How To Propagate String of Pearls From Cuttings

Senecio rowleyanus, better known as the String of Pearls, is a beautiful plant that has a reputation for being somewhat tricky to care for.

But once you understand what the plant needs, it will thrive under your care. So why not propagate it and have more String of Pearls plants for free?

It also helps that these plants make fabulous gifts, whether that’s for someone who has grown a few of these beautiful plants already or someone who is just getting started with houseplants.

Can’t get enough of the beautiful String of Pearls? Here’s how to propagate it.

Why You Should Propagate Your Plants

Propagating your plants is fun, simple, and easy to do. It also helps that it is incredibly satisfying, especially when you see your cuttings flourish into established plants!

Propagating your plants also serves as a contingency plan of sorts. 

If something happens to your specimen String of Pearls plant, such as a terrible pest infestation, disease, or something else unthinkable, propagating your plant means that not everything is lost, even if the problem decimates your original plant. 

You still have at least one String of Pearls to care for, and in time, you can propagate that one too.

Propagating a String of Pearls plant could not be simpler, and it only takes a few minutes to get started. It also helps that it’s one of the easiest plants to propagate.

Once given the right conditions, a String of Pearls will grow like crazy, soon outgrowing its pot and trailing well past where you might want it to grow.

A good way of stopping the plant from getting too long or too leggy is to trim and propagate it, so there is no way to lose with this!

Single Leaf Propagation VS Stem Cuttings

There are two methods when it comes to taking cuttings from your String of Pearls: taking single leaf props, and taking stem cuttings.

For many plant species, propagating via single leaf cuttings tends to be better than taking stem cuttings.

You tend to get more eventual plants through the first method than the second while taking fewer parts off the main plant, which is why this is a good method for the likes of Pothos plants.

However, this is not the best method for String of Pearls. The leaves, or pearls, are very small and delicate, and while you can take single leaf cuttings, it is much easier to take stem cuttings.

It’s also a much faster way of doing things. Not just in terms of picking off individual leaves and then planting them, but because they tend to be faster to root as stem cuttings.

How To Promote Bushier Growth On Your String Of Pearls

If you just want to make your existing plant bushier instead of creating whole new plants, a good way to do this is to take a long stem cutting from your mother plant and wind it onto the surface of the soil. 

To help it root better, you can use something like bent paper clips to make sure the vine stays touching the soil, making them into a U-shape and gently fixing the stem to the compost.

With time, new growth will form along the vine, provided that there’s always good contact between the cutting and the soil, it’s kept slightly damp, and the plant is in a bright and warm position.

Propagating String Of Pearls In Water

Water propagation is super simple and quick to do. It saves you from having to prepare any sort of compost, you’ll never forget to water your cuttings, and you’ll soon see when your cuttings develop roots.

To propagate your String of Pearls in water, take some stem cuttings that are about 5 inches long or a little less with some sharp scissors.

While you’d normally air dry succulent cuttings, this is not necessary with a String of Pearls. 

Instead, grab a sterilized jar, glass lid, or another clear container with no holes, and put the cuttings straight into the water.

For String of Pearls cuttings, the more shallow the vessel, the better, as these cuttings tend to be much shorter and more delicate than most trailing plants. 

They are unlikely to stand up on their own as well as other plant species.

Even something like a small snack bowl or a glass dessert pot will do. Whatever you choose, make sure you take the pearls off the lowest part of the stem that will sit in water, otherwise, they can rot.

Be very gentle when removing leaves, as the stems will come off with the leaves if you don’t handle the vines gingerly. 

Make sure the cut ends are submerged in the fresh water, but the leaves are not. Then pop your vessel somewhere warm and bright, preferably with a little direct sunlight, but not so much that your cuttings cook.

Don’t forget to change the water every once in a while, around every few days or so to keep things fresh. 

After all, that’s the only thing you’re giving these cuttings, so it might as well be as good as possible!

Keep an eye on the water for any cloudiness or color changes. It’s also a good idea to look at the cuttings every so often and remove any that might be rotting before the rot spreads to the rest.

How Long Do Cuttings Take To Root?

Exactly how long your String of Pearls cuttings will take to root depends on several factors, chiefly the conditions you’re keeping your String of Pearls in, as well as the state of the cuttings themselves, and even how old your plant is.

These elements combined dictate how long your cuttings will take to establish themselves as new plants, and the hardest part of propagating any plant is not to keep checking for new growth!

Your cuttings may take anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks to root. How much light you give them is one of the biggest factors, along with temperature, moisture levels, the season, and how often you change the water or the quality of the soil.

For a String of Pearls, it’s a good idea to keep things warm and bright and to take cuttings during spring and summer when the plant is at its most active. 

For the most part, you can keep the growing conditions pretty similar to that of an established String of Pearls, but make sure to go easy on the watering.

When To Transfer Water-Rooted Cuttings To Soil

Once your stem cuttings have developed a good root system, it’s time to transfer them from water into fresh soil.

Use very small pots, to begin with when you plant up your rooted cuttings, as String of Pearls plants are very prone to root rot, especially when they are small plants! 

If the pot is too big, the soil will struggle to dry out, effectively rotting your plants before they have a real chance to grow. 

It’s best to under-pot them, to begin with, to prevent overwatering your new plants.

You can always transfer them to bigger pots later on when the plant itself is larger and the root system can cope with more soil and water.

When you’re transferring your rooted cuttings to the soil, be very careful to be gentle while planting, as the roots are still very delicate.  

Keep the soil lightly damp when helping your String of Pearls cuttings to acclimatize to the soil, and reduce watering frequency after a couple of weeks as your plant establishes itself.

How To Propagate String Of Pearls In Soil

If you don’t fancy planting up your delicate String of Pearls cuttings in the soil after they have rooted, you might as well do it from the get-go.

While you can’t see the roots forming, the cuttings will take less time to acclimatize to the soil as they will develop soil roots from the beginning, rather than forcing your cuttings to develop water roots and then soil roots.

So let’s take some cuttings, shall we? Use sharp scissors to cut some stems from your String of Pearls, but make them a little longer, so you have more plant material to play with.

Bury the nodes under the compost line, making sure not to bury any leaves too, so gingerly pick off lower leaves to lessen the chances of the cuttings rotting before they root.

Grab very small pots with holes, or shallow trays to plant your String of Pearls cuttings into. 

Resist the urge to pack the soil down very firmly, as this can damage your cuttings. Do so lightly.

Put your cuttings somewhere warm and bright. Make sure that the soil stays a little damp but not wet, as boggy soil will kill your new String of Pearls plants faster than anything else.

Try not to bottom water succulents, even succulent props, as it’s very easy to forget them and leave them in water for too long.

How To Tell If Your String Of Pearls Cuttings Have Rooted

While you can’t see the roots outright in soil propagation, this is still a good propagation method, as you’re doing all the work in one step rather than two.

It can be difficult to tell if your cuttings are successful or not even after a few weeks, but as long as the cuttings are healthy, there is a good chance that they are rooting.

As long as you’re keeping the cuttings in the right conditions, where they are getting plenty of light, warmth, and some consistent moisture, they will root.

A good way to tell if your cuttings have already rooted is to see if there’s any new growth on them. New pearls forming is a sure sign that there is some root growth!

Some people like to gently pull on the cuttings to see if they have rooted, but generally, this can damage your delicate plants, so just wait until you see new growth, and then you can treat the cuttings as established plants.

Why Your SOP Cuttings Aren’t Rooting

It’s important to remember that plant propagation is not guaranteed, no matter how many posts you see of the process and the thriving results.

The process of being cut off from nutrients, an established root system, and water is traumatic at best for any cutting, and this is something that you should keep in mind.

There are many reasons why your String of Pearls cuttings aren’t rooting, so let’s go through a few.

One of the biggest concerns is light. If your cuttings aren’t getting plenty of light, they won’t have the energy to form roots.

Another factor to consider is the cutting itself. Some cuttings will not form roots no matter what you do or how hard you try, whether you’ve taken a normal, healthy cutting or not. This is why you should take several!

Sometimes this is due to the age of the plant, too. If you have a baby String of Pearls plant, it’s worth waiting until the plant has established itself before propagating it.

But you can go too far the other way. If the cuttings you take are too old, this can also lessen the chances of them rooting.

If temperatures are not warm enough, or they are too warm, this can stop your cuttings from rooting.

Another thing to think about is moisture. When you’re propagating your String of Pearls, you don’t want the cuttings to get too wet or too dry when trying to root them in the soil.

Try to keep the compost slightly moist. As for water propagation, don’t let the water level evaporate above the cut end of the cuttings, as this can stop them from forming roots entirely.

How To Ensure Success Propagating String Of Pearls

So now you know what can contribute to your cuttings failing, here’s how to increase the chances of success.

Firstly, always take your cuttings from your String of Pearls during the growing season where you can. 

Spring and summer is the ideal time to propagate this gorgeous plant, as the plant is at its most active, and any cuttings you take will root quicker.

Choose healthy plant material for your cuttings. Avoid sparse vines with hardly any pearls, and go for ones with healthy leaves with no signs of damage.

Use sharp and sterilized scissors to make your stem cuttings. Not only does this help keep the mother plant healthy, but a clean cut minimizes the risk of disease on the cuttings.

Take more cuttings than you think you need, especially if your mother plant has very long vines. 

This will help invigorate the growth of the original plant and increase the chances of success with more cuttings.

If you’re only planning on making one new plant, taking more cuttings will result in a bushier plant when you put them in the same pot, giving the new plant a head-start on growth as it roots. 

Final Thoughts

The String of Pearls plant is so easy to propagate that you might as well try it a couple of times, not just to make your existing plant bushier, but also to grow new plants for free.

It can also serve as a last-ditch attempt to save a String of Pearls that you’ve overwatered or forgotten about for a while, or in any other case where you might not be able to save the original plant, but there is still healthy material you can make a new plant from.

While you should always take cuttings during the growing season, if you have a good-quality grow light, you may not see much difference between a cutting grown in the growing season and one grown in fall or winter, as the light levels won’t be impacted.

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