The string of pearls, or Senecio rowleyanus, is a highly sought-after, cascading succulent that makes a beautiful addition to any living space. It is also easy to grow, and you will be rewarded with faster growth if you put in the proper effort.
So, how fast does this trailing plant grow? If you are curious to know more about your string of pearls’ growth rate, this short guide will provide you with some answers. We will also discuss some tips on how to make this succulent grow thicker, so you are guaranteed to impress your guests!
Is the string of pearls easy to grow?
If you are looking for a succulent that is super easy to grow and care for, then the string of pearls is an excellent choice. On the outside, its beads and trailing stems might look fragile, but this plant is not fussy when it comes to its care requirements. Give it the basics, like indirect sunlight, proper watering and nutrients, and it will grow into a bushy succulent that will look gorgeous in your hanging baskets.
String of pearls growth rate – how fast does it grow?
Under the right growing conditions, the string of pearls can grow an average of one inch each month. These succulents tend to grow quickly during spring and summer, producing small white flowers once they reach maturity. Additionally, you can grow a single string of pearls for up to five years and propagate from its cuttings to have a constant and indefinite supply of this plant.
Factors that affect string of pearls growth rate
1. The season
The string of pearls is a perennial vine, but like most tropical plants, it grows at different speeds depending on the season. Since this succulent is native to regions with warm and dry environments, it grows best during the spring and summer.
You are unlikely to see visible growth during the cold months, as this is when the plant will go dormant. Do not worry – this is normal for most succulents. Just keep in mind that your string of pearls should not be fertilized or watered frequently while it is dormant.
2. Lighting conditions
Sunlight is key to plant growth. It drives photosynthesis, an important process that all plants undergo to produce energy for growth and survival.
Your string of pearls needs bright, indirect sunlight to grow optimally. It can still survive under poor lighting conditions, but you will not see it flourish to its full potential. Leaving it outside to bathe in full sunlight can also be harmful, as the sun’s intense heat can scorch its foliage.
Hence, you should choose a spot where your succulent can enjoy gentle, bright light for about six hours each day. Artificial grow lights are also a great option to supplement your plant’s lighting requirements.
3. Pot size
The string of pearls does not like to sit in an undersized pot, as this can cause it to become rootbound. When the roots become too dense they cannot grow well, and this compromises your plant’s nutrient and water uptake.
That said, it is not a good idea to plant your string of pearls in an oversized pot, either. When the pot is too big for the plant, it will hold more soil and thus more water than your plant can absorb. This can lead to soggy soil which is an attractive environment for fungal and bacterial growth.
To ensure continuous and healthy growth, it is best to repot your string of pearls in an appropriately-sized pot when necessary. Choose a pot about two or three inches larger in diameter than the current container. There are many different types of pots to choose from, but we highly recommend terracotta and ceramic pots since they are sturdy and breathable.
Fertilizer ensures that your string of pearls is getting all the nutrients it needs to grow faster, and too much or too little can negatively impact your plant’s health.
Overfeeding will not help your succulents grow faster; instead, the excess fertilizer will cause a buildup of salt in the soil. Also known as root burn, this condition draws moisture away from the roots and severely compromises the plant’s health. Your string of pearls will not be able to absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil, leading to stunted growth and, eventually, total collapse of the plant.
Too little fertilizer, meanwhile, can lead to nutrient deficiencies. A string of pearls that does not receive enough macronutrients tends to exhibit symptoms like pale and dying leaves, weak stems, and stunted growth.
It is therefore important that you fertilize your succulents at the correct dosage for optimal growth. Your string of pearls will benefit from light doses of fertilizer once or twice per month during its growing season. If you think you have overfertilized your plant, flush the soil thoroughly under running water or repot it in fresh soil. Wait for it to recover before applying fertilizer again.
5. Watering routine
Your watering habits will decide whether your string of pearls flourishes or ends in an untimely demise. Unfortunately, there is no fixed amount of water that can guarantee steady growth, as this depends on several factors such as the season and the environmental temperature.
If you live in an area with a hot, dry climate, your string of pearls will obviously benefit from more watering. However, those in regions with colder climates will likely see their houseplants going dormant during winter, and at this time your plant will not need a lot of watering.
The easiest trick to avoid both underwatering and overwatering your plants is to simply check the soil with your fingers. The topsoil should feel dry before you water; if it is still moist, wait a few days and check again.
6. Soil quality
Using the wrong type of soil for your succulents can cause a lot of problems that hinder plant growth. For your string of pearls, it is best to use a well-draining potting mix that is breathable yet holds sufficient moisture to keep your plant hydrated.
Do not use clay or garden soil, as these tend to become waterlogged too easily. The key is to ensure that the roots can take in enough oxygen without drowning in excess water. Thus, choosing the right cactus or succulent potting mix will go a long way toward growing a healthy string of pearls.
7. Humidity and temperature
While the usual humidity in the average home is just fine for a string of pearls, you will need to maintain a humidity level of at least 50 percent if you want faster growth. And, when it comes to temperature, this plant does not have strict requirements but grows best between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pests like aphids and mealybugs are some of your succulents’ common enemies. They can cause severe damage to the foliage by sucking the nutrients from the leaves, making your plant weak and vulnerable to diseases. The infestation can also interfere with growth, meaning your string of pearls will not grow to its full potential.
If you notice these sapsuckers crawling on your plant’s leaves, you should get rid of them immediately. Insecticidal soaps and neem oil usually works well to manage pest infestations. Apply the treatment at the proper dosage weekly until all the pests are gone.
Why is my string of pearls growing slowly?
Not seeing new growth despite giving your plant the best possible attention can be heart-breaking! This might be down to certain growers’ mistakes that are often overlooked, or the plant is simply not in the right season to grow.
If you are feeling baffled by your succulent’s lack of growth, it might be due to one of these reasons:
- Your string of pearls is in its dormant phase, which is normal for most succulents during winter.
- Your string of pearls is not receiving enough light to foster new growth.
- Your string of pearls is rootbound.
- Your string of pearls is struggling with root rot or fungal disease. Often, this has to do with waterlogged soil caused by overwatering or by a pot without proper drainage.
- Your string of pearls is struggling with nutrient deficiencies.
- Your string of pearls is struggling with pest infestations.
How do you make a string of pearls grow thicker?
On top of the basic plant care requirements, you can make your string of pearls grow thicker by regularly trimming off the dead leaves and leggy stems, and propagating new plants through these stem cuttings. The newly propagated cuttings can be planted in the same pot with the mother plant, making it look fuller and bushier.
So, if you are not the type who usually enjoys pruning your succulents, it is time to incorporate this habit into your plant care routine! Regular pruning helps get rid of damaged leaves and stems so your plant can focus on new growth. Trimming the dead leaves also keeps your string of pearls tidy and looking good!
Seeing your string of pearls grow fast can be very rewarding, but to achieve this growth, you need to give your succulent the right care and attention. This includes proper watering, sunlight, and fertilizer to keep it strong and healthy. Hopefully, you can incorporate these plant care habits into your gardening routine and enjoy gorgeous, beaded foliage for years to come!
Image: istockphoto.com / Tatyana Consaul