How to propagate string of pearls

The String of Pearls plant is a hanging succulent that thrives in warm, dry climates. This plant is relatively easy to care for and can quickly propagate, making it a favorite amongst novice gardeners looking to up their plant game. Keep reading if you have a String of Pearls plant and want to propagate it. This article will cover the basic methods for propagating String of Pearls so that you can do it yourself!

String of pearls plant

The basics of propagating string of pearls

You can propagate a String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) with the following methods: Stem Cuttings and Root Division. The best time to propagate String of Pearls is in the spring when the plant is most actively growing (whether it’s grown indoors or outdoors). 

Methods for propagating String of Pearls plant

Here are the basics for each popular propagation method:

1. Stem cuttings

Propagating a String of Pearls from stem cuttings consists of cutting a “string,” removing the first half-dozen of the pea-shaped “pearls,” and putting the base into potting soil or water. The cutting will develop roots, and then you can plant the cuttings into pots with a well-draining cactus potting mix. Propagation by stem cuttings is very common due to the long trailing stems of this plant.

2. Root division

Propagating by root division is the process of dividing the plant at the root ball and potting each section to develop into a new plant. You can plant each new plant into its own planter and fill it with a well-draining cactus potting mix. 

Propagating string of pearls plant
The stems of string of pearls plants readily grow roots when the stem is touching moist soil or submerged in water.

Propagating String of Pearls from stem cuttings

Stem cuttings can be propagated in either fresh, clean water or potting mix. Here are detailed step-by-step instructions for each method of rooting cuttings:

Propagating String of Pearls in water

To properly propagate String of Pearls in water, you need a few materials.

  • Sharp pruning shears or a good pair of scissors
  • Dilute solution of alcohol or bleach
  • Hormone powder
  • Clean container with fresh water

Here are the steps for propagating String of Pearls plant cuttings in water:

  1. Disinfect your scissors using a dilute solution of alcohol or bleach. Disinfecting your scissors prevents bacteria and other debris from contaminating the fresh-cut stems.
  2. Pick the stems you want to cut off your plant. Make sure these stems are young with healthy tips as these are optimal for propagation. Choose 3-5 stems per the number of planters you have.
  3. Cut off the tip of the stem, which is around 4-5 inches long. Then, remove about a half dozen of the pea-like round “pearl” leaves off the stem. If your plant doesn’t have a lot of vines, you can cut a single vine into multiple cuttings. Make sure each cutting has a portion of the main String of Pearls plant plus a few pearls so that the plant will propagate correctly. Cut your sections in between the pearls. Place your cuttings on a clean surface. Repeat until you have enough cuttings.
  4. Trim the base of each stem cutting, making the cut right below a leaf node if possible. Make a clean cut so that the base of the stem remains healthy and well-suited to root development. Cuttings can be as small as 2-3 inches long and still produce roots.
  5. Dip the cut end of each stem into rooting hormone powder. This is optional; however, it can be helpful if you’re new to propagating houseplants.
  6. Place the stem base into a clean container filled with fresh water. Place each stem in its container or group a few in larger containers. Make sure the cuttings are not crowded, and the air circulation is good. (The easiest way to monitor root development is through clear glass containers to see the String of Pearls cuttings.
  7. Move the cuttings to a location with bright indirect light that is not too close to the cuttings to avoid foliage burn.
  8. Monitor the plants every few days, changing the water and looking for root development. Remove any yellow or mushy cuttings and plant the healthy cuttings into planters once they have new roots.
  9. Put the rooted cuttings into groups and place them into a planter with organic potting soil. Water the planted cuttings, making sure the water drains freely.
Propagating string of pearls with cuttings - close up of strands

Propagating String of Pearls in potting soil

Here are the materials/supplies for propagating String of Pearls in potting soil:

  • Sharp pruning shears or a good pair of scissors
  • Dilute solution of alcohol or bleach
  • Rooting hormone powder
  • Planter pot with drainage hole (these plants are lovely in a hanging basket!)
  • Succulent potting soil or cactus mix (generally a mix of coco coir/peat moss, perlite, and sand)

Here are step-by-step instructions for propagating String of Pearls in potting soil:

  1. Repeat steps 1-5 from above (propagating in water) and continue with the following steps below.
  2. Dip the cut end of each stem into rooting hormone powder. This is optional; however, it can be helpful if you’re new to propagating houseplants.
  3. Fill the bottom 1/3 of a planter pot with a high-quality potting mix. Make sure your pot is at least 4-6 inches wide and has good drainage holes at the bottom. Cactus or succulent potting mix works well for propagating String of Pearl plants. 
  4. Place several cuttings into the planter pot. Usually, about three cuttings fit into a 4-inch wide planter, while five cuttings suit a 6-inch wide planter. The base of each cutting should be resting on the bed of potting mix.
  5. Fill the rest of the planter with potting mix. Fill the remaining space surrounding the String of Pearl cuttings, leaving around an inch of space at the top. Then, water the planter, making sure the water is draining well out of the bottom. Keep in mind the soil may settle after watering, but this is entirely normal. 
  6. Move the planter to a location with bright indirect light that is not too close to the cuttings to avoid foliage burn.
  7. Monitor the plant every few days, watering before the soil becomes too dry. String of Pearls cuttings grows best in slightly moist, not soggy, or muddy soil. To avoid overwatering, you can mist the cuttings instead of watering them. 

Once you get more comfortable with propagating String of Pearls cuttings, you can try simply tucking cuttings into the soil of an existing plant whenever trimming the plant.

Propagating String of Pearls by root division

  1. Take your plant out of the pot by carefully tilting the pot on its side and pulling the plant out. If the plant isn’t coming out willingly, you can use a knife to cut around the edges of the pot to loosen the soil. Be careful not to cut the roots when breaking up the soil.
  2. Dust off the roots so that you can see the general pattern of the shallow roots of the plant. If the roots are tangled, gently untangle them, making sure not to break them. You will see that each vine has its own set of roots. 
  3. Divide your plant into sections using a sharp plant knife. 
  4. Pot each section into its own container with cactus or succulent potting mix or another well-draining soil. Put the mother plant back into the original pot.
  5. Place the new plants in indirect sunlight and water every week or so. Overwatering can cause the roots to rot, especially for succulents. Remember that String of Pearls plants have shallow root systems and don’t like to have “wet feet”.

After propagating String of Pearls, place the plant in a bright location (but out of direct sunlight). Check the plant regularly to ensure the soil is draining, as these plants are susceptible to root rot. Also check for signs of pest insects (mealybugs, aphids, fungus gnats), fungus, and other issues.

If you’ve propagated your String of Pearls plant during the spring growing season, you can fertilize it with a slow-release houseplant fertilizer about 4-6 weeks after potting it up. By this point, the root system is hopefully developed enough to absorb ample nutrients.

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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