The reason for a string of pearls plant dying is most often due to watering too often or the soil retains too much moisture which turns the pearls brown or yellow and mushy. String of pearls require the soil to dry out between bouts of watering to prevent dying from root rot.
However string of pearls often shrivel with a dying appearance because of drought stress due to watering too lightly, not watering often enough or because the soil has baked and repels water off the surface and prevents water reaching the roots properly.
Excess heat, too much sun or not enough light can also be the cause for a dying strong of pearls plant.
To revive a string of pearls plant it is important to emulate the conditions of plants native environment with bright, indirect light watering with a good soak and allowing the soil to dry before watering again, and to plant string of pearls in succulent and cacti soil which is porous and well draining to avoid root rot.
Keep reading for why your string of hearts plant is dying and how to revive it…
String of Pearls Shriveling and Drying up
- Symptoms: String of pearls leaves looking shriveled or drying up.
- Causes: Drought stress due to under watering, watering too lightly or high humidity. Potting soil that has dried up can repel moisture which causes drought stress. Excess heat and too much sunlight can also contribute to drying up leaves.
String of pearls is a succulent that is native to Southern Africa where it grows in gritty well draining soils on rock hill sides in bright, indirect light with infrequent rainfall.
The pearls store moisture as a strategy to cope with drought, so when they are under stress and not able to access water the leaves shrivel up as they use their moisture resources to survive.
If you place your string of pearls in full sun or in afternoon sun then the intense heat and light can cause the plant to lose too much water through the leaves which is a common cause of string of pearl plants drying up.
Whilst string of pearls is adapted to survive drought and does not require watering a often as most house plants, when it does rain in its native environment it tends to be a deluge rather then light rainfall.
To grow string of pearls it is important to soak the soil at each watering rather then a light watering as this only moistens the surface of the soil and the water does not infiltrate the potting soil and reach the roots causing the drought which results in shriveled up leaves.
Whilst string of pearl do tolerate drought the require a good soak every 2 or 3 weeks.
When some potting soils dry out completely, they can repel water, so that it runs off the surface of the soil and escapes through the drainage hole in the base of the root and does not reach the roots where it is required.
How to Revive Shriveled String of Pearls Plants
- Locate your string of pearls plant in an area with bright indirect sunlight rather then full sun, so it does not have to contend with high temperature whilst it is drought stressed.
- Ensure that your string of pearls plant is not located too near a source of heat such as a radiator in the path of air conditioning which can dry out the leaves.
- Give the soil a generous soak so that excess water trickles out the base of the pot. This ensures the water has infiltrated the soil so that the roots can uptake the moisture they require to prevent the leaves from drying up.
- Typically a good schedule is to water your string of pearls around once every 2 weeks during active growth (spring and Summer) and then water once every 3 or 4 weeks during Winter for the right balance of moisture to keep the leaves healthy and to avoid root rot but this depends on your climate and conditions.
- If you think the soil is not absorbing water properly then place the pot in a basin of water for 10 minutes so that water can moisten the soil properly.
- To prevent the soil repelling water and causing drought stress again, remove the string of pearls from the pot and loosen the soil after you have soak it in a basin so that it is easy to remove without damaging the roots of the plant. Replace the soil with specially formulated succulent and cacti soil with retains an open porous texture even when it is dry and effectively emulates the soil conditions in the string of pearls native environment.
String of pearls should be watered with a good soak then the soil should dry out completely before watering it again.
The way to establish how often to water string of pearls plants in your climate and conditions is to water the soil with a good soak and then monitor the soils moisture to detect when it dries out.
To do this feel the potting soil at the bottom of the pot through the drainage hole in the base of the pot. If the soil is damp then delay water until it is somewhat dry.
When the soil feels dry this is the perfect time to water your string of pearls plant.
With 2 or 3 cycles of watering the string of pearls leaves should begin to recover from the shriveled and dry appearance.
(For all the watering best practices read my article how to water string of pearls plant).
String of Pearls Leaves Turning Brown or Yellow with Dying Appearance
- Symptoms: The leaves of the string of pearls turn brown or yellow with a mushy texture.
- Causes: Stress due to watering the plant too often or due to soil that retains too much moisture.
String of pearls grows in gritty soils often on hill sides in it native Southern Africa range.
Therefore it has specifically adapted to growing in soil that is very porous and drains very quickly.
If the string of pearls is planted in ordinary potting soil then this can retain moisture around the roots which causes the leaves to turn brown or yellow and feel mushy rather then firm an healthy.
This can also be the case if string of pearls plants are watered too often.
String of pearls are adapted to survive drought so if they are watered frequently they show signs of stress such as the leaves turning brown or yellow and feel mushy.
This can also cause root rot which can cause the plant to die back.
Other causes of soil that too damp for string of pearls plants are pots without drainage holes in the base and the use of saucers and trays that prevent water escaping from the base of the pot.
How to Revive String of Pearls Plants with Leaves Turning Brown or Yellow
- Scale back the watering. Let the soil dry out complementary between bouts of watering to replicate the moisture cycle that the string of pearls is adapted to in its native range.
- If the stress from over watering is minor with the leaves turning only somewhat brown or yellow then the plant can often recover if you allow the soil to dry out between bouts of watering.
- If the string of pearls plant is planted in potting soil that stays damp for a long time then it is important to replace the potting soil with specially formulated succulent and cacti soil that mimics the well draining, porous soil to which the string of pearls is adapted, to prevent root rot.
- Succulent and cacti soil allows the soil to drain effectively after bouts of watering so that your string of pearls stays a healthy green rather then suffering from root rot.
- Always plant string of pearls plants in a pot with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to escape, so that excess water does not pool around the roots and cause the plant to die back.
- Empty any saucers and trays that are used to prevent water spilling, as regularly as you can so that the soil at the bottom of the pot can dry out properly.
String of hearts is also Winter dormant, so growth can slow down in response to fewer hours of light and lower intensity of sunlight.
During Winter dormancy the string of pearls has a higher risk of root rot as the demand for water is reduced because of a lack of growth.
Therefore it is best practice to only water once every 3 or 4 weeks during Winter to prevent your string of pearls turning brown or yellow and mushy in texture.
If your string of pearls does not show signs of recovery then it may be because of root rot, at which point you should propagate any healthy looking parts of the plant so it can survive.
String of pearls is very easy to propagate from cutting of the stems and you can grow plants as long as you take a cutting from healthy growth.
Watch this YouTube video to learn how to propagate string of pearls from cuttings:
String of Pearls Turning Brown due to Sun Burn or due to Lack of Light
String of pearls plants grow in bright, indirect light. If they are in intense full sun then the leaves turn which can cause them to turn brown.
Sun burn tends to happen due to the contrast of moving the string of pearls from an area of shade to an area of more sun, with the leaves turning brown and potentially shriveling.
However if the string of pearls in in shade without any bright indirect light then it can grow leggy with longer stems and the leaves or pearls that are nearer the base of the plant turn brown and die back.
This is due to the string of pearls redirecting energy to the newer leaves which causes the older leaves to die back.
The plants stems tend to grow longer to look for brighter light which can give a leggy appearance.
How to Revive Sun Burnt String of Pearls Plants
The key to reviving a sun burnt or leggy string of pears is to find an area of bright indirect light in your home to replicate the shaded but bright areas where the string of pearls grow in their native environment.
Scorched brown leaves often do not recover in appearance so it is necessary to cut the section of plant back to health growth.
If most of the plant is scorched brown then you may have to propagate any healthy sections of growth to save the plant.
If the leaves are shriveled due to excess heat from full sun then give the soil a good soak.
For string of pearls in too much shade cut back any leggy growth if you think it looks untidy and the plant should recover.
Ensure that your string of pearls is in bright indirect light and it should revive.
(To learn more, read my article why is my string of pearls plant turning brown for how to save it).
- A dying string of hearts plant is most often because of watering too often or soils that retain too much moisture which causes the leaves to turn brown or yellow with a mushy texture. Watering too lightly, too much sun or excess heat can cause string of pearls leaves to shrivel with a dying appearance.
- String of pearls are drought tolerant plants that do not like the soil to be damp as this can cause root rot.
- Too much sun can cause the leaves to burn, locate strong of pearls plants in bright indirect light and propagate healthy cuttings if the plant is scorched.
- To revive a dying string of pearls plant, ensure that it is only watered when the soil is dry at the bottom of the pot then water with a good soak. Place in bright, indirect light and replant in succulent and cacti soil to prevent root rot.