How to make string of pearls fuller

How to make string of pearls fuller (Top 10 tips)

Want to learn how to make String of Pearls fuller? Is your plant looking a little bald or sparse? This post will teach you our top 10 tips to growing a fuller String of Pearls.

How to make string of pearls fuller
String of Pearls (senecio rowleyanus)

Many times Pearls plant owners will want to make their String of Pearls look more lush and healthy. However, they need to find out what is causing it to bald or look sparse.

Specifically, overwatering, underwatering, sunburn or pests can cause sparse or dead growth. Additionally, String of Pearls stems can grow really long and they can become quite heavy. In fact, the long trails can weigh the plant down and as a result, the top may start looking sparse. 

Related Article: String of Pearls Dying (10 common problems)

Senecio rowleyanus Overwatered
Senecio rowleyanus Overwatered

There are several things that can be done to make String of Pearls fuller. Propagating String of Pearls is the fastest way to a fuller String of Pearls. Additionally, pruning or trimming your String of Pearls plant is an excellent way to help keep it looking healthy and happy.

Fill in bald areas

First, you can trim the plant back. Then, add those cuttings to the top of the plant in the bald areas. Also, if needed use floral pins to keep cuttings in place. Definitely give your String of Pearls proper light, water, and fertilizer. Finally, stem cuttings will root in a few weeks and will start to grow just like regular plants. 

How to make string of pearls fuller
Sparse String of Pearls

Additionally, you can also do this whenever your plant grows really long. When trailing stems become too heavy, they can weigh the plant down. Thus, resulting in a sparse looking crown on top. However, frequent pruning isn’t necessary.

Furthermore, those cuttings can be rooted in water to speed up root development. In fact, add some rooting hormone for even faster results. Finally, stick the rooted cutting in bald areas you want to fill in. Learn more about String of Pearls water propagation or soil propagation here.

String of Pearls propagating in water
String of Pearls propagating in water

Once you begin pruning and taking cuttings, String of Pearls will branch or fork a time or two where the cut was made. Also, a great way to add fullness to your trailing stems.

Looping String of Pearls Stems

Another option is to loop the stems back toward the plant and drape the strings back in the pot. The draping makes the pot look fuller from above and encourages fuller growth. 

First, simply take a few trailing stems and place them on top of the soil. Next, you’ll want the stems to cover or coil on top of the bald spots on the soil. Additionally, stems can easily be held in place with floral pins. Although not mandatory, but they help keep stems near the soil so that it can grow new roots faster.

Add Topsoil to Promote Growth from Aerial Roots

After laying your String of Pearls stems on the soil, lightly cover them with well-draining soil. In fact, this helps to promote growth of the aerial roots. Also, it encourages new roots to develop. The faster roots form, the faster they can start getting nutrients and water.

Aerial roots on String of Pearls
Aerial roots on String of Pearls

Cutting trailing String of Pearls stems can help release apical dominance. Apical dominance is the process in plants where a main stem is dominant or grows stronger over other side stems. In fact, a plant hormone called ‘auxin’ flows down from the main stem. Auxin promotes stem elongation and inhibits growth of lateral buds, therefore maintaining apical dominance. 

What is apical dominance in plants? 

It is best demonstrated by cutting off the tip of your String of Pearls. Cutting off the very tip of your String of Pearls stem will lead to apical dominance. In doing so, your plant thinks it is in survival mode and starts growing more branches and pearls. Thus, helping to make your String of Pearls fuller.

String of pearls growth rate 

Keep in mind String of Pearls is known to grow slower than other Senecio plants. Be sure to give your Senecio rowleyanus plenty of light, nutrients, and water to thrive.

String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

Repotting your new String of Pearls is an important step that should not be skipped. Personally, it is the first thing I do after purchase. This ensures the best chance of survival and helps make String of Pearls plants fuller.

Should I repot plants after buying?

Typically nursery soil works best in greenhouse conditions, not my house or my patio. Also, I immediately repot to make sure there are no surprises such as bugs or unhealthy roots. In fact, nursery soil is generally not the greatest quality and has very little nutrients.

Nurseries typically use some sort of substrate that retains too much moisture or keeps the plant too dry. This helps them by making it hard to overwater in a greenhouse setting where pots drain freely to the floor of the greenhouse. Not ideal for a houseplant in your home sitting in a saucer. 

Choose The Right Pot for String of Pearls

I never leave my String of Pearls plants in plastic nursery pots. Instead I use small terracotta pots. String of pearls plants have small root systems and do not need a ton of space. Terracotta and other porous clay pots help minimize excess moisture. 

Drainage holes are an absolute must for your String of Pearls. This allows water to properly drain out of the bottom. I know it can be tempting to pot in cute little teacups or similar, but honestly, don’t. Not unless you have the proper drill bit to drill your own drainage hole at the bottom of your pot.

Pot Size Matters

Choose a pot that is not too wide and not too deep for your Senecio rwoleyanus. If planted in a pot that is too big, water can linger. Thus, preventing the soil from drying out. 

Overly moist soil can cause stems and pearls resting on wet soil to become mushy or even worse, cause root rot. Additionally, using too large a pot and you are opening your plant up to more room for rot and disease to grow. Therefore, choose a small clay pot with drainage holes to help minimize the risk of overwatering.

Properly plant your String of Pearls

Plant your String of Pearls plant close to the top of your pot. No more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the rim of the pot. This ensures proper air circulation around your String of Pearls. 

Do not plant your String of Pearls too deep. Not getting enough aeration can lead to fungus or rot. In fact, they have thin stems and even thinner shallow roots. 

If you have a young String of Pearls, plant in a smaller pot so that it will get root bound. Once it gets root bound then move it to a pot that is one size larger. This may take a few years before it needs repotting. Of course adding new soil and fertilizer when repotting.

Choose the right soil to help make your String of Pearls fuller. Always use a well-aerated soil mix to prevent root rot. String of Pearls need excellent drainage to thrive. Even when I buy Cactus and Succulent soil mix, I always like to amend the soil with pumice or perlite for additional drainage. 

If using a standard potting mix, I highly recommend adding coarse sand in addition to the pumice or perlite. Doing so will help with air circulation and allow the soil to drain excess water. 

As an added bonus, I LOVE to add a light layer of worm compost on the top soil. It really does wonders for plants.

Choosing the correct soil goes hand in hand with correct watering techniques for String of Pearls. Specifically knowing when to water and which soil to use are vital to making your String of Pearls fuller.

How to make string of pearls fuller
How to make string of pearls fuller

String of Pearls Water

Watering is the biggest challenge that Senecio rowleyanus owners face. Unfortunately overwatering and underwatering are very common. In fact, your String of Pearls will actually tell you when it is in need of water. 

Beads will start to slightly wrinkle just a bit when in need of water. Depending on your climate and environment this can take up to several weeks.

I am in dry Southern California and my String of Pearls are outdoors year round. Typically I water about every two to three weeks. When I see aerial roots growing, I water more deeply to promote root growth. Although, they are not on a set schedule. In fact, I wait to water when the soil is completely dry, AND when the pearls start to soften. 

Definitely do not wait until the beads fully shrivel before watering. Or worse, turn brown. Senecio rowleyanus don’t need water that often. However, when you do water, make sure it gets a good drink. Completely saturate the soil, and then let it fully dry out. 

Remember, younger, smaller  plants need to be watered more often than bigger, fuller String of Pearls plants. Specifically because mature plants have bigger beads and can store more water.

How to make string of pearls fuller
How to make string of pearls fuller

Without a doubt, there is no water plants love better than rainwater. Indeed because it is free of the salts, minerals, and treatment chemicals found in tap water. Salts and chemicals can build up in your potting soil. Over time these residues can be tough on plants. 

Rainwater Benefits for Plants 

Besides being natural, rainwater is typically soft, which makes it perfect for watering your String of Pearls plant. I like to refer to it as liquid gold. In fact, the absence of the chemicals that make tap water safe for drinking, make rainwater the best choice for your watering plants.

In potted plants the accumulated buildup is even more pronounced. Therefore, rainwater can be used to flush out chemicals in the soil and refresh the health of your soil to an ideal pH range. 

Watering with rainwater 

Plants can tolerate being drenched with rainwater, even if the soil is already wet. In fact, rainwater contains more oxygen than tap water. Rainwater also contains nitrate. Indeed, one of the three key macro-nutrients that String of Pearls needs to really thrive and develop lush strands of pearls.

Watering is perhaps the biggest dilemma you will face while caring for your string of pearls. How much does it need to thrive? And what’s too much water?

Most succulents actually do not like misting. Unlike air plants who really thrive with misting. In fact, String of Pearls cannot handle high humidity levels as they are susceptible to rot. So no matter what you have read on the internet, established String of Pearls do not need misting.

String of Pearls do not need misting except for when you’re propagating leaves or cuttings. Besides, misting mature plants can cause roots to become brittle and moldy pearls. Also, with a proper soil mixture, container, and watering habits, you should not be misting established plants.

Another way to help make String of Pearls fuller is keeping them in a warm and dry environment. They thrive in temperatures between 70-80°F (21-26°C). Of course in winter months they can survive in temperatures between 50-70°F (10-21°C). 

String of Pearls are quite sensitive to cold weather and not frost tolerant. Therefore, ensure your plant is not exposed to cold drafts. Bring your potted plants indoors in colder months

Senecio rowleyanus don’t particularly do well in humid climates, so keep that in mind. A super humid bathroom is probably not the best location. Indeed, a dry warm area is best for String of Pearls to thrive. Additionally, when your healthy Pearls plant has a cool winter, it will generally flower in spring. 

If your String of Pearls looks healthy, but does not put out any new growth for months, it may be in need of nutrients. The Pearls plant is not a heavy feeder. However, a light application of fertilizer can encourage new growth. 

Adding fertilizer will help make your String of Pearls fuller. Specifically, feed your Pearls plant during spring and summer with a well-balanced fertilizer. Once every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer or liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength is best. Also, during winter dormancy, reduce fertilizer to once every 6-8 weeks. 

Take care not to over fertilize your String of Pearls. Doing so will burn your plant and possibly kill it. Also, apply fertilizer while watering or right after. Definitely, do not apply fertilizer to a very dry plant.

As mentioned earlier, I also love adding a top dressing of worm castings. These are great for succulents because they work slowly and last a long time. 

Providing bright, indirect sunlight will help make String of Pearls fuller and help them flourish. Mild morning direct sun is also good. However, avoid harsh afternoon rays as this can cause String of Pearls to sunburn. Literally, they will shrivel up and die if left unprotected in intense sunlight for too long.

6-8 hours is key for a fuller String of Pearls. They need adequate sunlight to photosynthesize and thrive. I have mine outside year round as I am in Southern California. My Pearls plant gets plenty of mild morning sun, and then bright, indirect light throughout the day.

Light for String of Pearls Indoors

Indoors, it may be a challenge to get sufficient light for your String of Pearls. A window that gets plenty of bright light is a perfect spot. Just make sure it is not hanging too high where light is unable to hit the crown. 

Rotating your plant helps with even light exposure and even growth to the entire Pearls plant. In fact, stems cluster in the direction of their light source.

A sign of too much light is light green or yellow pearls. If yellow pearls shrivel up it is definitely getting too much sun. Move further away from the window or add a sheer curtain.

Not enough sun will result in leaf drop and slow growth. If necessary, you may need to use a grow light if your String of Pearls is not getting sufficient light. Although, make sure your grow light is six or more inches (15 cm) away from your plant to avoid burns.

How to make String of Pearls fuller
How to make String of Pearls fuller

I hope you learned How to make String of Pearls fuller from this post. Overwatering, underwatering, improper soil, too much sun/lack of sun, and pests, can all damage String of pearls. Therefore, providing adequate care, as mentioned above, is essential to help make your String of Pearls fuller.

Indeed, there are not too many plants prettier than a lush hanging basket of String of Pearls. Thanks so much for reading and as always, happy planting!

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