Guide to Caring for String of Pearls

In this video Laura will demonstrate ways to take care of a beautiful String of Pearls plant.  The Senecio rowleyanus is easy to grow and maintain but there are a few tips to produce a better plant.

[Transcription]  Hey guys, how’s it goin?  Laura Garden Answers.  In today’s video I want to talk to you about String of Pearls.  So, this is definitely a very different unique looking succulent and one that I find requires a little bit different care than my other succulents.  So, I thought it would be a really good thing to go over.

So, there are 10 different points I want to talk to you about and we have them all listed up here on the screen.  So, if you want to learn about something specifically you can go ahead and skip to that part of the video or you can stick around for the whole thing.

So, before I get into the video though I want to give a huge thank you to Luis garden for sponsoring this video.  [snip…]

1. String of Pearls Light Exposure 0:47

So, the first point I want to talk about is light exposure.  So, this is a little bit different than normal succulents in that it can handle a little bit lower light.  It does better in brighter light situations, but it can hack it.  It can hack a lower light spot and it’ll do fine um it might get a little bit more straggly eventually but it won’t stretch and etiolate like some of my other succulents would do if I put them in a lower light spot.

So ideally you would put them in a very bright room somewhere where they can get some sun exposure in the morning like maybe 4 to 6 hours.  They do need protection from afternoon Sun especially in the summer months and in the winter time you can pretty much put them in any amount of sunlight and they’d be happy.  But like I said they can also take lower lights.  So, you’ve got a little bit of versatility there.

2. Temperature for String of Pearls 1:27

The second point is temperature and just like almost all of my other succulents this one prefers temperatures like we would like.  So, something around 70 to 72 degrees is ideal.  If you’re keeping them outside in the summertime when it’s warmer, they’ll do fine with that as long as they’re protected and have a little bit of afternoon shade.

But they do not take freezing temperatures.  So, if you live in a climate like I do where it gets way below freezing in the winter time you want to make sure to bring them inside and put them in a nice bright spot and they’ll be really happy.

You do want to make sure to keep them away from any drafts though.  So anywhere like by a door where they can get a draught of cold air or by heat registers any like huge fluctuations in temperature that happen over and over again they don’t prefer that.

But you can put them in a spot in the winter months that’s between maybe 55 and 60 degrees and that will help kind of force them into a dormancy and it will help them bloom better the following spring.  And I’ll go over the blooms and what those look like here in just a minute.

3. Best Soil for String of Pearls 2:18

The third thing is soil type and String of Pearls do not like to be sitting in water.  They like a really fast draining soil mix.  So, something where the water can go in and out quickly and the water doesn’t hang around the roots too long possibly rotting out the plant.  So, I would recommend using something like this here this is Espoma Cactus Mix.  A cactus mix makes really good soil for cactus and succulents.  I know some of you guys like to make your own cactus and succulent mix.

I like to use pre-bagged stuff.  It’s a lot faster and easier.  I would just recommend that you not use regular potting mix.  It’s too heavy it holds onto moisture too long it’s not really great for this type of plant.

4. Repotting a String of Pearls 2:50

So that kind of brings me to my fourth point and that’s repotting.  So, when I’m repotting something like this it can be a little bit difficult because this is a little bit of a delicate plant.  First of all, I’m going to be using terracotta I prefer it.  I like the way it looks and I think it’s really good for this type of plant because of the porous nature of terracotta.  Oxygen can go in and out of the sides of these pots and keep the roots nice and aerated.  It’s really good for the plants and I’d also recommend depending on where you’re planning on putting a plant like this you want to make sure it has room to trail.

So, you can see this is just a pot that’s a free-standing pot that I can set on the surface but it’s going to go on a mantle where all of these little tendrils these really pretty strings can go over the front of the mantle.  So, you just want to kind of keep that in mind.  This is a really good candidate for like a hanging basket summer where these can be free hanging and just kind of do their thing and look natural and beautiful.

So, I’m going to go ahead and repot this thing.  The first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to gently pick up all the tendrils and put them on the top.  I’m just going to drape them all on the top so they’re kind of out of my way a little bit and then in the end I’ll flop them all back down.

These types of plants do not need to be repotted very often.  The only reason I’m doing it today is because I want to get it out of its plastic nursery pot and get it into something a little bit more decorative and nice-looking otherwise these can go several years without having to be repotted.

You’ll know it needs to be repotted if the plant just gets super super thick.  And you know it’s a good practice to check on your plants at least once a year.  If you can get in there and kind of pop your plant out and look at the root system that’s a good way to tell for you to know when to repot.  If it’s a really rootbound looking and more space down there it’s a good idea to repot it.

Then it’s also a good idea to repot it if it’s looking pretty puny like if it’s looking like it’s just kind of it needs a refresher it might be time to kind of tear the plant apart – maybe propagate some and I’ll show you how to do that in a little bit.  In fact, I’ll show you in this pot here.  So, you know you may have to repot tear it apart and go down a size and pot or if the plant is super thick you might have to bump it up.

So, this plant is super healthy looking, so I bumped it up just slightly bigger than the size of pot it’s in right now.  You don’t want to put it in something too big because it can shock the plant and I don’t know why that is it’s so weird that we can bring plants like this home and plant them outside and they do fine but when they it comes to repotting stuff there are rules about how big you can go.  So usually I’ll just go one pot size bigger than its current pot right now.

So, the first thing I’m going to do is put a little bit of soil in the bottom of my pot.  I can kind of judge based on the height of the pot right now that I’m going to need to put like an inch or two in the bottom so that it has something to rest on so it’s not super low in the pot I put a little extra in there, so I can work it up the sides a bit.

It’s a good idea with plants that are fragile like this one to get the pot as prepared as you possibly can.  I know sometimes you know you just can’t do that, but I try.  So, I’m just gonna work this up the side of the pot just kind of like smashing the soil against the edge so I don’t have to backfill as much that way.  I don’t have to mess with the plant very much.  And I find the best way to get these out of the pot without wrecking it is to cut them out.

So, I’ve got exposed pot back here I’m going to take my clippers and just cut down the side of the pot maybe in a couple of spots and try to just kind of peel the pot away so that I’m just handling the plant from its root ball.  And this is a really good idea to do with like Donkey Tail Sedum or even cactus.  That’s how I repot a lot of cactus.  I never even touched the cactus I just touched the soil around it.

So, see how this goes so you can see there I’ve got one cut and I think I might be able to lift it out just with that one cut yep see it came out pretty good so you can see that this plant did not need to be repotted at this point because its root system is not super developed it’s healthy-looking lots of little healthy roots but it’s not root bound.

It definitely did not go very far down in the pot so what I’m going to do since this plant is so healthy there’s no bugs on it I’m just gonna use the soil that’s in here to raise the level in my pot because I only originally put about an inch in there thinking that this whole thing would come out and it didn’t so we need to raise that soil level so that this will sit at the right level in the pot.

So that’s what the inside of the pot looks like.  You can see the soil that I worked up the side so if we don’t have to backfill a ton and now I’m just gonna set this inside.  So now I’m just gonna work on getting some extra soil in around the root ball.  We want to make sure that there’s no extra air there’s no air pockets that it’s all packed in really nice and tight.

So, I got all of the soil in there packed in tightly around the root ball I did leave about a half inch lip so that when I water it won’t make a mess.  No water will go rushing off the sides of the container and ruin the surface where I’ve got this plant.

So now I’m going to take a little time and unfold this plant so that the strings are hanging back down and properly draping.  So, I think that’s a pretty painless way to repot and I only lost a few little pearls which is pretty good.

5. How Much to Water a String of Pearls 8:07

I think the fifth point is watering and this is an area in my experience anyway where I feel like this succulent requires a little bit different care than my other ones because it likes to be kept lightly moist during its growing season which is spring through fall and that might be different for you depending on where you live what your climate is like and if you have humidity.  We live in a very dry climate.  So, I find that I am watering mine a little bit more often than I do my other succulents.

So, I check mine at least once a week and it gets water about once a week so it doesn’t matter if the little top layer of soil dries out a little bit in fact that’s okay, but you just want to make sure that the whole pot itself doesn’t get bone-dry.  You don’t want it to get so dry that these little pearls start to get shriveled up and flat and that’s a really good sign that it’s not getting enough water.

You can cut back on water in the winter months.  So, if you’re putting it in an area that’s cooler temperature to like kind of force its dormancy make sure to cut back on the water and that again will help kick it into bloom for next spring.

6. String of Pearls Fertilizing 9:03

And when you’re watering that actually brings me to my sixth point and that is to not forget to fertilize.  String of Pearls likes to be fertilized about once a month through its growing season and again those are the Spring through Fall months.

And every guide that I have read says to use a fertilizer at half-strength and I have to say that I disagree with that just because I never knew that and I’ve been using full strength fertilizer for years with really great luck.  In fact, this is the one I’ve been using.  This is Espoma Cactus and Succulent Food.  And it’s just a really good idea to use that through the growing season because it will create a really nice full lush plant.

Now this is a concentrate so obviously you’re not just pouring it right over the top of the plant.  You’re going to be pouring the fertilizer into some water mixing it up and then pouring it in.

7. String of Pearls Flowers 9:41

And the seventh point is how to get this plant to flower.  And I’ve already kind of covered that when I talked about temperature and watering but you want to make sure in the winter months to put it in an area where it stays about 55 to 60 and then cut back on the water and that will help force the plant into bloom.

So usually you see blooms toward the end of winter beginning of spring and they’re really quite neat looking little brush like little white cotton ball brush like looking blooms.  And they have a really distinct smell, so they have like a clove cinnamon even a vanilla kind of smell.  Some people think that they’re unattractive I think it’s always fun to see an unusual and different looking flower.

8. How to Prune a String of Pearls 10:16

And the eighth point is pruning.  And this plant really is low maintenance.  It doesn’t require a ton of work or effort on your part to keep it looking nice but occasionally you might want to you know trim up the little strings on the side.  They might get a little bit leggy and a little long.  You can go in with your pruners and just cut them to a level where you like it.

In fact, that might help the plant if it’s starting to look a little straggly and thin on the top.  It’ll help encourage more growth and make the plant a thicker up here.  So that’s pretty much it on pruning.  There’s really no time of year that you need to wait to do it.  You can do it whenever the plant needs any attention.

9. How to Propagate String of Pearls 10:48

And point number nine is propagation.  So, this kind of goes hand in hand with pruning because when you’re pruning off little tendrils or little pieces of this plant you can reroute them and make new plants.  You can take those little pieces and stick them back in the top of this pot if it’s looking thin and they’ll root and start growing and fill in any areas that might be sparse.  Or you can propagate them in another container.

So, I’m going to grab a little bit more soil and just show you how I do it.  There’s a couple different methods.  So, the first method of propagating and this is one that I don’t typically do but it does work if you’ve got a long stem.  So, something like this right here you can see all of the little pearls coming off of this branch.

Where the pearls connect to the branch that’s called a node and that’s where the roots typically form.  So, what you can do is you can take this whole stem and you can lay it right on top of the soil like this and just kind of push it down in there and then just lightly mist that soil and make sure it doesn’t dry completely out and eventually that little stem will root and take off.

The way that I typically do it though is I’ll take a cutting and put a stem down in the soil.  That way it’s anchored a little bit better.  So, to do that I’m just going to remove some of these little pearls.  You do have to be a little careful because these are fragile.  But I just want you know three inches or so of stem like that.  I’ll just make a little hole you can just insert that stem down in the hole pack soil and around it and that stem will form new roots and this plant will take off.  And I like the fact that you can put a bunch of cuttings in this pot and it already has kind of the form you want it already has kind of some drape going on.

So, I’m just going to do a few more stems so that this pot will look nice and even and full.  And something else really neat I learned about these String of Pearls is that each one of these little pearls or leaves has a little stripe that’s clear on one side of the pearl and that actually acts as a window to allow more light into the Pearl so that it can harness more energy for photosynthesis.  I think it’s really cool how nature does its thing.

So, I use both methods and this one I used the stem method where I poked the stem down in the soil for the ones that are hanging off the side of the pot and then I rolled a couple around the top of the soil just for fun.  So, I had an example of both and they’ll both root and start growing and take off.

10. String of Pearls is Toxic 13:00

And the tenth point is toxicity.  And this is not a “care for tip”, but I think it’s important to note especially now that we brought our brand-new baby Benjamin home I’m a little bit more honed in and keyed in on stuff like that.  This one is toxic to cats, dogs and small children.  It would take a lot of this plant to do any serious damage but some signs in like dogs and cats is drooling, lethargy, vomiting, gastrointestinal upset.  So, it’s just a good idea to keep this plant up high where small children and cats and dogs will stay away from it.

So that’s pretty much it you guys.  I hope that these care points were helpful to you.  I just really enjoy taking care of this type of plant because they’re so low maintenance and giving and very versatile a real gem if you can get your hands on one.  And again, a huge thank you to Lula’s Garden for sponsoring this video and we will see all of you guys in the next one bye.  [End of transcript]

Those were some great tips for taking care of the String of Pearls succulent plant.  You may need to modify some of the specific details depending on your individual plant and its growing environment.

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