This blog is the start of an experiment in how to grow String of Pearls.
I have been trying to grow String of Pearls for 6 months now and failing miserably. The problem seems to be overwatering. If you overwater the plant it causes the leaves to turn to mush and this then spreads like a plague to the other leaves and causes a total collapse.
I did manage to save a little bit from my first plant and planted it in a gritty mix beside an Aeonium in a gritty mix. Bizarrely this small cutting is performing well and even survived outdoors in the recent downpours over the past 10 days. This must be because it was planted in a grittier mix.
I have bought all the plants from House of Botanics at Stack Newcastle a Social and Retail hub. After speaking to the proprietor she gave me the challenge of keeping the plant alive as some customers have struggled to keep them alive.
Here is the Method I used this time.
1. Choose a suitable container to plant it in
I have decided to repot this plant straight away. String of beads like dry conditions, not to sit in moisture and have good drainage. If you look at any string of Pearls in any shop you will notice for some reason they are planted in rich fibrous soil. Of course nurseries will plant them in this soil because they will be grown in sunny and warm glasshouses by horticulturists who’s job it is to grow plants for the retail market. We live now live in an Instagram world and most people strive for a perfect plant. We know that we will probably not be able to copy how the nursery grows them. Plastic pots keep in moisture and do not let the soil breath or evaporate fast. They are of course cheap and nurseries want to maximise profits. They lock the moisture in. Terracotta pots does the opposite. They are porous and of course more natural. I picked up this pot from Dobbies for £1.29.
2. Take the plant out of the plastic pot.
Take the pot out of the plastic pot and inspect the roots. As you can see the root ball is extremely healthy with long roots. This could be because in the nursery they have bottom watered it and left the top dry and made the roots stretch for the water. This is also why they possibly use such a rich moisture retentive compost because it is difficult to bottom water through a grittier and sandier soil. As the root system of the plant is healthy I am going to leave it intact and incorporate other types of drainage.
Pack the bottom with plenty of crocks of broken terracotta pots at the bottom of the pot to allow drainage and stop the soil draining out.
Place the plant in the centre of the pot and fill the sides with course sand. At the top put a layer of potting grit.
I will water the plant sparingly and probably once a week. I am going to pour the water on the gravel at the side and this should feed through to the compost. I have put the palms pot on a Southern facing window but it does not get sun all day as a hedge blocks the sun in the afternoon. If this summer is like last summer I will put the pot outside.
Hopefully this will work as I am starting to get a bit disheartened with String of Pearls and find them too fiddly to keep. I will post an update in May and let you know if the plant has survived.