The string of pearls (Curio rowleyanus) is a hanging succulent with pretty pearl-like leaves. But if it starts getting leggy the beauty of your string of pearls will fade off. Do you know why your string of pearls is growing leggy? Let’s find out.
The primary cause of leggy growth in a string of pearls is poor lighting conditions. When the plant doesn’t get enough lighting, the stems of the plant will stretch towards the light source, and as a result, the plant will have long stems and few pearls.
The string of pearls requires some of your attention. Besides providing adequate light, you need to maintain a proper watering schedule, prune the plant whenever required and fertilize during the growing season. These will keep your string of pearls healthy and full.
If you have a leggy string of pearls, it doesn’t mean that the plant is dying. If you start taking care of it, it will recover and become healthy again.
However, it can get tricky to understand the causes of leggy growth in your string of pearls. So the first step is identifying the problem and once you figure out the problem, you can start the treatment.
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Why is my string of pearls leggy?
The string of pearls is generally bushy and full and doesn’t become leggy easily. However, if your plant is leggy then it means it must have faced unfavorable conditions for a long time.
The primary reason for a leggy string of pearls is inadequate light. If the plant doesn’t get enough light, it will stretch towards a light source and become leggy.
Due to insufficient light, the plant will lack energy and grow leggy as leggy growth requires less energy.
If you are not providing sufficient light to your string of pearls, the leggy stems will soon have no leaves as the plant will not be able to photosynthesize, produce energy, or grow new leaves.
Another reason for legginess can be that you are fertilizing your string of pearls too often to see more growth in it. That is not how it works for these succulents.
Excess fertilizing can speed up the growth, but the plant will become weak and leggy. You should avoid over-fertilizing the plant as these plants have low fertilizer needs.
It is ideal for giving light doses of fertilizer to the string of pearls once or twice during summer and spring.
How to fix leggy string of pearls?
If you want to fix your leggy string of pearls, you should start taking care of the plant and not repeat the mistakes you made. However, it will help if you act fast to fix the leggy growth in the string of pearls.
The string of pearls remains full when they get sufficient light, water, and nutrients.
If you want to prevent leggy growth and see fuller growth on your string of pearls, here are some ways to do it:
- Maintain temperature
- Proper fertilization
- Propagating the plant
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Fix the lighting
Light is the most crucial factor that you need to take care of if you want to stop leggy growths in your plant. If the plant doesn’t get enough light, it will grow straggly.
If the leaves of the string of pearls become discolored, you can be sure that it needs more light.
So, the first step of fixing a leggy string of pearls is providing sufficient light to it.
The string of pearls needs six to eight hours of indirect light. Place the plant away from direct sunlight exposure as that is not suitable for a string of pearls.
Proper lighting can make the growth of the plant dense and full. Ensure that the plant gets light on all sides to encourage the growth of the leaves.
You can place your string of pearls near a south-facing window that gets enough light throughout the day.
If your house doesn’t have enough light for your plant, you can purchase artificial lights and use them on the string of pearls plant.
Try to keep the plant away from cold drafts during winter. The freezing temperature can be highly damaging and will make the leaves dry and brown.
If the plant becomes dry in winter and doesn’t get enough light, you can use artificial lights and use a humidifier to add some moisture around it.
Maintaining the temperature
These plants have unique temperature preferences. The string of pearls thrives in warm temperatures above 70°F but can do well even in 50°F-60°F temperatures.
However, if the temperature levels drop below the average room temperature, you need to fix it.
You can use a thermometer and check the temperature of your house. If it’s below average, you can move the plant to a room that has higher temperatures.
You can place the string of pearls a few feet away from a heating source to increase the temperature. However, avoid placing the plant too close to radiators or fireplaces as the heat can burn its leaves and make it dry.
If you live in a cold region, you can expose the plant to light during the daytime and use artificial light that also provides some heat to maintain the correct temperature levels.
You can use a heat lamp to increase the temperature levels around your plants and don’t forget to keep the plant away from cold drafts during winter.
The string of pearls can grow even without fertilizers, but if you add the correct dose, it can boost the plant’s growth.
The soil loses nutrition over time, so not adding fertilizer can make the plant weak and lack nutrition. But that doesn’t mean you can over-fertilize the plant.
The string of pearls can suffer from both over-fertilization and under-fertilization. A lot of it depends on the dosage and the frequency.
Giving the correct dose to your string of pearls can boost the plant’s growth, but a stronger dose can burn the leaves or roots, and a weak dose will make the plant vulnerable.
Similarly, if you add fertilizers to the plant too often, it will grow, but the growth will be leggy. And if you add fertilizers erratically, it will not make any difference.
You should use a diluted and well-balanced liquid fertilizer on the string of pearls as they are light feeders and need light doses.
You can fertilize the string of pearls once or twice during the growing season.
Avoid fertilizing in the colder months as the plant goes dormant during this time and doesn’t grow actively. Fertilizing during this time will only cause damage.
The string of pearls will remain full as it will get enough nutrition if it gets fertilized correctly.
Propagating the plant
If you are pruning the leggy string of pearl stems, you can propagate those instead of throwing those away. You can use the cuttings to make the plant fuller.
First of all, take sterilized pruners to make the cutting. Make sure that the cut is clean.
Next, you can place the stem in water and let the stem grow new leaves. Wait for the stem to grow some roots.
Once you see that the roots have come out, you can plant it with the existing string of pearls plant.
The stems might have been leggy, but they will grow more leaves now. You need to be patient, as this process can take time.
Don’t forget to care of the plant if you want to see a fuller plant. Don’t expect the plant to show much growth in winter as it takes longer if you propagate during winter.
Propagating after you have watered the string of pearls is ideal because the plant has soaked moisture from the soil, and it is likely to do well after that.
Pruning eliminates not only leggy and unhealthy growths but also encourages new growth in the plants.
Lack of pruning can lead to a messy and uneven string of pearls, so pruning is required to keep the plant in shape and make it look good.
Whenever you notice leggy growths, prune those stems so that the plant doesn’t waste its energy on them and concentrate on growing healthy stems. If you find any damaged leaves or stems, prune them as well.
Never prune all at once. You should prune only 20% of the plant at a time so that the plant doesn’t get shocked or stressed.
Always use sterilized pruners or scissors to prune the plant to avoid any chance of infection. Use gloves so that the plant’s sap doesn’t get on your skin and cause skin irritation. Or, wash your hands thoroughly after pruning.
Pruning improves the soil’s functioning. Inadequate nutrition increases the soil’s pressure and makes the plant weak and leggy. Proper pruning reduces that load from the soil.
Don’t prune the plant in winter. It is best to prune the plant during spring or summer.
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How to prune a leggy string of pearls?
Pruning is the easiest way of fixing a leggy string of pearls. To cut the leggy parts of the plant, you need the following supplies:
- Pruners or scissors
- Hand towel
- Liquid fertilizer
- Watering can
You need to trim the string of pearls plant that will encourage new growth for a fuller plant.
If you have a leggy string of pearls, you will notice that the stem starts growing leggy from a certain point. You will notice a node, and you need to cut below the node.
The stem from which you have made the cutting will start growing new leaves from the other side of the cutting.
You can prune the healthy stems of the plant and plant the cuttings in the side where the plant has leggy stems.
Water the string of pearls after pruning the plant. It will help the plant to stay hydrated and will not stress the plant.
If you haven’t fertilized the plant for a long time, fertilize it using a diluted liquid fertilizer.
Wear gloves throughout the process. Sterilize the pruners that you used to prune the string of pearls.
How to keep the string of pearls from getting leggy?
If you want to prevent legginess, you should prune the string of pearls at regular intervals. You can prune and eliminate the long stems. Pruning will also promote new and healthy growth.
The string of pearls needs a bright environment where it gets six to eight hours of regular sunlight. Consider placing it in such an area of the house.
Don’t forget to water the plant. Water whenever the soil gets dry. Try to keep a check on the soil by sticking your finger inside and give water whenever it feels dry.
Avoid repotting the string of pearls frequently. Repot if the plant gets root-bound.
Ref: Wikipedia, Missouri Botanical Garden, University of Wisconsin.
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