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7 Reasons Why Your String Of Pearls Is Shrinking

Shrinking of the leaves is not unusual in houseplants, and you might experience this with a lot of your houseplants. If your string of pearls is shrinking, it means that the plant is missing out on something, and you need to find that out.

Inadequate watering, poor lighting, stress, and lack of nutrition are common problems that lead to shrinking in a string of pearls. Provide bright and indirect light, adequate water, and fertilize the plant during the growing season to fix the problem of your string of pearls.

Some other issues that lead to shrinking are low temperature and low humidity. You need to check these factors and provide favorable conditions for the plant to thrive.

Let’s understand the problems that lead to shrinking in your string of pearls. And let’s learn how to fix the issues.

Senecio rowleyanus

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My string of pearls is shrinking

There can be different reasons behind a shrinking string of pearls. You will find quick fixes for some while others need more attention. Let’s dive into understanding all these details.

Watering Issues

Overwatering is common, and so is underwatering in all houseplants. While underwatering can be treated easily in the string of pearls, overwatering can lead to more severe problems for the plant. 

But overwatering and underwatering both can make your string of pearls shrink. 

The string of pearls requires less water as it is succulent, and excess water is harmful. Not everyone understands that and ends up overwatering it.

On the other hand, many neglect the plant, thinking that it can tolerate extreme conditions such as droughts and don’t give it water for days.

Both these situations affect the plant’s health, and one of the signs is shrinking leaves or stems.



Overwatering can cause shrinking in your string of pearls. Overwatering keeps the soil wet for long, and the soil holds excess water. It creates an unfavorable condition for the plant.


An overwatered plant will develop root rot that will damage the roots of your string of pearls. The plant’s roots will fail to absorb nutrients or water anymore and will become weak. 

Root rot will encourage the growth of bacteria and fungus. As a result of all these issues, the plant will start to shrink.


If you suspect root rot in your string of pearls, you need to inspect the roots. Take your string of pearls out of the pot and check the roots. If they are brown and soft, your plant has root rot.

You need to repot your string of pearls in a new pot with a fresh soil mix. Use sterilized pruners to cut the damaged roots and parts and place the plant in the new pot. Confirm that the pot has drainage holes.

Water the plant after repotting the plant to eliminate any chance of shock or stress.



Underwatering can happen if you neglect your plant and forget to water it when the soil gets dry.

An underwatered string of pearls will get dehydrated, and the roots will not be able to absorb any water and nutrition from the dry soil. Shrinking of stems and leaves can be a sign of an underwatered plant.


If you follow a watering regime and water the plant according to that, the plant will not get dehydrated. But never forget to check the soil before watering the plant.

Water your string of pearls when the soil feels dry. Never water if the soil still feels wet. Give it a few more days to get dry, and then you can water the plant.

The string of pearls will require less water than most other houseplants. So, don’t water it without understanding the water requirement.

The water requirement will depend on external factors such as season, light, etc.

If the plant is placed in a low-light area, it will require less water as the soil will take more time to get dry. And the water requirement will reduce during the winter months when the plants go dormant.

Also read: How Often Should You Water String Of Pearls?

Poor lighting


One of the main reasons for shrinking in a string of pearls is poor lighting conditions. The string of pearls can survive in a low light corner of the house, but keeping them under that condition for days can lead to shrinking stems.


If you place the string of pearls in a low light spot, it will not get sufficient light. Therefore, it will not be able to photosynthesize due to low light and will lack nutrition.

Soon the plant will become weak and will start shrinking. The pearls will begin to shrivel. You can tell by the look of your string of pearls that it is unhealthy. If you want to improve the condition of the plant, you will need sufficient light.


The string of pearls requires six to eight hours of indirect sunlight throughout the day. Therefore you should find a bright spot for the plant.

If you have a south-facing window at your house, you can place your plant there. However, if the window gets direct sunlight, don’t place the plant on the window but a few feet away.

If your house doesn’t get enough sunlight, you can purchase artificial lights and use them on your string of pearls. If you have a shrinking plant, following these will help it recover.

Also read: How Much Light Does String Of Pearls Need?

Stress or shock


The string of pearls is a delicate plant, and if you don’t handle it with care, the plant can have stress or shock due to any damage.


If you have recently brought a string of pearls home, it might be stressed due to the relocation or any damage caused during transportation.

The string of pearls can get damaged due to repotting or any sudden change, a change in temperature during winter, or the cold drafts. The plant will have droopy stems due to stress or shock.


If you think your string of pearls is stressed, allow it some time to recover. Take care of the plant by providing sufficient light and adequate water.

Don’t repot during the winter season when the plant can get stressed due to the low temperatures or cold drafts. Keep the plant in a controlled environment inside the house.

Handle the plant with care while repotting. Remove all damaged parts that you see on the plant. The plant will be able to save some energy that way and focus on recovery and growth.

Also read: Where Should I Keep My String Of Pearls Plant?


fertilizer dosage

The string of pearls requires less fertilizer. It can grow without fertilizer altogether, but when the soil loses nutrition, fertilizers add it back, and that helps the plants to absorb food from the soil.


If you are not giving any fertilizer to your string of pearls, it will lack nutrition over time.

The soil loses nutrition over time, so you need to add fertilizer to keep it well-balanced and boost its growth.

Insufficient fertilization will make your string of pearls weak and droopy, and you will notice slow growth in the plant. 


Since the string of pearls plant is a light feeder, you don’t need to fertilize it too often. Consider fertilizing the plant once or twice during the growing season.

A well-balanced diluted liquid fertilizer is ideal for the string of pearls. Don’t give it a stronger dose as that can be harmful to the plant.

Avoid fertilizing during the winter season as the plant doesn’t grow during this time, and the fertilizer will only burn the roots.

Also read: Best fertilizer for a string of pearls

Low Temperature

The string of pearls is comfortable with average room temperature but can’t survive the extremely low temperatures of winter. Low temperatures can shock the plant, due to which the stems will shrink.


When the temperatures fall during winter, the string of pearls will not be able to tolerate it if you don’t do anything about it and expose it to the harsh temperatures.

Like humans, plants have a preferred temperature in which they thrive, and low temperatures are the opposite of that for the string of pearls.

Extreme cold temperatures will not only make the plant droopy, but the plant will lose its leaves and will have a hard time recovering from the shock.


It will help if you find a spot that doesn’t get too cold and maintains a stable temperature even in the winter months.

If your plant is already damaged, you need to eliminate the damaged parts first.

Provide sufficient light to the plant and give it few weeks to recover. Don’t keep the plant too close to fireplaces or radiators, as that can burn the plant. Instead, consider placing it some feet away.

Avoid exposing the plant to cold drafts that make it shrink. Instead, move it away from the window or close the window.

Also read: How to care for a string of pearls in winter?

Low Humidity

The string of pearls can do well under average humidity levels, but it affects the plant’s health when the humidity gets too low.


Low humidity makes the plant dry. Other than the temperature, even the humidity levels drop during the winter.

Your string of pearls can become droopy if it is exposed to low humidity levels.


There are different ways of increasing the humidity levels.

  • Use a humidifier
  • Use a pebble tray
  • Place an aquarium in the room
  • Relocate the plant in the bathroom, basement, or kitchen
  • Group it with other plants

Also read: Should I mist my string of pearls?

Wrong pot size

choosing plant pots

The size of the pot can make your string of pearls shrink. You need to ensure that you are using the correct sized pot.


If the pot is small for your string of pearls, the plant will not be able to fit into it properly.

Besides getting heavy, the plant will get rootbound and will fail to absorb enough nutrients from its roots. Therefore, the plant will become weak, and the stems will start to shrink.


If you have a rootbound plant with shrinking stems, you need to repot it in a larger pot to let it grow and function freely. The plant will recover soon.

However, don’t get a pot that is too big as that will hold too much water, leading to root rot.

Also read: What happens when you put a plant in too big of a pot?

Final Words

Shrinking stems and leaves is a sign that your string of pearls is facing some issue. If you can identify the problem from the signal, you can figure out how to fix it.

In case of a shrinking string of pearls, consider the problems we discussed above.

If you want to prevent shrinking in your string of pearls, you need to water the plant, provide sufficient light to it, and fertilize it during the growing season.

Keep the plant in a controlled environment when the temperature and humidity levels drop below average. If you can take care of the plant, it will thrive and not have any problems.

Ref: WikipediaMissouri Botanical GardenUniversity of Wisconsin.

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