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Preserving your pearls

Plant ABC

Words by Kelsey Lee Jones

Illustrations by Camilla Perkins

The String of Pearls (aka. Senecio rowleyanus) got its name from the British botanist Gordon Douglas Rowley, an expert in Cactaceae and succulents. In their natural environment, these plants are creepers that trail the ground and root where they touch. We’ve learned to love them as hanging houseplants, putting them proudly on display as if they were green beaded necklaces.

Latin name: Senecio rowleyanus

Nickname(s): String of Pearls, String of Beads, String of Peas, or Rosary Beads.

Family: Asteraceae

Native to: Southwest Africa

Lifecycle: Perennial

Soil: Sandy soil is suggested

Special feature: Ball-shaped leaves, thanks to morphology (the shape came from an adaptation to arid environments that allowed for the storage of water).

Keep it bright or shine the light

Your plant will be happiest placed near a window that faces south or west. The plant will do well if it receives 2-3 hours of direct sunlight and bright, indirect light through the day. If you are unable to find such a place, you can also place them under a fluorescent light fixture.

Perfect the potting

Good drainage is important for this plant, this is why sandy soil is suggested. Mix soil and sand in the ratio of 3:1. Or alternatively, use a potting soil already mixed and meant for succulent plants. Always make sure that soil is well-drained.

Easy on the watering

Being a succulent plant, the String of Pearls has the amazing ability to retain moisture in its foliage. It’drought-tolerant and needs watering only occasionally – once or twice per month. Reduce the frequency during the winter, and always water in such a way that the soil is moist.

Make it bloom

When you let your plant rest, offer a temperature of 13-16°C, and cut back on watering in winter. The cool, dry conditions may promote blooming in spring. You’ll be excited if it happens and greeted with spectacular clusters of small, white trumpet-shaped flowers, studded with multicoloured stamens.


Now that your String of Pearls hangs happily, try our tips for perfecting the Pilea plant.