The mysterious string of pearls plant has captured the attention of plant enthusiasts everywhere. Although native to southwest Africa, this draping succulent vine has adapted to houseplant life with ease. Today, they are the envy of collectors. Their sweet, spherical leaves are strung along a delicate thread in an almost unnatural way. All it takes is one look at a string of pearls plant to understand why they became such a novelty.
When you're ready to plant your new string of pearls, be sure the pearls at the base of the string closest to the root ball are level with or slightly below the edge of the pot. Allow the length to dangle over the edges for that classic silhouette. Experts recommend against planting string of pearls plants in the ground.
The root system of a string of pearls plant is short and fragile, so it's best to pot them in small, shallow pots. Potting a small specimen in a large pot exposes the plant to root rot from the excess moisture retention. Instead, choose a pot just an inch or two larger in diameter than the pot from which you're removing it. These succulents need to breathe, so be sure to pot them in unglazed ceramic pots with drain holes for maximum aeration.
Commercial succulent mixes are sandy and gritty — perfect for the string of pearls plant. These succulent types do not tolerate wet feet, so they require a quick-draining mix. You can make your own soil at home by mixing one part sand with three parts conventional potting mix. The result should crumble rather than retain its shape.
Succulent plants are excellent at retaining moisture in their fleshy leaves. The pearls are full of water that the plant will use over time. As such, water your vine sparingly. Check every two weeks in the summer if the top inch of soil is dry, and water if it is. In the winter months, water once a month. Allow nature to care for any string of pearls kept outside.
Your string of pearls plant will do best in indirect, filtered light. Hang them about a foot away from a window with southern or western exposure for maximum brightness. Pearls kept outdoors will appreciate exclusive shade. Perfect for office spaces, the string of pearls plant will flourish under 8 to 12 hours of fluorescent lighting. Always avoid direct sun.
Like most succulents, the string of pearls plant readily propagates itself. To aid in this process, cut off a 4 to 5 inch piece of the end of a string and place it flat on top of a pot full of soil. Keep the cutting moist, and roots will begin to emerge. Be careful when collecting cuttings as the sap may irritate the skin.
Although the string of pearls plant does a fine job on its own of defending from insects, an infestation is still possible if its health is compromised. Insects like mealybugs and spider mites will sap the plant of vital nutrients and cause yellowing and rot. Use an insecticidal soap to treat this issue.
Though immune from most diseases, the string of pearls plant is susceptible to rot like all succulent types. Root rot occurs when dampness weakens the plant's defenses and invites a fungal infection. Rot typically begins at the roots and slowly blooms through the plant. Once signs of rot are visible, there is no saving the plant.
Plant experts recommend you feed your string of pearls plant every two weeks during the springtime growing season. Commercial fertilizer preparations made specifically for succulents are appropriate, but be sure to dilute the lowest dose so as not to burn the delicate root system. Do not fertilize during the dormant months of fall and winter.
The string of pearls plant produces fluffy, little, cinnamon-scented dandelion-like blooms when properly cared for. To make sure your plant blooms in the coming spring, cut back on the water and provide a consistent temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the wintertime. When the next growing season begins, watch the blooms burst forth and enjoy your fluffy bead curtain.
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