Why is My String of Pearls Shriveling? What to Do

The string of pearls is my all-time favorite succulent. I love how their bead-like leaves accentuate the trailing stems. Shriveling is one of the common problems I noticed with these plants. In this article, I have explained why this happens and what you can do to save the plant.

As with many succulents, the string of pearls is easy to care for. But if the plants are shriveling it might be due to underwatering, overwatering, too much direct sunlight, fluctuation in temperatures, or pests and diseases.

String of pearls plant shriveling

Why is my string of pearls shriveling

Shriveling is a sign of distress in plants. It is characterized by leaves wrinkling and appearing like they are wilting. In most cases, this is a problem that can be fixed to save the plant. So, here are reasons why your string of pearls is shriveling and what to do.


String of pearls is a succulent, meaning it can store water in its stems and leaves enabling it to survive drought and hot weather. Many gardeners misuse this privilege and they end up not watering the plant exceedingly longer than required. 

Succulent feeling soft to the touch is commonly the first sign of underwatering. When the plant exhausts all the stored water in the system, the leaves will then droop, wrinkle, and eventually wilt. If the plant is not watered, the roots also die and the whole plant will follow suit.

How to fix

If your string of pearls plant is shriveling, the first thing to do is check the soil moisture. Insert the finger in the soil and if dry, give the plant a good watering. You may need to start slowly rather than just blasting the shriveling plant with water. So, use a spray bottle first to mist the soil.

Once the plant starts showing signs of recovery, you can increase the rate of watering. At this point, the roots are strong and they can absorb most of the water you provide. However, avoid overwatering the succulent as it can lead to root rot and other fungal problems.

A good rule of thumb is to water your string of pearls plant when the soil is completely dry. As said, you can check the moisture level by inserting a finger in the soil. Watering succulents should be minimal during winter. You may water once or twice a month to sustain the plant.


The string of pearls shriveling might result from overwatering. This is a serious problem for many houseplants. Overwatering commonly causes root rot and other fungal infection in succulents. String of pearls has the ability to store water and you don’t have to water it too often.

When there is excess water in the soil, the supply of air around the roots is limited. This causes the roots to suffocate and die. Additionally, damp soil condition encourages the emergence of bacteria and fungi that causes root rot.

The problem of root rot can cause the string of pearls plant to wilt and die. When roots are damaged, important supplies to the rest of the plant get stopped. This means the plant won’t receive water, nutrients, and air. As a result, it shrivels, wilts, and dies.

How to fix

If you suspect that your succulent is overwatered, try to remove the excess water from the soil. You may tilt the pot to allow the water to drain out or use paper towels to dab the excess water. If that won’t help, inspect the plant’s roots to determine if they are severely damaged.

If the roots feel mushy, remove the plant from the soil and cut off the damaged parts of the roots. Next, repot the plant in a fresh soil mix. Ensure to use succulent or cactus mix and a pot with drainage holes. As you know, all succulents prefer well-draining soil.

And if you prefer planting succulents in a pot without drainage holes, make sure you have created a drainage layer where the excess water from the soil can escape. Additionally, watering should be done lightly preferably using a spray bottle.

Too much direct sunlight

The string of pearls prefers a bright location but when protected from direct sunlight. I noticed mine started shriveling when I relocated it from the east-facing window to the south-facing window. This is when I learned that, too much direct sunlight can cause this problem.

How to fix

I just returned my string of pearls to a place where it received bright indirect sunlight and the problem of shriveling stopped. Too much direct sunlight has scorching effects on indoor succulents. If you are introducing your plant to direct sunlight, do it gradually to avoid the problem of sunburn.

Fluctuations in temperature

The string of pearls is sensitive to extreme temperature fluctuations. Cold drafts in particular can make the plant shrivel and lose leaves. The same also happens when the plant is placed near heat sources such as fireplaces, air conditioners, and other radiators.

How to fix

If you start noticing signs of distress in your houseplants as a result of cold drafts or heat, just relocate them to a safer place. You may need to seal your home during winter or protect your houseplants with material that can block the drafts such as curtains.

Pests and diseases

The string of pearls is pretty resistant to pests and diseases. However, the plants can be susceptible to root rot when overwatered and when grown in poorly-draining soil. Pests such as mealybugs, spider mites aphids, and other scale insects can make the plant unhealthy.

If your string of pearls is shriveling as a result of pests, isolate the affected plant and treat it as needed. You may use neem oil or insecticidal soap to deal with insect pests. If you can tell what’s the issue with your plant, seek help from a nearby nursery or any plant expert.

Final thought

The string of pearls shriveling isn’t something to take lightly. It’s commonly a sign of distress due to underwatering, overwatering, too much direct sunlight, drafts, or pests and diseases. Inspecting the plant thoroughly should help in uncovering the underlying problem for proper fixing.

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