How to Grow String of Turtles

String of Turtles plant

Dysmorodrepanis, via Wikimedia Commons

In This Article

String of Turtles (Peperomia prostrata) is a tiny little Brazilian native succulent that thrives in a climate that mimics those found in the average house. This is why it is featured in houseplant collections and apartment jungles worldwide. 

It is small in size and has a slow growth rate, reaching full maturity in three to five years. This makes string of turtles a good choice if you have limited space. The plant's attractive leaf shape has also made it a favorite to use in fairy gardens, container gardens, and terrariums.

That same leaf shape is what gives the plant its common name. Each one looks like the shell of a miniature turtle strung together. 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, usually a darker green contrasted by light green. But still, this little succulent never really loses its charm.

No matter how it is used, the uniqueness of Peperomia prostrata will make it a valuable addition to any indoor plant collection and an excellent conversation piece.

Botanical Name  Peperomia prostrata
Common Name  String of Turtles
Plant Type   Succulent
Mature Size  12 inches.
Sun Exposure  Bright but indirect light 
Soil Type  Loamy, moist
Soil pH  Neutral to acidic
Bloom Time  Usually does not flower.
Flower Color  Cream colored.
Hardiness Zones  10 to 12, USA
Native Area   Brazil
Toxicity  Yes

String of Turtles Care

When properly cared for, string of turtles can be the pride of a tropical plant collection, but it will take a little effort and some adapting from the typical methods used to maintain most succulents

Different, though, does not mean complicated. An adequately cared for Peperomia prostrata will reward owners with a unique, well kept, vining succulent.

Light

String of turtles plants love bright indirect sunlight and will thrive in these conditions. Keeping these plants in full sun for too long will damage the leaves. 

Soil

Those familiar with raising succulents may be used to using a premix that has been explicitly formulated for succulents and cacti. These premixes should not be used for Peperomia prostrata. 

Instead, a mix consisting mainly of organics should be used. One that is rich in peat is ideal. This formula is easily found in a commercial seed starting mix. Peat is acidic, which is perfect for this plant, but take care that the pH does not get too low. Testing the soil is every so often is a good idea. 

Water

Once a peaty soil has been selected, the string of turtles is in a position to succeed and retain the moisture needed to thrive.

The plant tends to suffer from overwatering more than it does from dry
conditions. It is native to the Brazilian rain forest, so it prefers slightly moist conditions. This can be accomplished by keeping the soil moist only during the growing season and using the succulent 'soak and dry' method during the winter months. 

Overwatering is avoided by drenching the soil till water runs out the bottom of the pot, and the soil is thoroughly moist. Then the plant is not watered when the top level of the soil is dried out. Using this method ensures the plant stays properly watered during dormant months.

Temperature and Humidity

Peperomia prostrata prefers cooler, more humid temperatures over the warmer temperatures most succulent fans come to expect.

Keeping the string of turtles in what is considered average room temperature is an excellent way to go (around 68o-75o Fahrenheit).

During drier summer months or when a heater is running during the winter, you may want to use a mister or humidifier as long as care is taken to ensure that the leaves are not left wet.

Fertilizer

Feeding string of turtles will help maintain a bright shiny vigor and ensure that the plant's leaves' color and patterns are held throughout the growing season.

Feed it with a diluted houseplant fertilizer biweekly during the growing season. Fertilizing is not recommended during the fall or winter.

Is String of Turtles Toxic?

Sadly, the String of Turtles is toxic to household pets when ingested, so it should be avoided or kept out of reach if there are furry friends at home.

Pruning

If string of turtles is not pruned regularly, it can develop an unkempt, ragged, leggy appearance. Occasional pruning will allow you to abscise dead and damaged stems and leaves, and remove unwanted growth. It also encourages new, more vigorous growth to flourish. Do all pruning with sanitized scissors or very sharp snips.