Peperomia Prostrata Care: Growing The String Of Turtles

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The String of Turtles is the common name for Peperomia prostrata, a slow-growing perennial semi-succulent plant of the genus Peperomia and the family Piperaceae.

basket of String of TurtlesPin
Hanging basket of Peperomia Prostrata String of Turtles | via Jerzy Opiola Wikimedia

Native to the rainforests of Brazil, ‘prostrata’ has several names:

  • ‘Magic marmer’ – a select variety of Prostrata
  • String of Turtles Plant
  • Sea of turtles plant
  • Turtle plant
  • Turtle shell plant
  • Chain of turtles
  • Turtle leaf plant

This Peperomia variety is durable and uncommon. They generally prefer cool-to-warm, humid weather.

They have beautiful ornamental leaves, making them attractive hanging baskets, and are easy to care for under average room conditions.

Since they originate from South American rainforests, they thrive in loamy, wet conditions.

In this article, we’ll delve into the proper string of turtles plant care.

Peperomia Prostrata String Of Turtles Care and Plant Needs

Size and Growth

Prostrata is a miniature peperomia plant with tiny, fleshy, succulent leaves that are only one-fourth of an inch wide and resemble turtle shells.

Its small-spadix-like structure has creeping or trailing leaves and white veins.

String of Turtles has a slow growth rate, taking about 3 to 5 years to reach its mature, full size.

The height of the plant is approximately 1″ inch to 4″ inches, and its width is approximately 4″ inches.

When potted, this vining plant may form a thick mat and cascade over the sides of the container.

Foliage and Flowering

Peperomia prostate has tiny dark green and blue variegated fleshy button leaves, which look like they are swollen with water.

Every tiny leaf on its trailing vine has intricate multi-colored patterns covering its surface—the colors become muted with age and eventually become bicolored by maturity, typically a darker green contrasted by light green.

They have a beautiful pattern of white veins, which range in color from maroon to dark blue to purple, on young new growth and turn silvery-white as the leaves age.

The String of Turtles flower is insignificant. If the plant does flower, it produces tiny cream flowers on long flower spikes with no scent.

String of Turtles Light and Temperature

Peperomia prostrata grows well in bright indirect light.

If the leaves are dark green, do not expose plants to too much direct sunlight, as it can harm them.

As a tropical plant, the String of Turtles plant thrives in high humidity environments. However, household conditions are often enough to keep this plant happy enough.

These plants grow well as indoor plants under fluorescent lights.

South and eastern-facing windows are best suited for Peperomia prostrate.

This plant species loves humid weather and grows well in homes with normal humidity and if the air is not too dry.

However, for warmer weather, mist the leaves or place the plant in a gravel tray with water.

Peperomia prostrata thrives in temperatures of 65° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit. Plants may start to wilt in temperatures lower than 50° degrees Fahrenheit.

Watering and Feeding

This little plant likes moist soil but does not like overwatering. They prefer evenly moist soil but can suffer from overwatering, so be wary of the other plants they share a container with if they are high-water users.  

Allow the top layer of the soil to completely dry before watering again.

Keep evenly moist but not constantly wet. Waterless frequently in winter months when the plant’s growth slows.

Do not overwater and make the soil waterlogged. Overwatered peperomia prostrata become wilted or grow scab-like protuberances from their leaves.

Moreover, it’s important to maintain an average humidity level of 60%. You can do so by placing your turtle plant close to a humidifier.

Also, you can use neem oil mixed with water to wash the tops of the leaves, as this is where most of these pests reside. 

String of turtles care also involves regular feeding with diluted fertilizers during the growing season and less frequent watering in winter.

The plant can lose a few bottom leaves, but if the plant drops many leaves, it could be due to temperature or fertilizer issues.

Fertilize the plant with diluted fertilizers every other week during the growing season. Or apply a time-release fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season.

Feeding is not required from the fall to late winter seasons.

String of Turtles Soil and Transplanting

Peperomia prostrate requires a loose, rich, well-aerated, and well-drained potting mix. A good potting mix rich in peat, coco coir, and other organic matter should be used. 

A good way to mix up the soil is to use 2 parts peat and one part sand or perlite and to change it or the top layer once a year.

While some recommend a commercial cactus or succulent soil for Peperomia prostrata, that isn’t necessarily the best. 

Like succulent plants, the string of turtles requires fast-draining soil that is also capable of retaining moisture. 

Since this plant is quite small, repotting to large containers is usually not required. They have a shallow root system.

When planting prostrate plant, be careful not to overpot as it could make the soil waterlogged. Shallow soils do not retain excess water.

Repot the plant in spring while changing the topsoil. However, only go up one pot size as these plants remain quite small.

Grooming and Maintenance

Pruning peperomia prostrata plant with special care.

To stop vine growth, prune out just the top of some of the stems.

Focus on removing the damaged or dead foliage and stems that are quite large.

Too much pruning can make the plant lose its lush, bushy appearance and make it look spindly.

It can also permanently damage plant growth.

Propagating String Of Turtles

Peperomia prostrata string of turtles can be easily propagated from leaf and stem cuttings.

Here’s how to propagate string of turtles:

  • Using scissors, cut about 2″ to 3″ inches of a stem below a node with leaves attached to the petiole.
  • Plant the cuttings into small pots filled with a moist and well-draining soil mix.
  • Place the pot in a location with bright light and maintain temperatures of about 68° degrees Fahrenheit.
  • A rooting hormone will help the Peperomia prostrata plant root quicker and begin growing out.
  • Be careful not to overwater the plant.

More on String of Turtles Propagation

Peperomia Prostrata Pest or Disease Problems

Like most peperomia species, peperomia string of turtles is vulnerable to common pests like spider mites and mealybugs, which can appear as fuzzy white stuff at the bottom of the leaves. Overwatering can lead to root rot.

Control mealybugs with insecticidal soap or isopropyl alcohol spray diluted at a 1:10 ratio with water.

Related: Learn more about controlling succulent pests here.

They also have a few maladies:

Wilted, Discolored Foliage

This may be caused by overwatering.

  • Drain the water out from the pot (always use a pot with drainage holes)
  • Do not soak the leaves, which can make them rot

Dull, Damaged Leaves

The plant may look dull and lifeless and lose its variegation when laced under very strong sunlight.

The loss of variegation may never be reversed.

The spread can be minimized by moving the plant away from the harsh sunlight.

NOTE: String of Turtles has no toxicity to pets, but it is always best to keep plants away from pets or children.

Best Uses For String Of Turtles

A String of Turtle’s small size and ornamental foliage makes it the perfect plant for:

  • Terrarium plants
  • Hanging baskets
  • Dish gardens
  • Office desks
  • Container gardens
  • Houseplants

Is The String of Turtles Plant Invasive?

Prostrate is a spreading, vining plant that can cascade over the edge of a hanging basket. But, it does not invade neighboring plant space or shade them out.

In essence, this is a very well-behaved and beautiful-looking plant.

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