Variegated String Of Pearls Plant – Senecio Rowleyanus Variegata

Senecio Rowleyanus Variegata

‘Variegated String Of Pearls’

Senecio Rowleyanus Variegata is a trailing beauty that is rare and sought after. This is a succulent variety like no other with its long and slender green stems upon which sit a cascade of green and white pearl-shaped leaves. It is often referred to as variegated ‘String of Pearls’ or even ‘String of Beads’.  

Quick Guide

Position Part Sun, Part Shade

Watering Water thoroughly but infrequently

Size 2″ tall, 60″ long Trailing Succulent

Climate Not Cold-hardy, Zone 10 (28° F / -2° C)

Propagate Seed or stem cuttings

Seasonality Evergreen, Summer Dormant

Toxicity Toxic to humans and animals if eaten

Flowers Off-white cinnamon-scented flowers

If cared for correctly, this trailing succulent will grow quickly.  It makes a great house plant and is a real eye-catcher with the interest and texture of the leaves cascading downwards. Just be sure to position it on a high shelf to allow the stems to trail down. Likewise, when planted in pots and containers, it will add a wonderful contract to an outdoor arrangement or display.

In warmer climates, it can even be planted in the ground and will do well if left to meander among other plants to fill in gaps but do bear in mind that ‘String of Pearls’ succulents are toxic to humans and animals if eaten.

Variegated String of Pearls Care

Position

If growing indoors ‘ Variegated String of Pearls’ does well in a bright room with plenty of natural light.  For outdoor growing, position in a sunny spot but move to partial shade when it’s really hot.  They can tolerate temperatures as low as 28° F / -2° C for short period but only if the soil is dry. If the weather drops cooler, then it’s best to bring them indoors.

Spread

A variegated ‘String of Peals’ plant can grow to 4” (10cm) in height by 36″ (90cm) long.  Make sure you leave plenty of space below for the trailing stems.

Watering

Like most succulents, the risk to Senecio Rowleyanus Variegata is overwatering and you’ll know if this happens because the leaves ‘pearls’ will swell and even burst. As with most succulents keeping their roots dry by planting them in well-draining soil will help to prevent this. 

The key is giving them a good watering when needed and then also exposing them to a dry period to allow roots to grow and get the oxygen they need to thrive and the best way to ensure this is with the ‘soak and dry’ method of watering.   

The ‘soak and dry’ method simply means waiting until the soil is almost completely dry before giving the plant a thorough soaking.  A top tip is to be brave and prepared to hold your nerve when it comes to holding off on the watering and if in doubt, err on the side of caution rather than going full pelt with the watering can.

To test the dryness of the soil press your finger at least a quarter of an inch into the soil or prod the soil around the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.  If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water your plant. 

Most succulent growers prefer to use a long stem succulent or bonsai watering can soak the soil around the ‘String of Pearls’ plant. Using a watering can allows you to reach up to trailing succulents rather than removing them from their hanging position to soak and wait for them to drain.

When you are watering, be mindful that ‘String of Pearls’ is summer dormant. This means you may need to reduce the amount and frequency of watering during the summer months whilst your plant lays dormant. Your plant will still grow during dormancy, but they tend to grow much slower and therefore need less water than during the main growing season.

One further word of caution about watering, don’t be tempted to use a spray bottle or mister when you’re watering your succulents. Firstly, the roots of the succulent will not get the required amount of water they need to hydrate. Secondly, any water that settles and remains on the leaves can lead to leaf rot, disease, or potentially encourage pests.

Soil

The roots of your Senecio Rowleyanus Variegata need to be free from excess moisture in order to receive the oxygen they need for healthy growth and to prevent root rot and disease.  To achieve this use a well-draining soil made from either peat-free soil or coconut coir then mixed with minerals such as grit, sand, or perlite.  Planting in the right type of soil will encourage healthy growth and help to prevent root rot and disease.

Making your own well-draining soil is easy.  Simply, mix two-thirds of minerals such as grit, sand, and perlite, and one-third organic matter, such as a good quality peat-free compost or coconut coir.

You can of course buy a ready-mixed version and there are plenty of good cacti and succulent soils available to purchase online or at any decent garden-supply retailer.

Flowers

Expect to see off-white flowers, almost brush-like in appearance with long red stamens in summer.  They are slightly fragranced with the scent of cinnamon and stand proud of the ‘String of Pearls’ stems on peduncles.  Blooms will last for approximately 1 month but remove any yellow, brown, or dead flowers immediately. 

To encourage your ‘Spring of Pearls’ to bloom you should take appropriate action in late autumn and winter by reducing the temperature to a maximum of 60° F | 16° C and allowing the soil to dry completely before watering sparingly.

Feeding

To encourage a good, strong root system and healthy growth use a ready-mixed succulent or cactus fertilizer every 2-4 weeks during spring and summer.  There’s no need to fertilize over winter. 

Pruning

Prune only when necessary to remove yellowing, damaged or dead vines. Always use sharp and sterile scissors or a knife when doing so.

Repotting

‘String of Pearls’ will be quite happy not to be repotted very often.  In fact, succulents in general tend to do well when their roots are slightly restricted. 

If your plant does outgrow its container it’s best to re-pot in spring or early summer.  Choose a suitably sized succulent pot and repot very carefully with fresh soil.  To avoid any potential for root rot, ensure the crown of the plant is no deeper than 1 inch below the soil level.

Always check the condition of the roots while you’re repotting for any signs of rot.  If you do notice any wet and slimy, dark brown or black areas on the roots, gently trim them off with a sharp sterile knife or scissors.  Allow the cuts to dry before repotting. 

How To Propagate Variegated String Of Pearls

‘String of Pearls’ can be propagated from seeds and stem cuttings using a propagation station or rooting in the soil. See below for a step by step guide on how to propagate from stem cuttings.

Stem Cuttings

To take a cutting always use a sharp, sterile knife or pair of scissors and follow these

  • Cut a stem as cleanly as possible and at least 4″ in length. 
  • Place some kitchen paper in a container or tray and put the cutting on top. There’s no need to place the cutting in the soil at this point.
  • Keep the cutting dry for the next 5 days or so to allow it to form a protective barrier or to ‘callous off’.
  • Once the callous has developed you can lay the cutting on top of a thin layer of succulent or cactus soil and wait for the roots to start to grow.  This will take a few weeks.  Water the soil only when it has completely dried out.
  • When roots appear, plant in a pot or container using succulent or cactus soil.  It’s best to mound the soil up around the newly rooted cutting so that it sits slightly proud of the pot.  Press down to secure and cover with a layer of grit.  Do not water at this point.
  • The following day water very lightly and press the soil down once more.  Position in full sun during the morning and afternoon and move into a shaded spot during the hottest part of the day.

Common problems with Variegated String Of Pearls

Root Rot

Many succulents including variegated ‘String of Peals’ can be prone to root rot. This happens where roots are left to stand in wet soil for too long. To mitigate the likely hood of root rot, make sure you use well-draining soil and prevent over-watering by only watering your plants if the soil is almost completely dry.

An early indicator of root rot is yellowing or rotting leaves and stunted growth. If you notice either of these signs then take action immediately!

You can do this by carefully removing your plant from its pot. Gently brush away any soil that remains on the roots and check the condition of the roots. Healthy roots are white or off-white and firm to touch. Cut off any roots that are brown or black, soft and even mushy with sharp, sterile scissors or a knife.

It’s a good idea to allow to cut to dry for a short while after removing the root rot. Once the ends are dry, re-pot using fresh soil and a clean pot. Monitor your watering schedule to ensure that you are watering thoroughly but less frequently.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are wingless insects that love warm and moist environments. They feed on the sap of succulents (and other plants) and can be found in crevices of plants especially around leaf nodes and stem junctions.

There are a number of things you can do to rid your succulent of mealybugs. Start by pruning out areas of the stems and leaves that the mealybugs have taken residence. If pruning can be avoided you can dab off the mealybugs using a cotton bud that’s been soaked in rubbing alcohol (such as surgical spirit).

You can then use a shop-bought insect spray, household detergent or, even soapy water to hose off the rest. You’ll need to repeat this process regularly until all signs of the infestation have gone.

You should also use a Neem oil solution to spray regularly over foliage every 10-14 days. Neem oil is non-toxic and will help to discourage future mealybug infestations.

Aphids

These slow-moving pesky little insects are commonly green, white, or black and breed in huge numbers, especially around new growth. They feed on the sap of plants and live in much the same spots as mealybugs in the cracks and crevices of stem junctions and leaf nodes.

They can be treated successfully in a similar way to Mealybugs by dabbing out large groupings of the pests with a cotton bug that’s been dipped in rubbing alcohol and then spraying regularly with detergent or household horticultural bug spray and use a cotton bud.

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