String of turtles is such a cute vining houseplant with leaves that look like the back of turtles. Find out all about string of turtles care and how to keep your plant healthy and thriving.
The String of Turtles is a tropical plant indigenous to Brazil. It’s common name is not only string of turtles, but it goes by different names such as Turtle plant, String of Turtles Plant, and magic marmer.
The botanical name for this tiny succulent is Peperomia prostrata and it belongs to the family ‘Piperaceae’.
The appealing leaf shape of the plant makes it favored in terrariums, container gardens, and fairy gardens.
Peperomia prostrata has small round leaves that are beautifully patterned, and look like turtle shells hanging from long vines, thereby inspiring the popular name String of Turtles.
String of Turtles Care
The texture of the foliage gives it a silky, film-like layer.
This small plant has a slow growth rate and reaches full maturity in about 3-5 years. This makes Peperomia prostrata an ideal option if you’ve got limited space.
Peperomia generally prefers cool-to-warm, humid conditions and are typically easy to take care of under standard room conditions.
The String of Turtles plant is versatile and will thrive when exposed to medium to bright indirect light. Ideal light conditions will assist the plant to grow strong vines and produce new growth.
Although you may be tempted to position this vining plant somewhere high, where you can admire the hanging leaves, you should be watchful of the light exposure at the top of the plant where the vines crop up from the soil.
The whole plant’s length requires bright indirect light in order to survive, but it’s integral for the topmost area of the plant to get sufficient light for the plant to bloom. Because of this, putting the plant on a lower shelf, window shelf, or table where there’s enough light is preferable.
Higher light levels at the top of the soil also help the soil to dry out and can assist in preventing root rot for any excessive waterers.
Too much light by keeping the plant exposed to the sun for a prolonged period will damage the leaves, and at the same time, an insufficient amount of light will hamper new growth.
Considering that Peperomia prostrata originates from the South American forests, these plants require moist and loamy soil conditions. The potting soil needs to have good drainage.
You can use a premixed soil made for succulents and add some perlite.
The delicate stems on the string of turtles plant will rot if it’s left in soggy soil for long periods of time, so make sure it is well draining.
The most frequent issue the String of Turtles faces is getting overwatered. It’s preferable to underwater the prostrata plant than to overwater it.
Most new plant owners don’t remember to check the separate watering requirements of every plant and often put all plants together. The result of this is that they give too much water to plants that don’t require that much moisture or dry out the thirsty ones.
In the case of Peperomia prostrata, water it when the soil has gotten dry, or else you’ll get droopy or yellow leaves. If you see the leaves pucker or have started to shrivel, it means that its water reserves are almost through and the plant needs more water.
To establish whether your soil has become dry, just put your finger into the soil a couple of inches and if you feel moist soil, don’t water your plant just yet.
The bottom watering technique is a popular approach you can use to water succulents. Put the pot in a basin with water. Leave your pot for about 10 minutes and it will soak up the water. If all the water is gone before the 10 minutes are up, add a bit more water. After the time is up, pull out the small pot and leave your plant to drain out all the surplus water.
The Peperomia prostrata plant is extremely prone to overwatering. One indication of overwatering is the leaves will start showing wilted scab like bumps. When the plant’s roots are saturated with water, the soil’s essential nutrients are washed away resulting in the leaves shedding. During the winter season, water in moderation because the leaves tend to store water. With low levels of light and temperature, the plant requires less watering. Also, your plant can get damaged from under-watering and will exhibit flat or deflated leaves, hampered growth, and a considerable reduction in foliage.
While watering, be careful excess water doesn’t settle on the surface of the soil because it can cause root rot. Waterlogged soil is a serious problem that can damage the delicate roots of the String of Turtles Plant.
Temperature & Humidity
The Peperomia prostrata thrives in a cool and humid environment over the warmer conditions many succulent enthusiasts have grown accustomed to. Make sure to maintain a consistent temperature ranging from 64°F to 75°F if you want your String of Turtles plant to bloom.
The plant will begin wilting when exposed to temperatures below 50°F.
The String of Turtles plant prefers a little more humidity than other succulent plants.
During the winter season or when your AC is on during summer, you should consider using a humidifier or mister to raise the humidity level. You can also use a spray bottle and spray the leaves. Just make sure that the leaves aren’t allowed to remain stay wet.
String of Turtles does well in a terrarium is you want to go that route. It provides a nice warm and humid environment for this tropical plant. You don’t have to grow it in a terrarium to be successful though.
Feeding the Peperomia prostrata plant with diluted houseplant fertilizer will assist the plant in maintaining a bright glossy vigor and make sure that the patterns and color of the leaves are retained.
In the growing phase, you should fertilize the String of Turtles about every two weeks. You can also use time-release fertilizer pellets at the beginning of the cultivating season.
In the summer season, slow down fertilizing to once per month. It’s not recommended to fertilize the Peperomia prostrata during the fall or winter months.
Pruning String of Turtles
A little pruning goes a long way. You can cut away any unruly or leggy strands and dead leaves if they grow too long, but only trimming up to one third of your plant at once because this could damage its lush appeal as well as hinder growth in new flowers/leaves
Common Pests & Diseases
Even though Peperomia prostrata is an easy-care plant, it can still fall victim to common houseplant pests and diseases such as:
The Turtle plant is vulnerable to mealybugs, that’s usually visible as fuzzy white things beneath the leaves or on the stems. The most common reasons for mealy bugs are due to over-fertilizing and overwatering.
You’ll want to move any infected plants away from your other plants as a first step since mealybugs can spread rapidly through your plants.
You can use a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water with a proportion of 1:10. Once you’ve made this mix, you can spray this on your string of turtles leaves. You’ll want to redo this mixture and spraying every two weeks spray your plant down 3 times or until the mealybugs are no longer there and aren’t showing back up.
Spider mites are black, red, or white-colored spiders, and they make the leaves of the plant appear white and dusty. You might also notice small webs on the plant. The webs are mostly found at the leaf joints or under the leaves. They are a massive problem during the winter season because indoor conditions are mostly dry.
Spider mites reproduce very quickly, which sees their overall population increase at an exponential rate. To get rid of these pests, use homemade insecticidal soap to wash the plant.
To prevent future spider mite infestations, ensure humidity levels are maintained at a high level. Also, you can utilize neem oil as a preventative measure.
Whiteflies are small white-winged insects that feed on plant sap. They cause damage by sucking the juices from the flower buds and leaves, resulting in the leaves yellowing and dropping.
If you see an infestation, when moving or disturb the leaves of the Peperomia prostrata you’ll see the adult flies flying around.
Female whiteflies lay their eggs beneath the leaves of the plant, so make sure to look under the leaves to check them for any whiteflies or eggs.
Use an organic insecticidal soap to get rid of the nymph and eggs. You can use need oil spray on your plant to prevent future infestations.
Rot is a serious issue that can quickly take over your plant. It can cause stunted growth, change the leaves to yellow or make the vines die.
Soggy soil will result in an unhealthy root system. You can remedy this by drying out the soil around the plant.
Remove the plant from the pot and check to see whether the roots are mushy. Transfer the plant to a new pot with fresh soil and don’t water for the following 2 weeks to enable the roots to heal.
Wilted, Discolored Foliage
Overwatering is the cause of this. To prevent this; don’t wet the leaves because it’s what makes them rot and drain surplus water from the pot.
Dull, Damaged Leaves
When the plant is exposed to strong direct light, it may start looking lifeless and dull, resulting in the leaves losing their variegation. You can stop this issue from escalating by relocating the plant from harsh direct sunlight.
If you notice your String of Turtles is developing a lack of pattern on it’s leaves, make sure it is getting enough water, up it’s humidity level for a couple weeks by sticking a ziplock baggie over the top of the pot or place the pot into a terrarium or a makeshift terrarium such as a plastic clamshells you’d buy strawberries in. You could also try putting it under a full spectrum grow light.
Final Thoughts About String of Turtles
String of turtles is a great houseplant to have. It does have a little bit more care needs, especially in regards to humidity than many other houseplants.
Make sure your string of turtle plant has the requirements it needs and you’ll love the beautiful strings it puts out.