In Diseases & Problems

How do I Save a Dying String of Pearls

The string of pearls is a very beautiful succulent whether placed indoors or outdoors. The leaves look like a long thread of green peas or pearls, hence the name. Unlike other succulents, this one requires extra care because it is sensitive to even small changes in the environment.

Because even a single mistake can kill your string of pearls, you need to be aware of the pitfalls before you grow one. Here are some common reasons why a string of pearls can die and how to save such a plant. 

Why is My String of Pearls Dying–Common Reasons

If you don’t provide strings of pearls with optimal conditions for growth, they will end up dying. Sadly, this can happen so fast that sometimes it’s impossible to figure out what you may have done wrong.

Wrong Pot

terra cotta pot

Your string of pearls could die if it is not planted in the right pot. If the pot is too big, it will hold water for a longer time. This will result in the plant developing root rot and the leaves becoming mushy. 

Unlike other succulents, pearl strings have very short stems and shallow root systems that cannot hold a lot of water. Because of this, the string of pearls is even more susceptible to overwatering than other succulents and it’s easy to overwater the plant if the pot is too big.

Pot Material

You want to ensure that the pot you buy is made out of porous material. A porous pot allows the soil to dry faster facilitating dry periods between waterings. It also enhances aeration thus preventing microbial activity that can lead to root rot. 

With succulents, it’s all about prevention of overwatering. Besides the size of the pot, the material the pot is made of is the most important decision. If you don’t know that the material is right, rub a finger on it. A good pot material will feel slightly rough to the touch.

The plant is Too Deep in the Pot

Strings of pearls have very shallow root systems that don’t need to be buried deep into the soil. When planting, ensure not to bury the plant more than an inch down in the soil. This way, your plant won’t remain wet for long, and will also receive enough aeration to prevent rot and fungal attacks. 

Plant your string of pearls no deeper than 1″ into the soil


Since these succulents have a shallow root system and short stems, they cannot hold a lot of water. Also, going for long without water implies that they can dry out fast and die. Watering should be done correctly if you want to nurture healthy strings of pearls. 

During warm months, you should water once every 1-2 weeks while during colder months, you should water once every 3-4 weeks. Of course, similar to other succulents, you should only water when the soil starts to get dry or the plant displays signs of dehydration like shriveled leaves.

Watering succulents

What does an Overwatered String of Pearls Look Like

An overwatered string of pearls will appear shriveled and mushy. Eventually, the leaves may burst because they can only hold so much water. By the time the leaves start to display symptoms, it is probably too late to save the plant. But you can follow the directions on how to save an overwatered plant just in case.

What does an Underwatered String of Pearls Look Like

A succulent that doesn’t get sufficient water will show it on the leaves which will start to shrivel. The leaves may eventually start turning yellowish and die. It is easier to correct a problem of underwatering than it is to correct overwatering. 

Your string of pearls is also far less likely to die from underwatering. If you notice that your plants are dying from underwatering, don’t overdo it. Start by giving the plant a good, long drink and then wait for a few days at least to see how it’s doing.

Wrong Soil

best soil for cactus

Strings of pearls can only survive in well-draining soils. If you use a traditional potting soil, it will hold on to water for too long. Make sure to use a soil mix with some grit and sand mixed in. For more information, check out the best potting soil for succulents.

Not Enough Drainage

Poor drainage can also be the cause of your string of pearls dying. To increase the drainage of your potting mix, you can add perlite to the mix at a ratio of 1:1. Ensure that you use the right pot with enough drainage holes so that the soil dries out accordingly. If you need to, use a drill bit to make the hole larger.

Too Much Sun/Too Little Sun

Strings of pearls thrive in bright but filtered sunlight. If they receive too little or too much sun, they will die. If kept indoors, look for an area that receives a lot of light like near a window. 

Placing a sheer curtain on the window will prevent the plant from scorching or getting a sunburn due to too much sunlight. If you’ve grown your string of pearls outdoors, ensure that they are placed under a shade to protect them from sunburn. 


Aphids and mealybugs are the main pests that attack a string of pearls. Aphids appear like small teardrops on top of the leaves, stems, or joints of the plant. Mealybugs will look like white masses on the plant. 

Both aphids and mealybugs secret a sugary substance that will often attract ants. Thus, if you spot ants crawling around your plant, you could be dealing with a bigger problem than the ants. 

Insects will hide easily in the small crevices of a string of pearls

How Do You Save a Dying String of Pearls?

A string of pearls will die for a number of different reasons. Luckily, there are ways you can save a dying string of pearls if you catch the symptoms early.

Propagating your String of Pearls

propagate dying string of pearls

Propagation is one method of saving a dying string of pearls. While the original plant does still die, in a way it lives on through the propagations.

Cuttings are the most viable option for the propagating a dying string of pearls. It’s recommended to propagate strings of pearls during their active growing season in spring and summer. But if your plant is dying, you may not have a choice.

From the dying plant, choose a healthy stem to cut. You should cut it below a node. Also, ensure to cut a stem about 4-5 inches long. If you don’t have a healthy section that is that long, make it as long as possible.

Place the cutting on top of new potting mix, or place it inside a glass jar. New roots will shoot within three weeks. Once roots start to show, if you are using the glass jar method, you should replant the cutting in a container filled with cactus soil. 

Repotting your String of Pearls

If you have overwatered your string of pearls, repotting can help you save the remaining healthy plant. This is a reliable method of saving a dying string of pearls if they aren’t too far gone.

Dry out your Overwatered String of Pearls

The first thing you do is to gently uproot the healthiest part of the plant. Then, look for any roots that are affected by rot, they will be mushy and different colors from the rest of the roots. 

When you identify a rotten root, cut it off with a clean scissors or knife. Allow the healthy plant to dry out  for a day before repotting.

Why repot a string of pearls

Change the Pot

If you notice that your string of pearls is dying because of watering, don’t be afraid to try changing the pot. Overwatering or underwatering could easily be caused by using the wrong pot size or one without drainage holes. 

Add New Soil to the Pot

If you still can’t figure out exactly why your string of pearls is dying, you could try replacing the soil it is planted in. This will not only take away any pathogens in the soil that may be infecting the plant but also give you a chance to change the soil mix to add or reduce drainage.

Increase Drainage

Similar to other succulents, the string of pearls is highly susceptible to overwatering. If you are prone to overwatering your plants, or you notice symptoms of overwatering, increase your soil’s drainage. To increase the drainage on your soil, add perlite and coarse sand in a ratio of 1:1:1. You can also use a drill bit to make the drainage hole larger.

Proper drainage holes will save you from overwatering

Plant your String of Pearls Higher up

You should consider planting your string of pearls higher up near a window where they can receive 6-8 hours of sunlight, especially in the morning hours. Often, your plant is in the correct window but it is being blocked from the sun by an obstacle.

Move Your Plant

Moving your plant is an excellent option to save a dying string of pearls. Moving it away from an air vent for example will allow it to go longer between waterings. You could move your plant to a less sunny window if it has developed a sunburn.

When your string of pearls is dying, look first to see why it may be dying. Once you figure that out, see if moving your plant may solve the problem. Most of the time, you can fix the problem by simply moving the plant which solves the problem quickly with the least stress for the plant.

Is my String of Pearls Dying Because of Root Rot

A string of pearls dying due to root rot is easy to diagnose because the leaves appear mushy and moldy. Generally, the whole plant will look shriveled. Especially if your plant has mushy leaves that are also shriveled, it’s a good sign that it has developed root rot.

One of the main reasons why root rot happens is due to overwatering. The other reason is having too much soil in the pot which takes longer to drain and dry out. 

A string of pearls dying can also happen if you plant it too deep in the soil. Make sure that your string of pearls is not planted more than an inch in the soil. This is because the plant has a shallow root system and planting it too deep will cause root rot.


A string of pearls dying is common because this succulent has delicate roots and stems. Luckily, you can easily diagnose the problem if you know the common causes of death for string of pearls plants. Once you figure out why your plant is having trouble, you can solve it. Just make sure to move quickly because once the plant starts to fail it will die quickly without intervention.

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