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How to Care for String of Turtles?

Peperomia prostrata or String of turtles is a beautiful hanging plant that displays many of the features of succulent plants, making it a semi-succulent plant.

The thin stems of the String of turtles are packed with button-like leaves that feature an unusual reticulated pattern that reminds of the pattern of turtle shells.

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The plant bears an uncanny resemblance to the string or pearls or chain of hearts and its care requirements are also very similar.

Here are my recommendation on how to take care of the String of Turtles:

Size & Growth

As a trailing plant, the Peperomia prostrata grows close to the ground reaching a height of barely an inch or so and a width of around 12 inches.

It’s also a relatively slow-grower, taking around 3 to 5 years to reach maturity. Optimal environmental conditions, however, can help the plant grow faster.

Light Requirements

Except for strong direct light, the string of turtles will tolerate bright or medium indirect light, but also shade or filtered light.

I’ve had string of turtles doing better in bright indirect light, others seem to have favored filtered light much better.

Avoid strong direct light because it will scorch or cause discoloration of the leaves. Start with bright indirect light and see how your plant does. It’s highly likely that it will favor it over other light conditions.

Watering

As a native to Brazil’s rainforests, the plant enjoys a humid environment, but does not tolerate overwatering. When overwatered, its gentle stems will start to rot.

It’s best to err on the side of caution, and allow the soil to slightly dry between watering sessions.

The soak and dry method is favored most by the plant, especially if the potting mix you’ve chosen for it is fast-draining.

Your watering regimen needs to be adapted to the soil type and environmental conditions, but also seasonal changes.

A string of turtles in active growth is going to need more water than one that’s entered into dormancy.

Therefore, pay more attention to watering during the growing season, and cut back on watering during the winter months when the plant isn’t actively growing.

Also, make sure you plant your peperomia prostrata in a potting mix that will retain moisture without becoming soggy.

Soil Type

The best soil type for the peperomia prostrata is a fast-draining soil that doesn’t get water-logged. Ideally, pick premixes that are high in organics such as peat.

Slightly acidic soil works best for the string of turtles, which the peat can help achieve. Use one part sand or perlite mixed with two parts peat.

Loose soil will aerate the roots preventing water to pool around them, which will ensure that that rotting is avoided.

Avoid soil types that are heavy and prone to waterlogging. Your string of turtles will not enjoy them.

Temperature & Humidity

Average indoor temperatures in the range of 68-75 Fahrenheit are ideal for this plant that likes its environment slightly cooler than other succulents.

Still, the plant does enjoy quite a bit of humidity, so during winter months when the heating system is on, you’ll need to supplement humidity levels with misting or a humidifier.

Likewise, during dry summer months, you will need to ensure adequate watering and also increased humidity around the plant.

Like the string of pearls and other similar plants, the peperomia prostrate isn’t cold-hardy or frost resistant. If you’ve been growing this plant outdoors in a hanging basket, fall would be a good time to move the plant back indoors.

Indoors, you should keep it away from appliances that give off heat and cold drafts or cold windows.

Fertilizing

While some String of turtles care guides advise against fertilizing this plant, a bit of fertilizer does help the stems and leaves to become more vigorous and their colors more vibrant.

You can use a diluted general purpose fertilizer during the growing season only. Refrain from using any fertilizer in the fall or winter, when the plant enters into a rest period and stops growing.

Resume fertilizing in the spring. Depending on the type of fertilizer, you may use it biweekly or just monthly.

I prefer to use organic fertilizers and heavily dilute them to avoid any potential overfertilizing issues.

Potting & Repotting

The plant is suitable for growing in hanging baskets and terrariums. Because of its slow growth pattern and manageable dimensions, repotting is not often required.

Repot when the plant is visibly oversized for its pot or to freshen the soil up a bit if a long time has passed since repotting.

Make sure that the pot you choose isn’t oversized for the plant. In an oversized pot the soil can take too long to dry out, causing root rot.

Any pot you decide to use should be fitted with drain holes to prevent the roots from sitting in water.

How to Propagate String of Turtles?

String of turtles is propagated with stem cuttings. Take 4 or 6 inch cuttings in spring and root them in sphagnum moss, soil or water.

Remove any leaves on the cut end so that the remaining leaves don’t touch the water, if you’re rooting in water.

Keep the potting medium moist but not wet and find a warm location out of direct sunlight. Roots should start to form within one month from planting or rooting in water.

Both methods work well, however, with the water rooting method you can actually see the roots coming in as opposed to the other method.

When the roots have grown to about 1 inch, you can transfer the cutting to a pot and continue caring for it as you would care for a mature string of turtles.

Wrapping Up

An elegant and delicate plant, the peperomia prostrata can be a beautiful decorative plant for any living space. Because of its small dimensions it’s a good choice for small spaces.

The plant enjoys average temperatures and indirect light. Overwatering is one of the weakest points of the string of turtles, along with extreme temperature changes and strong direct light.

If you can take care of a string of turtles, you’ll be able to successfully grow other similar plants like the string of pearls or chain of hearts.

Posted in Houseplants - Updated: May 16, 2021

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