String of Turtles care tips
The String of Turtles or Peperomia Prostrata is an exquisite, trailing plant with attractive foliage, making it one of the most loved plants among gardeners!
You might be wondering now – But why the weird name?
Well, the small, ornamental, dark-green leaves of this plant – marked with white veins – happen to resemble miniature Turtle shells. That is why!
And guess what, these stunning beauties are easy to propagate and will not have you pampering them all the time! (As in, they do not need too much maintenance.)
In this blog, we go over all things string of Turtles and explore what it is like to have this plant in your home.
So, without further ado, let us dive into it!
Is string of Turtles a succulent?
Well, yes, but partially. The string of Turtles is considered a semi-succulent plant, to be very precise. And that is probably so because – on one hand, it tolerates minimal watering like a succulent plant while, on the other hand, it prefers moisture and humidity like a tropical plant.
Anyhow, its succulent nature allows it to bear with both dim light conditions and long stretches of underwatering. However, it does enjoy fairly humid environments as opposed to most other succulents.
And the reason is simple – unlike most succulents, it is accustomed to growing in rainforests and not dry areas.
Is string of Turtles an indoor plant?
The string of Turtles plant is native to Brazilian rainforests and is therefore habitual of living under the shades of large trees. Because of this, it adapts well to average household conditions and turns out as a fantastic indoor plant.
Also, it is somewhat forgiving in terms of its care routine and hence thrives indoors well enough. So, it is a thumbs up from our side!
Is string of Turtles rare?
The string of Turtles has once been categorized as a rare plant. And for a legit reason – there are not many plants that are both succulent and tropical at the same time. Moreover, the Turtle-like patterns on its leaves are simply unique and breathtaking.
That said, they are becoming increasingly popular with each passing day. So, it will not be hard to find a string of Turtles for sale in nurseries and garden centers.
Where should I put my string of Turtles?
Your string of Turtles is typically a small-sized, slow-growing plant, which makes it a decent choice for limited spaces.
Moreover, its small footprint and striking appearance make it a decent addition to any windowsill, terrarium, fairy garden, container garden, or even a hanging basket. So, wherever you place this vining beauty, it will cascade over any surface it gets to anchor itself.
When placing your plant, make sure you take care of the string of Turtles light exposure. It must have easy access to bright, diffused light. Medium light should work fine too.
However, its variegation is best supported by bright light. Remember, your Turtles do NOT like direct sunlight at all. They will burn away if you expose them to it!
Although this plant is fairly tolerant of low light levels, it won’t do its best under extremely dim conditions. It may end up getting leggy and pale in such cases.
String of Turtles care – how do you keep a Turtle’s string alive?
When it comes to keeping your Turtle’s string healthy, you do not want to make any mistakes.
You want it to thrive and live its best life. Don’t you?
But how do you do that?
Simply by keeping a few things in mind and creating a suitable environment for your cute little Turtles.
Read on to understand all the nitty-gritty of the string of Turtles care routine.
As semi-succulent, the string of Turtles naturally stores water in its fleshy leaves and hence need not be watered every so often. However, even though these drought-tolerant plants can go several weeks without water, they do prefer moist conditions.
It is recommended to water this plant about once a week or when you notice its soil has dried out. And while you are at it, make sure that you pour some water over its leaves instead of drenching its soil completely.
Whatever you do, please refrain from overwatering! Else, your Turtles are more likely to fall victim to root rot. Also, remember that the watering frequency will vary as per the climate or weather conditions.
This is the part that confuses most people. Are you supposed to mist your string of Turtles? Aren’t these succulent plants that can put up with dry conditions?
Well, as we mentioned already, the natural habitat of these plants happens to be somewhere amidst the humid rainforests in Brazil. As a result, they love having surplus humidity in their vicinity. And hence, misting these plants once in a while will do wonders for this beauty!
Contrary to other succulents, this plant does not seem to enjoy overly warm conditions. It will probably feel elated when its surrounding temperature ranges between 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Consequently, it grows fine in household temperatures.
That said, your Turtles do not appreciate cold temperatures either. That is to say, they are not frost-hardy and must be protected from chilly weather too.
The string of Turtles LOVES higher humidity!
Though this is something you normally do not expect from a succulent plant, higher humidity is crucial in this plant’s growth.
And it is not like it would not survive otherwise, but it does its best when the humidity levels are beyond 40%. You can occasionally use a mister or a humidifier, for that matter.
Strings of Turtle soil requirements
If you have already owned a succulent plant in the past, chances are, you might be tempted to use some premixed soil (one that is specifically formulated for succulents) for your Turtles. We strongly advise you not to use those premixes here!
The ideal string of Turtles’ soil primarily consists of organic matter and is rich in peat. A mixture of two parts general potting mix, one part sand, and one part perlite – also does the job pretty well.
Another thing to consider is the drainage. Make sure that the soil mix is well-draining so that the roots do not saturate – by any means. The key is to keep the soil damp and NOT soggy.
Occasional feedings from a nitrogen-rich fertilizer (during the growing season) help this plant maintain its shiny vigor.
You may use a diluted liquid fertilizer and feed your string of Turtles about twice a month during spring and once a month during summer. You may also consider sprinkling some ashes around its base to provide it with the necessary nutrients.
Bear in mind not to use fertilizer during dormancy periods, that is, during winter and fall.
The good news is that you will not have to re-pot these plants every other day. However, at some point in time – its roots shall become too crowded and stop providing sufficient nutrition to its leaves. That is when it will need a new pot. Repotting your Turtles once a year or two is reasonable enough.
Although these plants grow slowly, you can always use a pot that is one size up from its current one, if required (meaning, if you feel that it has outgrown the old one). It is better to re-pot them every year during the spring season since the temperatures are much more favorable then.
Note that repotting can sometimes refer to replacing the potting mix only – without changing the pot.
Pruning is not an essential practice as far as these plants are concerned. However, it is best to prune occasionally to get rid of dead leaves, damaged stems, and unwanted growth.
You might also have to prune off some rosettes when your string of Turtles flowers. Because you certainly do not want those blooms to draw out all of your plant’s energy and diminish the beautiful patterns on its leaves or slow down its overall growth.
Diseases and pests with string of Turtles
Like most other houseplants, Peperomia Prostrata can be susceptible to a few common plant problems. Let us see what they are.
If you notice that your plant’s foliage is turning pale and getting discolored, chances are that it has been sitting in waterlogged soil for too long. Overwatering is the biggest blunder you can make as far as the string of Turtles is concerned. To avoid wilted, discolored foliage, always use pots with drainage holes. Also, make sure that you are not soaking the leaves too much.
Harsh sunlight can be the reason behind the damaged foliage of your plant. When put under the strong sun, it may lose its variegation and end up looking dull and lifeless. And once this happens, it will not be easy to reverse the phenomenon. All you can do is move your plant away from the direct sunlight.
Excessive watering and soggy soil can always lead to root rot. Under such a situation, you must remove the plant from the soil mix and gently check its roots. If you come across any black, brown, or gray mushy roots, trim them off. Allow the roots to breathe and re-pot the plant in a fresh potting mix. Water once a week and wait for it to thrive again.
Spider mites are tiny, destructive mites that you can barely see with your naked eyes. And your Turtles are vulnerable to them!
They create small webs at the underside of the leaves or the leaf joint, which makes the plant look dusty and white. You will probably spot these webs even before you notice the minute, white, red, or black colored spiders. To treat them, you may wash the leaves with homemade insecticidal soap.
Red colored leaves
Red foliage is an indication of too much exposure to direct sunlight. Cut back a little on the direct sun to help your plant go green again. And do not forget to remove the red-colored leaves!
Brown, crispy leaves indicate that your plant has had enough dryness. Feel the potting mix and check if it is too dry. If that is not the case, maybe your plant does not have adequate moisture in its vicinity. Consider increasing the humidity levels if you feel so.
Your plant’s leaves will start turning yellow if the soil has been wet for too long. Poorly draining soil and an overly large pot can also contribute to the cause.
Propagating string of Turtles – best tips and tricks
We are sure that propagating the string of Turtles will be an exciting and worthwhile journey for you.
After all, it is simple, straightforward, and results in a lot of greenery in your home!
Below, we discuss three different approaches to the string of Turtles’ propagation.
Propagate string of Turtles in potting mix
There are two methods by which you can propagate your string of Turtles in a potting mix. Below, we discuss them step by step:
Method 1 – Using cuttings
- Take a sterile pair of scissors to snip off a few cuttings right below a node (where leaves and roots meet the stem).
- Remove a few leaves from the base of the cuttings so that they have some bare nodes exposed.
- Plant these cuttings into pots containing moistened soil mix. Make sure that at least one node is tucked into the soil when you do that (because the roots will shoot up right here).
- Keep the pots somewhere where they get access to a good deal of bright, indirect light.
- Start watering the cuttings once a week and keep the soil damp.
- The root system will develop in a few weeks, after which you may start treating it like a normal plant.
Method 2 – Using leaves
- In this method, instead of using an entire cutting, we use only a few leaves to propagate the plant in a potting mix.
- Strip off some leaves, making sure that the petioles (the small stem that anchors the leaf to the main stem) remain attached to each of the leaves.
- Place the leaf into the potting mix such that the petiole goes under the soil (and not the whole leaf).
- Again, place the leaves in a spot where it receives plenty of bright, indirect light.
- Water adequately and wait for a few months to see the roots develop.
Propagate string of Turtles in water
Water propagation is the simplest way to go about it. Here is how you do it:
- Grab a pair of clean, sharp scissors to trim off a few cuttings from the parent plant, making sure each contains at least one node.
- Get rid of any leaves present near the base so that they do not end up being under the water.
- Place the base of the cutting into a jar containing water, ensuring that at least one node immerses in it.
- Again, do not forget the bright, filtered light. Those babies need it!
- Replace the water whenever you feel it is getting grimy.
- Roots will reach two to three inches in a few months, and guess what, you will be able to see them grow!
Propagate string of Turtles by stem cuttings
Follow these simple steps to propagate a string of Turtles from stem cuttings:
- Cut off a stem that is at least 5 to 6 inches long during its growing season, that is, during spring or summer.
- Next, instead of planting it upright, lay down the cutting horizontally in a shallow pot containing either damp soil or a combination of sphagnum moss and perlite.
- Although this step is optional, you can still consider adding a rooting hormone powder to the nodes since it can help speed the process.
- See that the nodes are slightly settled into the potting mix (but there is no need to bury them).
- Maintain proper access to bright, diffused light and keep the top of the potting mix moist.
- Check the propagation every once in a while and adjust water and humidity levels accordingly.
- A few weeks later, roots will begin sprouting and grow downwards into the soil.
FAQs on strings of Turtles
How quickly does string of Turtles grow?
The string of Turtles is by a slow-growing plant by default, especially when it is young. The growth rate is highly dependent on its growing conditions.
Although rooting hormone or fertilizer can aid its growth, there is no harm in waiting and watching. The result will undeniably have you smiling. (Yes, they are that gorgeous!) Believe us. It is all going to be worth your time and efforts!
How big does the string of Turtles get?
Your string of Turtles would reach up to almost a foot (12 inches) at max. And that will not happen overnight. It might take at least 3 to 5 years to get there while hanging down from its pot. With that said, under ideal conditions and ample time duration, it can even get as tall as 2 feet.
Remember, this one is a bushy and vining plant. So, it shall grow more in terms of its width comparing its length. Also, the maximum width will depend on the size of the pot you are using.
Is the string of Turtles plant toxic to pets?
No, not like some other tropical plants. As with these plants, toxicity is not a huge matter of concern. That is so because they do not contain any chemicals that have a proven record of harming animals (or humans). However, the best decision is to keep your pets at bay. Because if, by any chance, they ingest it, it can cause nausea or diarrhea in them.
The good part is that this plant looks beautiful in a hanging basket or a planter, which should keep it outside the reach of your four-legged friends.
Are Turtle strings hard to care for?
Not at all. These rambling beauties will not ask you for your special attention. They are relatively low-maintenance and hence perfect options for gardening beginners.
However, proper care is essential no matter what. For instance, you must ensure that you water your turtles adequately (and not excessively), mist them from time to time, and provide a medium to bright, diffused light.
Is string of Turtles invasive?
Not really. Although the string of Turtles is a spreading, climbing plant that typically tumbles down the edge of a hanging basket, it is well-behaved in reality and would not shade out or invade its neighbors (as in, the plants kept nearby) whatsoever.
Can you bottom water string of Turtles?
Of course, you can! As mentioned above, your Turtles do not like to sit in damp soil for too long. Bottom watering is one effective solution to this problem. All you need to do is, have a pot or a planter with drainage holes in the bottom.
Place the pot in a container with water such that one-third of the pot submerges into it. Leave the pot there for about 10 to 20 minutes. Lift the pot and allow the excess water to drain right away. Your plant’s roots will be grateful to you!
How long can string of Turtle plants live?
The string of Turtles plant takes no less than three to five years to reach maturity. After that, their growth slows down, and they ultimately move towards death. To maintain a healthy plant population, ensure that you propagate them occasionally.
Does a string of Turtles flower?
For the most part, this plant does not bloom. However, when it does, you will notice small, whitish, spike-like buds that lack a fragrance. The inflorescence looks like a rat tail and is insignificant compared to its vining leaves. It is, therefore, best recommended to cut them off to preserve the energy so that its foliage gets the primary attention. Although, leaving them will not be harmful anyway.
By now, it must be clear to you that the string of turtles is a perfect plant for novice gardeners. It can tolerate a wide range of conditions and will be an excellent addition to any houseplant jungle. Not to forget, the beautiful turtle-like leaves are a cherry on the cake!
We hope that our guide makes it all super-easy and super-fun for you and helps you grow this vining beauty the right way.