String of Pearls Turning Brown – Why & How to Fix it?

String of pearls is of the popular choice among houseplants to turn your home into greenery. But, it can be distressing when its pea-shaped leaves turn brown.

To revive, you must know why string of pearls is turning brown?

Choosing wrong potting soil, which can lead to overwatering or underwatering the plant, pest infestation and prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause your string of pearls to brown.

Before proceeding, it is important to know essential requirements of this hanging plant.

Though String of pearls is mostly grown as hanging plant to beautify your outdoor corridor, in East Africa it is grown as ground cover.

You can easily propagate this plant by stem cuttings. Along with its attractive pea-shaped leaves, this plant can flower in spring. However, it won’t flower indoors.

  • String of pearls is a succulent and is prone to overwatering. To avoid, you must choose well-drained potting soil.
  • Though-out the growing season, you must ensure moist soil for this hanging plant.
  • String of pearls can be planted in any season, but they thrive in warmer climates when the temperature if above 70F.
  • To encourage growth, feed your string of pearls with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
  • For greener leaves or pearls, place the plant under bright indirect sunlight for about 6-8 hours.

Why Is My String of Pearls Turning Brown?

Knowing underlying cause of discoloration will help you to revive your plant and prevent it in future.

#1 Overwatering Can Cause Yellow or Brown Leaves

String of pearls is native to South West Africa, where it gets infrequent rainfall with well drained soil.

These succulents are more susceptible to overwatering issues.

To have thriving greenery, most gardeners water their houseplants frequently. In some cases it might help, but in case of this plant it back-fires.

If you water the plant more than its needs, it causes leaves to turn yellow, brown or mushy.

Best way to check the moisture levels of your string of pearls is to insert your index finger into the potting soil. Don’t water the plant if you find the soil is sticky and moist, let it dry.

Water the string of pearls, when the top 1-2 inches of the growing medium is dry.

Yellow, brown, stunted growth and root rot are common signs of overwatering string of pearls.

How to revive?

Stop watering and ensure the potting soil is well-drained. Repot the plant to a well-drained soil, if needed.

String of pearls is drought tolerant. So, you can leave string of pearls without watering for few days. But, avoid underwatering the plant.

#2 Underwatering String of Pearls Resulting in Brown and Shriveled Leaves

String of pearls is a succulent that means it stores water in its leaves. If you notice brown and shriveled leaves, then probably you’ve underwatered string of pearls.

(Read on this article: How often to water string of pearls?) says, inadequate watering can sometimes dry out the potting soil to the extent that even after watering the growing medium won’t be able to absorb it efficiently, thus resulting in underwatered string of pearls.

Younger string of pearls needs to be watered frequently compared to adult plants.

It is a drought tolerant plant, so how can it be underwatered?

Though it stores water in leaves, when you leave the plant underwatered for weeks, string of pearls start to turn brown and shriveled.

How to revive?

Start watering your underwatered string of pearls generously and ensure the roots uptake the water.

If you notice brown leaves even after regular watering, change the potting soil or propagate string of pearls in new potting soil.

Also, ensure the string of pearls is getting enough sun exposure.

#3 Extreme Sunlight can burn leaves

Adequate sun exposure keeps the plant leaves green and healthy.

Like most houseplants string of pearls thrives in bright sunlight. But, problem arises when it repeated gets exposed to afternoon direct sunlight.

Extreme temperature burn leaves of this succulent resulting in shriveled and brown foliage.

When your leave string of pearls under extreme sunlight, it will eventually dry out the plant completely by turning it brown.

(Read my article: Why Is My String of Pearls Plant Dying? )

How to revive?

To save your plant from scorching heat, choose a location that gets shaded in the afternoon.

Or you can use a shade cloth to protect string of pearls from direct sunlight.

#4 Fertilizing Issues

String of pearls doesn’t need to be fertilized through-out the year. You can fertilize them with balanced liquid fertilizer during growing season.

Over-fertilizing damage the roots and impact plant growth.

Brown string of pearls, stunted growth and burnt roots are signs that you’re fertilizing string of pearls too much.

Fertilizing this succulent only once in 2 weeks during growing season.

How to revive?

To remove excess fertilizers from the soil, keep the plant under running water 2-3 times.

In case of extreme over-fertilization, you should repot your string of pearls plant.

Further, use only 10:10:10 NPK ratio liquid fertilizer to boost this succulent growth.

(Also Read: Are Worm Castings Good for Succulents?)

#5 Pest Infestation

Wisconsin Horticulture University states that string of pearls has few pest problems. But, pests like aphids and mealy bugs can attack your succulent, suck nutrients and make the plant weak.

Brown string of pearls can be a sign that the plant is infected by pests.

How to revive?

If you identify that your plant has aphids infestation, then use water shower to wash them off.

You can also use pesticides without any harmful chemicals available in the market.

Neem oil solution is one of the best ways to get rid of pest infestation.

#6 Temperature Fluctuation

Sudden changes in temperature can negatively impact the growth of string of pearls.

Foliage of this succulent turn brown and shrivel when they get exposed to extreme heat.

Similarly, when temperature drop too low string of pearls turns yellow and fall off.

As mentioned, rapid changes in temperature can result in stunt plant growth and discolored foliage.

How to revive?

Choose a location where the temperature ranges between 65F to 75F.

Avoid putting string of pearls near drafts, colder windows or near AC vents. Relocate the plant pot to save from the extreme temperature.

#7 Choosing Wrong Soil

This succulent is native to East Africa, where it gets infrequent rainfall with well-drained soil.

To grow healthy string of pearls, you must replicate similar environment for this houseplant.

String of pearls is susceptible to overwatering. So, they prefer potting soil that drains excess water, yet retain moisture.

Due to wrong potting soil water gets accumulated in the plant container resulting in overwatering, which further leads to root rot and may attract pests.

Choosing the best potting soil for string of pearls can avoid common gardening issues.

#8 Aging

This plant thrives in bright morning sunlight with afternoon shade.

If you keep the plant in too much shade, their stems tend to grow long as they lean towards the direction of more sunlight to sustain their growth.

As lower part of the stem become more sparse this eventually results browning and dropping of lower leaves or pearls.

And this is common in most succulents and indoor plants. You can’t completely avoid it, but you can reduce discolored leaves by moving your plant to location that gets enough indirect sunlight.

Don’t relocate the plant at once, as drastic change in temperature can stunt plant growth.

(Learn how to prepare potting soil for this flowering plant?)

How to Prevent String of Pearls from Turning Brown?

Right potting soil mix and adequate watering are two key factors to revive string of pearls.

String of pearls is native to gritty soil that drains well. If you choose to grow this succulent in standard potting soil it can result in root rot.

Go for cactus soil mix or potting soil used for growing succulents. (You can get it from nursery or amazon)

Depending on climate, temperature and intensity of sunlight you should regulate watering string of pearls.

I recommend watering this succulent once in a week in spring and summer. In winter, you should decrease watering to once in 2 weeks.

How to avoid extreme sun exposure?

Though this houseplant grows in warmer regions, it is sensitive towards direct scorching sun rays.

String of pearls does well under bright indirect sunlight.

Relocate the plant to shade in afternoon or use a shade cloth to avoid extreme temperature.

Remember: With great exposure to sunlight, moisture escapes into atmosphere more quickly. You need to water every week to keep the soil moist.

Prevent too much watering

As mentioned several times in this article, string of pearls is prone to overwatering.

Well-drained potting soil plays key role avoid this issue.

Apart from this you must reduce watering your succulent with drop in temperature.

Most plants go dormant in winter; if you continue to water them they may face overwatering issue.

Check the top 1 inch of the soil before watering by inserting your finger.

Water generously if you find the soil is dry, else allow it dry.

Along with good soil, you should opt for container that has drainage hole. Pots without holes accumulate water and results in root rot.

Let the growing medium dry between watering. If needed you should repot to a new potting soil to avoid accumulation of excess water.


Including overwatering, underwatering, extreme sunlight and temperature fluctuations, there are few more factors like bruising and excess chlorine in water that can cause string of pearls to turn brown.

However, preventing is easy.

To keep the plant healthy and vibrant, ensure to provide string of pearls with adequate bright indirect sunlight, watering only when the top one inch of soil is dry, maintaining humidity levels, fertilizing with liquid fertilizer during growing season, choosing well-draining soil, and regularly checking for pests.

Gardening is a wonderful experience. You learn when you grow. 🙂