How to Save an Overwatered String of Pearls

Last Updated on April 15, 2022 by Admin

String of pearls plant is a succulent which means it holds water in its fat, fleshy ball-shaped leaves. This makes it drought-tolerant and lets it get through periods of dryness.

As such, they don’t need a lot of water and if you happen to water it like your other houseplants, it will likely end up getting overwatered.

This is a serious issue since overwatering is the number one cause houseplant death. So, if this happens, make sure to immediately take action to treat it.

How Do You Fix an Overwatered String of Pearls?

If your suspect or know that your string of pearls plant is overwatered, immediately drain excess liquid and allow the soil to dry.

Place the plant in a warm spot with bright, indirect light and good ventilation to help speed up the soil drying process.

Also, unpot the plant to check for root rot. If there is, prune the rotted roots and repot the plant in fresh soil.


Overwatering String of Pearls Plant

Overwatering is a serious problem for string of pearls plant because it can cause a host of problems. One of which is make the plant die if not treated early enough.

It can also lead to root rot, make the leaves and stems mushy. Eventually, the plant will keep deteriorating before finally dying.

The problem with overwatering is that the roots end up sitting in wet, soggy soil for too long. This will cause them to suffocate. It will also increase the risk of fungal infections as pathogens like damp, most environments.

When the soil stays wet, the crown of the plant will get mushy and soft. This will spread and the rest of the plant will eventually succumb to it as well.

So, the best way is to adjust your watering schedule so you don’t end up using a fixed schedule. Since the weather changes based on the seasons, so too does your watering routine depending on how hot or how cold the climate is.

Ideally, wait until part of the soil has dried before you add water. This way, you’re not giving it more moisture when the soil still has some.


Symptoms of Overwatered String of Pearls

When trying to fix an overwatered string of pearls plant, it is important to be aware of the symptoms. This way you know what you are looking for.

Also, knowing the symptoms will help you understand how to solve the problem.


Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves are the most common sign of overwatering. Although, they are not always definitive because other issues can cause yellow leaves as well.

So, you do need to check and eliminate the other potential causes. Or confirm against the other symptoms below.

That said, if you see yellow leaves and they are mushy (the pearls/balls feel soft and mushy), your are likely dealing with overwatering.


Root Rot

Root rot is a more definitive sign since this is almost always caused by too much water.

Root rot can happen when excess water drowns the roots and causes them to suffocate as they cannot get enough air. It can also occur due to fungal infections caused by excess moisture.

In the latter, the fungi are what destroy the roots eventually.

Either way, overwatering is the cause of the two and both can lead to total destruction of your plant unless you intervene early enough.


Shriveled and Soft, Limp Appearance

Soft, limp and mushy leaves (balls) are another symptom of an overwatered string of pearls plant. Additionally, the pearls will look shriveled as they can burst or rupture due to holding too much moisture.

As such, the plant will eventually lose some to many of its leaves this way.


Brown Leaves

One of the reasons why brown and yellow leaves can sometimes be confusing is that both can be caused by overwatering and underwatering. And that’s the case here.

In addition to yellow pearls, these can also turn brown when there is excess moisture. But it is a later symptom.

It usually happens when the effects of overwatering has gotten worse and the plant’s roots are rotting or almost rotting.


Swelling and Edema

While some of the pearls may rupture, not all of them will. That’s because the leaves are generally elastic and will expand when they store more water.

In this case, those that don’t burst will experience swelling. And you will see the pearls stretch to the point where you see protrusions or bumps on the surface of the leaves (pearls).

These blisters are called edema.




How to Fix Overwatered String of Pearls?

Now that you know the symptoms to look out for in an overwatered string of pearls plant, it is time to treat and fix these issues.


Let the Plant Dry

The first stem is to allow the plant to dry or drain. Overwatering causes excess moisture in the soil. Thus, the extra liquid needs to drain or dry to stop the effects.

You can lift and pot and feel is there is any moisture in the pot or excess water on the surface of the soil.

In case there is, slightly tilt the pot and allow any excess water to pour out. Hold on to the root ball and the plant so they don’t slide out of the pot.


Remove Any Water Under the Pot

If you keep a plate, saucer or anything else to catch water under the pot, check it as well. Throw away any water that has pooled there.

This is something you need to do regularly as letting water stay on the saucer under the pot can keep the soil wet.


Related: Saving an Overwatered Jade Plant


Keep Your String of Pearl in Bright Light

Light and good ventilation are two things that speed up evaporation. A warm location will also help with this.

But avoid too much of they of these.

That is place the plant in bright, indirect light or somewhere with filtered or dappled light. But avoid anywhere with very intense light or direct sunlight.

Similarly, don’t place the plant in a windy area or somewhere with drafts. Just an open space where there is good air circulation will help a lot.

Finally, a warm location is great. But avoid somewhere over 100 degrees Fahrenheit as the plant can get stressed due to the heat.


Don’t Water for a While

Since the plant has already gotten its fill of water, plus is stores moisture in its leaves, you don’t need or want to water the plant for a while.

Allow the soil to dry and give the plant some time to recover from the stress of overwatering.

The plant when healthy is drought tolerant. So, it can take periods of dryness without any issue.

Thus, you can leave it for a few weeks without watering. This will allow the plant to dry as well as recover from the excess moisture.


Prune Affected Areas

Remove any brown, yellow or damaged leaves (pearls). These don’t recover and they will not turn green again. Likewise, trim off any leaves that have burst along the way.

Don’t overdo it by pruning more than a third of the plant all at once. This will stress it out.

Pruning not only prevents the spread of problems but will enough encourage new growth from the areas you just cut off.


Repot Your String of Pearls

If the soil feels really wet and you want the plant to recover faster, you can repot it to new, freshy, dry soil. This will allow it to get away immediately from the wet environment and start recover.

Another instance when repotting is more necessary is if there is root rot.

If you notice black, mushy roots that are smelly, it means those roots have rotted.

With root rot, you’ll need to prune the rotted roots. But make sure to leave all the white, healthy roots intact.

Prune the plant as well to correspond to how many roots you removed. Leaving the smaller set of roots with a large plant will overwork them. This will make it more difficult for the plant to recover from root rot.

Don’t forget to submerge the entire remaining healthy root system in hydrogen peroxide solution. This will disinfect the roots and kill any pathogens.

This is important in case the cause of root rot was a fungal infection brough about by overwatering.

Also, use the same solution to clean the pot since the pathogens can stay on the material.

Finally, throw away all the soil. If the cause of the root rot was a fungal disease, that soil is infected as well. Therefore, dispose of it carefully.

After you’ve done these, you can repot the smaller plant in freshy, new, dry potting mix.

While it is not a guarantee that the plant will be saved or recover, you’ve done all you can do. And it is now up to the plant to do the rest.

If you want to play it extra safe, you can take healthy stems and propagate the string or pearls just in case.


How to Water String of Pearls

The best way to avoid overwatering your string of pearls plant is to learn how to properly water the plant.

Since this is a succulent, it is important to understand that you should not water it like most other houseplants. The reason is that it stores moisture in its leaves.

This is why the pearls are fat and fleshy, they contain water. And if you feel them, you’ll be able to tell that when the plant has sufficient water, the pearls feel full.

But the same pearls will feel softer and a bit flatter than the plant lacks water.

This is a quick way to tell. Although, it does take experience.

In any cases, there are many ways to water the string of pearls.

Unfortunately, many are incorrect and will lead to overwatering or underwatering. As such, it is important to know the few correct ways to water this succulent.


Watering from Above

The most common way of watering plants is from above. Here many people will just pour the water over all the leaves.

While this works, it can be dangerous if the moisture on the leaves don’t dry soon enough. Leaves that stay wet for long periods of time have increased risk of fungal infections.

So, if you do this, make sure you’re watering in the morning when there is still a lot of light ahead. Avoid doing so later in the day.

Also, make sure that the plant stays somewhere with good air circulation so the leaves dry fast enough.

A better way is to avoid the leaves and water directly onto the soil. This way, the leaves don’t get wet and you don’t have to worry about excess moisture on them ever.

You can use a watering can with a long neck to make it easy to reach the soil directly.

If you water from above, make sure to do so thoroughly.

This involves deep watering. That is, water the soil until the liquid starts dripping from under the holes of the pot. Then let the soil completely drain before returning the plant to its original spot.

Both watering until the root ball is soaked and allowing the soil to drain afterwards are important steps. So, don’t skimp out on the latter which can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on how big your plant is.


Watering from Below

Watering from below is the safer way to water between the two.

This allows you to completely avoid wetting the leaves. And it also reduces the chance of overwatering since the soil does the absorption itself.

To do this, place the pot in a wide container filled with water to about a quarter or the height of the plant. You can use the sink if you want since the string of pearls is not a huge plant.

Or use a can the bathtub as well.

But a simple large basin or container will work too.

When you place the pot in the liquid, the soil will absorb the water through the hole at the bottom.

Since it will absorb the moisture at its own rate, this takes much longer. So, you can leave it for about 10 minutes and come back then.

Check the surface of the soil by feeling it. If it feels moist, it means you can take the pot out of the water. If it is still dry, leave it for a few more minutes until the surface feels a little moist.

That’s your sign that the entire root ball has now gotten its fill of water.

Once this happens, take the plant out of the liquid and allow the excess liquid to drain out.

You can put it on a tray or something that will allow the excess water to drip from the drainage hole. Again, this will take another 10 to 20 or so minutes. So, leave it and come back later.

Once the soil has completely drained, you can put the plant back to where you normally keep it.


Watering Frequency

Since the string of pearls is a succulent, it is important not to water too frequently. This will lead to overwatering. It will need a much longer interval time between watering compared to regular houseplants.

Often it takes between 2-3 weeks before you need to water it again.

And also take into consideration the seasons.

Summers are much warmer so you may water sooner than normal. Winters get colder so you’ll want to scale back even more to avoid overwatering the plant.

A simple way to know exactly when to water is to check the soil every time before adding any water.

At the very least wait until the top inch of soil is completely dry before adding watering. This is the bare minimum. Otherwise, you’re likely to be adding water too often.

I like to be a bit more conservative with my string of pearls plant. And I wait until the soil is dry about halfway down (50% of the pot). This keeps the roots in moist soil. But it gives you a good leeway from overwatering.

I also have many home gardener friends who will wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again. This works as well because the pearls hold moisture. So, while the soil has dried, the plant is nowhere near being dehydrated yet.

Any of these methods will work.


How to Test the Soil for Moisture

If you go with the first method, you can use your finger and stick it into the soil down one or two knuckles. Each knuckle is about an inch length.

Then feel the soil at those depths. If the soil feels dry add water. But if the soil feels even slightly moist, wait 2 days before testing the soil again.

With the other 2 methods, you can use a chopstick and stick it into the soil all the way to the bottom. Use a wooden chopstick not the plastic type.

This way, when you take the chopstick out, you’ll see the wet line on the wood. This will tell you up to where the soil is still moist.

Of course, you can likewise use a moisture meter if you wish.

Some people will just lift the pot. A heavier pot means the soil is still wet or moist while a light pot means the soil has dried.

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