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String of turtles, also known as Peperomia prostrata (its scientific name) or turtle’s string, 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 understanding some of its care requirements, which you’ll soon learn!
Are Turtle Strings hard to care for?
No, the string of turtles is not hard to care for! These little turtles are relatively low maintenance. The one thing I’d mention is, because they like to dry out more in between waterings, it can be easier to overwater them!
I don’t think that makes this plant difficult to care for, though.
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 does not grow very fast, so large string of turtles plants will be hard to find or more expensive.
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!
How do you keep a turtle’s string alive?
Here is a string of turtles care summary, but read on for the full guide and all the important tips!
|Light Level:||Bright, indirect|
|Watering:||Allow it to dry out between waterings|
|Temperature:||Between 65 – 75 degrees F (18 – 24 degrees C)|
|Potting Mix:||Well draining and well aerated|
|Fertilizing:||Half-strength, twice a month in spring, once a month in summer|
|Repotting:||When it outgrows its current pot|
Where should I put my String of Turtles?
You should put your string of turtles where it receives bright, indirect light. It can be grown in medium 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! Be sure the sun’s rays are not shining directly on the plant.
Also important to note is that if you want a nice, full plant, you should make sure the TOP of the plant gets light, too, not just the strings that hang down.
On the other hand, too little light can lead to leggy growth. That means longer strings with fewer turtles! The plant is trying to grow toward more light and also conserve energy.
No natural light? 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 plants LOVE these and have totally thrived under them!
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 can last up to 96 hours!
String of turtles is also different from “normal” succulents here, too. It doesn’t prefer very warm temperatures.
In fact, it’ll be happiest staying in between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (about 18 to 24 degrees Celcius). So, your normal household temperatures will probably be just fine!
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 typically 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 one. In that case, use a pot the next size up from the current one that has drainage.
And, always remember it’s best to repot in the spring or summer (the growing season), 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 like string or hearts or string of pearls. It is most easily done in potting mix, but I’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 to create some bare nodes, and stick the base of the cutting into a pot with moistened 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 or watering a very small amount at a time.
- 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.
- 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 or watering a little at a time.
- After a few weeks, roots will sprout out of those leaf nodes and grow down into the potting mix. This is a great way to create a fuller plant!
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.
Stick the leaf petiole (not the entire leaf) into moist potting mix.
Now, do the same thing as the other methods:
- Place the leaves in a location with bright, indirect light.
- Do not overwater them, but still keep the top of the potting mix moist.
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 cool 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.
- 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 two to three 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.
How quickly do String of Turtles grow?
String of turtles does not grow quickly. But, while they are slow growers, I believe the end result is worth it. Just look at how stunning they are!
How big do String of Turtles get?
The typical size for a string of turtles is about a foot long (12 inches) hanging down from its pot. It will take a few years to get there. However, in perfect conditions and if given LOTS of time, it can reach almost two feet.
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.
- Provide with bright, indirect light
- Allow the potting mix to dry out in between waterings
- Use a well-draining and aerated potting mix
- Provide with humidity and average temperatures
- Use a liquid houseplant fertilizer at half strength during the growing season
- Only repot when it’s outgrown its current pot. Otherwise, just replace the potting mix once a year
Here are some of my favorite houseplant supplies:
Full-Spectrum Clip-On LED Grow Light. Why I love it – The clip makes it so easy to put almost anywhere, and the two lights with their adjustable necks make it super versatile. The timer and dimming functions are also so handy.
Stackable Moss Pole. Why I love it – Plants that climb in the wild will benefit from being able to climb in your home, too. But the thing about plants is, they grow! It’s not helpful to have one small moss pole. This pole comes with two stable pieces and once your plant surpasses those, just order another and keep stacking!
Full-Spectrum Stick-On Grow Light Strips. Why I love it – These stick-on light strips work perfectly for my greenhouse cabinet shelves. They would also come in handy if you’re keeping plants in something with a top, like a bookshelf. These lights also have a timer and a dimming function.
Whisper-Quiet 1.7-Gallon Ultrasonic Humidifier. Why I love it – Using a humidifier is one of my favorite ways to provide humidity to my plants. This humidifier lasts up to 96 hours, which means less work for me!
Top-Fill 2.8-Liter Ultrasonic Humidifier. Why I love it – This humidifier is a little more budget-friendly. It’s extremely easy to refill and it can last up to 24 hours!