String of Pearls- Plant Bio: Podcast Ep#35
Updated: Oct 10, 2021
These unique and delicate strings look just like a green strand of pearls. There isn't another houseplant out there like it which makes them eye-catching and a must for anyone's collection.
Curio rowleyanus or Senecio rowleyanus
String of Pearls, SOP, String of Beads, Bead Plant
There are only two varieties that I've seen (so far)- String of Pearls and Variegated String of Pearls.
Bright, indirect sunlight is best but they can handle some direct sunlight also! They prefer only to be in a few hours of direct sunlight, not all day. I currently have both of mine sitting in a south window and they are doing great! They get filtered light in the morning and a few hours of direct sunlight until about 2pm.
String of Pearls are considered succulents so they need minimal watering. Allowing most of the soil to dry out is best. You will notice the perfectly round pearls shrivel a little if they are thirsty (see images).
Since they are considered a succulent, they thrive in hot, dry climates. Added humidity isn't necessary.
As I always say, there are LOTS of way to fertilize plants. Unless you are extremely over fertilizing your plant, there isn't necessarily a wrong way to do this. I currently use Espoma Indoor! Liquid Plant Food and I fertilize every 2 weeks when I water my plants, starting around the end of February through October. I honestly probably only fertilize once or twice in winter because the plant isn't as active! I use about 1/2 to 3/4 the recommended amount of fertilizer because I would rather under fertilize than over fertilize my plants.
Here are what other sources said...
The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual says, "from spring through fall, feed ever 2 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer mixed at half the normal strength. In winter, feed every 6 weeks."
Practical Cactus & Succulent Book says, "apply a half-strength liquid fertilizer once a year in late spring"
Fertilizing is completely up to you! There are MANY products out there you can try but an overall rule of thumb for houseplants is that it is best to under fertilize rather than over fertilize. Always use the recommended amount, or less, when applying your fertilizer to houseplants.
There is really only one way to propagate SOP, (using stem cuttings) but there are a few ways you can propagate with stem cuttings...
You can simply lay the stem on the top of your soil and cover it a bit with soil. New roots will form where the pearl and the stem meet.
You can also take the pearls off part of the stem and plant the stem in potting mix. Eventually the stem will root also.
Lastly, you can put your stem cutting in water as well. Take off the pearls like you would if propagating in soil and place the "bare" stem in water.
Part of the Asteraceae Family (Aster Family).
Native habitat of Southern Africa
When grown in its native habit, these succulents grow between rocks and other plants creating a thick groundcover like growth habit. The Healing Power of Plants says, "they adapted to minimize water loss while maximizing photosynthesis."
In your house, these can grow around 3' long or more! Allow these strings to flow downward by placing on a shelf or a plant stand.
These do flower! You may see white tubular flowers on the stems in the right conditions! I've seen this more than once so it is more common than most houseplants.
Toxic to pets and humans. Check out Podcast Ep#31 for more info or the corresponding Blog post!
I asked followers if they had any specific plant questions I could address in this podcast and blog. Here are the questions and answers for Fiddle Leaf Fig...
"How come my pearls are small?"
Lack of sunlight
Lack of watering
Lack of fertilizer
"When propagating SOP cuttings, how many cuttings do you recommend putting in the pot? And how would you arrange them? Stick them all in the center or curl the strands around in circles"
These questions both are really up to how thick of a plant you want and how many cuttings you can take from your parent plant.
"If you trim them does it help promote more branching?"
This is applicable to many different plants (houseplants and landscape). Trimming up your SOP allows the plant's energy to focus on thickening the foliage.
"What are the benefits and drawbacks?"
Houseplants (in my opinion) are always a great benefit! They make your home a little healthier, while bringing something fresh and green inside. Drawbacks are it adds more responsibility to your life. The plant's drawbacks are really dependent on the person! I believe this is a pretty easy houseplant so there are no drawbacks to putting in on a shelf, watering it when needed, and watching it grow! Some people may have a hard time remembering to water if they aren't used to it or they may water way too much!
"After you root an aerial root should you cut the stem to have 2 pieces?"
SOP don't have aerial roots. Maybe this question relates to propagation? When the stem cutting is laid in the soil, roots will form in every place the pearl meets the stem. You don't have to cut the stem in-between each place that has formed roots. Although, you can cut the stem to create multiple plants from those new rooted points.
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I have killed a SOP by overwatering! I planted my first SOP in a non-draining pot and watered it a bit too much. Currently I have my SOP in a terracotta pot with drainage and, if anything, I underwater it! I've seen my pearls shriveled multiple times which indicates that it is thirsty!
Always written with extreme plant passion!