The String of Pearls plant (Senecio rowleyanus) is known worldwide for its beauty. It’s native to South Africa but is cultivated in countries with mild climates. For this reason, it’s ideal for decorating the balconies of Italian homes.
In this article, we will see how to cultivate the String of Pearls plant in a pot on the balcony or terrace, and we’ll learn more about its characteristics.
The scientific name of the String of Pearls plant is Senecio rowleyanus. It belongs to the botanical family Asteraceae.
It’s a succulent plant with a distinctive trailing habit. It develops very long stems from its roots, over a meter in length. These stems are quite strong, allowing them to hang down without breaking, especially when the plant is suspended in a hanging pot. The entire surface of the stems is covered with small, succulent, spherical beads, about 6 cm in diameter.
These beads are actually the plant’s leaves, hence the common name. Due to their shape and arrangement, they resemble a rosary or a string of pearls.
The color of the beads is bright green during the growing season, becoming lighter in winter when the plant goes into dormancy. The beads are marked by a translucent longitudinal stripe, and there are also varieties of the String of Pearls plant with variegated colors. In our climates, flowering occurs between August and October, with small white daisy-like flowers. The flowers might not be very showy, but they are highly fragrant. After flowering, the plant produces seeds wrapped in a white, cottony pappus, which aids in the plant’s natural wind-driven dispersal.
How to Cultivate the String of Pearls Plant
Cultivating the String of Pearls plant is quite straightforward and can be highly rewarding.
- Use a specific soil mix for succulent plants,
- Provide adequate basic fertilization,
- Avoid excessive watering,
- Protect the plant during winter months (if possible, bring it indoors),
- Repot every two years,
- Prevent pests using garlic and nettle macerates,
- In case of severe infestation, use Marseille soap.
Cultivating the String of Pearls Plant: Technical Tips
We recommend cultivating the String of Pearls plant in a pot, especially in central and northern regions. This is because the plant is sensitive to frost, so it should be protected during winter, perhaps by bringing the pot indoors. Choose a well-lit position on your balcony, but not in direct sunlight. During summer, prolonged direct sunlight can stress the plant. As mentioned earlier, the string of pearls is best cultivated in hanging pots, preferably with a rounded shape. This allows the stems to cascade and elongate freely. Over time, the aesthetic effect becomes spectacular and a delight to admire. The propagation of the String of Pearls plant is typically done through cuttings. In spring, you can simply detach a small piece of a stem and plant it, and it will soon develop new roots. Naturally, you need to start with a plant, so if you don’t know someone who can give you a cutting, you can find it here.
The Ideal Soil
The right soil and proper irrigation are the secrets to cultivating a healthy and thriving String of Pearls plant. You should use a specific soil mix for succulent and cactus plants to ensure a balanced substrate. Additionally, it’s a good idea to place perlite or pebbles at the bottom of the pot to ensure proper drainage.
How to Water the String of Pearls Plant
Irrigation< for the String of Pearls plant should never be too frequent. Water the soil only when it’s dry, without overdoing it. Moreover, watering is not necessary during winter. Giving too much water is the primary reason for the demise of String of Pearls plants, as it can easily lead to root rot. To check if you’ve watered too much, observe the saucer beneath the pot; there should never be stagnant water.
How to Care for the String of Pearls Plant
During winter months, bring the String of Pearls plant indoors, especially in areas prone to frost. Place it near a window but away from heat sources like radiators, stoves, or heaters. Periodically, you should repot the plant, usually every two years.
Repotting is the best time for a basic fertilization, achieved by adding a bit of organic matter to the soil. Worm castings, such as worm humus, are ideal for this purpose, which you can find here.
If the basic fertilization is done well, there’s no need to add other fertilizers during the growing season. In spring, be attentive to the possibility of pests. Aphids and scale insects are the ones that pose the most risk to the plant. Their presence can be prevented by using natural macerates, such as those made from nettle and garlic. For significant infestations, we recommend using potassium soft soap.