One of the most distinctive succulents, String of Pearls is an increasingly popular addition to the houseplant collection. A versatile specimen, Senecio Rowleyanus is equally at home in a pot on a light windowsill as it is in a hanging basket, where its long stems, covered with pearl-shaped leaves can elegantly fall downwards.
An intriguing specimen, despite its unusual appearance, String of Pearls is pleasingly easy to care for. It is also easy to propagate. In fact, in the right conditions the plant even self-propagates.
An ideal project for novice gardeners, or people who want to learn how to propagate plants, this guide to how to propagate a String of Pearls plant contains all the information that you need.
These are distinctive, vining succulents. Erbse am Band (Senecio rowleyanus) by Maja Dumat / CC 2.0
What is String of Pearls Plant?
Before we discuss how to propagate a String of Pearls plant it is important to understand exactly what it is.
These are attractive, robust succulents. Displaying a vigorous growth habit, in favorable conditions the stems can grow between 5 and 15 inches every year.
Native to South Africa, String of Pearls plant is a vining succulent. Whilst today it is commonly grown in pots or as a hanging succulent, where its stems can spill over the edge of the container for dramatic effect, in its native home the plant grows as flowering ground cover. Happy to grow in a well draining, shady or partial light position, mature plants can achieve a spread of between 1 and 2 ft.
A reliable pot plant, you can also grow Senecio Rowleyanus as a hanging succulent, or in warmer areas, as part of a rock garden. Popular for its leafy appearance, in particularly favorable conditions, cinnamon scented flowers may also form.
Also known as the Rosary Vine plant, these distinctive succulents are part of the Asteraceae family. Other String of plants include Tears (Curios citriformis) and Bananas (Curio Raicans). These are similar looking specimens with similar care needs. They can also be propagated in the same way.
If you are unsure what plant you have, inspect the foliage. The leaves of Senecio Rowleyanus are pea-shaped while Curious Citriformis leaves are more tear or raindrop in shape.
Curio Raicans has a fuller appearance and displays less of a trailing habit. Its foliage is said to resemble small, green bananas. Another similar looking plant is Curio Herreanus. An attractive, trailing specimen, the stems of Curio Herreanus are covered in small, melon-shaped leaves.
It is the shape of the foliage that sets Senecio Rowleyanus apart from other, similar vining succulents. Erbse am Band by Maja Dumat / CC 2.0
While it is an attractive specimen, Senecio Rowleyanus is not the longest lasting succulent. The plants have an average lifespan of around 5 years. Learning how to propagate a String of Pearls plant from stem cuttings enables you to continue to grow the plants for as long as you wish or expand your collection.
Warning, Senecio Rowlayanus is considered mildly toxic if its leaves or stems are ingested. Keep the plants away from any curious pets and younger children. If you are concerned or have sensitive skin, wear work gloves when handling the plants.
How to Propagate String of Pearls
Now that we know what a String of Pearls plant is, it is time to learn how to propagate the plants.
Easy to propagate, String of Pearls cuttings root readily as long as they are prepared correctly and planted in the correct potting medium. When learning how to propagate String of Pearls the key is knowing the best time to take the cutting and how to correctly do so.
Learning how to propagate String of Pearls by cuttings is the easiest way to propagate these plants. While you can also grow the plants from seed this is a more time consuming process that is prone to failure. Learning how to propagate String of Pearls plants from cuttings is not only easier, it is also quicker.
When to Propagate String of Pearls Plant
Taking cuttings at the right time is one of the most important aspects of learning how to propagate String of Pearls plants.
The best time to take cuttings is when the plants are actively growing, this is from spring to late summer. During this period the plants are producing thick, dangling webs of slender stems that are covered in small, ball-like green leaves.
Stems pruned from the plant are ideal for propagation. Erbse am Band Stecklinge by Maja Dumat / CC 2.0
During the growing period the stems can become too long and require pruning to keep the plants neat and under control. A good way to correct leggy plants, as long as they are healthy and disease free, the trimmings that you take when pruning the plants are ideal for propagation.
Preparing to Propagate String of Pearls Plant
When learning how to propagate a String of Pearls plant, preparation is key to the process being successful.
You should only ever take cuttings from a healthy plant. The stems should be green and unblemished. There should be no visible signs of damage.
To take cuttings you will need a sharp pair of pruners or garden scissors. Sharp tools enable you to make clean, sharp cuts. This reduces damage and stress on the plant and also makes propagation easier.
Be careful when handling the plants, the stems are fragile.
Always remember to clean your tools before and after use.
Take cuttings that are roughly 4 inches long. After removing from the plant, cut the stems in half, making an incision between the pea-like leaves. This creates two 2 inch long cuttings. Remove the leaves from the lower portion of the cuttings. New roots emerge from the nodes of the removed leaves.
Do not remove all the leaves. Each leaf contains water and nutrients that sustain growth. Removing all the leaves ensures that the cutting will fail.
The leaves contain vital nutrients that fuel growth. Watering plants by Quinn Dombrowski / CC 2.
If you are taking a cutting from a complete stem that has separated from the plant and has roots, trim the cutting down and plant the roots in an appropriate potting medium.
While many succulents need to rest before repotting, allowing a callus to form over the cut area, there is no need to rest your freshly harvested cuttings.
How to Root Your Cuttings
Once you have taken your cuttings, the next step in learning how to propagate a String of Pearls plant is learning how to root them.
You will need:
- A pot with a drainage hole,
- Appropriate potting mix,
- Spray bottle.
Succulents do best in terracotta or porous pots. These promote drainage far better than plastic containers. A 3.5 inch Ceramic Succulent Pot is ideal for starting cuttings. For more on choosing the right pot for your succulent, consult our guide to the best succulent pots.
The potting mix should be light and well draining. You can either use a succulent potting soil mix or make your own by combining fresh compost with horticultural sand. A 50:50 mix is ideal.
If you are learning how to propagate String of Pearls indoors and do not have a potting bench, lay some old sheets of newspaper down to make sure that you don’t make too much of a mess.
While you can dip the cut end in rooting hormone this is not necessary. Do not use rooting hormone if you are rooting your cuttings in water.
Fill the pot with your chosen well-draining potting medium.
Make a hole in the center of the potting medium. Plant the cutting. Lightly press down the soil around the cutting to keep it in place.
Rooting a cutting can take several months. During this time it is important to keep the cutting in a warm position where it can bask in lots of bright, indirect light.
Moisten the soil with a Rayson Spray Bottle every few days. Aim to keep the top level of soil lightly moist. It is particularly important that the area where the cutting contacts the soil remains moist.
Be careful not to overwater the cutting. Too much water can cause cuttings and young plants to rot and fail.
An Alternative way to Propagate String of Pearls Cuttings
Instead of cutting the stem down and removing the lower leaves, you can also root the cuttings by simply laying them on the soil.
To do this, fill a pot with appropriate potting medium and coil the cutting on the soil, lightly pressing it down. You can use a floral pin or bent paperclip to keep the cutting in place.
Learning how to propagate String of Pearls cuttings in this way is ideal for cuttings that already have some roots. The longer or fuller the cutting the bushier the new plant.
Continue to keep the soil moist. In time new roots develop at every point where the stem contacts the damp soil.
Stems allowed to contact moist soil for a prolonged period will develop roots. String-of-Pearls by ClatieK / CC 2.0
How to Propagate String of Pearls by Rooting in Water
A visually attractive method of learning how to cultivate new plants, rooting cuttings in water can also be applied to Ivy and Snake Plants as well as many herbs such as Basil, Lemon Verbena and Sage.
You will need:
- A healthy plant.
Take a cutting from a healthy plant following the steps outlined above. Remove the lower leaves from the cutting and place in a jar filled with fresh water.
Change the water every few days, Within a few weeks several white roots should develop. Once the roots are a few inches long you can plant the cutting in a pot filled with succulent appropriate potting soil. The plant won’t survive in water permanently.
Learning how to root and propagate a String of Pearls plant in water is easier and quicker than simply planting the cutting in the soil. While visually interesting, rooting cuttings in water is a more time consuming process.
Another important part of learning how to propagate a String or Pearls plant is the aftercare. This is vital to helping the plants develop a strong, healthy root system.
Regularly inspect the planted cuttings to check for problems or signs of growth.
Place the pots in an indirect light position. Do not place the cuttings in a bright widow, or close to a bright light source. This helps to protect the leaves from scorching.
An attractive succulent, learning how to propagate String of Pearls is a good way to increase the size of your collection.
Use a spray bottle to mist the soil when it starts to show signs of drying out. If you must use a watering can, use one with as fine a spray as possible. Too much water can wash the cuttings away before they have a chance to develop roots.
Cuttings are considered full plants once their roots are established and the stems actively growing. To check for root development, gently pull the cutting. If you feel slight resistance it is a sign that roots are developing.
Once new growth is visible and roots are developing you can begin to transition the cuttings to their intended growing position such as in a hanging basket. At this stage you can also start to care for the plants as if they are a mature specimen.
After around 6 months, as long as it is during the growing season, apply a dose of liquid succulent plant fertilizer. A balanced all purpose houseplant fertilizer diluted to half its strength can also be applied. Repeat this once every two weeks. Do not fertilize the plants during the dormant, winter period.
Mature or established plants do best in a warm, indirect light position. Best planted in well draining soil, adopt the soak and dry method, as explained here, when watering.
For more information on caring for these distinctive succulents, consult our in depth guide here.
Learning how to propagate a String of Pearls plants is a useful skill to acquire. Pleasingly easy to master and a great way to increase the size of your plant collection, once you are able to propagate a String of Pearls plant you can transfer the skills learnt to propagating other succulents and flowers.