String of Pearls, Senecio rowleyanus – Grasp Gardener Program

String of pearls, Senecio rowleyanus.

String of pearls is an uncommon succulent with almost spherical leaves from South Africa. Named after British botanist Gordon Rowley, the species was just lately moved from enormous genus Senecio (which comprises not simply succulents, but in addition frequent weeds like frequent groundsel) into the brand new genus Curio, however is prone to be recognized as Senecio rowleyanus in literature and the horticulture commerce. This tender evergreen perennial within the daisy household (Asteraceae) is native to dry areas of the jap Cape of South Africa. There’s additionally a variegated type with large white stripes and sections (which could really be S. herreianus which has barely bigger, elongated and striped spherical leaves and can also be referred to as string of pearls or string of beads).

The small leaves are the scale and form of small peas.

The plant grows from weak floor roots, producing trailing stems as much as three ft lengthy on the bottom which may root the place they contact soil to type dense mats. It typically grows beneath bushes or between rocks which offer some safety from intense daylight. The alternate, water-storing leaves are the scale and form of small peas (every to 1/Four” diameter) with a small pointed tip on the top and a skinny stripe of darkish inexperienced alongside the aspect. The spherical form of the leaves minimizes the floor space uncovered to dry desert air and subsequently reduces evaporative water loss, but in addition reduces the floor space the place photosynthesis can happen in comparison with a traditional skinny, flat leaf. The ban of darker, translucent tissue on the aspect of the leaf is an “epidermal window” which permits gentle to enter the inside of the leaf, successfully rising the world out there for photosynthesis. This adaptation to arid environments is seen in a number of different succulents from southern Africa, together with the associated Senicio radicans, and in child toes (Fenestraria spp.) and Haworthia cooperi which develop underground, exposing solely the leaf ideas.

Senecio radicans amongst rocks (L) and closeup of leaves (LC); Fenestraria in habitat (RC) and closeup (R).

String of pearls blooms in summer time, producing ½ inch compound, daisy-like flowers of white discoid flowers with lengthy purple stamens and vivid yellow anthers on 1½ inch lengthy peduncles. The small flowers are usually not showy however are aromatic; it’s stated to have a candy and spicy, cinnamon-like scent. The flowers are adopted by a number of seeds, every with a white cottony pappus which aids in dispersal by the wind.

String of pearls produces white flowers with lengthy purple stamens and yellow anthers (L) adopted by cottony seed heads (R).

String of pearls is usually grown as a houseplant or an outside decorative in frost-free climates. It’s typically grown in hanging baskets to permit the trailing stems to spill downward. However it may be grown in a flat dish permitting it to keep up the trailing development behavior seen within the wild. Indoor containers could be moved exterior for the rising season, however should be acclimated steadily to stop sunburn, needs to be protected against extra rainfall, and should be moved again indoors earlier than frost.

Pots of string of pearls on the market.

Like different succulents, this plant is comparatively low upkeep, and solely wants vivid gentle, well-drained soil, and rare watering. Root rot from overwatering is the most typical reason behind its demise. Develop in a really well-draining soil combine, equivalent to cactus combine or add inorganic supplies equivalent to small pea gravel, sharp sand, poultry grit or pumice to potting medium (as much as 1:1 combination). Use a shallow container because the vegetation is not going to produce an in depth root system (and if they’re unable to rapidly take away moisture from a big soil quantity, they are going to be extra prone to root rot). Clay containers are higher than plastic or ceramic as a result of the fabric permits evaporation by way of the perimeters so the soil will dry out extra rapidly. Permit the potting medium to dry out fully between waterings, offering extra water in summer time than in winter when the plant is just not actively rising. Offering a relaxation interval through the winter with cool (55-60°F), dry circumstances might promote blooming in summer time. Crops should be watered is when the leaves begin to look a bit shriveled. Repot yearly or two, or fertilize evenly in spring. Mealybugs or aphids might infest vegetation, however in any other case they’ve few pest issues. The leaves are slight poisonous; ingestion might trigger vomiting or diarrhea the plant’s sap might trigger pores and skin irritation or rash in delicate people.

Propagate string of pearls by taking Three-Four inch stem tip cuttings. Strip Three-Four leaves from the underside of the chopping and place in or on moist potting combine (evenly cowl the previous couple of backside nodes) and roots ought to rapidly develop at every node. Mist the soil floor to keep away from overwatering till the roots are established. This plant may also be grown from seed, however it’s not generally out there.

– Susan Mahr, College of Wisconsin – Madison

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Further Info

  • Senecio rowleyanus – on the Missouri Botanic Backyard’s Kemper Heart for House Gardening web site

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