Explore the Beautiful Semi-succulent Vine ‘Peperomia Prostrata’ & Learn How to Care For It

The Peperomia prostrata is a tiny perennial succulent. It is a member of the Piperaceae family; it is a typical desktop plant due to its small stature. This succulent is also known as strings of turtles or turtle plant. It gets its name from how closely its leaves resemble small turtle shells.

The String of Turtles is a vining succulent that tends to fall over the sides of its pots. It forms a thick mat as it cascades along; Peperomia prostrata grows slowly, reaching full maturity in 3-5 years. It’s a perfect succulent if you have limited space. It has a small spadix structure with trailing leaves with white veins.

It’s native to the tropical forests of Brazil, where it grows as ground cover, attaching itself to large trees and getting its nutrients by feeding off the larger plant. This plant is straightforward to care for and propagate.

Let’s dig into the care of the turtle plant!

Morphological Characteristics

Leaves

The leaves of Peperomia prostrata give it the name Turtle Plant or Strings of Turtles as they look like miniature turtle shells strung together. Each leaf on the trailing vine has intricate patterns covering its surface.

The leaves are ¼ of an inch long. The leaves of the turtle plant are dark green with blue variegated button leaves, which look like they are swollen with water. They have beautiful patterns of veins ranging in color from white to maroon to dark blue to purple on new young growth.

As the leaves age, the veins turn silvery-white, and the plants typically become a dark green contrasted with a light green.

Flowers

The flowers of the turtle plant are insignificant. If they produce any flowers, the flowers are long cream-colored spikes. These flowers have no scent.

Roots

This plant has shallow roots and, because of this nature, does not require to be repotted.

Toxicity

The String of Turtles is not toxic. However, it is advisable to keep it away from the reach of children and pets as it may cause indigestion.

Uses of Peperomia Prostrata

Strings of turtle, due to its small, compact size, and ornamental nature, has many uses, including being: a terrarium plant, it can be a hanging basket plant, You can plant in dish gardens, can also be placed on office desks, and of course, it can be grown indoors as a house plant.

peperomia prostrata in a big white pot
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Peperomia Prostrata Care

#1. String Of Turtles Light Requirements

Peperomia prostrata is a delicate plant requiring sufficient light to thrive. The turtle plant should be exposed to bright indirect light. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves of the plant and cause discoloration in the leaves. Being a cascading plant, new growers tend to place the plant higher up to marvel at its beauty. This, however, is a mistake since if the top region of the plant cannot access light, new growth that comes from the crown of the turtle plant will not appear. The lack of sufficient light can cause stagnant growth on the Strings of Turtle. Having the light source directly above the plant dries the plant’s soil. This reduces the chances of the plant getting root rot.

The string of turtles is an indoor succulent and can be placed on any east-facing window sill that receives adequate light. When placed near a window with excess light, keep it a few meters away and provide a tarp to filter some of the light. This ensures the leaves are not scorched. As seen with this plant, too little light will also affect it, so ensure to move it around till you find the best spot for it to grow. The turtle plant prefers warmer temperatures for it to grow. This is a condition present in its original habitat in Brazil. The turtle plant is therefore not cold hardy and thus should be brought indoors during winter.

#2. String Of Turtles Watering

The string of turtles is a succulent plant. It, therefore, stores some water in its leaves. Like most other succulents, the ability to store water on the leaves makes the plant drought-resistant. It is a favorite of plant parents everywhere because it can take long periods of neglect. The fact that it doesn’t need too much care makes it the perfect plant for those who constantly forget to water their succulents due to inexperience or busyness.

Watering is always a sensitive issue when it comes to succulents. Overwatering causes the roots to rot and eventually die. First, ensure the pot you use has drainage holes to release excess water. Also, the soil should be well-draining; any cactus mix soil is ideal. All this is to avoid any instance where water stagnates.

Although the plant generally requires little water, you will need to water it more often in hotter seasons than in colder ones due to evaporation. How easily you manage this aspect of care for your plant will largely be determined by the type of soil on which you have grown your plant. Since there is no one-size-fits-all approach for watering, you will need to determine the need for watering on a moment-by-moment basis.

How do you know your plant needs watering? The topsoil dryness test is always an effective method of knowing whether your plant requires some watering. Insert a finger into the plant’s soil or potting mix to feel whether or not the top two inches of the soil is dry. If dry, your soil needs more water since moisture from the previous drink has dried up.

When you notice the bottom leaves of the plant start to wrinkle and slightly wilt when the plant is severely dehydrated and needs urgent watering.

The best method to water this succulent is the soak and dry method. Insert the plant into a large container filled with water and allow the plant to soak in the water for at least half an hour. After removing the plant, let the excess moisture drain from the drainage holes at the bottom of the container for another half an hour. Water again when the soil is dry. 

Dipping your plant in a tab is more applicable to this plant due to its structure. The leaves start growing right from the base. The leaf canopy above the soil makes it difficult from above without wetting the leaves; wet leaves make the plant susceptible to the growth of fungi.

We are always cautious about giving a definite watering schedule even for the various seasons because the environmental conditions are a significant factor in how well the soil can retain water. Ambient temperature, for example, determines how fast water in the soil evaporates. Even in the same seasons, this temperature varies from place to place.

#3. String Of Turtles Soil Requirements

Like most succulents, a light, well-draining soil: The strings of turtles thrive in premixed cacti and succulent soil mixtures. The mixture together with sand and perlite is ideal for this plant.

#4. Repotting

This plant does not require repotting as it has a shallow root system. Beginners usually mistake over-potting (placing the plant in a more extensive than necessary pot). This will cause you to overwater the plant leading to root rot.

#5. Feeding String Of Turtles

The Strings of Turtles do not require a lot of feeding as it gets most of their nutrients from the soil. Occasionally feeding this plant helps it maintain its vigor and colorful leaves. It helps keep the strength of the vines as they grow. A liquid-based fertilizer is best for this plant. Fertilize during the spring to summer months when the plant is actively growing. Dilute the liquid fertilizer to half its average concentration. This ensures that you do not cause a buildup of soil in the soil. This causes burns in the roots and fragile stem of the Strings of Turtles.

#6. Pruning and Grooming

This plant requires minimal care. When pruning the turtle plant, prune out the top of some stems to reduce vine growth. Focus on removing dead or damaged foliage and make it a priority to remove stems that are quite large. Beware also that too much pruning can make it lose its lush, bushy appearance making it look spindly (long and thin). Too much grooming may cause permanent damage to the plant if done wrong.

#7. Pest and Diseases

The turtle plant is pest resistant for the most part, although it can be attacked by sap-sapping insects such as the mealy bugs. Using neem oil on the leaves is recommended to get rid of these tiny pests. If you use an insecticide, ensure you dilute it to half the recommended concentration to avoid damaging the plant. The chemicals used in the insecticide can scorch the leaves if applied directly.

You can reduce the possibility of your plant being infested with pests by keeping it healthy. Healthy plants can repel the pests more effectively, but hungry plants are usually vulnerable to these pests. Isolate any plant in your Mediterranean garden infested by any pest to keep it from infecting others.

Besides using chemical pesticides, you can cure your infested Peperomia prostrata as follows. You can rub the infected parts with alcohol with 70% concentration. Take a piece of cotton wool, dip it into the alcohol, and dab the part of the plant with the infestation. You can also use chemical pesticides, but it is better to use organic pesticides.

If you notice an infestation, you could apply the following organic pesticides.

  1. Neem oil: Unlike the other pesticides listed below, neem oil is a systemic pesticide. It gets into the plant and poisons it against the bugs so that they don’t survive or reproduce when they attack the plant. Pure Neem Oil is made from the neem plant. Therefore, it is entirely natural and not harmful to humans.
  2. Hot pepper spray: Hot pepper is quite irritating when it gets on your skin and eyes, and it has the same effects on the bugs infesting your succulents. Spray it carefully on the affected parts to protect your skin and eyes.
  3. Garlic spray: A concentrated garlic spray can have the same effects on the bugs as pepper spray. You can manufacture the garlic spray by crushing garlic cloves and putting them in hot water. Put just a little hot water, so the end product is concentrated enough to destroy the pests. Remove the garlic residue, put the pesticide in a sprayer, and spray away on the infected parts of the plant.

Always spray a small part of the plant with the pesticide you want to use before spraying on the whole plant. This precaution applies when using contact pesticides, i.e., hot pepper and garlic. You need to see the plant’s reaction before you spray it all. You can reduce concentration if the test shows the plant’s reacting adverse effects on the pesticide.

Root rot is the disease most likely disease to attack this plant. The following are some key indicators that this condition may affect your plant.

#8. Root Rot Indications & How To Deal With It

The following indications indicate that your plant may have root rot.

  1. Slow or No Growth: This plant’s growth is slow, but it should be steady. If you find that it is not growing, it may indicate that the plant is experiencing root rot. Slow growth may also show that your Strings of Pearl require some more light, so you should look out for more signs to be sure. 
  2. Yellow leaves: if the leaves start yellowing from below and the soil is soggy, your plant is overwatered. Yellow leaves may also signal severe dehydration.
  3. Mushy stems: A mush stem shows that your plant has root rot. When the stem has become mushy, it may be too late to salvage the plant. You can use the still healthy parts of the stem to propagate and get new plants.
  4. Stinky pottage: If you notice that your substrate is producing an unusual odor, like that of rotting organic matter.
  5. Shriveled leaves: Root rot makes it impossible for your plant to transport water. The resultant low water content in the plant causes the leaves to wither and fade.

All these signs of root rot can also be signs of other problems. Therefore, if you notice them, smell the soil to see if there is a whiff of decomposing organic matter.

In its early stages, you can reverse the effects of root rot by reducing watering, but it may be too late to save the plant if the disease is too advanced. If the plant is too far gone, you can use the unaffected parts to make cuttings for propagation.

How To Propagate String Of Turtles

You can propagate Peperomia prostrata through the division method by propagating already rooted stems makes the growth of new plants more likely. Carefully remove and cut off the rooted stem and replant it in a pot with the same potting mix as the mother plant. The advantage of propagating through division is that the offset already has roots.

#1. How To Propagate String Of Turtles From A Leaf

  1. Remove thick succulent leaves during the spring or summer.
  2. Allow them to dry for a few days or even a week.
  3. Stick the leaves into the soil and spray a little water on them.
  4. Keep the pot in bright light and away from full sunlight.
  5. Leaves will begin to root in 3 to 4 weeks depending on the season.

Once the new cuttings are established, you can report them into a container and bring them outside in bright but indirect light.

#2. How To Propagate String Of Turtles Cutting

  1. Use sterilized tools to cut a stem.
  2. Wait for a few days and let it dry out and form calluses.
  3. The potting soil must be well-draining and full of organic matter.
  4. Water, the plant as the soil, dries out.
  5. Please keep it in bright light but away from full sunlight until it establishes itself.
  6. You can also plant the leaves and stems after pruning

#3. How To Propagate String Of Turtles In Water

Put the shot in a glass of water and place it in a bright, warm spot that doesn’t receive direct sun. Place in a pot when it starts to grow roots. Depending on the season, this can take a few weeks to a few months. After the roots have developed, gently move to a new pot.

#4. How To Propagate String Of Turtles In Soil

Sip the shot in rooting hormone, although optional, and plant it in the same soil mixture as the mother plant. This plant likes humidity which you can boost by placing it in a domed germination tray. You can substitute this with a clear plastic bag which will serve the same function.

Variegated String of Turtles

Variegated Peperomia Prostrata is very rare, and although they occur naturally in their habitat, it isn’t easy to find them anywhere else. Growers haven’t perfected the growth of the variegated plants; the plant may lose its variegation and become dull due to too much direct sunlight. You cannot reverse this loss of variegation.

The String of Turtles FAQ

1. What is the String of Turtles growth rate?

String of turtles can be categorized as a slow-growing plant. Its slow growth is the reason it doesn’t often need repotting. Also, the slow growth and small stature contribute to its ideal desk plant.

2. Is String of Turtles toxic to cats?

It is not toxic to cats, but it may cause indigestion.

3. Do String of Turtles like humidity?

Peperomia prostrata does well in medium humidity. It can survive in an environment with 40% humidity, but 50% is its best humidity level.

4. Can you propagate a string of turtles from a leaf?

Yes. You can propagate it successfully from a leaf, but it takes a long time to get established. We have the guidelines right above for you to check!

5. Is String of Turtles a succulent?

It is a semi-succulent vine.

6. Where to buy String of Turtles?

You can buy Strings of Turtles from our online store.

Final Thought

Peperomia prostrata is a type of plant every plant parent would like to have in their house. It is beautiful. It purifies the air and generally improves your living conditions at home. Also, it is relatively easy to grow because it is not a favorite of pests and diseases. It is an ideal plant for busy or inexperienced plant parents. Watering and the type of substrate are two of the most critical factors you need to care for to get the growing of the plant right.

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Posted in Succulents