String of Tears vs String of Pearls: What’s The Difference?

Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Real Men Sow

It’s easy to confuse a string full of tears with a string full of pearls. Both these stringy vine-like succulents hail from the dry regions of South Africa and East Africa. These closely related plants, however, have developed slightly different growth needs and habits. I’ll detail all this in this article.

A string of tears is characterized by tiny, teardrop-shaped succulent roots that point upwards. The stem can reach 1 ft. The string of pearls can be identified by its short, succulent, pea-shaped leaves and long stem that can reach 1-3 feet in length.

Difference between String of Tears and String of Pearls

String Shape and Texture

These plants are succulents and their leaves store water. This is partly due to the unique shape, texture, and color of the leaves. These adaptive features of the leaves help to minimize water loss in dry conditions. In recent years, their unique leaves have been a treasured addition to the houseplant collection. String tears plants, on the one hand, have tiny, teardrop-shaped leaves that can reach 0.3 inches in size. Each string will have a distinctive vertical tip that points upwards.

The leaves of a string are like raindrops. They settle along the length of the stem. Each leaf contains a clear window that allows you to see inside. Inside, there are purple stripes. The leaves are slightly sticky due to their waxy coating. The string of pearls’ leaves are small and almost spherical, measuring about 1/4-inch in diameter. They have a pea-like appearance. They feel very smooth and are grown on long, trailing stems.

String Size

The string of tears is a low-growing succulent. The stringy stem will trail along the ground in native environments. The stem will have nodes that are covered with roots. This helps the plant to create a ground covering and absorb as many nutrients as possible. Curio citriformis may reach a height of approximately 1 foot (30cm). When mature, the stringy leaves can reach a height of up to 1.6 feet (50 cm).

A string of pearls can be a larger plant than a string full of tears. The creeping stems have pea-shaped leaves and can either creep along the ground or over the container. The stem can grow to 1-3 feet when mature but may reach up to four feet in certain cases. There will also be roots at the nodes that help maintain dense ground cover.

String Color

On a string of tears, the raindrop-shaped leaves stand out. They come in a variety of colors, from light green to dark green with translucent stripes running longitudinally. The plant may look slightly glossy due to the waxy coating. A string of pearls is composed of gray-green stems and fleshy, light green leaves. When the foliage is thriving in spring and summer, it can turn slightly deeper green.

Flower of String of Tears

A string of tears can bloom from late summer to early winter if the weather is right. They are small, yellowish-cream heads that grow to about 6 inches (15 cm) in height on wiry stalks.

The string of pearls at its ends blooms white flowers in spring and early summer. The delightful scent is sweetened with cinnamon and has hints of cinnamon. However, your string of pearls won’t likely be able to floor indoors.

Growth Habit

A string of tears plants can either have a trailing or creeping growth habit. It all depends on how the plant was grown.

The string of pearls will have a creeping or trailing growth pattern with stringy stems that will leave a trail on the ground in their natural form. This is exactly why they are so beloved; their flowing and trailing habits make for a great talking point.

Height and Structure

String of tears stems can be stiff up to one foot in length. When mature, the plant can reach a height up to 1 foot. The stems from a string of strings that sparkle when the trumpet-shaped, cream-colored flowers emerge from the foliage.

The string of pearls can reach a maximum height up to 1-2ft (30-60cm) when mature. The stems come from a central point on the plant. It looks like strings of peas springing out of a container. The stems often overflow the container or fall on top, creating an interesting display.

Growing Requirements of String of Tears and String of Pearls

String of tears thrives in indirect and bright sunlight. It is an arid-climate species, but it does not like direct sun. It can be placed in either an east-facing or west-facing window provided it receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.

The string pearls require a mix of direct sunlight, indirect sunlight, and bright. Your pearls should get between 6-8 hours of this combination. The string of tears loves soil. It prefers succulents and soil that has a lot of loamy soil. String of pearls can thrive in sandy soil that is well-draining; however, it prefers soil pH between neutral and acidic.

Similarities between String of Tears Vs String of Pearls

Light Requirement

Both require bright light. They should get at least six hours of indirect, bright light. The string of pearls can withstand direct sunlight for up to six hours. These stringy beauties should be placed in an area that gets part sun and part shade.

Watering Requirements

The spring of tears and the spring pearls can withstand infrequent watering. The potting soil should not be allowed to dry completely. If the leaves become flattened and have a distinctive teardrop-shaped shape, it is a sign that they need water.

The soil will however tell you when it is best to water. Ensure that the soil remains moist during high-growth periods, such as the spring and summer. You can check to see if the soil’s top 2-3 inches has dried. Water again if it has dried out. If not, you can water again every 4-5 days.

Make sure to not overwater your string of pearls and tears. Soggy or wet soil will undoubtedly attract pests and diseases as well as root rot.


Both plants can thrive in any well-drained succulent potting mix or cactus. If the soil is clay, you can add pebbles or chunks of wood to increase drainage. The string of tears especially loves to be able to be cultivated in sandy, loamy or gravely mixture but make sure it’s dry. Plants love neutral pH soil. The string of pearls will tolerate slightly acidic soil between 6.6 and 7.5 pH.


String of tears does not require any fertilizing, if the soil has enough nutrients. Use standard water-soluble fertilizer or liquid houseplant fertilizer. Use only one application in summer, and dilute it to half the strength.

Your string of pearls should be fed twice per month in spring and summer, with a water-soluble fertilizer. Before applying, make sure to reformulate the pearls to half their strength. You should only feed your string pearls once a winter.

Pest and Diseases

When kept indoors, both plants are usually pest- and disease-free. They can become irritated by high humidity, poor circulation, and overwatering. These plants are not usually infested with aphids or mealybugs. Use commercial insecticides. You can also use horticultural oil and insecticidal soap.


Toxic plants include all Curio plants and particularly, both the strings of tears and string of pearls leaves are mildly to moderately toxic for humans, cats, dogs, and other pets. The sap is a substance that causes skin irritation in humans. They can cause nausea, diarrhea, rash, vomiting, and nausea if ingested. Toxic infliction can cause lethargy, drooling and skin irritation in pets.

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.