Shining the Light on String of Pearls Care: Optimal Light for Healthy Growth

String of Pearls was one of the first plants I bought when I became interested in keeping plants as pets. Whats not to love about those cute round green peas? They make you happy just looking at them. Like something out of Dr Suess. However String of Pearls was also one of the first and few Ive managed to kill. Not so happy after that.

One was dead, and the other was worn down to a sad, single strand that was bald and bare at the base. I almost gave up. But seeing pictures of long, lush strings of plump pearls made me want to change almost everything and try again.

And wow. Success! Easy peasy (now I know what to do – and not to do). I give String of Pearls a care rating of 1 out of 5. Yes. Really. That easy. Heres what I learned so yours dont end up with the same fate as my first.

Speaking of, below is one of my many String of Pearls today. Dont give up if yours are down to one sad strand like mine was. My Variegated String of Pearls, the girl below, was in the same place not long ago. Now look at her! What a big change! One of her all-green pea buddies is even flowering right now (which smell delicious).

With their cascading strands of rounded, bead-like leaves, string of pearls plants provide unique flowing texture as houseplants or in outdoor containers. But getting the light levels right is key to keeping these trailing succulents happy and healthy. How much light does a string of pearls plant need? Let’s shed some light on their ideal lighting conditions.

Bright Indirect Light is Best

In their native habitat in South Africa, string of pearls plants grow in rocky, sunny spots While they can tolerate some direct sun, too much will scorch their leaves

Indoors string of pearls require bright indirect light for best growth and appearance. This means a spot near an east or west-facing window where they get sun for part of the day. South-facing windows can also work if filtered with a sheer curtain.

Outdoors, situate string of pearls in part sun or filtered sun locations. Provide shade from hot afternoon sun. A partly shaded porch, patio or balcony is ideal. Morning sun and afternoon shade works perfectly to prevent leaf burn.

Signs Your String of Pearls Needs More Light

How can you tell if your string of pearls plant is getting sufficient brightness? Watch for these cues

  • New growth looks sparse, weak and more spaced out along the stems

  • Stems appear overly stretched out and lean toward the light source

  • Fewer beads form on new strands; leaves remain small and underdeveloped

  • Foliage lacks vivid green color and appears more yellowish or pale

Any of these signs indicate your plant needs a brighter spot to thrive. Gradually move it to a location with more indirect sunlight.

Maximizing Indoor Light Levels

When growing string of pearls as a houseplant, carefully consider the lighting in different rooms. South and west-facing windows are best, followed by east exposure. North window light is probably too dim unless augmented.

Make sure plants sit right in the window for maximum light. Rotate the pot regularly so all sides get illuminated. Sheer curtains can filter direct sun while allowing light to penetrate.

Grow lights can provide supplemental lighting if no sunny window is available. LED full spectrum grow lights work well. Position the lights 6 to 12 inches above the plant and set a timer for 12 to 16 hours daily.

Ideal Outdoor Light Conditions

String of pearls thrive on patios, balconies, and in uncovered outdoor containers if protected from intense midday and afternoon sun.

Place pots and hanging baskets in an area that receives bright light in the morning but shade in the hottest part of the day. Dappled sun filtered by trees is perfect. A partly shady porch or covered deck also provides suitable conditions.

Inground plantings of string of pearls do best in areas with morning sun and afternoon shade. Protect plants from harsh sunlight during the brightest times of day.

Supplemental Lighting May Be Needed in Winter

As day lengths shorten in fall and winter, your string of pearls houseplant or outdoor container plant may require supplemental lighting.

Indoors, use grow lights to extend the hours of sunlight the plant receives. Even a few extra hours makes a difference. Rotate plants occasionally so all parts get evenly illuminated.

Outdoor container plants can be moved to a sunny windowsill or under grow lights. For inground plantings, temporary shade structures help reduce winter dieback in climates with intense sun and short winter days.

Finding the Sweet Spot Takes Time and Observation

Determining where your string of pearls is happiest may require trying different locations and observing growth over time. Start with the brightest filtered light source you have then watch for signs to adjust as needed.

The lush, rounded leaves will signal if light levels are too low, causing stretching and sparseness. On the other hand, scorched, browned leaves mean too much intense sun. Strike that perfect balance for plump, evenly sized beads.

Other Requirements for Healthy String of Pearls Plants

While proper lighting is crucial, string of pearls have some additional needs:

  • Well-draining soil to prevent soggy roots

  • Infrequent but deep watering approximately once every 1-2 weeks

  • Avoid overfertilizing which can burn leaves in strong light

  • Good air circulation to prevent fungal diseases

  • Average room temperatures around 65-75°F (18-24°C)

Meeting all these basic requirements, along with the ideal amount of bright indirect light, will set your string of pearls up for success!

String of Pearls Light Requirements Vary by Variety

There are a few different varieties of string of pearls plants, and some have slightly different light needs:

  • String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) – Requires bright indirect light

  • String of Turtles (Senecio peregrinus) – Needs a bit more light than regular string of pearls

  • String of Bananas (Senecio radicans) – Tolerates lower light but grows best in bright locations

  • String of Dolphins (Senecio peregrinus) – Prefers very bright light, even tolerating some direct sun

So always pay attention to the specific variety you are growing when considering lighting conditions. The basic rules apply to all, but subtle adjustments may be needed.

Mimicking the Desert Environment

Understanding where string of pearls originate provides clues about how to recreate their preferred growing environment indoors or outdoors. Native to arid desert regions, they evolved to withstand drought and tolerate intense sun.

We can translate these harsh desert conditions to successful string of pearls care by providing:

  • Very well-draining soil
  • Infrequent but deep watering
  • As much bright indirect sunlight as possible
  • Avoiding cold temperatures and overwatering

This desert-inspired approach allows string of pearls to thrive anywhere from a sunny living room to a baking hot outdoor patio!

Achieving the Perfect String of Pearls Balance

Getting the light level right for string of pearls is all about balance. These trailing succulents need abundant bright, indirect sun to look their best yet avoid direct light that burns delicate leaves.

Observe your plant frequently, especially when moving it to a new location. Low light causes weak, sparse growth but excessive sunlight scorches. Find that sweet spot in between for lush, rounded leaves. A bit of trial and error can help determine just the right amount of sun for your conditions.

With a bright filtered sun exposure, well-draining soil, and proper sporadic watering, your string of pearls will cascade beautifully whether grown indoors or outdoors. Follow these light requirements for a healthy, thriving specimen.

Watering String of Pearls the right amount

Just because SOP are a succulent, doesnt mean no water. Not at all! Where my gang-of-peas lives now, they need to be watered once a week in the summer and three times a week in the winter. On the contrary, my pearls need more water than most of the other succulents in my collection. BUT that depends on all other conditions being right.

Provide the right sunlight conditions, then aim for lightly-moist in summer, and borderline dry in winter. Overwatering is a big no no for String of Pearls. In in doubt, best to wait, not water. They handle being too dry far better than too wet.

Give your Pearls a good soak in water until the water runs out of the bottom, then let it dry completely by letting it drip dry. No sitting in water. Put down that spray mister. Definitely dont water lightly. More about food coming up, but do feed your Pearls when you water too.

My pearls need watering every week to fortnight on average, but that doesnt mean yours do. Water to match your own conditions. Sure, water when the soil is dry, but don’t starve your pearls by leaving them dry for too long. If you do, you might end up with peas that are tiny and wrinkled.

Leaving them alone until the soil dries all the way to the bottom of the pot means that the roots at the top have been without water for a lot longer.

You might not be able to stick your finger in to check the soil because your pearls are so healthy that they cover the top of the soil. If you’re not sure, you can lift the pot and compare its weight to what it should be, or you can get a color-changing Sustee or Crew Soil Sensor to check for you.

Pearls pruning & propagation

Be mean. A good pruning every so often will help your pearls grow new leaves and make the vines thicker. Typically where youve trimmed a vine, two or more vines will grow back. Great if you have really thin, spindly vines. Whats even better is those trimmed vines root super easy provided theres plenty of stem on your cutting.

How to keep string of pearls thriving | AND SOME COOL FACTS


Can strings of pearls grow in low light?

Without direct sunlight indoors, Pearls usually go bald, starting at the top, and eventually die off. They also take longer to dry out, making them more prone to root rot, so water and light go together. Plenty of direct sunlight is extra important in winter when the intensity of the light is weaker.

Do you mist a String of Pearls?

Feed with a half-strength liquid feed once per month in spring, summer and autumn. Do not mist your plant. Prune any straggly ends to keep the plant looking neat. Strings of pearls have shallow root systems, so they need repotting only every few years, in spring.

Why are strings of pearls so hard to grow?

Overwatering, underwatering, wrong potting mix, improper sunlight, and insects or pests all can damage your String of Pearls. Therefore, providing appropriate care, as mentioned in our previous article, is essential to make your succulent thrive.

Where to put String of Pearls?

Light: Bright light with some soft direct sun. Avoid Midday direct sun or placing right against a window. Give your plant at least 15cm space between the glass and its hanging position.

How do you know if a string of pearls plant needs sunlight?

The String of Pearls plant prefers bright but indirect light. This means that it is important to place it near a window or in a bright room, but not in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and cause heat stress. If you notice that the leaves are turning yellow or brown, it may be a sign that the plant is getting too much sun.

What does a string of pearls plant look like?

The string of pearls has trailing, string-like vines. These strings produce green, pea-shaped leaves with a dark band called an epidermal window that allows more light to enter the plant for photosynthesis. In the spring, string of pearls will produce white blooms with curled pink and orange stamens.

How to propagate string of pearls?

When propagating String of Pearls, it is essential to choose a healthy stem. Look for a stem that is at least two inches long and has several leaves. The stem should be firm and not mushy or discolored. Using a clean and sharp pair of scissors, cut the stem from the parent plant. After cutting the stem, allow it to dry for a day or two.

Can string of pearls grow in sunlight?

String of pearls like bright, diffuse sunlight. It can tolerate direct morning sunlight but needs to be shaded from the harsher afternoon sun. Too much direct sunlight and heat can result in a shriveled, unhealthy plant with yellowing leaves and sunburn spots. Too little light can result in pale leaves, stunted growth and dropping leaves.

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