Tulista pumila, also known as Pearl Plant, is a succulent plant found in the wild throughout South Africa. The plant is quite popular in cultivation because of its low water requirements and interesting appearance. Although it is not a true aloe, the plant is often confused with one because of its similar growth habit. It is one of the largest growing species in its genus, but it takes a while to reach its ultimate height. Tulista pumila was previously known as Haworthia pumila, and in some texts Haworthia margaritifera. Misinformation regarding this species is quite widespread as it has only recently been recategorized in the Tulista genus.
The plant grows in the form of a tightly knit rosette of succulent leaves without any stem. The leaves are lanceolate to linear in shape and up to 2 inches long. Each leaf bears distinct, white, raised dots (tubercles). This characteristic earned its common name “Pearl Plant” and “Pearly Dots.” The dots don’t appear in any sort of pattern; they haphazardly spread out on the skin of the leaves. The flowers are small, off-white to light pink, and star-shaped with up to 5 petals. T. pumila blooms from late spring to early summer. It takes about five years for a new plant to mature enough to produce flowers.
Pearl Plant Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Pearl Plant, Pearly Dots, Miniature Aloe|
|Botanical Name||Tulista pumila (formerly Haworthia pumila)|
|Native Range||South Africa (Western Cape)|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||10a to 11b|
|Mature Size||Height: 3-4 inches, Spread: up to 6 inches|
|Propagation methods||by offsets, by cuttings|
|Sun||Full sun to Part shade|
Pearl Plant Care
It is prized for its unique, pearl-like appearance and has been used in landscaping and horticulture for quite some time. It is considered among the more forgiving succulents to grow in cultivation. It is tolerant of neglect on occasion and doesn’t require much beyond a basic care routine.
Light and Location
Pearl Plant is a sun-loving plant that does best in full sun to part shade. It can tolerate more shade than most succulents but will start to etiolate (stretch out) if not given enough light. If grown indoors, place it in a bright, sunny spot near a south or west-facing window. A good amount of sun will provide the leaves with a nice brown, almost burnt look; quite aesthetically pleasing.
Outdoors, it does well in rock gardens, succulent gardens, or as an accent plant in mixed beds and borders. It is often used in container gardens and dish gardens.
Tulista pumila is a drought-tolerant plant that does not like to be kept too wet. Therefore, it is best to err on the side of underwatering instead of overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out completely in between waterings. Water about once every 2-3 weeks during the summer and cut back even more during the winter when growth slows down. If you are unsure if watering is a good idea, it is always better to wait an extra day or two.
Temperature and Humidity
Tulista pumila is native to hot and dry regions of South Africa. Therefore, it prefers warm temperatures and low humidity. In its natural habitat, it experiences temperatures that range from 50-85 degrees to 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are growing Pearl Plant indoors, make sure the temperature stays above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It can tolerate a brief period of cooler temperatures, but prolonged exposure to cold will damage the leaves. If you experience very hot summers, provide some afternoon shade to prevent the leaves from burning.
Tulista pumila is a slow-growing succulent that doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer to thrive. In fact, too much fertilizer is very bad for your plant. But if you do decide to fertilize, use a balanced fertilizer and apply it only once during the growing season. Be sure to dilute it by half to prevent burning the roots.
One of the easiest ways to propagate this plant is by offsets. Offsets are small baby plants that form around the mother plant’s base. They can be carefully removed and replanted in their own pot.
To remove an offset, wait until it has developed its own root system before gently detaching it from the main plant. Be sure to use a sharp knife or scissors, so you don’t damage either plant in the process. Once removed, allow the offset to callous over for a few days before replanting in well-draining succulent soil.
You can also propagate Tulista pumila by cuttings. Take a cutting from a healthy leaf or stem and allow it to callus over for a few days before replanting. Fill a pot up with a succulent mix and bury the cut end in the soil while laying the leaf on its side. Don’t let the leaf stay upright. It should root in a few weeks.
Potting and Repotting Pearl Plant
Pearl Plant can be quite content living in the same pot for several years. It is a slow-grower that doesn’t need a lot of root space. Repot only when it has visibly outgrown its current pot or when the roots start to crowd the pot. Only move up one pot size to avoid shocking the plant when replanting in a new pot.
Choose shallow pots as these plants’ roots don’t go too deep. The best time for this process is in the spring before new growth begins.
Choose a pot that has good drainage and use a well-draining succulent or cactus mix. If you can’t find a premade mix, you can make your own by mixing together equal parts potting soil, sand, and perlite.
Tulista pumila is considered non-toxic to humans or animals.
Common Pests and Diseases
This plant is relatively resistant to pests and diseases but can be susceptible to mealybugs, scale, and root rot if watered improperly. Be sure to provide good drainage and only water when the soil is completely dry to prevent root rot. If you notice any pests, treat them immediately with an appropriate insecticide or pesticide.
My Pearl Plant Is Growing Really Slowly. Is This Normal?
Yes, this plant is a slow grower. Don’t be concerned if it doesn’t seem to be growing much. Just make sure it is getting the right amount of bright light and water.
The Leaves On My Tulista pumila Are Turning Red. Is This Normal?
Yes, the leaves can turn red in high light conditions. If you think the leaves are getting too much sun, try moving the plant to an area with indirect sunlight or provide some afternoon shade.
Why Is My Pearl Plant Dying?
There could be several reasons why your pearl plant is dying. It might not be getting enough light, water, or nutrients. It could also be suffering from root rot or pests. Check your plant carefully and see if you can identify the problem. If you’re still not sure, take a cutting of the plant and bring it to your local nursery or garden center for help.