It takes years for an oyster to make a pearl, but not this plant! All it takes is a little preparation and work from you. Well, and knowing how to propagate string of pearls plants.
String of Pearls, or Senecio rowleyanus, looks so intriguing that you’d think it’s picky. However, this is one of the easiest succulents to grow and care for. It propagates easily due to its shallow and fast-growing roots. In fact, this is one of those plants that’s known to occasionally propagate itself.
As if it isn’t already a super-plant, String of Pearls has cinnamon-scented flowers and can grow in the shade. It truly is the perfect plant for those new to gardening and propagation. So, if you don’t have one already, find yourself a string of pearls and let’s get propagating!
Propagation Products You’ll Want:
- Hoffman Organic Cactus & Succulent Soil Mix
- Uineko Plastic Spray Bottle
- Fiskars Softouch Micro-Tip Pruning Snip
Some Info Before You Begin
Senecio rowleyanus is best propagated by stem cuttings. Not only is this method fast and easy, it makes use of pruned stems. Stem cuttings are also a way to fix leggy plants by propagating from the etiolated stems. We definitely prefer this process to growing from seed, which is possible but lengthy.
The best time of year to propagate string of pearls plant is in the spring and summer. This is the growing season for most succulents and the time when they have the most energy. The stem cuttings you plant will have a lot of growing to do, so the timing is essential.
The string of pearls propagation method also works for string of bananas and string of hearts plants. These plants can even share the same container during the process.
Unlike the other “string” plants, string of pearls plant is toxic. In humans, it causes nausea and vomiting, so wear gloves when working with this plant. It’s worse for dogs, so don’t let Fido chew on your pearls!
Collect the following materials to propagate String of Pearls:
- Clippers or scissors
- Well-draining potting mix (succulent and cactus mix works great)
- A small pot with a drainage hole
- A misting bottle for watering
- A string of pearls plant with healthy and mature stems
The following are optional, based on the planting method you choose:
- A glass or cup
- Chopsticks, toothpicks, or a pen
- A large staple, paperclip, or floral pin
- Rooting hormone
Prepare the Cuttings
Your cuttings should be healthy and several inches long. Each pearl contains some of the water and nutrients needed to sustain the cutting while it grows. As such, your cuttings must each have at least a few pearls, not counting ones that are removed in later steps. If your string of pearls succulent has stems that are already growing roots, feel free to start with those!
Clip the stems with clean, sharp clippers or scissors. You need a clean cut, so don’t try to just break the stem with your hands.
Unless you’re doing water rooting, let your new cuttings dry out before you plant. This allows the cut end to develop a callous that will keep out bacteria and prevent rot. Since the stem of string of pearls is so tiny, it should only take a few hours to a day to callous over. While the cuttings are drying, fill the small pot with potting soil.
You may dip the stems in rooting hormone if you want. If you do, do it right after taking the cutting and before it scabs over. Skip it if doing water propagation. Most of the time, string of pearls grows roots so easily that the hormone isn’t necessary.
Plant the Cuttings
For planting string of pearls, you have three options. You can lay it on the surface, plant it, or root it in water. Each method is simple and has its own benefits.
The first is to lay the cutting flat on the potting mix. To really anchor it, you can pin it down with a staple, floral pin, or bent paperclip. This is perfect for if the cutting already has some roots.
In time, the roots will grow wherever the stem is touching damp soil. Because of this, the longer the cutting is, the bushier your new succulent will be.
The second option is to remove some of the lower pearls and plant the cutting in the soil. Since the stem is fragile and can’t just be crammed in the soil, make a hole first. I like to use a toothpick, but chopsticks or the end of a pen work well too.
The roots will grow from the nodes where you removed the pearls. The resulting plant will be more trailing than bushy at first.
Your third option is to root the cutting in water. All you have to do is strip off the lower leaves and stick that part of the stem in a glass of water. Maintain the water level until the cutting has grown several white roots. This usually takes a few weeks. You’re essentially giving the roots a head start before sticking them in the soil.
This method is great because you can watch the roots grow. Once there are several that are at least a few inches long, you can plant the cutting in soil. Remember though that the setup here is only for water propagation and not hydroponics. Your cutting won’t survive if it’s kept in this setup permanently.
Growing Your Cuttings
Whichever planting method you choose, the soil needs to be kept moist. If you rooted your cuttings in water, this applies after you’ve moved them to the soil.
For the perfect amount of moisture, use a spray bottle. Mist the soil whenever it starts to dry out. Avoid using a stream of water, which will be too harsh and wash away the 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.
Your cuttings are considered full plants once the roots are established and the stems are actively growing. At this point, you can gradually transition to the regular watering and light requirements for the string of pearls plant. You can also move it to a hanging planter or other new container.
Caring for String of Pearls
Care requirements for string of pearls are simple. This succulent needs the following:
- Bright, indirect lighting
- Warm weather – this plant can’t handle frost!
- Well-draining soil
- “Soak and dry” watering
The rootball of Senecio rowleyanus is small, so use a small container. If the pot is too large, you run the risk of high moisture and root rot. For more tips on keeping this plant and other succulents alive, click here.
That’s it for propagating the string of pearls plant. We’ve covered a lot, but this really is a simple process. In fact, you’ll probably spend less time getting started than you spent reading this!