gardening soil and one and a half cups of perlite or pumice.

Position

If you prefer the plant indoors, put the pot in a hanging basket and position it in an area with bright light or natural light.

For outdoor growing, position the pot in a sunny spot but move in an area with bright indirect light, when the weather gets really hot.

Keep the plant out of direct sunlight during the summer months to prevent sunburn and keep it 5 to 10 feet away from a window depending on the climate.

The string of pearls succulent can tolerate temperatures as low as 28 degrees Fahrenheit or -2 degrees celsius for a short period of time provided that the soil is dry. In colder weather conditions, it is best to bring the plant indoors as it can also thrive well as a houseplant.

Watering

If you overwater a variegated string of pearls plant, its leaves or the “pearls” will swell and may even burst. To prevent this from happening, you should plant them in a pot with good drainage, cactus mix, or succulent mix soil and water them when needed.

You also need to allow them to have a drying period to allow the roots to grow and get oxygen before thorough watering.

The watering method you should use for this plant is the “soak and dry” method, wherein you have to wait until the soil is almost completely dry before giving it a thorough soaking.

To test the dryness of the soil, use your finger to press at least a quarter-inch into the soil and poke around the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. If the soil feels dry, water the plant.

Take note that the string of pearls is summer dormant, so you may need to reduce the frequency and amount of watering it during the summer months.

They will still grow during this dormancy, but it will be much slower, therefore they need less water than what they are used to during the growing season.

Do not use a spray bottle or mister when watering the succulents because the roots will not get the ideal amount of water they need to stay hydrated.

Additionally, any water that remains on the leaves can lead to leaf rot, disease and may encourage pests.

Flowers

During the summer, you can see off-white flowers with a brush-like appearance and long red stamens. They slightly smell like cinnamon and stand elevated at the stems on peduncles.

These flowers last for approximately a month and you should remove any brown, yellow or dead flowers immediately.

To encourage the succulent to bloom, you should reduce the temperature during late autumn and winter to a maximum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 16 degrees celsius to allow the soil to dry completely before watering.

Pruning

Prune when necessary to remove damaged, yellowing or dead vines. Use a sterile and sharp knife or scissors when doing so.

Feeding

To allow for a good, strong root system and healthy growth, you should use a read-mixed succulent fertilizer every 2 to 4 weeks during the spring and summer months. Fertilizing over winter is not necessary.

Repotting

The variegated string of pearls plant should not be repotted very often because they tend to do well when their roots are restricted slightly.

If it does outgrow the container, then it is best to re-pot during springtime or early summer.

Choose an appropriately-sized succulent pot and then repot very carefully with fresh soil and ensure that the crown of the plant is not deeper than 1 inch below the soil level to avoid root rot.

Remember to also check the condition of the roots when repotting and look for any signs of rotting. If you see any wet and slimy areas or dark brown or black areas on the roots, then gently trim them off using a sharp sterile knife or scissors and allow the cuts to dry before repotting.

Diseases or Common Problems

Root Rot

Most succulents including the Senecio Rowleyanus can be prone to root rot. This is when the roots are left in wet soil for a long period of time.

To prevent this, well-draining soil should be used and avoid over-watering. Only water the plant if the soil is almost completely dry.

Yellowing, rotting leaves, and stunted growth are early indicators of root rot. If you notice these signs, you should take immediate action by carefully removing the plant from the pot and gently brush away the soil on the roots to check the roots’ conditions.

Healthy roots are white or off-white in color and firm to touch.

Cut off any brown or black roots and even soft and mushy roots using a sharp sterile knife or scissors. You should then allow the cut to dry before repotting in fresh potting soil and clean pot.

Mealybugs and Aphids

These mealybugs are wingless insects that thrive in warm and moist environments. They feed in the sap from succulents and other plants, and can be found in the crevices especially around leaf nodes and stem junctions.

Aphids, on the other hand, are slow-moving insects that are commonly white, green or black and breed in large numbers especially around new growth. They also feed on the sap of plants and thrive in the same spots as mealybugs.

To get rid of mealybugs and aphids, prune the areas where they have taken residence and dab off the mealybugs using a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. You can also use a store-bought insect spray, household detergent or hose them off with soapy water and repeat after the infestation has gone.

Neem oil solution is also a good solution you can use, just spray over foliage every 1- to 14 days. This is a non-toxic way you can discourage future infestations.

String of pearls Plant Frequently Asked Questions

Are the string of pearls and string of tears the same?

The string of tears of Senecio herreianus is a succulent plant native to Namibia in South Africa. It is a close relative of the string of pearls plant or Senecio rowleyanus and string of banana plant or senecio radicans, thus they are not the same.

Can string of pearls grow in low light?

Indirect bright light is what a thriving string of pearls need, but it can also thrive excellently in low light. If your house does not have a window or it gets insufficient light, your string or pearls can still survive.

Summary

A variegated string of pearls is a rare trailing succulent plant with green and white pearl-shaped leaves cascading downwards. They can grow 2 to 4 inches tall and 36 inches long, so be sure to position the plant on high areas to allow the stems and leaves to trail down.

They can be planted by using either the stem cuttings or seeds and can thrive in temperatures as low as 28 degrees Fahrenheit or -2 degrees celsius for a short period of time provided that the soil is dry.

But in colder weather conditions, they should be brought indoors.

To allow for healthy growth, you should not repot them often, you should check for root rot and pests and do necessary actions immediately to keep this pearl plant in tip-top condition.