There are some pretty bizarre-looking plants, but one of the most interesting has to be Curio rowleyanus, better known as string of pearls.
As the name suggests, the plant looks like a bunch of peas threaded through a thin stem like a pearl necklace.
These ½” inch pea-shaped balls are actually leaves adapted to store water while exposing a minimum amount of surface area to the deserts it calls home.
As a result, the plant can tolerate drought and low humidity and even has a special band of tissue that creates a window for light to get inside the leaf balls for better photosynthesizing.
But despite all of these innovations, one problem growers often face with this plant is proper watering.
How To Water String Of Pearls Plants?
String of pearls plants may be drought-tolerant, but they also have a shallow root system, making it a little less clear how often you need to water them.
Here’s everything you need to know about watering your string of pearls.
The Importance Of Proper Watering
String of Pearls, much like most plants, doesn’t like overwatering and can easily develop root rot.
Overwatering can also lead to a range of fungal infections, pest infestations, and push oxygen from the soil, which results in the roots being unable to absorb moisture or nutrients.
The good news is that the string of pearls is drought-resistant, meaning you can miss a watering session without worrying too much.
Although, failure to water the plant too often can lead to wilting and stunted growth.
Never Use A Schedule
The single biggest mistake plant lovers can make is to use a calendar to decide when a plant needs water.
Think about when you have something to drink – is it on a schedule or when you feel thirsty?
Plants don’t actually use most of their water for drinking.
Instead, they use it for a process similar to sweating known as transpiration, which helps to increase the humidity around the plant.
This accounts for more than 97% percent of the water a plant absorbs, and it will naturally need watering more often when the humidity is too low.
Additionally, higher temperatures, the amount of sunlight, and other factors all affect how fast or slow the soil dries out.
Finally, the soil itself should be loose and well-draining, as compacted soil will retain water longer and increase the risk of root rot.
That said, it’s essential to water the plant when it’s thirsty, which means using a watering method that relies on the soil dryness instead of a set schedule.
Choosing The Right Water
Another vital factor to consider is the type of water you use.
Natural rainwater is the best option for any plant, as the ionized particles in the rain provide several health benefits for plants.
Obviously, the easiest way to obtain rainwater is to collect it when it rains, then store the water, but what if you don’t have the time or ability to do this?
The next best thing is distilled water, which is sometimes sold as baby water.
Distilled water has been purified to remove all toxins and mineral salts, making it quite gentle.
You can even occasionally add a bit of hydrogen peroxide to distilled water to create something very close to natural rainwater.
The third option is also the least plant-friendly.
Tap water has a lot of added chemicals that can be toxic to plants, such as chlorine and fluoride.
In addition, there are often mineral salts present, meaning you could be giving your plants what amounts to waste products.
Over time, these mineral salts can build up in the soil, which is the same to a plant as standing in your own toilet.
Avoid using tap water when you can, but if that’s all you have available, let it sit out uncovered for 12 to 24 hours so the chlorine and fluoride gasses can escape, then run it through a good filter.
On a final note, be sure that the water is room temperature when you use it on your plant to help prevent any temperature shock.
The Benefits Of Soak-And-Dry
We’ve talked about the wrong way to water your plant, but what about a method that works well?
The soak-and-dry method is generally considered the best and most effective technique for watering plants, whether in a container or a garden.
This method involves testing the dryness of the soil, meaning you won’t be giving the plant water unless it needs it.
In addition, this method uses simple visual cues to tell you when the plant has had enough water, so you’ll never be at risk of overwatering.
Best of all, this method doesn’t use specific amounts of water, so you don’t have to worry about not giving the plant enough.
Using The Soak-And-Dry Method
The soak-and-dry method begins with the finger test.
This simply involves sticking your finger into the soil to determine how dry it is.
String of pearls has a shallow root system, so you will want to water when the soil is dry ½” inch down.
This equates to about halfway to the first knuckle on an average-sized adult hand.
You can also measure your finger to get a precise idea of how far ½” inch is, which can be helpful if your child wants to water the plant.
When pouring the water, do the following:
- Pour slowly and evenly instead of dumping water on the surface. This gives the soil a chance to absorb water, so you aren’t just flooding the pot.
- Work your way around the plant, be careful not to get the leaves wet (most plants aren’t fond of this when grown indoors).
- You’ll know to stop when you see moisture seep from the pot’s drainage holes.
- Another sign the plant is finished drinking is when the soil can no longer absorb water at the same rate you’re pouring it—a clear sign the sol is saturated when you don’t have the benefit of drainage holes.