Battling Root Rot in String of Pearls – Causes, Prevention and Treatment

With their trailing stems of round, plump leaves, string of pearls are one of the most unique and coveted succulents. However, they are prone to fungal diseases like root rot if their care isn’t right. Root rot can quickly cause the demise of a previously happy string of pearls, turning the leaves yellow, brown and mushy. Read on to learn all about the causes of, prevention of, and treatment for root rot in string of pearls.

What Causes Root Rot in String of Pearls?

Root rot in string of pearls is caused by one of two things – overwatering or poorly draining soil Here’s a closer look at how each contributes to root rot


The number one cause of root rot in string of pearls is too frequent watering As succulents native to arid regions, these plants are adapted to infrequent watering When we keep the soil too moist, fungus can grow and infect the roots.

Signs your string of pearls is getting overwatered include:

  • Leaves start yellowing or browning
  • Soft, mushy leaves or stems
  • Foul odor from the soil
  • Roots are brown and mushy

To prevent overwatering, let the soil dry out completely between waterings.

Poor Drainage

Even if you don’t overwater, choosing a soil that doesn’t drain well enough can also lead to root rot in string of pearls. Soil that stays wet prevents oxygen from reaching the roots.

To prevent drainage issues, choose a very fast draining succulent or cactus soil blend. Amend regular potting mix with added perlite or sand. Use pots with drainage holes.

How To Prevent Root Rot in String of Pearls

Luckily, it’s easy to avoid root rot and keep your string of pearls healthy with proper care Here are some tips

  • Water only when the top 1-2 inches of soil are totally dry.

  • Use a fast-draining succulent soil mix.

  • Add extra perlite or pumice to improve drainage.

  • Make sure the pot has drainage holes.

  • Allow water to fully drain out after watering.

  • Don’t leave string of pearls sitting in water.

  • Give them bright, indirect light.

  • Repot annually in fresh soil.

  • Inspect roots and stems regularly for signs of rot.

  • Hold back on watering if soil takes too long to dry out.

Follow these guidelines, and you can avoid the dreaded root rot in your string of pearls!

How To Treat and Fix Root Rot in String of Pearls

If you catch root rot early, there is hope for recovery. Here are the steps to treat root rot and restore your string of pearls to health:

1. Unpot the Plant

Remove the string of pearls from its pot. Knock off as much soil as possible from the roots. Inspect the roots and stems for signs of rot – brown, mushy areas.

2. Remove Affected Areas

With sterile pruners or scissors, cut off any portions of the root system or stems that are mushy or rotting. Remove all diseased tissue until only firm, white roots and stems remain.

3. Let It Dry Out

Allow the trimmed string of pearls plant to dry out for a few days in a shady, well-ventilated area. This helps any remaining rot to die off.

4. Apply a Fungicide

Use a copper fungicide spray or cinnamon powder to coat the cuts and remaining roots. This kills fungal spores and prevents reinfection.

5. Repot in Fresh Soil

Repot in a sterile succulent soil mix, ensuring excellent drainage. Discard the old soil which might harbor fungus.

6. Hold Off on Watering

Don’t water for 7-10 days after repotting. This allows time for any remaining root rot to clear up before rewetting the plant.

7. Resume Care

After 7-10 days, resume watering when the top 1-2 inches of soil are totally dry. Place in bright, indirect light. Watch for renewed growth!

With prompt treatment, you can often rescue a string of pearls plant from root rot. Just be sure to address the underlying watering or drainage issues that caused the problem in the first place.

Choosing the Right Potting Mix and Container

One of the best defenses against root rot is using an appropriate succulent potting mix and container. Here are the best choices for string of pearls:

Potting Mix

  • Use a store-bought cactus & succulent soil for the best drainage.

  • You can amend regular potting mix with 50% perlite or pumice.

  • Make sure the mix is porous and drains rapidly after watering.

  • Soilless mixes made from coconut coir, barks or moss also work well.

  • Avoid moisture-retentive potting soils as these can stay too wet.


  • Small terra cotta pots are ideal as they dry out fast.

  • Ensure pots have drainage holes so excess water can escape.

  • Glazed ceramic and plastic pots work too as long as they have drainage.

  • Match pot size to rootball, only go 1-2 inches larger in diameter.

  • Avoid oversized pots which hold more moisture.

Choosing the perfect pot and soil for your string of pearls is one of the best ways to prevent wet conditions that lead to root rot.

By understanding what causes root rot, how to prevent it, and how to treat it if it occurs, you can keep your string of pearls thriving for years to come. Check the soil frequently, allow proper drying time between waterings, and repot annually in fresh mix for optimal health. With the right care, your string of pearls will reward you with abundant dangling green pearls.

How to Propagate String of Pearls?

String of Pearls propagation can be a fun way to add to your plant collection or give them to other people. Two popular techniques exist for propagating String of Pearls, namely stem cuttings and division. Both approaches can yield positive results, so choose the one that best aligns with your preferences.

  • Stem cuttings: On your String of Pearls plant, find a healthy stem that trails off. Cut a piece of the stem that is at least a few inches long with clean scissors or pruning shears. Make sure the cutting has several sets of leaves.

string of pearls root rot

  • Division: If your String of Pearls plant has more than one trailing stem, you can also divide it. Be careful as you take the plant out of its pot and carefully separate the stems by pulling them apart slowly and carefully. Ensure that each division has some roots attached.

When you use stem cuttings, cut off the bottom inch of the stem of the lower sets of leaves. This bare section will be inserted into the soil or propagation medium. If you are using divisions, ensure each division has some roots intact.

Prepare a container by filling it with soil that drains well or a good medium for growth, such as a mix of peat moss and perlite. Put the string of pearls cutting or division into the soil or medium, making sure to cover the stem that is showing or making sure the roots are buried well.

string of pearls root rot

The container should be put somewhere that gets a lot of soft light but not direct sunlight, which could hurt the leaves. Create a warm and moist atmosphere to facilitate the growth of roots. You may employ a plastic bag or a propagation tray equipped with a transparent cover to preserve moisture.

Give the string of pearls plant the right amount of water so that the roots don’t get too wet and the plant gets hurt. Water the soil lightly to keep it evenly moist. Stay mindful of how much water you give and adjust as needed for stronger, healthier plants.

Keep an eye on the cuttings or divisions for signs of growth. It may take a few weeks to several months for roots to develop. During this time, avoid overwatering to prevent rot. Once roots have formed, gradually acclimate the new plants to their growing conditions.

Click here to get extra tips on succulent propagation.

How to Get Rid of Mealybugs and Aphids on String of Pearls?

Similar to numerous indoor plants, String of Pearls is susceptible to troublesome pests. Among the commonly encountered insects are mealybugs and aphids. Mealybugs are small, cotton-like bugs that like to hide in cracks in plants. Aphids, on the other hand, are tiny, soft-bodied bugs that like to hide on new growth or the undersides of leaves. If neglected, both pests can inflict considerable harm on the succulent plant.

string of pearls root rot

If you want to know if your String of Pearls has bugs, look out for these signs:

  • 1. Having white, cottony masses or tiny, oval-shaped bugs (called mealybugs) on the stems or leaves of a plant
  • 2. Aphids, which are small, green or black bugs, grouped together on new growth or the undersides of leaves
  • 3. Sticky stuff or black sooty mold on the leaves of plants, which is caused by aphids making honeydew. Click here to learn more about succulent sooty mold.

To combat pest infestations on your String of Pearls, consider the following methods:

  • Keeping infected plants separate: If you see signs of pests, you need to quickly separate the infected plant from nearby plants so the infestation doesn’t spread.
  • Using insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat: Using insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat a plant that has been damaged is a proven method. Follow the product’s directions to the letter and apply the solution to the whole succulent plant, including the underside of the leaves. These treatments effectively suffocate and eradicate pests.
  • Regular checks and steps to avoid problems: Keep a close eye on your string of pearls plant to see if there are any signs of pests. Conduct routine examinations of the leaves, stems, and soil. Also, use preventative measures like cleaning the leaves often and not fertilizing too much, since pests are drawn to plants that are stressed or weak.



What does root rot look like in a String of Pearls?

If they are mushy and look blackish, then your plant likely has root rot. If it’s not too far gone, you can try to snip the dead roots off and leave the healthy, firm ones. Placing the plant in fresh (not waterlogged soil) will help as well.

What do overwatered strings of pearls look like?

Below are the signs of an overwatered String of Pearls: Translucent leaves. Soft or mushy stems and beads. Yellow leaves.

Can I save my String of Pearls plant?

If you’re sure it’s not from over or under watering, look to the light. Too much, too intense sunlight (like afternoon sun in summer), can scorch your pearls. Move to a spot with bright indirect light for a week or so to help them recover, then back to a spot with gentler, less intense sunlight in the future.

Why is my string of pearls dying?

The most common killer of string of pearls is root rot, which is caused by overwatering. Wait to water the plant until the top 1/2 to 1 inch of soil dries, and consider using a moisture meter to help gauge when your succulent needs water.

Can string of pearls rot?

String of pearls can easily rot if it stays wet for too long. If you want a mix that you CAN use straight out of the bag and not have to bother with blending, I strongly recommend the String of Things soil mix from Oh Happy Plants. You will get 10% off every time if you use my link.

Why is my string of pearls wilting?

If string of pearls foliage begins to shrivel when the top layer of soil is dry, slightly increase the amount of water the plant receives. If the beads are wilting when the soil is wet, however, it could mean that the plant’s roots have rotted from overwatering.

How do you repot a string of pearls?

Propagate string of pearls by gently planting a 3 to 5 in (7.6 to 12.7 cm) cutting in damp soil. Wait 3-5 weeks for the plant to root. Repot your plant when it gets too big for its current pot. Inspect your plant’s root system yearly to see how it’s doing. Set the plant near a window so it gets 3-4 hours of sunlight each day.

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