Why Is My String of Pearls Turning Brown?

Last Updated on August 13, 2022 by Stephanie

String of pearl plants turn brown and shrink due to inadequate irrigation. String of pearl likes direct light that is bright and the plants are sensitive to suns intense rays that can cause burns to the leaves and cause them to turn brown.

Slow draining and over-watering soils may cause pearls to change color, turning yellow or brown, and become soft and soft and.

The older leaves of the strong of pearl plants will naturally change color and fall off as they mature.

Continue reading to learn more about the reasons why plants with string of pearls change color and how to bring it back…

String of Pearls Turning Brown and Shriveled

When your pearl string ( Senecio Rowleyanus) leaves change color and become brown and shrink, then it is a sign of water loss.

The appearance of the shriveled is the plants way of trying to reduce the transpiration (water loss) out of the leaves.

The String of Pearl plants hold moisture within their leaves. When the plants are in optimal hydration , the pearls will be green, they feel solid and the plant appears healthy.

(Read my article to find out the frequency and duration of watering, as well as how often to the pearl string plant).

String of pearls plants have been adapted to thrive in dry conditions that occur in its native South west African environments with frequent rain and well-draining grit soil, making it more susceptible to excessive watering.

Infrequently, however, watering can causes the soil to dry out until the soil turns water-resistant (water resistive).

If certain potting soils dry completely, they are prone to repel water, so when you water your plant following a time of drought, the water flows off the surface and down the sides of the pot, and is unable to reach the roots which is where its needed.

string of pearl plant on wicker stand

The water then drips out of the bottom of the pot, giving an illusion that pearls have been properly watered, but the roots havent had the chance to absorb any water, and the plant is being affected by drought and making the pearls brown and becoming shriveled.

There are a few factors that affect the growth of string of pearls in indoor gardens that could dry out the soil faster, which can cause the soil becoming brown and shrinking:

  • Close to a source of heat or air flow. The soil in the potted string of pearls may rapidly heat up and temperatures can vary dramatically when placed next to an air conditioner or a radiator. flow of forced or air con air, which can cause the stress of drought.
  • Do not water too much. The String of Pearls plant is drought-resistant plant, but it is best to soak your soil in water and allow it to dry between watering sessions to mimic the conditions it is accustomed to in its natural environment. A little watering can encourage small root growth since only the top inch or two of soil is soaked with water which makes it more susceptible to drought and increases the chance of the pearls shrinking and becoming brown.
  • Transplant shock is caused by changes in the environment. String of pearls grow very easily indoors, however when its transferred from one place to another, the difference in the conditions could cause it to change color. The plant adjusts to the rooms light intensity and the hours of light in addition to the temperature and humidity levels. Moving it to a new space or even taking it to home from the shop can alter the climate and needs for moisture, especially when its relocated from a cooler and more dim area to a warmer, sunnier and less humid area.

How to Revive Brown and Shriveled String of Pearl Plants

The secret to revive the shriveled and brown string of pearls plant is the correct mixing of potting mix and the proper amount of water.

String of pearls, like every succulent is adapted for the growing conditions of coarse, granular soils that are porous and have the size of a fairly large particle.

If its included in the standard soil mix, it could increase the chance for roots rot (because they hold excessive water) as well as the mix could dry out and suffocate water from the surface and along the sides of the container, thereby extending the effects of drought, even after watering.

Repot your pearl string with a potting mix specially designed to grow succulents and cactus (which are available in garden centers, nurseries and even on Amazon).

The potting mix is special and succulent. It is characterized by the correct properties to permit for a adequate drainage (so that the plant does not suffer from excessive watering) but is also efficient in allowing water to penetrate it and get to the root following an absence of water instead of flowing across the sides and up the top in the container.

This permits an easier cycle of watering, and also optimal levels of soil moisture , so that the string of pearls be able to access water, and soil doesnt retain excessive moisture, which can cause the soil to rot.

How often should I water my plants to avoid browning and shriveling of the pearl string plant…

It is impossible to provide a definitive guideline on the frequency of watering strong pearls to prevent becoming brown, as requirements for watering can vary based on variables like temperature and sun intensity temperature, humidity and sun intensity.

Finding the ideal frequency of watering for healthy plants requires some experimentation however, you must apply water to strong of pearls lower than most plants because of their adaption to harsh dry conditions.

Usually, I tend to water my pearl string every week during the Spring and Summer months during the growing season. I water it at least every three or four weeks during the week during winter when the plant enters an inactive state.

Remember that in extremely hot climates, the strength of pearls may enter an inactive state to act as a natural adaptation to help conserve water in harsh desert climates.

In this case, you must reduce the amount of frequency of watering to once a week if you notice that the increase in the size of your pearl string slowing down significantly, or notice any indications of stress due to excessive watering, such as soft, mushy leaves that show some browning or yellowing.

My well-draining plant mix (from Amazon) assists in promoting proper drainage, which eliminates any issues that could arise from excessive moisture . It also allows water to get to the roots efficiently after a few minutes of watering.

This keeps my pearl string with a healthy, green color, and also prevents shriving and browning leaves.

If your pearl string is dries up despite the best practice in watering, check out my article for solutions.

Preventing String of Pearls Turning Brown due to Sun Burn

The spring of pearls have been well-adapted to hot climates and can thrive in sun-drenched areas however they should not be moved from a shaded area to another of sunlight or they will can burn.

The pearl string needs to adjust to the new environment slowly instead of battling stark contrasts in the brightness of light.

To accomplish this you must transfer the pearl-shaped potted plant to a brighter space for an hour every day. In the course of a month, increase the plants exposure to direct sunlight by around 30 minutes or so every two or three days.

The pearls that are strong will adjust to the change in brightness if exposed gradually and can withstand more sun exposure without suffering sunburn.

String of pearls are more sensitive to light than most succulents, so they are more suited to bright indirect sunlight or early morning sun and afternoon shade.

Remember that when you have more sun hours there is a higher demand for water, and I suggest watering regularly every week in order to avoid the leaves from turning brown and shrinking due to dehydration.

Leaves at Base of the String of Pearls Plant Turn Brown and Drop Off

Another reason that could be causing the string of pearls leaves turning brown could be due to aging.

As the plant grows and ages, the lower leaves will naturally change color and fall off as part of the plants natural cycle. This is the case for all succulents.

This effect can be more noticeable in plants located in shade.

String of pearls like bright light or morning sunlight, so when theyre located in shade, the stems will tend to get longer as the plant expands towards more sunlight.

The pearls or leaves to get more sparse especially lower down the stem. Lower leaves become brown and fall off.

It can happen to any succulents, but the effect can be reduced by growing them in more sunlight. The plant is kept shorter and compact, rather than thin and sloppy.

Be cautious not to move your pearl string to a spot that has much more sunlight at once to avoid sunburn.

Sun Burnt Leaves Turn Brown

String of Pearls are succulents which thrives in sunny and hot regions, but it is capable of adapting to a variety of lighting levels, which is why its great for growing indoors , but it is most likely to thrive in direct light that is bright and intense..

The leaves may become brown because of sunburn when the string of pearls been accustomed to growing in a location with less intense light or less sun hours each day, and then relocated to a sunnier location.

The more stark the contrast of sunlight between two spots, the greater chance for your pearls to become brown because of sunburn.

The browning of pearls due to sunburn is easily distinguished from pearls that turn brown because of under-watering (or another reason) because only leaves in the direct light of the sun will turn brown, whereas those that are in more shade or protection are less burned or remain green.

Individual leaves typically dont recover after theyve been burned.

You can trim back any sun-burnt pearls and allow the plant to grow or maybe take a few cuttings that have healthy leaves and make them into propagation.

String of pearl plants is very easy to propagate and even burned plants can be rejuvenated. Check out this YouTube video to learn how to grow the string of pearls.

Too Much Moisture Can Cause Brown Leaves

Plants with string of pearls may change color (or yellow) in an indication of stress due to the fact that they have too much moisture in the roots.

The signs of an over the top watering of the string of pearls are leaves that have turned brown, black or yellow and are soft and have soft texture instead of more firm green leaves.

A lot of moisture around the roots can be caused by:

  • Overwatering. The String of Pearl plants are drought-tolerant succulents that prefer to be dry. If youre regularly watering them more than every week, youre probably overwatering.
  • Soils that drain slowly. String of pearls require fast draining soil. Transfer the pearls that are strong to a special Cactus and succulent potting mix to get the best soil mix.
  • Pots with no drainage holes on the bottom. Pots with drainage holes missing within the bottom cause water collect around the roots, which can cause root rot, and stems and leaves become brown. Make sure to plant pearls in pots that have drainage holes to avoid excessive water from accumulating at the base. Clear out any empty saucers or tray that sit beneath the pots to ensure that the water is able to flow freely.

If roots remain in the soil that is damp for too long, this results in rotting, which could change the leaves from brown to black, and eventually end up killing the plant. However, changing the soil conditions could help to save the plant.

The amount of water you need to give depends on the environment, but generally, make sure that the soil is dry before you water to ensure the health of your plant.

But you must consider replanting your succulent into a new container (with drainage holes at the bottom) and then use a specific succulent potting mix for better drainage.

The soil must dry between periods of watering to allow strings of pearls remain healthy.

If the plants condition isnt improving despite improved watering and drainage practices, then cut off healthy stems and leaves to propagate new plants since the decay can spread and eventually cause the plant to die.

(To find out more, please read my article on on how to revive the dying pearls plants).

Bruising Can Cause Brown String of Pearls Leaves

If theyre healthy, the string of pearl plants are beautiful with sturdy leaves, however they can be damaged when they are bumped any way.

The bruising may be limited to a small number of leaves or stems , if is caused by a collision in a way.

The delicate and strong of pearls therefore be cautious when handling them, and keep this plant away from harms way.

The extent of recovery depends on the severity of the bruising , but by a gentle busting, the leaves may recover but leaves that are consistently bruised might require pruning to achieve aesthetic and functional reasons.

Key Takeaways:

  • String of pearl plants change brown and shrink as a reaction to watering too much. Sun exposure can cause burns to the leaves, which can turn brown.
  • The excessive watering of the leaves yellow or brown soft and mushy, and could cause the leaves to rot.
  • The string of pearls can change color if damaged through physical trauma in any way.
  • To revive a brown and shriveled string of pearl plants increase the amount of watering and then change the soil used for potting into a grit-like mixture designed for succulents. Sun burnt leaves may require pruning.


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)