String of turtles (Peperomia prostrata) is a stunning vining plant that is pretty easy to care for as long as you follow a few rules. It’s a tropical plant that’s native to the Brazilian rainforests and it’s accustomed to warmer temperatures and a humid environment, making it an excellent houseplant.
This indoor plant looks beautiful in all kinds of containers, so feel free to plant it in a hanging basket or another pretty container, just make whatever you use has drainage holes!
String of Turtles is considered semi-succulent plant. It’s a slow grower and has a slow growth rate, so it’s not a very high-maintenance plant.
Their leaves resemble small turtle shells, hence their common name! They might remind you of similar vining plants, String of Hearts and String of Pearls.
This trailing vine can grow up to a foot long and about four inches wide, so it doesn’t command much space at all.
You can also propagate it by using stem cuttings to make a new plant. If you have limited space in your home, this plant is ideal. It makes a beautiful gift, too!
Now let’s talk about how to properly care for your string of turtles plant so you can go out and add it to your plant collection.
Soil and Light Needs of String of Turtles Plant
While this plant is semi-succulent, its care needs are a little different to most succulents.
First off, succulents thrive in succulent soil or cactus mix because they provide good airflow and a very well-draining environment.
But String of Turtles needs a lot more organic matter to thrive and the easiest way to ensure this is by planting it in a seed-starting mix that has plenty of peat. These are easy to find, just head to your local garden center.
You can use a well-draining soil mix that contains peat moss if you can’t get your hands on seed-starting mixes.
Of course, you can also simply keep it in the soil it came in when you purchased the plant. If you bought a healthy plant, then the soil mixture is doing its job.
As far as light goes, this plant loves it! The trick is to give it plenty of bright indirect light to encourage new growth and help keep the leaves vibrant and colorful.
You can use a grow light and fluorescent lights, too.
Beware though, that if you keep it in low light or don’t expose the top of the plant to enough light, your plant will become leggy and stringy. The crown of the plant needs to maintain healthy growth in order for the plant to appear lush and full.
You should NOT keep it in direct sunlight, however, especially during the summer. Doing so can quickly burn the leaves, which is something that can’t be remedied.
It’s a good idea to keep your plant a few feet away from a bright window for this very reason. This should give it the bright light it needs to look its best while keeping it safe from sunburn.
If you decide to grow your String of Turtles in a hanging basket, you’ll have to be mindful that the top of the plant is exposed to sunlight.
Growth starts at the top, so hanging it too high or placing it on the top shelf might not afford it the light it needs to thrive. Just keep that in mind!
How to Water String of Turtles
Properly watering your plant is crucial to its survival, as it does not do well if overwatered. Whether you’re using a small pot or a larger one, the pot should always have a drainage hole at the bottom.
Soggy soil can cause problems because it can lead to root rot very quickly, which is why good drainage is key. If the soil surface still feels moist to the touch, you should test it again in a few days before attempting to water it.
This plant, like most other succulents, does best when the soil a few inches deep into the pot is allowed to go dry between waterings.
Water the soil directly, not the leaves. Once you see water escaping from the drainage hole, that means you’ve watered well.
Don’t forget to toss out the excess water that’s left in the pot saucer; leaving your pot sitting in that water will lead to root rot.
Remember that it’s the soil that needs water, not the leaves, which means do not water it via a spray bottle!
Signs of overwatering include wilting leaves and leaves that fall off the stem. Water string of turtles thoroughly about once every two weeks, depending on how much light it gets and how quickly the soil dries out in your home.
Signs of underwatering include little to no new growth and flat, lifeless leaves.
If your plant is potted in a small pot, you might prefer bottom watering. To do this, submerge the pot about 1/4 of the way into a container filled with water. Let it soak for a few minutes; you’ll notice air bubbles release inside the water.
Humidity and Temperature Needs
This plant does not love cold temperates, so try to keep the temperature of your home between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit to create ideal conditions.
Remember that it’s native to the rainforests of Brazil, so the more we can mimic the natural environment there in our homes, the better.
To accomplish this, aim to keep the pot away from cold windows and doors that let in drafts during the winter months. Young plants are especially susceptible to changes in temperature.
Temps lower than 50 can severely damage the plant and affect its delicate leaves.
The humidity level in your home matters, too, as it appreciates humid conditions. If you run your heater often in the winter, then the humidity levels might need to be increased.
You can do this by placing a humidifier near the plant, misting it with water a few times a week, or by placing your plant on top of a saucer that is filled with small pebbles and water.
Fertilizer for Your String of Turtle Plants
Adding fertilizer to this plant starting at the beginning of the growing season can help it stay vibrant and lush. Only fertilize during the growing season, however, which is spring and summer, or you can damage your plant.
As far as what kind of fertilizer to use, opt for a houseplant fertilizer and dilute it at half-strength. A liquid houseplant fertilizer is best or you can also use liquid kelp.
Fertilize biweekly through the warmer months, which will help with root growth. Always make sure to wet the soil first before applying fertilizer. If you skip this step, you risk burning the roots. So remember, only apply to wet soil!
To fertilize, add the liquid fertilizer into your watering can and mix it with water. Then add the solution to the moistened soil, making sure to discard any liquid that’s left in the pot’s saucer.
Common Problems and Pests
You won’t come across too many problems with string of turtles, but there are a few common issues your plant might be plagued with from time to time.
Most have to do with overwatering but some have to do with insects that can infest the plant, like spider mites and mealybugs.
These are easy to remedy, though. You can try some insecticidal soap and pour it directly onto the pot’s wet soil. You can also try neem oil, a popular insecticide.
Mealybugs are easy to spot: they look lie small white cotton-like mounds on the undersides of the leaves and along the stem. They can infest the plant quickly so swift action is needed.
To get rid of mealybugs, you’ll need rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip or spray bottle.
Mix some alcohol with water and dab away at the bugs until they’re gone. If you have a large infestation, you can pour the alcohol solution into a spray bottle and spray all over the stem and leaves. You can also pour it directly into the soil.
This should take care of the problem, though you might have to repeat the steps over span of a few days.
How to Prune String of Turtles
Pruning is an essential part of string of turtles care, especially if you’re concerned with maintaining a plant that looks its best. pruning includes getting rid of dead, brown leaves and stems, as well as pruning healthy vines to increase fullness and encourage new growth.
To prune, use a sterilized pair of scissors or pruners. You can also simply pinch the stems where the overgrowth is happening to keep the plant from looking unkempt.
Propagating this plant via leaf cuttings is easy. The best time to propagate is in early spring, at the beginning of the growing season. It’s similar to propagating a pothos plant, another vining plant that’s easy to care for.
To start the propagation process, follow the steps, below:
- Cut the vine right below a leaf node. The cutting should be about 3-5 inches long, or more.
- remove any leaves near the fresh cut, where the vine was attached to the stem
- Grab a new pot and fill it with potting mix that is moist but not water-logged
- Place the stem and plant it into the soil. Make sure to plant at least one leaf node beneath the soil.
- Place the pot in indirect light
- The soil should be kept lightly moist; don’t give it too much water.
- Roots should form after a few weeks. Care as normal.
We’ve now covered all the essential string of turtle tips. I hope you see that with a little effort, this plant will fit right into your indoor plant collection! It’s one of the prettiest vining plants you can grow and one of its best qualities is that it doesn’t need very much space at all in your home.
Make sure to provide it with warm temperatures, medium to high humidity, moist soil, not too much fertilizer during the growing season, and plenty of indirect light!