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String Of Pearls (Curio rowleyanus)

There are countless varieties of different vegetation that have been adapted to grow inside enclosures. However, sometimes it can be a little tricky to find a plant that truly stands out. If you are looking for a relatively easy, yet striking succulent to add to a tank, opt for the String of Beads Plant.

In addition to its carefree growth habit, this interesting houseplant can provide a unique focal point in the vivarium. This article will take a closer look at the vine plant, helping understand and enjoy its unique characteristics and ease of care.

Quick Stats:

Scientific Name: Curio rowleyanus (Formally Known As Senecio rowleyanus)

Family: Asteraceae

Common Names: String of Pearls, String of Beads, Bead Plant, Rosary Plant, String of Peas, String of Marbles, Necklace Plant, Rosary Vine, Irish Beads

Habitat: Mountains, Vally Hillside

Height: 3ft

PH Range: 6.6 to 7.5

Temperature: 50°F to 75°F

Lighting: Bright

What Is A String Of Pearls Plant?

The string of Pearl Plant is a unique creeping succulent known for its eye-catching appearance. It is a very unusual houseplant in the Asteraceae family. Succulents are plants with parts that are enlarged, plump and engorged, usually to store water in dry soil or climate conditions.

The word “succulent” comes from the Latin term sucus, which means juice, or sap. Some succulent plants collect water in their leaves, stems, or even roots. The string of pearls is also classified as a vining plant. A vine can be defined as any flora with a growth habit of creeping or trailing stems.

It is extremely tough and will thrive in almost any situation when grown indoors. Due to such qualities, this perennial is very hardy and will thrive with minimal care when grown indoors or outdoors.

String Of Pearls (Curio Rowleyanus) Care Guide

String Of Pearls Plant Facts

The String of Pearls Plant is botanically called Senecio Rowleyanus or more recently Curio rowleyanus. The plant was discovered by a British botanist named Gordon Rowley. Whom the succulent ended up being named after.

Even though it was formerly placed in the Sencio genus, this vine has recently been switched over to the Curio genus. Hence, the botanical name changed. Despite this change, it will still most likely be found and sold as its first name “Senecio”

. Common names of this vine include String of Pearls, String of Beads, Bead Plant, Rosary Plant, String of Peas, String of Marbles, Necklace Plant, Rosary Vine, Irish Beads, and String of Pearls. Most of the common names of the plant were given to it due to its almost perfectly round leaves that look like little beads or pearls.

Description

As mentioned before, the String of Pearls has a very unique and fascinating look. Aside from its easy care regimen, this plant’s leaves are what make it so special. Much like its name, the foliage of this plant consists of ¼-inch pearl-shaped circular leaves, which are used to hold water.

The pea-shaped leaves are light green in color and grow attached to thin trailing stems in an alternating pattern. Each leaf has what is known as an epidermal window on its side. This window is a small slit of translucent tissue, which allows light to penetrate the interior of the leaf.

Such a specialized structure increases the area of the leaf tissue available for photosynthesis. There is also a very small “beak” at the bottom of each leaf, which basically looks like a pointy end. The circular shape of the leaves decreases the amount of surface area that is unprotected against the arid desert air. 

Therefore, reducing the amount of water the plant loses. Last but not least, the String of Pearls does not have a deep or extensive root system. In fact, their roots are shallow and somewhat weak. In order to compensate for that, each climbing stem will easily produce wiry roots as they touch the soil.

Habitat

The String of Pearls Plant is a species of flora native to torrid areas in the eastern part of the Cape of South Africa, where it was discovered by a British botanist named Gordon Rowley.

In the wild, this plant grows like a creeping vine on the ground, with each stem crawling and creating roots wherever they touch the soil. In order to protect itself from harsh conditions, Curio rowleyanus will grow and find its way between bushes or rocks.

This way the plant is able to gather as much shade as it can and continue to thrive. This succulent is not frost-tolerant and likes to grow in constantly warm temperatures between 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it can survive between the range of 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in its winter months.

PH Preference

The PH level of soil measures the relative acidity or alkalinity based on a scale of about 0 to 14. A PH of 7 represents neutral levels, meaning neither acidic nor alkaline. Even though the hypothetical range of PH is actually a lot wider, when it comes to plants the range used is typically between 4 (highly acidic) and 10 (highly alkaline).

The String of Pearls is not very picky when it comes to specific pH levels. However, they do prefer a neutral range of 6.6 to 7.5 to reach their full potential.

Vivarium Type

Curio rowleyanus will do quite well in a variety of vivarium types. Unlike most other succulents, this vine is able to tolerate and do quite well in higher levels of humidity. Nonetheless, they will usually prefer a drier environment.

The best way to decide on the perfect enclosure will be to keep in mind the plant’s natural habitat. Be sure to go with setups that have dry, well-drained, terrestrial areas. Here are recommended vivariums it will do well in:

  • Paludariums – Half aquatic/ half terrain-based enclosure.
  • Terrariums – Fully terrain-based enclosures with little to no aquatic features.

Vivarium Placement

The String of Pearl Plant is versatile and can be placed in different places within a vivarium. Since it is classified as a vining plant, any place higher in the enclosure is typically preferred. Especially since it tends to cascade down making the perfect accentuating tool for decorating longer tanks.

In addition, just like in its natural habitat, this vine can be placed in the foreground area of the tank and allowed to spread. Soon it should form a dense mat all throughout the bottom. The plant will grow horizontally in a very compact pattern, therefore not obstructing the view of the enclosure.

Due to Curio rowleyanus‘ full look, hobbyists will use this plant to cover up the backgrounds and walls of a tank in order to hide unattractive equipment. Curio Rowleyanus is a terrestrial-based plant. Therefore, it should not be placed fully submerged in water. It is important to keep this in mind when using the vine in an enclosure with aquatic features.

Substrate

The String of Pearls Plant prefers a dry and well-drained substrate. Regular succulent terrarium soil will work just fine. One option that will also always work well is a cactus potting mix. These mixes combine five parts coco fiber soil, two parts pumice, and one part peat moss for a mixture that dries out evenly.

Commercial potting soil can also work well as long as sand or perlite is added for drainage support. Waterlogged or soggy soil can lead to rotting roots and eventually the plant’s death.

Lighting

As mentioned before, Curio rowleyanus grows naturally in or near shaded areas. Nonetheless, this plant will need bright indirect light in order to thrive. It will undoubtedly survive and continue to do well under direct sunlight, as long as it’s not for long periods of time.

In fact, a few hours of sun in the early day will be beneficial to the plants’ health. When setting up lights inside of a vivarium, LED or fluorescent lights will do the trick just fine. Try to go for cooler color lights that resemble a bright, but shaded day.

This will assure the plant is receiving all the light it needs, without being harmed. You might also want to avoid any strong UVB lights since they will replicate direct sunlight. If you do need to have them for other plants/animals, make sure to have them on a timer or turn them off periodically.

Finally, if the vivarium does not have artificial lighting, try placing it under a northern or eastern-facing window. Try to make sure that a little bit of sunlight hits the vine in the early morning.

Buy a String Of Pearls

When shopping for a String of Pearl Plant, expect a few key indicators you are buying the best quality plant. Since the vine roots extremely fast and well, it will not necessarily need to be an adult or large plant. It would still be a good idea to buy the plant reasonably in size, in order to have more to work with.

The purchased succulent should be green, vibrant, and healthy-looking. Try to avoid any browning or wilting leaves. Those are usually signs of a plant that is not doing so well. Click the image below to find out more about the current price and other relative info about this plant:

String Of Pearls Care and Propagation

The string of pearls is a relatively easy plant to take care of. On the contrary, it will require a little closer attention than some other vines. Once its basic needs are met the plant will thrive without asking for much more.

The most important factors that can have an impact on the plant’s health will be light, water, and drainage. Another thing to keep in mind with Curio rowleyanus is the environment’s humidity levels. Although this species can tolerate little higher levels than most succulents, they should still remain under the 40 percent range.

How to grow

Curio rowleyanus is an extremely easy species to propagate. Like most other vines, this plant can be multiplied through the process of stem tip cuttings. Simply take a stem from an adult plant and cut about 3 to 5 inches of the stem.

Re-pot the new pieces somewhere different, slightly covering the bottom few nodes and allowing for roots to form. The new plant should begin growing in no time. Spreading stems on the ground will root almost as soon as they touch the soil. Once they grow, the process can be repeated again.

Like other succulents, String of Pearls can also be propagated by using its leaves. Just drop one of the circular leaves on the soil and wait. It will soon begin to root on its own. However, this method is not as reliable and will take much longer to complete successfully.

Curio rowleyanus will not always flower inside a vivarium. However, the plant does produce clusters of ½ inch cylindrical flowers. The flowers are said to resemble daisies. They are white with glowing yellow anthers and long red stamens.

These flowers will remain for about a month and are said to have a scent similar to cinnamon. In order to encourage the plant to flower, its natural cycle and environment will have to be imitated inside the tank. The two main things will be to cut back on watering and reduce the temperature to about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Watering

One of the most important things to pay attention to when it comes to a String of Pearls plant is its watering routine. Even though this plant does like a little bit more water than most other succulents, too much of it will still be detrimental.

A good rule of thumb is to water the vine only once a week or when its soil is dry to the touch. A key indicator that the plant needs more water, is if its leaves are beginning to look a little shriveled.

Do not allow foliage to shrivel up too much before watering or it might be too late. On the other hand, yellowing and shriveling up of leaves and thinning of the stems are signs that root rot has begun to set in.

Plants Similar To String Of Pearls

Having a diverse vivarium is quite important to obtaining a realistic enclosure. An assortment of different plants will help the setup resemble a natural environment tremendously. It will also drastically improve the aesthetics of the tank and make it less overbearing.

However, it’s not as easy as throwing a bunch of different species together. When adding different types of vegetation, it is important to make sure that they can all co-exist. If their care requirements are not similar, sooner than later some of the plants will end up dying.

One way to avoid this would be by finding vine plants with similar characteristics and needs as the String of Pearls Plant… Here are some other species you might find do well with or in place of Curio rowleyanus:

The Velvet Leaf Philodendron micans | The Plant Care Guide
Sphagneticola Trilobata "Trailing Daisy" Care Guide | Vivarium Plants
Philodendron Brasil (Philodendron Hederaceum)

Conclusion

I must say that String of Pearls has to be one of my favorite vines to add to a vivarium. Aesthetically speaking, it is one of many vivarium plants that will draw you in with its unique look. Not only is it a great ornamental tool for the enclosure, but it is also a relatively easy plant to care for. In my book, that is an absolute winner!

Have you ever grown Curio rowleyanus before? How would you describe your experience? Would you recommend this succulent to other hobbyists?

Frequently Asked Questions

String of Pearls, (Senecio rowleyanus), can add a lovely touch of greenery to your home or office. To keep the succulent thriving indoors, provide the following care:

1. Place in bright, indirect sunlight.

2. Keep the soil slightly moist but not soggy.

3. mist the leaves frequently to raise the humidity.

4. Fertilize with a balanced succulent fertilizer 23 times per year. (BONUS)

5. Prune stems and remove browning leaves as needed.

Yes, string of pearls likes to be misted by light, warm water. It thrives best in humid environments and misting will help increase the humidity around it and keep it healthy. Mist regularly, especially during dry seasons.

String of Pearls plants are known for their hardiness and long lifespan. In most cases, these plants live from eight to ten years with proper care.

An overwatered string of pearls will look wilted, discolored and the leaves may yellow or brown. Additionally, the soil may be darker in color and smell musty. Additionally, root rot could develop, which may lead to even more severe discoloration and wilting of the plant.

String of Pearls is a tropical succulent that needs to be watered every 710 days. Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings. Water the plants through the soil, not from the top as wet foliage can lead to fungal disease.

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