Are you someone who admires the beauty and elegance of Peperomia Prostrata? (Or perhaps you know it by its common name: String of Turtles?) If the answer is yes, we don’t blame you! Gardening lovers cannot ignore this delicate-looking plant, with its small, round, succulent leaves and long, graceful vines.
The distinguishing feature of this plant is what makes it stand out. The round leaves of Peperomia Prostrata are green, fleshy, and thick, with an elegant pattern that makes it look like a turtle’s shell.
It has a unique blend of deep purple and black patterns with white veins and resembles tiny turtle shells cascading from a string, hence their nickname “String of Turtles.”
And the best part is that this unique beauty is pretty easy to care for! So, read on to learn how it can be grown and cared for, as I will explain in this blog post!
Table of Contents
String of Turtles Plant Overview
|Scientific Name||Peperomia Prostrata|
|Common Names||String of Turtles, Radiator Plant, Magic Marmer|
|Size and Dimensions (Mature)||In ideal conditions, it may reach two feet in length|
|Distinguishing Features||Adorably small, round-shaped leaves with distinctive patterns resembling tiny little turtles. The plant may produce long, tiny cream flowers if cared for well.|
|In-Home Placement||Bright indirect light. A south-, west- or east-facing window will be optimal. The plant can withstand short amounts of full sun in the mornings.|
Fun Facts about String of Turtles
String of Turtles is an Epiphyte
The string of turtle plant is widely found in the tropics, including Central and South America. This slow-growing semi-succulent plant belongs to the Peperomia genus and the Piperaceae family and is native to the rainforests of Brazil and Ecuador.
This tropical plant climbs on surrounding trees and objects to access as much light as possible in its natural habitat. In other words, this plant is an epiphyte. Other commonly seen epiphytic succulents include Trailing Jade, String of Pearls, and String of Hearts.
String of Turtles Are Slow Growers
String of turtles plants can grow up to 12 inches in length and 4 inches wide, but the key to dealing with this plant is plenty of patience, as due to their shallow root systems, they tend to grow extremely slowly.
However, the advantage of a slow growth rate is they won’t need regular repotting! When buying new plants, the best option is to get them the size you’d like them to be or buy mature plants, or you will be waiting for ages for them to reach your ideal height! But at the same time, they are also great picks if you prefer to have a small plant that stays small for a long time.
How to Grow String of Turtles: Care & Conditions
Growing these little turtles is not rocket science, but at the same time, you’ll need some information on the basics of what it takes to grow a healthy plant.
Minor mistakes such as inadequate temperature or the wrong fertilizer could result in causing your plant to die. So, if you know nothing about The String of Turtles, make sure you do your research before you start growing it as an indoor plant.
The crucial point is to keep the Spring of Turtle soil as close as possible to its natural atmosphere in the Brazilian rainforests. Since this Peperomia is both a tropical plant and a succulent, finding the right soil mixture is essential to keep it healthy.
Your Peperomia requires slightly acidic, airy, well-drained soil. Creating your own soil mixture is the best way to achieve the best ratio for a healthy String of Turtles growth.
Get yourself a bag of premixed succulent soil and mix it in even ratios of organic matter, like peat moss, coir, or compost, and half the amount of inorganic matter, such as bits of pumice, gravel, and crushed granite.
Optionally, add in a few handfuls of sphagnum moss. And there you have it, a nice, well-draining soil mix that your succulent will love.
Having a drainage hole in your planter is important to keep the roots from drowning! If the roots are submerged in water for too long, they might rot. Proper drainage also allows excess water and build-up to drain, protecting the plant from fungus and pest attacks.
Terracotta pots are a good home for your String of Turtles as they dry out quickly, which prevents the roots from getting mushy and clogging up. However, any pot should work as long as it has good drainage.
Watering the Spring of Turtles is required, but overwatering is the worst thing you can do to this plant. Too much water can leave the roots of the plant clogged and mushy, leading to rot. You will notice the stems falling out if the soil is overwatered.
However, don’t be scared to give them enough water since the plant thrives on moist soil. Give the plant a drink when the top inches of soil feel dry!
When watering, do it until you see water starting to drain out from the drain holes at the bottom of the pot. This ensures the soil is evenly saturated.
To avoid damage to the stem or lower leaves, you can try out bottom watering instead of watering from the top of the plant. However, they should not be left to sit in water for more than 30 minutes due to the risk of root rot.
Fortunately, The String of Turtles does pretty well in a household atmosphere, and the ideal temperature is about 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The delicate leaves will start withering if the temperature falls anywhere below 50°F.
These tropical plants cannot survive in freezing temperatures or harsh winter months; therefore, you must avoid growing them in such areas.
If the weather conditions fluctuate, this will disturb their well-being and prevent new growth, so it would be better to move them indoors.
During the summer, avoid placing your Peperomia near an air conditioner. Simultaneously, keep them out of air vents and radiator heat during winter. Otherwise, you risk drying out the leaves.
Generally, succulent plants respond to direct sun exposure positively, which helps their overall health to prosper, and the sun boosts their growth. However, The String of Turtles is very sensitive to too much direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day and prefers indirect exposure instead.
Always place this vining plant near or directly on a windowsill, exposing it to bright but indirect light. A spot in a south- or west-facing window is optimal, as the plant can withstand a few hours of direct light in the mornings. Keep it protected against the harsh afternoon sun, though!
If there is too little light in your area, you can opt for an indoor grow light or simple fluorescent lights as your Peperomia loves bright light conditions; however, it should only be used for up to 12 hours per day. Your plant will not flourish until it has enough light to dry the soil, which helps prevent root rot.
The String of Turtles loves a moist and high humidity climate. Therefore, investing your time in creating some humidity conditions is a good idea, such as spraying the plants frequently with a light mist of water or purchasing a humidifier.
You can also use the pebble tray method. Put around 2 inches of gravel into a shallow tray and make sure the bottom is always wet. Place The Strings of Turtles pot on top of the tray. The evaporation from the water will help maintain balanced, humid environments.
Ensure you provide the right fertilizers to your String of Turtles every 3 to 4 weeks to keep it growing with proper nourishment. You can buy organic fertilizers, but it is very easy to use household items such as egg shells and chicken bones. Onion skin and garlic are wonderful fertilizers and can repel common pests.
But of course, you could simply buy a mild N-P-K fertilizer to feed your plant with everything it needs. Remember, don’t forget to dilute your liquid fertilizer, or you can risk damage to the roots.
During cold seasons, the growth period of this plant is reduced, so it is a good idea to take a break from feeding it. Over-fertilization could result in major damage, such as discoloration of the leaves. The fresh green leaves might start changing to a deep brown if the plant suffers from fertilizer burn.
When your Spring of Turtles is mature, you might notice some buds or ‘inflorescences’ called String of Turtle flower spikes. Although they look cute and dainty, I urge you to trim these away so the plant can use its’ energy to grow more foliage instead!
How to Propagate String of Turtles
Are you looking to expand your String of Turtles plant collection? Well, you don’t need to spend any money on buying another one; you can painlessly and easily increase the number of your plants by propagating the String of Turtles!
- A mature, healthy String of Turtles plant
- Sharp pruners or scissors
- A damp paper towel
- A small pot with drainage holes filled with succulent potting mix
- Trim off a stem or two from your plant that is approximately 2 to 3 inches long, and make sure the stem has several leaves on it. I always recommend taking multiple cuttings so that if one or two fail, you’ll still be left with a somewhat full plant!
Make sure to use sterilized scissors while cutting the stem, as this will prevent bacteria from entering your new plant.
- You can pluck off the leaves from the underside to make it look like a neat root ready to be planted.
- Place the stem cuttings on a clean paper towel surface that is slightly damp to protect the cuttings from drying out. You should try to transfer it to the soil as soon as possible!
- Grab your pot with succulent soil, and place the Peperomia leaf cuttings into it. Gently push the bare part of the stem into the soil. Keep the leaves above ground.
- If you feel the soil is dry, water the soil until it’s completely moist, and then place the pot somewhere it can get enough indirect sunlight. However, protect it against harsh direct sunlight because the young plants may easily scorch.
In a few weeks, you will notice new growth, and soon, you’ll have a beautiful new String of Turtles plant!
How to Pot and Repot String of Turtles
It’s important to repot your Peperomia plants when needed because repotting prevents root rot and allows you to remove decayed roots. This helps to boost healthy root growth and allows your plant to grow freely and vigorously with more space.
The best time to repot your Peperomia is when you notice it has fully outgrown the current vessel. This means your plant is asking for extra space to expand itself. You’ll notice the plant is root-bound when the soil dries out too fast, the plant stops growing, and leaves may drop.
On average, your String of Turtles must be repotted only once every 3-4 years. They are slow-growers, and their roots are very delicate. Avoid putting them in a pot size that’s too big because this can increase the risk of rot. Aim for no bigger than 2” of space between the root ball and the edge of the pot!
Repotting should not be considered during extremely hot weather to prevent transplant shock. Similarly, avoid repotting during the winter because the plant will be dormant. The ideal time to repot is Spring at the beginning of the growing season.
Common Problems with String of Turtles
Although Peperomia is not too vulnerable to pests or diseases, it is always wise to watch your turtle string and look for possible changes. Mealybugs, whiteflies, or spider mites are common problems our Strings of Turtles have to deal with.
To keep these enemies at bay, opt for a neem-oil solution. These can be made easily at home by combining a tsp of neem oil, 500ml of water, and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle. Don’t worry about your plant reacting to these; they are not toxic.
Beneficial insects like predatory mites, ladybugs, or spiders can also be wonderful companions in your battle against houseplant pests! These bugs feed on houseplant pests, eliminating them without you having to bat an eye.
Rotting roots is a common issue that a lot of newbies face. If your plant suffers from root rot, remove it from its pot and trim off all the brown, mushy, and dead-looking roots. Then, repot it into fresh, new soil to eliminate the bacteria. Since these plants have very delicate root systems, they might not survive rot.
Of course, the most effective way to treat root rot is prevention. Overwatering the plant makes the soil soggy and mushy, decaying the roots. Always ensure the soil is damp rather than overflowing with water, and use well-draining soil. Allow the top half to dry out before you water again!
Make sure you maintain the right warm temperatures for your plant. Cold temperatures and dark corners can cause the roots to rot, so focus on your Spring of Turtle warmth and give it the right light levels, which helps the roots stay dry.
If you notice the leaves turn yellow and are falling out, it could result from overwatering. However, overly dry soil can lead to shriveled, dry, brown leaves that drop from the plant, too. Check the soil to see what the issue is!
Discoloration of the leaves, such as a faded color, could be a sign of sunburn, and if this happens, make sure to keep it far from direct sunlight.
If whiteflies have infested your plant, you will notice the leaves turning a yellowish color, and they will begin to shed. On the bottom side of the leaves, you’ll notice white bugs or eggs from the whiteflies. These small, white moths can be seen flying close to the bottom of the plant, as that is where they lay their eggs.
You can treat an existing infestation by thoroughly rinsing the plant with clean water and applying insecticidal soap. Neem oil and beneficial insects will help prevent new infestations from attacking your poor plant.
Too much wet soil and over-fertilization can invite these bugs that love nibbling on the leaves of your String of Turtles. The cottony-white substance easily identifies this pest that it leaves on your plant. As they feed on your Peperomia, they can cause major damage, so if you find them, begin treatment immediately!
Simply prepare a 1 to 10 solution of isopropyl alcohol and water. Spray the solution all over the leaves and repeat until you notice the bugs are gone. You can remove the white fuzz on the stems and leaves with an alcohol-soaked Q tip.
These spider-like microscopic mites attack the leaves, making the plant appear dull and dry. Spider Mites usually infest the plant in cold conditions when the weather is dry, so maintain the right humidity levels. If you find small, silky webbing on your plant’s stems or soil, you can be certain that your Peperomia is dealing with these pesky mites.
If you find spider mites, go ahead and thoroughly wash the leaves with a strong stream of water and apply a strong pesticide. You might need to repeat this process until the bugs are eliminated, and ensure to cover the entire plant in pesticide for it to be effective!
How to Display String of Turtles
The string of Turtles is a versatile and unique-looking plant, which means there are many wonderful ways to display this beauty in your house. Below are my favorite ways to use my String of Turles as home decor!
Take your home decor to the next level by putting this exotic plant on attractive display in a terrarium. This attractive glass, sealed pot gives your little Turtle strings a stylish elegance while providing a humid environment for your plant.
Trailing From a Hanging Basket
This plant’s beautiful, delicate vines will come to their own when you showcase them in a beautiful hanging planter. These dainty little leaves will look great in small spaces, too. Make sure to hang your String of Turtles in a brightly lit location shielded from direct sunlight!
Tip: If you live in a rental apartment and are anxious about hanging plants on drilling hooks, don’t worry. Here are seven ways to hang plants in your apartment without any drilling needed!
In a Succulent Arrangement
Creating a DIY succulent arrangement is a great way to combine different succulents in a single planter. However, you’ll need to ensure that the plants you pair with your String of Turtles can live together in harmony. Find out more about how you can pair different types of succulents here.
For those who live in a suitable climate with warmer temperatures during the summer, you can easily grow your Peperomia plants outdoors in beautiful planters or wall hangings!
If you grow the plant outside, move it inside before outdoor temperatures exceed 50F because this will seriously harm your poor turtle vines!
String of Turtles FAQ
Is String of Turtles Toxic to Cats and Dogs?
According to the ASPCA, the String of Turtles is not toxic to pets such as Dogs and Cats, but it’s advised to prevent your pets from eating plants as pets cannot digest vegetable matter easily.
Nevertheless, this is a great plant to keep around if you have pets and children, as you wouldn’t need to worry about poisonous leaves finding their way to your furry friends!
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