I managed to get a little cutting of a string of pearls plant and I’m dead excited to get it growing. Let’s get into it.
To take cuttings from a string of pearls plant, grab a string and snip it off. Then cut up the string into sections that are a few inches long.
The cutting needs to be able to support itself until it grows roots so I’d say 5cm (2 inches) is a good size and it’s best not to go more than 10cm (4 inches). If you want to start with a longer cutting then remove a few of the pearls to lighten the load a little.
Propagating Your Cutting
One of the main reasons propagating succulents fail is because they start to rot. Lay your cutting on dry succulent soil and make sure the “string” is making contact with the soil. I find that just laying it on the soil is enough but if you’re worried about it getting jiggled about then secure it with a bent toothpick but, don’t secure it too tightly, it should be barely touching the stem if at all. Go for a fairly small pot. At some point you’ll need to water your succulent and if the pot’s too large then the soil will hold too much moisture for too long.
You don’t need to remove the pearls where the stems making contact with the soil. I snip a couple off so that it’s easier to get the stem making good contact with the soil.
Put the pot somewhere where it’ll get bright, indirect light. Full sun will dry out your cutting too quickly.
Taking Care of Your Prop
There’s big debate about whether misting helps cuttings them root. I’ve had success both ways but because I like to smother my plants with love I like to give them a very light misting every few days – the top of the soil shouldn’t look wet after misting. If the soil gets too wet, the stem that’s against them could start to rot and you’ll have to start over.
Keep an eye on the cutting for signs of rotting like the stem going brown and mushy looking or the pearls starting to turn sickly looking. Sometimes, if you catch watering issues like that early you can rescue your cutting by letting it dry out or snipping off the bad part.
Testing for Roots
It can be hard to tell if roots have formed without tugging on your cutting. Unfortunately, if it has started to put out roots then there’s a risk that any tugging will rip them out of the soil and damage them.
Instead of pulling on the cutting, tilt the pot to the side a little and see if it moves. If it doesn’t then it’s probably started forming roots. If it does move then it either hasn’t started to form roots or they’re not big enough to hold the plant in place.
Once roots are big enough to reach down into the soil and hold the plant in place it’s time to start watering…kind of. If you saturate the soil while the roots are still small then most of the time they’ll start to rot. Instead, mist the top of the soil until it looks a bit damp. The roots aren’t that deep so getting the top of the soil damp should be enough to feed the roots without drowning them. Plus, the soil will dry out fast enough between mistings so that your cuttings not laying on damp soil for too long which can lead to that dreaded rot.
If you’ve been using a toothpick to hold your string of pearls in place then take it out before you start misting. It’ll start to go mouldy after a while and the mould can spread the your plant.
There are a lot of factors that can affect how long String of Pearls will take to root so there’s no hard and fast rule about when to start watering them properly. The main thing you need to be sure of is that there are enough roots in the pot to absorb the water so that the soil will dry out fast enough.
If you start seeing early signs of under-watering and your string of pearls has roots then start misting it a bit deeper. Mist in the morning so the pearls have time to dry out before the colder evening temperatures. Let the soil dry out completely then mist again misting it slightly deeper each time.
Keep a close eye on it for signs of overwatering – especially anywhere where the soil’s making contact with the stem or pearls. If anything looks wrong then reduce how much water you’re giving it and make sure you let the soil dry out completely before watering it again.
When to Start Watering Properly
If you’ve been misting it fairly deeply and everything seems to be going well then it’s time to get it into a normal watering routine.
I prefer top watering with newly propagated plants so that they’re not sitting in water for too long. Water in the morning so that the plant has time to dry out and the soil has time to drain before the evening. Give it a really deep water with room temperature water until it flows out of the drainage holes. Then, stick it back in it’s pot and wait for the soil to dry out again.
Again, keep a close watch on it for signs over-watering. If everything goes well then water it again once the soil dries out.