Underwatered String of Pearls – Signs and How To Revive

Underwatered String of Pearls - Signs and How To Revive

String of pearls plants, botanical name Senecio rowleyanus, are popular indoor plants that are usually grown in hanging baskets or pots.

These succulents, native to the arid areas of southwest Africa, have leaves that look like peas, or pearls, and white blooms that smell like cinnamon. Also called string of beads or rosary plants, they thrive indoors in temperatures around 72 degrees Fahrenheit during their active growth and around 50 degrees Fahrenheit during dormancy.

Although they are succulents that store water in their leaves, they are still susceptible to the effects of underwatering if neglected for too long. 

Underwatered string of pearls: Signs and how to revive

Signs of underwatered string of pearls 

1. Yellowing leaves

Your plants are probably underwatered if their leaves are turning yellow. You may have forgotten to water them for some time, or perhaps you were away – this could be fatal for your plants.

Aside from yellowing, the leaves could eventually fall off due to a lack of moisture and nutrition. Trim off the yellow leaves so that the plants can focus their resources on keeping the healthier leaves alive, and thus recover faster. 

2. Shriveled plants 

Drought stress and dehydration could cause the plants to shrivel, and they look like they are dying. If you have been watering your plants regularly and they still look shriveled, it could be that you are watering them too lightly each time.

Also, if the soil has been dry for a long time, it can actually repel water off the surface, thus preventing the water from reaching the roots. 

Too much heat or sun and insufficient light could also contribute to declining health in your string of pearls. 

How to revive an underwatered string of pearls

To revive the plants,  place them in a location where there is bright, indirect sunlight instead of full sun. This way, they are not exposed to high temperatures while recovering from drought stress.

See to it that the plants are not near any heat sources like radiators or air conditioning units, which could further dry out the leaves.  

Soak the soil generously with water until you see excess water trickling from the holes at the base of the pot. This indicates that the water has seeped through all of the soil and all the roots have been able to absorb the moisture. 

Water the plants once every two weeks during spring and summer, and once every three to four weeks during winter. This should provide the right balance of moisture to keep the leaves hydrated while avoiding root rot from overwatering.

However, the watering frequency will also depend on your local climate, weather and soil conditions. If the soil is not absorbing water properly, place the pots in a basin of water for 10 minutes so the water can moisten the soil from below.  

To prevent the soil from repelling water again, remove the plants from the pots after soaking them in a basin of water. Loosen the soil; the plants will be easy to remove from the wet soil without hurting the roots. Replace the old soil with fresh succulent soil. This type of soil retains an airy, porous texture when dry, mirroring the soil conditions of the plants’ native environment.  

String of pearls plants grow on hillsides in gritty, well-draining soil. They thrive in bright, indirect light with infrequent rainfall. Their leaves store water to help them through periods of drought, but if they are placed in full sun the intense light could result in water loss through the leaves. 

Soak the soil every time you water the plants, instead of giving just a light watering that only moistens the soil’s surface. Water will not be able to seep through the potting soil and reach the roots if the watering is too light. A good soak at least every two to three weeks is ideal to avoid problems related to underwatering. 


String of pearls plants are also called strings of beads since they resemble a bead necklace. These cascading succulents have fleshy, pea-like foliage and, despite being succulents that store water, are still prone to underwatering if neglected for too long.

Common signs of underwatering include yellowing leaves and a shriveled appearance. To revive an underwatered string of pearls, it should be placed in a location with bright, indirect sunlight and the soil thoroughly soaked with water. Thereafter, it should be watered every two weeks during spring and summer and every three to four weeks during winter. 

Image: istockphoto.com / kindoki