Senecio rowleyanus
Common Name: string of pearls 
Type: Vine
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Southwestern Africa
Zone: 9 to 12
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-12. Intolerant of frost. In St. Louis, plants must be brought indoors prior to first fall frost date for overwintering. This plant is best grown in a dry, sandy, well-drained, cactus-type potting mix in part shade. Allow roots to dry out between waterings. Tolerates infrequent watering and can withstand extended periods of drought. Avoid poorly-drained and/or moist soils which inevitably lead to root rot. Plants are unaffected by high humidity. Best growth occurs in 70-80 degree F. temperatures in summer and 50-60 degree F. temperatures in winter. Consider repotting this plant every spring. Plants begin to die back after several years at which point it may be best to take cuttings and start over rather than try to revive the established plant. Easily propagated by stem cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Senecio rowleyanus, commonly known as string-of-pearls or string-of-beads, is a leafy succulent vine of the aster family. It is native to dry areas of southwest Africa where its stems typically trail along the ground to 2-3’ long or more, rooting at the nodes to form a dense creeping ground cover.

It is particularly noted for its unique, almost spherical, tiny pea-shaped modified leaves (each to 1/4” diameter) which store water, minimize water consumption and generally facilitate plant survival in dry climates. Core of each leaf is composed of water storage cells. White, daisy-like, discoid flowers (1/2” across) appear on 1 1/2” stalks in summer. Flower structure is similar to that of asters. Flowers have the aroma of cinnamon.

This plant is a very popular ornamental that is almost always grown in hanging baskets which showcase the attractive pendant stems of string-of-pearl gray leaves which spill downward from the basket rims. This plant may also be grown in a flat dish in a manner similar to its trailing growth habit in the wild.

Genus name comes from the Latin word senex meaning an old man from the hoary pappus of these plants.

Specific epithet honors Gordon Douglas Rowley, British botanist.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. For more information see: Problems Common to Many Indoor Plants

Garden Uses

Excellent ornamental for hanging baskets.