The Beautiful String of Turtles Care What You Must Know

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The string Of Turtles part of the Peperomia genus is often called the radiator plants. There are thousands of species, but only a handful are commonly grown as houseplants, adding character to xeriscape, tropical, or mini garden settings.

String of Turtles Characteristics

The peperomia family includes ornamental houseplants that are indigenous to tropical South America.

The common name “Radiator Plant” was created by horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey because the plants value the warm air and brilliant light that one could find on a windowsill above a radiator.

String Of Turtles P. prostrata
String Of Turtles P. prostrata

As a succulent-like plant, peperomia do best in clay pots because they like a dry climate. Between waterings, the soil should be allowed to dry out. Avoid overfertilizing to prevent excessive growth. Two low-dose feedings per year will be sufficient.

As a succulent type, String of Turtles can be included in a Xeriscape – a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates that utilize water-conserving techniques.

The plant has round leaves resembling turtle shells and works well where vining or cascading plants are needed.

Although plants may withstand lower light levels, they prefer bright light to grow. In bad lighting, String of Turtles will lose some distinction in its variegation.

String of Turtles prefers warmer temperatures because they are indigenous to the tropics. In the winter, shield them from chilly window drafts.

A pebble tray will promote luxuriant growth as String of Turtles benefit from increased humidity.

Are Turtle Strings Challenging to Grow?

Like all things challenging, growing the String of Turtles becomes easier as you practice. I would classify P. prostrata as one of the easiest plants to grow and propagate.

Home gardeners have been growing plants from this genus indoors since the 1930s (when radiators at windows were still a thing).

Like all non-local plants, you want to mimic their natural habitat. Soil, light, temperature, humidity, feeding, and watering are essential for successfully growing almost any plant.

If you know what the native habitat environment is, you can replicate it. Some plants are more intricately linked to their environment, but these are generally not houseplants.

The 1967 Beatles song “With a Little Help from My Friends” applies: “Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends.

I’m here to learn and teach – as we all are. So, let’s see what successfully growing the beautiful String of Turtles plant entails.

Is String of Turtles Plants Rare?

As I mentioned earlier, the peperomia genus (not to be confused with pepperoni) has been a houseplant in the US for almost a hundred years.

Ten years ago, you would have to search to find this beauty. Its popularity is soaring, making it more available, especially as it is the year of the Peperomia – 2022.

The plant does not grow very fast, so a larger string of turtles plants will be challenging to find (and more pricey).

Where to Position Your String of Turtles

Positioning String of Turtles
Positioning String of Turtles

Your string of turtles should be placed in an area with indirect, bright light. Although it may be cultivated in medium light, intense light is ideal for preserving the variegation, as with all plants.

Make sure the plant is not directly exposed to the sun’s beams.

It’s also crucial to remember that, in addition to the strings that hang down, the top of the plant should receive light if you want a healthy, complete plant. Inadequate light causes long-leggedness as the plant uses its limited resources to reach better light rather than grow foliage.

The String of Turtles plant does well in artificial light as well. Nowadays, I maintain the majority of my plants in grow lights.

Grow lights also ensure light reaches the whole P—prostrata plant, including the top and strings.

The P. prostrata, as the name indicates, is the dominant Peperomia prostrate species and is ideal for growing in hanging baskets – usually between 6 and 10 inches in diameter.


String of Turtles plants loves to be in soil mixtures that retain some water yet drain well. Because this plant is native to the Brazilian rainforest, it prefers slightly moist soil conditions. However, this plant’s susceptibility to overwatering is beyond average, handling dry soil better than overly wet soil.

During the spring and summer growing seasons, I advise keeping the soil continuously moist and watering with the “soak and dry” technique in the winter.

Watering until water flows out of the bottom of the container and the soil is moist is the best way to determine if your plant is receiving enough moisture.

Your plants will remain properly wet if you do this throughout the winter while they are dormant.

Should You Mist String of Turtles?

Watering String Of Turtles
Watering String Of Turtles

I am aware that there is a general opinion that misting helps improve the plant’s relative humidity environment.

Relative humidity refers to the amount of water vapor in the air – not water droplets. No matter how delicate the mist, spraying leaves effectively encourage pathogens to spread – nothing else.

A much better option is investing in a humidifier. If that seems like overkill, grouping plants and using a tray filled with water and LECA pebbles can also boost relative humidity around plants without the risk of spreading diseases.

I prefer the humidifier route but am slightly obsessive about my plants.

Preferred Temperatures

Your String of Turtles plant won’t handle temperatures below 50° F but will do well in temperatures that match Hardiness Zones 9 to 11. The ideal temperature range is between 65 and 85° F, similar to a general indoor temperature.

String of Turtles Potting Mix

The typical potting soil for cacti and succulents is unsuitable for the String of Turtles plants. Despite being succulents, they prefer to reside in peat-rich soil.

Peat and the proper nutrients for your plant are present in every commercial seed-starting mixture. Compost and perlite help improve drainage and avoid compaction.

To ensure that your plant develops happily and healthily, evaluating the pH of the potting soil you use is a good idea.

Because peat prefers neutral to slightly acidic soil pH levels, it is ideal for your houseplant. Additionally, ensure your plant’s soil drains adequately to prevent overwatering and the disease root rot.

There is an array of ingredients to aid in drainage for houseplants
There is an array of ingredients to aid in drainage for houseplants

Fertilizing Your String of Turtles

Giving your string of turtle plants the required nutrients will keep them vibrant and vigorous. Additionally, it will aid in the maintenance of your plant’s leaf color and pattern during the spring and summer growing seasons.

Because your plant will be dormant throughout the winter, reduce the fertilizer you apply. Fertilizing them when they are dormant can harm their forthcoming growing season. Additionally, avoiding overfertilizing your plants is essential because this could burn their roots and result in permanent harm.

Repotting String of Turtles

Turtles’ String grows slowly, has shallow roots, and does well being potbound. Despite rarely getting too big for their pots, repotting may be needed when soil becomes compacted, needing a revitalized growing environment.

Only repot the plant in a new pot if it has outgrown the one it is currently in.

Use a pot with good drainage and is slightly larger than the current pot.

Terracotta pots work well since they dry out more quickly, reducing your plant’s chance of root rot. Repotting, if needed, should be done in the growing season as this raises the plant’s likelihood of survival.

Should I Prune my String of Turtles Plant?

String of Turtles Pruning
String of Turtles Pruning

Limit pruning to removing unruly, leggy strands or dead or dying leaves. Always use a sterilized pair of pruning shears.

Don’t prune off more than a third of your plant at once, but you shouldn’t have to do this anyway. Save any healthy strands you remove for propagation! I’ll discuss that in the next section.

How to Propagate String of Turtles

Peperomias are propagated commercially by cuttings. Terminal stem cuttings can be used with all types and permit the production of plants in the shortest possible time.

Cuttings with one leaf and a short stem section can be used if stock is limited or small dead plants are needed. Stem cuttings with one or more buds are necessary for propagating variegated cultivars like P. prostrata.

Propagating String Of Turtles

Two terminal stem cuttings with two to four expanded leaves are commonly stuck per 3-inch pot. Rooting and finishing 3-inch pots requires 3 to 5 weeks, depending upon the size of cuttings and season.

Growth is considerably faster when temperature and light intensity are not limited. Three to four cuttings are generally used per 4-inch pot.

Potting media used for peperomia propagation and production should be very well-drained and as pathogen-free as possible.

Several peat-lite mixes with coarse particles, such as perlite or bark char, are very satisfactory because they provide the necessary aeration.

Propagating String of Turtles
Propagating String of Turtles

Multiplying String of Turtles Cuttings in Potting Soil

  • Put the base of the cutting into a pot with moistened potting mix after removing some leaves close to the ground to generate some bare nodes. Because the new roots will emerge from the nodes, at least one should be under the potting soil’s surface.
  • Put the cuttings somewhere where there is plenty of indirect light.
  • You can test your plant in a few weeks by giving it a very light tug. If you encounter resistance, the root system has been established, and you can proceed as you would with any other plant.

Is String of Turtles Fast Growers?

A string of turtles gets its name from the variegation of the leaves that look like a tortoise shell, but the term also applies to its speed of growth.

It won’t make its presence known aggressively, but with a bit of TLC, it will always look great. It is, after all, known as the perfect personal space plant.

A string of turtles dangling from a pot typically measures approximately a foot long (12 inches). The journey there will take a few years, but given enough time and ideal circumstances, it can grow a cascade that is three feet long.

String of Turtles Toxicity

Remove Dead Leaves String of turtles
Remove Dead Leaves String of turtles

All Peperonium plants are toxic to humans, cats, and dogs, so keep them away from where they can be nibbled.

Care Summary

Hardiness Zone:9 – 11
Mature Height:4 to 6 inches
Mature Width:4 to 6 inches
Light Level:Fluorescent to bright indirect
Growth Habit:Trailing
Watering:Likes to dry out some between watering. If unsure, do not water
Humidity:Above 60%
Temperature:Consistently above 50° F. Ideally, between 65 and 75° F
Potting Mix:Well-draining and well-aerated cactus soil
Fertilizing:Low feeding requirements – March and June – do not feed after September
Repotting:When it outgrows its current pot – it is an epiphyte with shallow roots and prefers to be potbound.

In Closing

String of Turtles Peperomia (P. prostrata) is a delicate trailing plant with small, round, and succulent leaves that are dark green to nearly purple.

Leaves are variegated or patterned with a network of white veins. The plant spreads but is not aggressive and is a good candidate for hanging baskets.

String of Turtles prefers evenly moist soil, but like many of its relatives, it can suffer if overwatered.

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