String of Turtles


Peperomia prostrata

Top Tips

  • String of Turtles must endure periods of dry soil in between waters - if you're stuck with when to water it, think of the ukhouseplants' phrase of 'Drenches Between Droughts'.
  • Be careful when watering - allowing excess moisture to sit on the turtles above the soil will result in them yellowing and rotting off. Either be careful when watering, or irrigate using the bottom-up method.
  • A few hours of morning or evening sun is mandatory, especially in the winter months.
  • Avoid situating it in a dark location due to the exaggerated phototropism (growth towards light) and leggy internodes.
  • Supplement at monthly intervals all year round, using either a Cactus or Houseplant feed, or a general plant fertiliser.
  • Repot every two or three during the spring, using a Cactus & Succulent potting mix.
  • Take vine cuttings during the spring or summer to put back into the soil to promote a bushier head.



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Water - πŸ”Έ

The phrase 'drenches between droughts' should always strongly be associated with String of Turtles. During the growing period, allow the soil to fully dry out in between irrigations for at least a week, while reducing this further during winter. Instead of pouring water directly through the foliage, irrigate using the bottom-up method by placing the pot on a saucer of water (25% of the pot submerged) until fully absorbed. Wetting the foliage every time you come to hydrate the plant will allow excess moisture to settle, causing the leaves to yellow and rot away. If this has happened, take vine cuttings to root in water, before placing back into the soil to promote a bushier appearance. Under-watering symptoms include deflated leaves, little to no growth and gradual foliage decline. Be sure to study its environment; a position that offers too much sunlight will dry out the soil far too quickly and will eventually scorch the plant's leaves; move to a darker location. Over-watering symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, wilting, mushy leaves or stem and plant death. Again, study where it's situated in your home. If it does not receive proper light, root rot may occur over time and for more severe cases, hit the link below to learn more about how to address it.


Read More - Identifying Common Houseplant Pests & Diseases


Humidity -

This isn’t a factor; however, those situated in dark locations or bathrooms must not be misted as powdery mildew or botrytis can easily develop. A quick hose-down once a month will help with hydration of leaves, but will also help wash off excess dust and possible pests.


Location & Light - πŸ”ΈπŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

The brighter, the better; a shadier spot will slow down growth and increase the chances of root and foliar rot. If the String of Turtles is situated in strong sunlight, don't allow persistent droughts to occur as it'll weaken the plant over time, leaving it dehydrated and sun-scorched. Find a medium that compliments both the light levels and rate of growth; it's recommended to situate it next to a north-facing window, or a few metres from south-facing one.


Fertilisation - πŸ”Έ

Once a month all year round using half-strength general plant fertiliser or houseplant feed. If you decide to use 'ready to pour' fertilisers, be sure to water the soil down before application to avoid root-burning.




Common Issues with String of Turtles

Root rot is a big issue; typical symptoms include yellowing lower leaves, stunted or softened growth often accompanied by vine collapse. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect its root systems. Yellow roots symbolise good health, however, if they're brown and mushy with the soil being quite soggy, action must be taken immediately. More information about addressing root rot can be found on this link.

Yellowing leaves or a bold top are products of excess moisture being allowed to sit on the foliage, commonly sped up by too little light or poor air circulation. Although irrigation from the top is acceptable, it's recommended to use the bottom-up method to reduce the chance of rotten foliage. For specimens that have a bare head, improve growing contains by using the bottom-up method and increasing light levels slightly. Promote a bushier appearance by taking vine cuttings and placing them halfway down into the soil. Immediately remove yellowed or rotten debris as this will harbour both bacterial and fungal diseases that can both spread across to other sections of the plant.

Failed vine cuttings are a common issue among amateur gardeners, with damaged wounds or too small vines being the usual culprits. Although propagating String of Turtles is relatively easy, people still find it hard to ace. Not only will the size of the vine dictate its success, damaging the leaves or vine can also hurt the chances of it rooting. For more information about how to take vines, click on this link.

Too much sunlight will cause a red tinge to the foliage. Although the String of Turtles is best grown in locations offering around two hours of direct sunlight a day, prolonged periods of intense rays cannot be tolerated. Reduce the amount of sunlight received to just one hour a day, while keeping the growing conditions relatively similar to reduce the effects of environmental shock. Although its new growth will develop into its original green texture, sunburnt leaves will remain red or yellow for the rest of its functioning life.




Origins

Peperomia prostrata originates from the jungles of South America where it can be found as an epiphyte (growing on other trees). The species was first described by Carl Linnaeus in the 1750's, and then reclassified by Carl Kunth in the early 19th century.


Temperature

15°C - 26°C   (59° - 78°F)
H1a - must be grown as a houseplant or under glass all year round. Do not allow temperatures to dip below 13℃ or permanent damage may occur (leaf or flower loss, yellowing leaves etc.). Situating a String of Turtles in draughty locations isn't advised due to their sensitively to cooler temperatures.


Spread

Up to 1m in length with its width solely relying on diameter of the pot that it's in. The ultimate height will take between 3 - 5 years to achieve.

Pruning

Remove yellowed or dying leaves and plant debris to encourage better growth and improve the all-round appearance. Pruning must be done with clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases; remember to make clean incisions as too much damage can shock the plant. Vine cuttings can be taken to halve the height of the specimen, as well as doubling your stock.


Propagation

Via seed or vine cuttings. 

Vine Cuttings - Choose the healthiest stems located at the vine terminals; these should be damage-free and full of stored moisture. Cut off at least five inches and remove the older half of the leaves for the reduction of bacteria. Either situate the vines in tepid water or directly into compost. Although it's recommended to use the first method, both versions have similar success rates.

Soil - Use a well-draining potting mix, preferably Cactus & Succulent Compost, and coil the vine in a circular shape, pinning it down with a paper clip. Try not to cover the vines and leaves with soil as this will harm its light-capturing efficiency, along with higher rates of developing a disease. Place the potted cuttings into a transparent bag and mist the soil and foliage once a week to maintain high humidity. Situate it in a bright, indirect setting with temperatures above 18°C (64°F). Open the bag every few days for a few minutes and remove any yellow or rotten debris to present a healthy growing environment. Once new foliar shoots develop along the nodes, remove the bag and treat it like a normal specimen with the care tips provided above.

Water - Place the bottom half of the vine (closest to the soil) in tepid water until roots develop - be aware that this process may take up to two months! Replace the water every few days and immediately remove any yellow or rotten debris to maintain good growing conditions. Once the vine produces roots, coil the growth onto a bed of Cactus & Succulent Compost with the appropriate sized pot. Mist the soil once a week and place the potted cuttings into a transparent bag to maintain high humidity. Situate it in a bright, indirect setting with temperatures above 18°C (64°F) to stimulate new growth. Open the bag every few days for a few minutes and remove any yellow or rotten debris to present a healthy growing environment. Once new foliar shoots develop along the nodes, remove the bag and treat it like a normal specimen with the care tips provided above. If you need any more help regarding succulent propagation, don't hesitate and send us an email via this link!


Flowers

Small, trumpet shaped white flowers will develop along the vine during the early summer, once the plant reaches maturity. The quality of its blooms largely relies on the quality of the dormancy period served in the previous winter.

To replicate it's dormancy period, reduce temperatures down to around 15°C  (59°F)  from late autumn until early spring, with little waterings. Allow all of the soil to thoroughly dry out for at a fortnight in between irrigations, and never apply cold water as this can damage the roots. Provide a few hours of off-peak direct sunlight with little fertilisation throughout this period.


Repotting 

Repot every three years using Cactus & Succulent Compost and a larger pot. This is an excellent time to check the roots' condition, as well as division. As all succulents are prone to root rot, have a look around the bottom half of the root ball for any brown or broken-down roots. If this is the case, remove the affected areas with clean utensils and ease off with the irritations. Click on this link to learn about how to perform the perfect transplant. Accidentally snapping vines in half is part and parcel of repotting String of Turtles; if this has happened, don't panic! Simply read the 'Propagation' section of this article to learn about how to root the broken vines.


Diseases & Pests

Typical diseases associated with String of Turtles are root or leaf rot, leaf-spot disease & powdery mildew. Keep an eye out for scale, aphids, spider mite, whitefly, mealybugs & thrips. For more information on how to address any of these issues, click on this link.  Identifying Common Houseplant Pests & Diseases


Toxicity

This plant is classified as poisonous. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.


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