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String of turtles, also known as Peperomia prostrata (its scientific name), is an absolutely lovely trailing plant known for the stunning variegated patterns on its leaves that resemble a turtle’s shell. In this post, I’ll review an easy string of turtles care and propagation guide.
Is String of Turtles a Succulent?
String of turtles is a semi-succulent. It is native to Brazilian rainforests, not to dry areas like most succulents, but it has succulent-like leaves that store water. This is key to some of its care requirements which I’ll be describing below.
Is String of Turtles Rare?
String of turtles used to be very difficult to find, but it is becoming easier to get your hands on. The plant stays relatively small and does not grow very fast, so larger string of turtles plants will be hard to find or more expensive. Now that we’ve addressed that…
Where Can I Buy a String of Turtles?
You can easily find string of turtles as cuttings or plants on Etsy. Check out this gorgeous hanging basket string of turtles from one of my favorite Etsy shops!
String of Turtles Care
How Much Light Does String of Turtles Need?
String of turtles needs bright, indirect light. It can be grown in medium, indirect light but, as with all plants, the variegation is best maintained in bright light.
Don’t leave this plant in direct sun, or the poor little turtles could burn!
No sunlight? No problem! Grow lights are a real lifesaver. I keep most of my plants under grow lights these days. Check out my two current favorites below.
My guide to grow lights for indoor plants has more helpful info, too.
Since they store water in their fleshy leaves, string of turtles does not need to be watered often. Let the potting mix dry out in between waterings, and do not overwater them or you could put your plant at risk of root rot.
Be sure to feel the potting mix first to determine how wet or dry it is before you water!
Should You Mist String of Turtles?
This is where things might get a little tricky. While string of turtles is a semi-succulent, being native to rainforests, they do like extra humidity in their environment. Misting every few days is one way to do this.
I prefer a method a little more foolproof and longer lasting—using a humidifier. I really like the humidifier below because it has a three-day run time!
I’ve also seen cactus and succulent potting mix recommended. If you use this, just make sure it doesn’t get compacted over time.
You can fertilize your string of turtles twice a month during the spring, and once a month during the summer, using a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength.
String of turtles plants have shallow root systems and grow slowly. Although they grow in length, they don’t tend to get too big and wide for their pots. One thing to keep in mind is that “repotting” can sometimes just mean keeping the plant in the same pot but replacing the potting mix.
Replace the potting mix once a year, and only repot the plant in a new pot if it has clearly outgrown its current pot. In that case, use a pot the next size up from its current pot that has drainage. And, always remember it’s best to repot in the spring or summer, if possible.
You shouldn’t need to prune your string of turtles regularly, but you can prune off any unruly or leggy strands, and any dead or dying strands or leaves. 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
Propagate String of Turtles in Potting Mix
Propagating string of turtles is simple and is a similar process to other “string of” plants. It is most easily done in potting mix, but we’ll discuss water propagation too.
Potting Mix Method 1 – Using Cuttings
To propagate your string of turtles using this first method, use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to snip off a few cuttings just below a node (where leaves and roots grow out of the main stem).
Strip off some of the leaves that are close to the base of the cutting and stick the base of the cutting into a pot with potting mix. There should be at least one node under the surface of the potting mix because the nodes are where the new roots will sprout from.
Place the cuttings in a location with bright, indirect light. Do not overwater the cuttings, but still keep the top of the potting mix moist. You can do this by misting the potting mix as needed.
In a few weeks, you can test your plant by giving it a VERY gentle tug. If you feel some resistance, the root system has developed and you can treat it like a normal plant.
Potting Mix Method 2 – Using Cuttings (Again)
Another way to propagate string of turtles in potting mix is to snip off a cutting, but instead of planting one end into the potting mix, lay the entire cutting on top of the surface, creating a coil if you need to. Make sure the nodes are somewhat nestled into the potting mix, but they don’t have to be buried.
Then, continue to care for the cuttings the same as you would in method one: Place the cuttings in a location with bright, indirect light. Do not overwater the cuttings, but still keep the top of the potting mix moist. You can do this by misting the potting mix as needed.
After a few weeks, roots will sprout out of those nodes and grow down into the potting mix.
Potting Mix Method 3 – Using Leaves
A third method for propagating string of turtles in potting mix is to do so by leaf rather than an entire cutting. Remove a few leaves with their petioles attached—the little stem on the leaf that attaches it to the main stem.
Bury the leaf petiole in damp potting mix and do the same thing as the other steps: Place the leaves in a location with bright, indirect light. Do not overwater them, but still keep the top of the potting mix moist. You can do this by misting the potting mix as needed.
This method isn’t as foolproof and may take a few months to root, but it’s always fun to try, right?
Propagate String of Turtles in Water
You can also propagate string of turtles in water. The cuttings will typically root faster in potting mix, but it’s always fun to actually be able to watch the roots grow in water!
Use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to snip off a few cuttings just below a node (where leaves and roots grow out of the main stem).
Stick the base of the cutting into a jar of water. Remove any leaves that end of being under the water. There should be at least one node under the surface because the nodes are where the new roots will sprout from.
Set the jar in an area with bright, indirect light, and replace the water once a week or so when it gets a bit grimy, and fill it up when the water level gets lower.
Once the roots are a few inches long, which might take a few months, you can transfer the cuttings into a pot with potting mix and care for the plant how you normally would.
Is the String of Turtles Plant Toxic to Pets?
String of turtles is non-toxic. However, it’s best practice to keep all plants out of your furry friends’ reach regardless.