String of Turtles (Peperomia Prostrata) is a super cute semi-succulent and low-maintenance houseplant!
With leaves that resemble turtle shells gently hanging from long vines, this indoor plant is excellent for small spaces because of its slow growth rate.
Peperomia Prostrata is considered a semi-succulent and also a tropical plant. So, String of Turtles requires slightly different care than other succulents and somewhat different care than most tropical plants.
Like most peperomia plants, it is easy to care for.
So, how do you take care of String of Turtles?
String of Turtles Plant Care
Here are the basics of caring for a String of Turtles, which we will go over in detail in this article.
- Soil: Well-draining and aerated potting mix
- Pot: Small pot with adequate drainage
- Light: Bright, indirect light
- Water: Lightly moist (never wet)
- Humidity: 50% or higher humidity
- Pruning: As needed to maintain the desired appearance
The best soil for String of Turtles is a well-draining and aerated potting mix. While this plant doesn’t like too much water, being from the rain forest means they do enjoy somewhat damp soil. It’s all about balance.
You can balance over and under watering by choosing the right soil.
Potting mixes you can buy at the store work great, but you should add a few things to increase aeration and drainage and make the soil even better:
- Perlite. Perlite helps with drainage and with water retention at the same time. Use equal parts regular potting soil and perlite. We recommend adding perlite into the soil of many different houseplants.
- Coarse sand: Breaking up denser soils with large particles of sand helps drainage.
- Vermiculite: Vermiculite improves the aeration of the soil while holding in water and minerals. The water and mineral then be released as plants need them.
- Wood chips. Non-toxic wood chips included in the soil aid in aeration. Just be sure to refresh them when you repot your plant, as they can decompose.
- Sphagnum moss: A bog moss that is dried and most commonly used in hanging plants, where it improves moisture retention. It is used to prevent plants from drying out quickly and not being too overwatered.
- Peat moss. Peat moss is the decomposed organic material that helps protect plants by providing acidity, water retention, and air circulation. It can hold moisture longer than sand or other types of soil.
We recommend combining organic soil with either peat moss or sphagnum moss and adding sand or perlite. This combination will encourage root growth and increase your plant’s strength.
Our favorite String of Turtles Soil Recipe:
- 1 Part Organic Potting Mix
- 1 Part Peat Moss
- 1 Part Perlite
This article provides a very detailed overview of making your own potting soil.
If you’re a fan of succulents, you may be familiar with a premixed soil that has been formulated especially for succulents and cacti. These premixes should not be used for your String of Turtles plants. This type of soil can be compacted over time, leading to the soil holding too much water.
Soaking wet soil is the easiest way to kill this houseplant with root rot.
Fertilize your String of Turtles with a diluted succulent fertilizer every two or three weeks.
Feeding String of Turtles helps the plant keep its bright, shiny appearance and ensures the leaves retain their turtle pattern.
Fertilizing is not recommended during the fall or winter months. If you notice your leaves starting to droop, you may want to cut back on fertilizer.
If your plant has been growing happily in a nice, bright location and looks good overall, but the turtle pattern and deep green color of your leaves have faded, it could be due to a lack of fertilization.
The String of Turtles plant is small with a small root system. Therefore, a small pot is all it will need. This plant is small and likes to remain slightly root-bound. You definitely do not want a pot that is too large.
If planted in a pot that is too large, you will use too much soil. If you have too much soil, it will take longer to dry out. Soggy soil will damage your plant.
This plant will probably never need a pot that’s larger than 6 inches in diameter. A pot that size w and can stay in this size pot for quite a long time – years even.
If your plant is very root-bound, you should only go up by one pot size (for example, from a 4-inch pot to a 6-inch pot and no larger).
Make sure whatever pot you choose has holes in the bottom to drain excess moisture. Your plant’s roots will rot if left sitting in too much water.
How to Repot String of Turtles
The best thing is to avoid repotting your String of Turtles until necessary. Once the stems and leaves start to trail over the edge of your pot – moving your plant should be avoided as leaves can drop easily. Repot your plant when it has clearly outgrown its current container.
If you do need to go up a size, use a pot the next size up from the current one. And, of course, choose a pot with good drainage. Always remember it’s best to repot in the spring or summer (the growing season).
The String of Turtles makes an easy indoor houseplant because of its low-maintenance lighting needs. Peperomia Prostrata will do well even if not placed directly near a window.
You should avoid direct sunlight as it can damage the leaves.
String of Turtles can also be grown under fluorescent lights or grow lights. You will still need to be careful with those lights, as even too much direct artificial light can damage the delicate leaves.
Where Should I Put My String of Turtles?
Vining plants like String of Turtles look so beautiful up high and dangling from a hanging basket. But this look isn’t best for the plant. Keep an eye on the top of the plant, where the vines emerge from the soil, to ensure this area gets the light it needs.
The whole plant needs bright indirect light to survive. The top of the plant must get enough light for the plant to survive. Because of this, placing the plant on a table or a lower shelf where there are higher levels of light may be a better choice. Try different locations to see what works for your plant.
If you decide to hang it or keep it on a high shelf, just watch closely for signs of distress and move your plant as needed.
An east or west-facing window makes the ideal location for Peperomia Prostrata. However, these plants should do well just about anywhere when they have enough light but not too much.
How to Water String of Turtles
Semi-succulent plants like String of Turtles store water in their leaves. Between that and this plant’s tendency to get root rot, take care not to overwater.
Because this plant is a part succulent plant, it can survive with minimal watering. But as a partly tropical plant, it likes moisture and humidity.
Only water your plant when at least 2 inches of topsoil is dry. This may mean watering only once every two or three weeks. Your plant’s watering needs may vary depending on the humidity level in your home and other factors.
If you notice the leaves start to wilt or pucker, then the plant is almost through its reserves, and it is time to water.
The time between watering will vary throughout the year. You will need to water more often in the spring and summer and less in the winter. Always feel the potting mix first to determine how wet or dry your plant is is before you water.
Pro Tip: If you’re unsure whether or not to water your String of Turtles, your best option is to wait a little longer.
Don’t overwater the plant to avoid rotting its thin and fragile stems.
The thin stems and delicate leaves on your String of Turtles can be easily damaged from sitting in water. Bottom watering may be an excellent option for you. You can also do a combination of regular watering and bottom watering.
What is bottom watering? To bottom water a plant, you will need a planter or pot with drainage holes in the bottom. Basically, you place a plant in a bowl of water, allowing the soil and roots to soak water from the bottom up. You can also set the plant in your kitchen sink and plug the drain.
After about 20 minutes, the soil will have soaked up all of the water it needs. Remove the pot from the water bowl and let the excess water drain out.
Does String of Turtles like humidity? Even though this plant is semi-succulent, it is native to the rainforests, which means they do like extra moisture in their environment.
As a part succulent plant, it can survive with minimal watering. But as a part tropical plant, it loves moisture and humidity!
At a minimum, you want your humidity over 40%. An ideal humidity level is 50% or higher.
If you live in a cold-weather area and you run forced air heat, you will most likely need to run a humidifier to really see your plant thrive.
A plant humidifier is the best and most consistent way to add humidity to your plants.
We have two fantastic articles detailing humidifiers for plants:
Pro Tip: An inexpensive hygrometer is a wise investment in testing the humidity level in your home and adjusting it accordingly for your plants.
Unlike most succulents that prefer hot and dry conditions, the String of Turtles plant prefers cooler, more humid temperatures. Keep your turtle plant in a room with a consistent temperature of 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Avoid placing your Peperomia Prostrata near any exterior doors or drafty windows. Placement is vital in the winter.
Peperomia Prostrata should be pruned regularly to keep the vines from becoming ragged and leggy. Pruning will encourage a more full and bushy look.
Pruning can also stimulate new growth in a plant that is struggling. Removing dead and damaged stems and leaves allow your plant to direct energy to new growth.
Since the leaves of this plant are so delicate, be sure to handle this plant with care any time you touch or move it.
As with all houseplants, only use sharp and sanitized scissors or snips.
Common Issues With String of Turtles
String of Turtles plants luckily aren’t prone to significant pests or diseases. But, all houseplants sometimes have issues like whiteflies, mealybugs, and spider mites.
If you spot signs of a pest infestation, treat the plant using insecticidal soap or neem oil.
String of Turtles plants are sensitive to overwatering. They develop root rot quickly if not potted in well-draining soil or a container with suitable drainage holes.
Why is my String of Turtles not growing? This plant is a slow grower, especially when it is young. Your plant may be growing, but just growing too slowly for your liking. If you find that growth is very slow, you may have insufficient light or warmth, poor potting mix, or all of the above.
Why is my String of Turtles dropping leaves? Dropping leaves are a sign of root rot. Root rot is terrible for all plants, and if left untreated, root rot will stunt the growth, and the vines will die.
If you suspect root rot, you must act quickly. Treating root rot ASAP will give your plant the best chance to survive.
Why are my String of Turtles falling off? Sometimes leaves fall off just because this plant is so delicate. Once you find an excellent location for your plant, we recommend leaving it be. Once vines start trailing over the edge of your pot, avoid moving your plant. Leaves have been known to fall off at the slightest touch.
Red leaves signify that you’re providing too much direct sun for your plant. Lessen the amount of direct sun, and your plant should turn back to green.
The maximum amount of direct sun these plants should be exposed to is 2-3 hours per day. Anything more than that can cause red leaves or other discoloration issues.
Whiteflies, tiny white flying bugs, are common pests for most houseplants. Whiteflies cause leaves to turn yellow and drop off. You will know if your plants are infested when you see eggs or whiteflies on the underside of the leaves. Also, if you move the plant with adult flies will be visible.
Whitefly infestation is rare but can be devastating to Peperomia Prostrata, so you’ll want to be on the lookout. Use insecticidal soap to kill eggs and regularly spray neem oil on your plant to prevent them from coming back.
Mealybugs have a waxy outer coating and are covered in a white cottony substance. Mealybugs hide under leaves and suck sap from them rather than the stem.
Mealybugs eat the sap, and when it passes through their digestive system, it comes out as a honeydew secretion. This sticky honeydew often causes a black sooty mold on your plant.
Getting rid of mealybugs is reasonably straightforward. To get rid of small infestations, use 70% isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab to rid your plant of small pest infestations.
For larger infestations, use insecticidal soap. It’s an all-natural pesticide that kills pests.
Spider Mites create small webs on the bottom of your plant’s leaves. You may notice very tiny white, red, or black colored spiders. Your plant leaves will look dusty and dull.
Spider Mites will eventually kill Peperomia Prostrata. To avoid spider mite infestations, keep the humidity levels high and use neem oil as a preventive spray.
To get rid of spider mites:
- Use a mixture of alcohol and water to remove and kill visible spider mites.
- Dilute 1 cup of alcohol in 30 oz of water and pour this solution into the spray bottle.
- Spray both sides of the leaves well and wipe them off with a paper towel.
FAQ’s: String of Turtles
String of Turtles was once considered rare and hard to find, but this isn’t the case anymore.
Because this plant doesn’t grow very fast, it isn’t easy to find a large plant, and the bigger they are, the more expensive they will be.
Check your local nursery or home improvement store, and if you can’t find one there, online retailers will be sure to have them.
Your turtle plant will reach 12″ tall when fully mature, which takes 3 to 5 years. The maximum width that your plant reaches will vary depending on pot size.
The vines of this plant can grow from about a foot to a foot and a half in length. If the vines are cared for but not trimmed, they can grow even longer.
String of turtles, like actual turtles, are slow. They will grow slowly over time and take 3 to 5 years to reach their maximum size.
String of Turtles plants are easy to grow successfully. Most importantly, do not overwater them and give them bright, indirect light. During the fall and winter, cut back on watering and fertilizer.
The plant might be beyond saving if it starts dropping leaves. If the leaves become soft and mushy, you probably see a case of root rot.
Peperomia Prostrata likes inside temperatures. Your plant will be happiest in the mid-70s to mid-80s. In most of the United States, you will want to keep your plants inside because they won’t survive a frost. If you live in USDA zones 10, 11, and 12, you can put your plant outside all year.
String of Turtles will produce small, white, spikey flowers. The flowers bloom throughout the year, though they don’t have a fragrance. Because the flowers aren’t as beautiful and unique as the leaves, many people choose to remove them.
According to the ASPCA, String of Turtles is not toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets. However, it’s best to keep all plants out of reach of pets and small children.
String of Turtles is a semi-succulent native to Brazilian rainforests. Most succulents come from drier areas of the world, not tropical locations like Brazil. Like a succulent, Peperomia Prostrata has leaves that store water.
Because it is part succulent, String of Turtles is resilient to low-light conditions and bouts of underwatering. However, Peperomia Prostrata prefers slightly more humidity and water than most succulents because it is a tropical plant.
While this trailing vine is often seen in hanging baskets, you can also train your String of Turtles to climb. To do this, you will need a trellis, moss pole, or something similar for your plant to climb.
This plant does not grow very fast. Because of that, a large string of turtles plants will be hard to find and, therefore, more expensive.
Young plants or cuttings are easier to find and should not be expensive. If you find a price that seems too high, keep looking.
According to the North Carolina State University Gardener Extension, the String of Turtles is a variegated plant.
A more profound contrast of green and white will develop with more light on the leaves. In low light, you will see less variegation.
Plants Similar to String of Turtles
String of Turtles vs. String of Hearts
These plants are very similar but don’t belong to the same family of plants. The String of Hearts (Ceropegia Woodii ) is a vine belonging to the Apocynaceae plant family, while the String of Turtles belongs to the Piperaceae family of flowering plants.
Both plants have green and white variegation in their foliage, but the String of hearts plant’s leaves are distinctly heart shaped instead of round and are much smaller.
String of Hearts is an excellent choice if you want an evergreen succulent. String of Turtles is a small, slow-growing, vining plant with tiny, delicate leaves that vary from dark green to purple with a gorgeous pattern of white veins. Flowers bloom with cream-colored flowers on long spikes.
String of Pearls
This plant features cute, tiny pea-shaped leaves. The trailing stem will charmingly spill over the sides of planters and hanging baskets. The name String of Pearls comes from specific leaves in the shape and size of tiny pearls. This succulent blooms in the summer with whiteish small flowers.
String of Nickels
This vining succulent has small, round leaves that look like little coins on a dangling stem. This succulent is a perfect choice for a hanging basket. Unlike many other types of succulents, the String of Nickels does not require a bright, sunny location—it prefers low-light conditions. String of Nickels typically blooms in the spring with white to yellowish flowers.
Where to Buy String of Turtles Plant
You can easily find String of turtles as cuttings or plants on Etsy or Amazon.
You may find this plant labeled differently online or in person at some retailers. Some nurseries label this semi-succulent as the Jade Necklace. Another common name you may see is Magic Marmer, a rare breed of the Prostrata.
Final Thoughts on String of Turtles
If you’re looking for a plant that has a small footprint and a striking appearance, this is it!
Some items we discussed that will help you care for this unique plant and keep it growing strong:
You might also be interested in another Peperomia plant: Watermelon Peperomia.
Good luck growing your String of Turtles and making it part of your cozy, fresh, and green home!