Propagate String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

Want to learn multiple ways to Propagate String of Pearls? This page will teach you. String of pearls propagates easily due to its shallow and fast-growing roots. 

Propagate String of Pearls
String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

Recently, I wrote about the Top 4 reasons string of pearls die or Senecio rowleyanus. Also referred to as a String of Beads, String of Peas, or simply Pearls Plant. Undoubtedly, an all-time favorite string succulent. Definitely for its long trailing stems covered in bead-like leaves. Some say the succulent “beads” resemble tiny marbles, miniature grapes, or, as the name suggests, bright green pearls.

When your String of Pearls plant is healthy, it will grow happily. In fact, they can cascade several feet. Therefore, it makes a perfect succulent for hanging planters or as a dramatic spiller plant. String of Pearls, is a low-maintenance succulent that is extremely easy to propagate and grow new plants from cuttings.

Learn more in our post about String Succulents (Trailing or hanging Plants).

Propagation Tools

Collect the following propagation tools to propagate String of Pearls:

  1. String of Pearls plant with healthy and mature stems
  2. Small pot with a drainage hole (if propagating in soil)
  3. Small glass bottle (if propagating in water)
  4. Well draining soil (Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix is preferred)
  5. Floral Pins
  6. Chopsticks or knitting needle (perfect for creating holes to plant thinner stems)
  7. Spray Bottle or Misting Bottle
  8. Rooting hormone (optional, but speeds up the rooting process and give your cuttings a better chance for success)
  9. Activated charcoal (optional – prevents bacterial growth in water)
  10. Fiskars Shears – Definitely my favorite shears with maximum precision. Especially for delicate jobs like trimming String of Pearls. This is important to prevent damage to the stem and other cuttings. Scissors that are sharp and clean will also work. or sharp clippers, clip these stems with. 

Once you have all your propagation tools together, it’s time to get to cutting!

There are few ways to propagate String of Pearls plants. The most popular way is rooting stem cuttings. Either String of Pearls cuttings in water or by rooting String of Pearls cuttings in soil. Stem cuttings are also an excellent way to fix leggy plants by propagating their etiolated stems.

It is possible to propagate String of Pearls from seeds or leaves. However, it takes significantly longer and with much less of a success rate. When I propagate String of Pearls, I have the best luck in water or soil. Although, some swear by propagating String of Pearls in sphagnum moss.

When Do You Propagate String of Pearls?

Spring and Summer are typically the best time of year to propagate String of Pearls cuttings. This is the growing season for most succulents and the time when they have the most energy. In colder climates, the Sting of Pearl’s growth slows way down in winter. Although, I am located in Southern California so with our mild climate, we propagate year round. 

In addition to String of Pearls, these propagation methods also work for other String Succulents like String of Hearts, String of Dolphins, String of Turtles, or String of Bananas. In fact, they can even hang out in the same propagation jar during this process.

Before you take a String of Pearls cutting, your plant should be healthy. Ideally several inches in length. I like to give them a good soak 1-2 days before I take a String of Pearls cutting. If the plant already has stems with aerial roots, then these are perfect for the propagation.

Propagate String of Pearls
Aerial Roots on String of Pearls

Begin by cutting your stem, just below a leaf node on your String of Pearls plant. Be sure you are using clean sharp shears or scissors. Try to get at least 2+ inches (5 cm) of stem. 

I like to have a minimum of 3-5 pearls per stem, not counting ones that are removed in later steps. Indeed because each pearl on the cutting contains some of the water and nutrients needed to sustain the cutting while it grows. Therefore, your cuttings should have at least a few pearls. 

Propagate String of Pearls
String of Pearls cutting

Next, gently remove the pearls from the first inch or so of the cut end as this end will be in water or in soil to propagate. You want to have at least 2-3 nodes clear to go into the water or soil (nodes are the area where leaves attach to the stem of the plant).

With thin stemmed cuttings like this, I typically let them callus for 1-3 days before I plant in soil or water. A callus prevents loss of water and invasion by diseases. More importantly, a callus is a necessary precursor to avoiding rot. 

String of Pearls Water Propagation 

When you propagate String of pearls in water it is super easy. In fact, it is a very similar process to propagating pothos cuttings in water. It is my favorite way to propagate. I just love being able to watch the beautiful roots form. And, you actually know that it is growing.  

Propagate String of Pearls
Senecio rowleyanus propagating in water

String of pearls in water 

First, select a clean glass bottle or jar to use for your water propagation. I prefer glass to plastic as it isn’t porous like plastic. My favorite jars are antique milk jars or these mini glass bottles I found online.

Second, fill the jar with clean water and gently set the top part of the strand in water. Ideally, the water should cover 3-4 leaf nodes only. As an option, you can dip in rooting hormone before placing it in water. Additionally, I like to add some activated charcoal bits to help keep the jar cleaner longer.

Third, position your cuttings in a warm position where they will receive bright indirect sunlight. Do not place them in direct sun or they may die. New thin white roots should easily form from the nodes on the stem within 1-2 weeks. And…my favorite part, you’ll be able to watch them grow through the glass.

Finally, change out the water every 1-2 weeks with fresh room temperature water. Wait and watch as your roots grow. You’re essentially giving the roots a head start before sticking them in the soil. 

Propagate String of Pearls
Propagate String of Pearls in water

Water Propagation to soil 

Once your roots reach approximately 2 inches (5 cm), then it’s time to plant your cuttings in soil. Be sure not to leave them in water forever. In fact, the longer you wait to transfer into soil, the lower your success rate will be. 

As soon as your cuttings in water are ready for soil, pot them up in a small container with well-draining soil. Be very careful with the fragile roots during the transfer. Water your new cuttings in soil more frequently than an established plant. This will reduce the shock of transfer. 

Propagate String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
Senecio rowleyanus grown in water and just transferred to soil

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 standard potting soil I highly recommend adding coarse sand in addition to the pumice or perlite. Doing so will help facilitate aeration and allow the soil to drain excess water. Most of my plants also receive a light application of worm compost

These plants are susceptible to root rot, so make sure their soil is well-draining. Cactus and Succulent soil mix is loose and allows the roots to form quickly. Additionally, it allows water to drain freely, preventing root rot. Furthermore, it’s well-aerated, meaning the roots get the oxygen they need. 

First, fill your pot with the Cactus and Succulent soil mixture. Second, use the chopstick or knitting needle to make holes in the soil. You can put multiple cuttings in one hole or have a separate hole for each cutting. Third, dip the cut end in rooting hormone (optional) and then plant it in the soil. 

variegated String of Pearls
Use a knitting needle to make perfect holes for String of Pearls cuttings

If you look at the strings, there are little brown bumps every inch or two along the stem. Those are nodes and that is where the roots will come from. Make sure the nodes are touching the dirt. 

Fourth, secure the cuttings with your floral pins. While not necessary, they are quite helpful in keeping String of Pearls cuttings in place while the roots take. As an added bonus, floral pins can be reused again and again.

Propagate String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
Propagate String of Pearls in soil

Another soil method is just to coil up each strand and leave it on the surface of the soil. A floral pin will help anchor down the strand so that there is proper contact with the soil.

Allow your new plantings to settle. Lightly mist the soil every couple of days to make sure the soil stays slightly damp. The only time I spray String of Pearls is when propagating. Misting or spritzing is gentler on the cuttings and does not disturb them while you’re waiting for them to root. 

Eventually roots will start growing within 3-5 weeks. Once you see roots, go ahead and give it a good drink. Gradually transition to a regular watering schedule and soak the soil all the way through. Remember, you want the pot to be thoroughly moistened when you water, but you want it to dry out quickly.

Propagating variegated String of Pearls in soil
Propagating String of Pearls in soil

String of Pearls Light for Cuttings

Give your cuttings indirect lighting, but keep them away from direct sun to prevent sunburn. They should be just fine a few feet away from a bright window. As roots develop you can increase light for your String of Pearls plant. 

String of Pearls Watering 

Indeed watering is the hardest challenge people have when caring for String of Pearls. How do I know when my String of Pearls needs water? Well, it’s actually quite simple. In fact, your String of Pearls plant will show you when it needs water. 

Pearls start to slightly wrinkle just a bit when in need of water. The pearls indent a bit at their windows. Depending on your climate and environment this can take up to many weeks.

For reference, I am in dry Southern California and my String of Pearls are outdoors year round. Typically I water about every 2-3 weeks. If aerial roots grow, I water more deeply to promote root growth. Although not totally on a schedule. Only watering when the soil is completely dry, AND when the pearls start to soften. 

Although, do not wait until the pearls start to fully shrivel before you water. Senecio rowleyanus don’t need to be watered frequently. However, when you do, water thoroughly. Saturate the soil completely, then let it dry completely. Again, water String of Pearls when the bulk of the pearls start to deflate. 

Typically, smaller and younger plants need to be watered more than larger, mature plants. Specifically because mature plants have bigger pearls and more water storage capacity. 

How do you water a String of Pearls? 

Bottom watering is my preferred way to water. Especially with String of Pearls. Although many plant enthusiasts top water and are successful at growing Pearls plants. I like to set them in a larger container with water for about 15-20 minutes and allow them to soak up the water they need. A great way to avoid root rot.

String of Pearls Wrinkly 

Why is my String of Pearls wrinkly? If you are referring to a propagated cutting, and there are no roots yet, it’s probably thirsty or reabsorbing pearls to use as energy to grow roots. 

If it has roots, then the most common reason for shriveled leaves in String of Pearls is from watering issues. String of Pearls store water in their pearls and when their water storage runs low, you may see your String of Pearls wrinkly or shriveling.

It is in fact possible to grow String of Pearls from a pearl. Definitely not the fastest or easiest way to propagate, but possible. Single Pearls will grow a root system first and then shoot out a new branch. At this point you will need to put the pearl in potting mix and water it regularly to ensure high chances of development.

Keep in mind that growing a whole new String of Pearls plant from just a leaf takes a very long time. Although, many pearls may just rot. It won’t hurt to try if they are already detached from the plant. Why not just give it a go?

Pearl of String of Pearls rooting
Pearl of String of Pearls rooting

Senecio Rowleyanus seeds 

It is also possible to collect and grow String of Pearls from seed. Although, it is very difficult. To be able to propagate from seeds the flower heads need to be pollinated. In fact, pollinated flower heads that open into a big fluffy ball are most viable, with the best germination rate.

Seeds can be extracted and immediately planted into your Cactus and Succulent potting mix. Keep moist until they germinate. The easiest way to do this is to keep covered with a plastic sheet. 

Keep in a warm, bright light location. However, out of direct sunlight. It is really important they get enough light. Senecio Rowleyanus seeds prefer warm temperatures (55˚F / 13˚C). 

The germination period can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Additionally, seeds will germinate faster during the growing season of spring and summer. If buying Senecio Rowleyanus seeds, we recommend getting them from a reputable nursery or seed shop. 

Propagating String of pearls in sphagnum moss 

You can use sphagnum moss when propagating String of Pearls. First, wet the moss and lay the String of Pearls on top of the moss. Next, cover them in a very small layer of wet moss. Then, keep it moist and in a warm place with plenty of indirect sunlight.

Roots should grow quickly over the next few weeks. After the roots have formed, transfer to a pot of well-drained. Of course make sure the pot has a drainage hole.

Butterfly Propagation method 

You may have heard about the ‘Butterfly propagation method’.  Basically, you divide a cutting into multiple parts each with a pearl on each side that is pinned to the soil. 

Repotting String of Pearls 

Many suggest repotting the String of Pearls every one to two years. If you have ever repotted String of Pearls, you know what is inevitable. Be prepared for the loss of some pearls and possibly some strands. You can certainly propagate the stems and pearls as mentioned above. Or, just throw them back in the same pot or a different pot.  

String of Pearls Flowering
Senecio rowleyanus Flowers

String of Pearls Flowering 

The String of Pearls flowering is quite a site and smell. Producing little white flowers that have a cinnamon-like aroma. Look for String Of Pearls flowering in winter or spring. The cool and dry winter condition encourages blooming. Encourage more flowering by keeping your plant about 55-60°F (12.7-15.5°C) in winter.

If your propagating string of Pearls starts to flower you may want to cut it off. In fact, we want all the energy going to new growth. Some say a propagated stem that flowers is often a sign of a plant being stressed. Possibly making one last attempt to procreate before dying. Just something to keep in mind.

String of Pearls toxic? 

Unlike the other String succulents, String of Pearls is somewhat poisonous and should not be consumed. Even if they do look like juicy little grapes. In humans and some pets, it causes nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. 

Although, the nice thing about the String of Pearls plant is it works well as a hanging plant, making it easier to keep out of reach of our furry friends. Visit the ASPCA or call (888) 426-4435 for more information on their Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants List.

Caring for String of Pearls 

The care requirements for String of Pearls are pretty easy. This trailing succulent needs the following care:

  • Well-draining soil (Cactus and Succulent soil mix is great)
  • Bright, indirect lighting (no direct sun for cuttings)
  • Warmer weather (no frost)
  • Slightly moist soil for cuttings and then “Soak and dry” after established
  • Smaller pot (root ball of Pearls plant is small)
  • Don’t let cuttings in soil completely dry out

How to care for String of Pearls

Soil: Cactus and Succulent soil mix works great for String of Pearls. It is crucial that the soil is fast draining. They are happiest with a soil pH of 6.6 to 7.5.

Light: The String of Pearls plant will do well in full sun to partial shade. Indoor String of Pearls need at least a few hours of sunlight early in the day. It will still do well with lower light conditions compared to most succulents. Outdoors it seems to naturally prefer growing in shaded areas. Especially in the summer it will need to be protected from afternoon sun.

Temperature: Ideal temperature for the String of Pearls is 70-75°F (21-24°C) in  summer and 50-60°F (10-15.5°C) in the winter. Pearl plants will not tolerate frost. Definitely move them inside when temperatures drop.

String of Pearls are sensitive to quick higher or lower spikes in temperature so keep them away from drafty areas.

Water: It is usually not necessary to water String of Pearls sooner than once every 2-3 weeks. Being a succulent, String of Pearls do just fine with periods of drought. Also, water much less in the winter.

Humidity:  Unlike some other succulents the String of Pearls will tolerate high humidity.

Fertilizer: Feed the plant with liquid succulent plant food. Or, a balanced all-purpose houseplant food of 12:12:12, diluted to half strength every 2 weeks. However, stop fertilizing in dormant months. Fertilizing too much can cause a leggy appearance. Stems will have larger spaces on the stems with fewer of the pearls.

Pests and Diseases:  Susceptible to aphids and mealybugs.

Growing Season: Spring, Summer and Fall

Hardiness Zones: 9 – 12

String of Pearls scientific Name 

Curio rowleyanus, Synonyms: Senecio rowleyanus, Kleinia rowleyana

Senecio Rowleyanus Common Names

String of Pearls, String of Peas, String of Beads, Bead Plant, Rosary Plant, String of Marbles, Necklace Plant, Rosary Vine, Irish Beads, Pearls Plant, Pearls Succulent

String of Pearls
Propagate String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

Common String of Pearls Q&A’s

Can you grow String of Pearls in LECA?

String of Pearls grow well in LECA. Just like other string succulents such as String of Hearts, Dolphins, Turtles, and Bananas.

How do you grow String of Pearls fast?

String of pearls plants thrive on a combination of direct and indirect sunlight, totaling between six and eight hours a day. They’re best when kept in direct sunlight during the softer morning hours, then moved to a spot that gets diffused, indirect light, or partial shade during the harsher afternoon hours.

Should I bottom water my string of pearls?

Succulents growing in tight clusters like String of Pearls or String of Dolphin, even with a moisture meter, sometimes it’s hard to determine whether the soil has dried out or not. Avoid over-watering issues by letting them get 100% dry and then bottom water them.

What do overwatered String of pearls look like?

The short answer is shriveled and mushy. An overwatered spring of pearls would have a shriveled appearance. This is a result of the bursting off of the leaves due to the presence of so much water. When touched, the affected parts would feel mushy. The bead-like structure of the leaves will be ruptured.

Do String of Pearls need cactus soil?

Like most succulents, string of pearls is drought tolerant. Make sure to plant it in a pot with a drainage hole and use a potting mix suitable for cacti.

Can you root string of pearls in water?

Yes! In fact, it is my favorite way to propagate.

Still Struggling With String of Pearls?

Are you still struggling with String of Pearls? If so, check out similar string succulents. String of Hearts or String of Bananas plant looks similar except they have heart or banana shaped leaves. Even String of Turtles is a great choice. Definitely more forgiving and easier to grow than String of Pearls.

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