String Of Pearls Turning Purple – Causes And Fix

String Of Pearls Turning Purple - Causes And Fix

The string of pearls is a vining succulent, popular for its unique foliage that resembles a beaded necklace. It is also known for its low-maintenance profile that makes it a beginner-friendly plant for novice gardeners.

However, despite its relative hardiness, it is not completely immune to problems, and if its orbed foliage starts to turn purple, this is probably a sign of an underlying issue. Often, it is not a major concern for growers, but if you notice other signs of damage such as mushy stems, a droopy appearance, leaf drop, or sparse growth, then your plant probably needs your attention.

Read on to learn the common causes of a string of pearls turning purple and what you can do to fix the problem!

Why is my string of pearls changing color?

It might seem interesting or exotic to watch your string of pearls changing color. However, this discoloration of the pearls is often indicative of plant stress! 

Anthocyanin, the red or purple pigment found in succulents, is what makes your string of pearls turning purple when exposed to environmental stressors. The most common culprit is sunburn, but other factors like watering issues, varying temperatures, and plant diseases could also trigger the leaf discoloration.

How do you know when a string of pearls is dying?

Root rot is the leading cause of plant death, including in string of pearls plants. Aside from the leaves turning purple or brown, damage can also manifest as mushy stems and roots, stunted growth, a droopy appearance, and defoliation. If you notice these symptoms, then your first step should be to investigate the roots and check for signs of damage.

If the pearls are turning purple without visible damage to the root system, then there is a higher chance of recovery for your plant. Such issues are usually not as serious as root rot and can often be resolved by correcting your plant care routine. 

Common causes of string of pearls turning purple

1. Exposure to full sunlight

The string of pearls does not do well under full sunlight. If you notice the pearls changing color from green to purple, it can be a sign that your plant is struggling with sunburn. Sometimes, the scorching heat can also cause the pearls to burst, develop lesions, or shrivel as the plant loses its moisture. 

That said, some growers intentionally place their string of pearls outdoors or near an open window with full sunlight to achieve a purple tint on the beads. This might be possible if done carefully, if you want to maintain this colorful pigmentation. 

However, if your plant is showing signs of distress, it is best to relocate it to a covered patio, under a tree, or near a window with curtains. Prolonged exposure to bright sunlight may lead to irreversible damage that might kill your plant.

Other solutions to sunburned pearls are as follows:

  • Avoid placing your plant near south-facing windows, as these tend to receive the most sunlight throughout the day.
  • Your string of pearls need sufficient, indirect sunlight for photosynthesis. To maintain its green foliage, keep it in a spot that gets diffused sunlight or opt for artificial grow lights if you cannot find a perfect spot for it.
  • Do not place your string of pearls near a hot glass window. 

2. Underwatering

Another possible reason your string of pearls looks distressed is if it is not receiving sufficient water. Neglected plants will lose their leaf moisture over time and this will cause unusual discolorations of the foliage. When your string of pearls is deprived of water for extended periods, the severe dehydration will eventually kill it.

Solutions to underwatered string of pearls:

  • A consistent watering schedule is vital for your string of pearls to thrive. To know the best time to water your plant, simply check the condition of the soil with your finger. Is it dry? If so, then give your string of pearls a drink. If the soil is still wet, let it dry first before watering again.
  • If the soil is extremely dry after a long period of neglect, soak the plant by placing the pot in a tray of water until all of the soil becomes moist. Allow the pot to drain well afterwards and discard the excess water.
  • Correcting your watering habits should reverse the pigmentation of the pearls. Increase your watering bit by bit and see how the plant responds. You do not want to overwater it, because this will cause another whole set of problems!

3. Overwatering

Overwatering is the number one cause of plant death, yet many growers are guilty of this bad habit. Too much water can stress the roots of your string of pearls, causing its leaves to turn brown or purple. Additionally, overwatering can lead to root rot, which manifests as mushy, dark roots that smell swampy as bacteria and fungi begin to overtake them.

Solutions to overwatered string of pearls:

  • If root rot has started, use a sterilized pair of scissors to prune any damaged roots and prevent the spread of fungi and bacteria. You can also trim any damaged stems and leaves to improve your plant’s appearance.
  • Wash the roots and soak them in a fungicide. After repotting, place your plant in a well-ventilated area with access to indirect sunlight.
  • Make it a habit to monitor the condition of the soil before watering. As mentioned before, insert your finger into the soil to determine the dampness. You can also use a soil moisture meter for more accurate moisture readings.

4. Sudden temperature changes

A sudden shift in temperature can put your plant in a state of shock. If you notice your string of pearls turning purple and drooping, you should investigate whether this was caused by light or temperature variations indoors.

Solutions to temperature stress:

  • Do not place your plant near an open window or in an area that gets cold drafts.
  • Frequent relocation can put a lot of stress on your string of pearls, so avoid moving it around unnecessarily.
  • It is best to bring your plant indoors during the cold months to protect it from frost.
  • Do not place your string of pearls near a fireplace, heating devices, furnaces, or vents. It is sensitive to elevated temperatures, so keeping it too close to heat sources can easily burn its leaves.
  • Maintain adequate airflow and humidity in your growing area.

5. Poor pot drainage

Pots that do not have drainage holes can compromise the roots of your plants. Similar to overwatering, plant containers with poor drainage can lead to waterlogged soil and root rot. 

Watch out for these signs of root rot:

  • Leaves turning purple
  • Shriveling or drooping
  • Slow growth
  • Roots and stems becoming soft or mushy
  • Defoliation
  • Symptoms of bacterial or fungal disease

Unfortunately, root rot is an irreversible problem. The only solution to save your string of pearls is to remove its damaged roots, stems, and leaves, and hope that you have caught the problem early enough. The earlier you intervene, the higher the chance of your plant recovering.

Here are some additional tips to prevent root rot:

  • Remember that your plants are better off underwatered than overwatered, so keep your watering in check.
  • Make sure to use the appropriate pot size for your plants. Larger pots tend to hold more moisture and increase the risk of root rot.
  • Use pots with lots of drainage holes. This allows the excess water to flow out freely every time you water your plants.
  • Use a soil mix with good aeration. Plant roots need to breathe oxygen in order to function. Brands like Miracle Gro and The Valley Garden will help ensure the best soil quality for your string of pearls.

6. Too much fertilizer

Overfeeding your string of pearls can lead to root burn. This, in turn, can cause purple or brown leaves, stunted growth, and a droopy appearance. If you notice white crusts forming on the top of the soil, then your plant’s stress is likely caused by overfertilization.

To save an overfertilized string of pearls:

  • Flush out the excess fertilizer by giving your plant a good shower. Make sure that the water flows freely from the drain holes.
  • Repeat the process up to four times until you are confident that the surplus nutrients have been flushed out of the soil. Allow your string of pearls to recover for at least a month before adding fertilizer again.
  • It is highly recommended to use a water-soluble fertilizer with a balanced nitrogen-potassium-phosphorus ratio, and to dilute the fertilizer to about half its strength.
  • Fertilize your string of pearls fortnightly at most, and only during the spring and summer. Stop fertilizing during the plant’s dormant period.

7. Pests and molds

No plant owner wants to deal with pest infestations or plant mold, but unfortunately your string of pearls is not immune to such problems. Pests and soil molds can be stressful for your plant, causing its plump green pearls to droop or discolor.

Some tell-tale signs of pests and molds are as follows:

  • Presence of white substances or web-like structures on the stems and leaves.
  • Visible damage on the foliage. This happens when bugs suck the sap from the leaves.
  •  A white, powdery mildew on the leaves and stems that looks like a dusting of flour. This fuzzy substance is actually fungal spores that thrive in warm and humid climates.

Solutions to treat pests and molds:

  • Isolate the affected string of pearls to prevent the disease from spreading to other plants.
  • Trim off the damaged leaves and stems. 
  • Depending on the type of pest, use the appropriate solution such as neem oil, horticultural oil, or insecticidal soap to get rid of the sap-sucking bugs.
  • Avoid watering your plants at night, as the foliage will stay damp for longer and attract pathogenic organisms like fungi and bacteria.
  • Make sure that your string of pearls does not sit in waterlogged soil. Always check the soil before watering.
  • Avoid misting your plant – fungal spores love humid environments!


Exposing your string of pearls to unfavorable growing conditions can lead to unusual pigmentation of the beads. Some growers see this as an opportunity to induce variegation, but overdoing it might eventually kill your plant! So, make sure to address the specific issues that are causing your string of pearls to turn purple, so that you can enjoy its beautiful, plump beads for years to come!

Image: / Cn0ra