String of Turtles: A Peperomia Prostrata Guide for Beginners

by | Jan 20, 2021 | Growing Guides

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The String of Turtles (Peperomia Prostrata) is a beautiful vining plant with succulent leaves. Its round, dark green foliage marked with white veins creates a pattern reminiscent of a turtle shell–– the reason for its charming name. This technically semi-succulent houseplant makes a great addition to any windowsill or terrarium because of its small footprint and striking appearance. Plant care for String of Turtles is simple, and displaying this indoor plant on a hanging basket in your home will justify any needed time and attention.

String of Turtles Plant Details

The following sections will provide an in-depth look into the vast world of growing String of Turtles plants. If you don’t have enough time for a long-read, we’ll add the quick facts below. For your convenience, reference the bulleted information. If you do need more details, though, you can scroll down and see full tips, guides, and recommendations. The Peperomia Prostrata does need some particular care, but attention to detail is well worth the beautiful addition to your home.

  • Scientific/Common Name: Peperomia Prostrata, String of Turtles, Magic Marmer
  • Genus: Peperomia
  • Scientific Family: Piperaceae
  • Origin: Native to the Rainforests of Brazil
  • Mature Height: About 12″ tall, achieved in 3 to 5 years. Maximum width will vary depending on pot size.
  • Distinguishing Features: Round, dark green foliage marked with white veins, creating a pattern reminiscent of a turtle shell.
  • Home Placement: Near a Window with Indirect Light. East and West facing windows are ideal.
  • Growth Speed: Slow-Growers, especially when young.
  • Light Requirements: Avoid Direct Sunlight. Bright, Indirect Light is best.
  • Watering Requirements: As a succulent plant, it can survive with minimal watering. Avoid overwatering; excess water will rot the root system—only water when at least 2″ of topsoil is dry. Lightly moist soil is ideal.
  • Soil Requirements: A well-draining soil/mix is necessary. A peat-based potting mix of organic soil with sand and perlite is best.
  • Temperature: 65-75ºF (18-24ºC) is ideal, but no lower than 50ºF (10ºC)
  • Fertilizer: Add a diluted, succulent fertilizer every 2 or 3 weeks. A slow-release fertilizer is best. However, String of Turtles does well in any basic houseplant soil.
  • Humidity: Since Peperomia Prostrata is a succulent plant and a tropical plant, it loves high humidity. Beware the dry winter months; mist with a spray bottle regularly. But don’t overwater! Purchasing a humidifier would be a worthwhile investment to see these ‘turtles’ thrive.
  • Flowering: Small White, Spike-Like Flowers. They bloom throughout the year, though they don’t have a fragrance. The plant is known for its vining leaves, so most people remove the insignificant flowers.
  • Pruning: Cut off undesirable leaves and vines to control the growth of this houseplant. Pruning can also stimulate new growth in a struggling plant.
  • Propagation: Cut off about 2″ or 3″ of a stem with leaves still attached and bury just beneath the surface of the topsoil. A rooting hormone or fertilizer can help develop roots faster. Do not overwater!
  • Repotting: Don’t repot this slow-grower often–– only repot if crowded. Choose a small pot, 1″ or 2″ wider than the last. Make sure the pot has sufficient drainage to avoid root rot.
  • Diseases and Pests: Root Rot, Whiteflies, Mealybugs, Spider Mites. Use insecticidal soap to kill pest eggs and spray neem oil to prevent them from coming back.
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic and pet-safe!

Where Can I Buy String of Turtles?

Though the String of Turtles is rare in the United States, you can buy Peperomia Prostrata through Etsy, one of the best places to purchase houseplants online. It feels great to checkout with one of these small beauties! Here are some of the top-rated sites through which to buy the String of Turtles.

Checking a home improvement store or local nursery is worth the trip, though String of Turtles can be hard to come by. If you can’t find one at a local retailer, internet shopping is a simple alternative.

String of Turtles Plants: Family & Origin

Peperomia Prostrata is a vining plant with succulent leaves that is more commonly known as the String of Turtles but is sometimes referred to as the Magic Marmer. Its round, dark green foliage marked with white veins creates a pattern reminiscent of a turtle shell–– its namesake. It comes from the Peperomia genus and Piperaceae scientific family. Native to Brazil’s rainforests, this technically semi-succulent houseplant makes a great addition to any window sill or terrarium because of its small footprint and striking appearance. Since Peperomia Prostrata is a succulent plant and a tropical plant, it loves high humidity.

String of Turtles Traits

Peperomia Prostrata is unusual in its scientific family as a trailing vine with thick and round succulent leaves, with dark green foliage marked by white veins. The white veins can even turn from dark blue to silver and purple as the plant grows older. Peperomia Prostrata’s deep green variegated leaves with light, white veining, hold enough sap to retain moisture. Space out waterings since it’s built to store water through dry periods.

Though String of Turtles does produce flowers, they are often few and unremarkable. They are small and white, spike-like buds that don’t have a fragrance. The plant will bloom year-round, but Peperomia Prostrata is known for its vining leaves, so most people remove the insignificant flowers. Don’t worry if you don’t see much flowering on your plant.

String of Turtles Care

Plant care for String of Turtles is simple, and it can adapt to a wide range of growing conditions, though it does best in bright filtered light with little watering. The thin and fragile stems can rot quickly if the soil is kept soggy, so don’t overwater! String of Turtles is not particularly prone to pests and diseases, but keeping an eye out for avoidable issues is always recommended. Any attention to detail is well worth this beautiful addition to your home.

Light For String of Turtles

The String of Turtles is a great indoor houseplant because of its low-maintenance lighting needs. If you lack windowsill space or don’t have any south-facing windows, Peperomia Prostrata is for you. Don’t place this plant in full direct sunlight for very long at all. Bright and indirect light is best, so any table-top in a sunny room is perfect. One or two hours of direct sunlight during the morning is all they can handle, but not even every day. Just keep it somewhere bright where the sunlight is filtered.

String of Turtles can also be grown under fluorescent or artificial grow lights, expanding your home gardening options even further. As with sunlight, avoid harshly bright light for more than a couple of hours a day to not scorch the leaves.

Soil For String of Turtles

Though String of Turtles is native to the moist rainforest floor, don’t confuse this for overwatering. The soil is best when slightly damp, not wet and soggy. Soaking soil is the easiest way to kill this houseplant with root rot. A well-draining soil/mix is necessary. A peat-based potting mix of organic soil with sand and perlite is best because fertile potting soil will encourage root growth and increase the vines’ strength. More specifically, two parts peat to one part perlite or sand works well. The main point is for the growing medium to drain and aerate well. In terms of acidity, soil with a pH between 5 and 7 is ideal. You shouldn’t need to repot or increase the pot size very often since this plant has a small root system and grows slowly.

Water For String of Turtles

As a succulent plant, it can survive with minimal watering. But as a tropical plant, it likes moisture and humidity! Just avoid overwatering; excess water will rot the root system—only water when at least 2″ of topsoil is dry. Lightly moist soil is ideal. If you’re unsure whether or not to water your String of Turtles, err on the side of waiting a little longer. Peperomia Prostrata’s deep green variegated leaves with light, white veining hold enough sap to retain moisture. Space out waterings since it’s built to store water through dry periods. The thin and fragile stems can rot quickly if the soil is kept soggy, so don’t overwater!

Potting For String of Turtles

String of Turtles is a small plant with a small root system, so a small pot is all it will need. The main feature to look out for in choosing the right pot is sufficient drainage. Make sure there are holes in the bottom to drain out excess moisture–– Peperomia Prostrata will rot if sitting in too much water.

This slow-grower won’t need to be repotted often, so only repot if overcrowded. If repotting, choose another small pot, only an inch or two wider than the last. Make sure the pot has sufficient drainage to avoid root rot. Place the pot near a window with indirect light; east and west-facing windows are ideal.

Fertilizer For String of Turtles

Add a diluted, succulent fertilizer every 2 or 3 weeks. A slow-release fertilizer is best, and the semi-regular addition of fertilizer helps retain the leaves’ color and pattern. However, String of Turtles does well in any basic houseplant soil. During summertime, reduce the use of fertilizer, applying only once a month. Don’t feed the plant during the off-seasons, fall through winter.

A small quantity is more than enough; too much fertilizer in the soil or water can cause the leaves to start dropping. When using ready-to-pour fertilizers, water the soil before feeding to avoid chemically burning the roots.

Humidity For String of Turtles

Peperomia Prostrata is a succulent plant and a tropical plant indigenous to the moist rainforest floor. As a succulent plant, it can survive with minimal watering. But as a tropical plant, it loves moisture and humidity! But don’t overwater. Beware the dry winter months and mist with a spray bottle regularly. Purchasing a humidifier would be a worthwhile investment to see these ‘turtles’ thrive. Temperatures of 65-75ºF (18-24ºC) are ideal, but no lower than 50ºF (10ºC) is necessary. Keeping the humidity levels high can even help prevent Spider Mite infections. String of Turtles is an excellent option for greenhouses and terrariums because of its humidity preferences.

Propagating String of Turtles

You can quickly propagate a String of Turtles from leaf and vine cuttings. The best time to plant a Peperomia Prostrata is at the beginning of the growing season in early spring. Cut off about 2″ or 3″ of a stem with leaves still attached and bury just beneath the surface of the topsoil. A rooting hormone or fertilizer can help develop roots faster. Do not overwater! Make sure to choose a healthy stem for propagation. Keep it somewhere bright where the sunlight is indirect. And be patient–– it can take a few weeks to see any new sprouts.

How To Prune String of Turtles

Cut off undesirable leaves and vines to guide String of Turtles’ growth, as is necessary to keep this plant under control. Peperomia Prostrata will grow wider than tall, and pruning will manage any overgrowth. Pruning can also stimulate new growth in a struggling plant. But if the stems or leaves are overgrowing, you can pinch the stems to stop development. Always use very sharp and sterilized shears to minimize any trauma done to the plant. Avoid over-pruning as the beauty of this plant comes from its bushy and spindly vines.

Is String of Turtles a Succulent?

String of Turtles is technically a semi-succulent plant, as it is also considered a tropical plant. As a succulent plant, it can survive with minimal watering. But as a tropical plant, it likes moisture and humidity! Peperomia Prostrata’s deep green variegated leaves with light, white veining hold enough sap to retain moisture. Space out waterings since it’s built to store water through dry periods. Its succulent nature also makes it resilient to low-light conditions and bouts of underwatering. However, as compared to other succulents, Peperomia Prostrata prefers slightly more humidity and water.

Is String of Turtles Rare?

The String of Turtles is a rare variety of houseplants and can be challenging to find. It is also rare that there are not many plants that are both succulent and tropical. Its turtle-like leaves and patterns are unique, especially among other vining plants. As beautiful as they are, we hope they become more common in our homes!

Do String of Turtles Grow Fast?

String of Turtles is a slow-grower, especially when it’s young. They can grow to about 12″ tall, which is only achieved in 3 to 5 years. Maximum width will vary depending on pot size, but expect Peperomia Prostrata to grow wider than tall as it is a bushy and vining plant. When propagating or repotting, a rooting hormone or fertilizer can help develop roots faster. But still expect to wait about a month before seeing any new sprouts above the soil.

Common Problems with String of Turtles

String of Turtles is not particularly prone to pests and diseases, but keeping an eye out for avoidable issues is always recommended. Like any houseplant, root rot, whiteflies, mealybugs, and spider mites are the likely suspects for any plant issues. Use insecticidal soap to kill pest eggs and spray neem oil to prevent them from coming back. There’s no need to worry about this plant’s safety, though: they are non-toxic and pet-safe!

Root Rot

Root rot in String of Turtles is almost always due to insufficient care. The main culprit is overwatering; these succulents do not like anything more than slightly damp soil. Letting the roots sit in water will rot the roots. Insufficient sunlight or temperatures that are too low can also cause root rot by not allowing the soil to dry out. Bright, indirect sunlight at 65º to 75ºF will keep Peperomia Prostrata from retaining too much moisture.

Drooping stems, yellow or brown leaves, and dropping leaves can all be signs of root rot. Let the soil dry out for two weeks before lightly(!) watering anymore. If the plant is left untreated, root rot will stunt the growth, and the vines will die. You may need to transfer the plant to a new pot with dry soil if the roots are mushy, soggy, or rotting.

Damaged Leaves

Wilted, scab-like bumps on the String of Turtles’ leaves indicate overwatering. When the roots are too wet, the nutrients are washed away, and the leaves will shed.

If the plant is under bright and direct sunlight, Peperomia Prostrata can become dull and faded. If the leaves are losing their multicolored variation, relocate the plant away from the harsh sunlight. Red foliage is another sign of excessive exposure to direct sunlight. Limit sun exposure to one hour a day to resolve this problem. Remove the damaged red or yellow leaves to help String of Turtles produce new growth.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies are tiny white flying bugs that are common pests for most houseplants. They suck the leaves and flower buds’ juices, which cause the yellowing and dropping of leaves. If infested, the adult flies will become visible when the plant’s leaves are moved. They lay eggs on the underside of the leaves, so inspect them for any eggs or whiteflies.

Though infestation is relatively rare, small indoor plants like the Peperomia Prostrata are easily damaged by whiteflies. Use insecticidal soap to kill pest eggs and spray neem oil to prevent them from coming back.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs look like fuzzy white dust on the stems or the bottoms of leaves. These small bugs eat any new growth on the String of Turtles. Overwatering and over-fertilizing are the most common causes of Mealybugs. They can easily spread and infect other indoor plants, so move the infected plant away from healthy plants.

To treat Mealybugs, use a 1 to 10 solution of isopropyl alcohol and water. Thoroughly spray this mixture on the leaves and continue this process until the bugs are completely gone.

Spider Mites

Spider Mites create small webs on the underside of the leaves or leaf joints. These white, red, or black colored spiders make the plant leaves look dusty and dull. They are a problem in the winter months since most indoor conditions are dry.

Spider Mites multiply rapidly and suck the sap from the String of Turtles’ leaves, discoloring and drying the vines. Spider Mites will eventually kill Peperomia Prostrata. Keep the humidity levels high to avoid Spider Mite infections, use neem oil as a preventive spray, and wash the plant with insecticidal soap to kill these pests.

Other Popular Peperomia to Grow

  • Watermelon Peperomia Begonia (Peperomia Argyreia): Species of flowering plant in the family Piperaceae, native to Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Despite its name, the plant is not related to either watermelons or begonias.
  • Red-Edge Rainbow (Peperomia Clusiifolia): The Rainbow Peperomia has upright and large, thick and dark, green leaves. Its edges are a creamy white and rosy-pink shade.
  • Metallic Peperomia (Peperomia Rosso): This plant grows to be about 8″ tall and wide, growing in a rosette formation. The dark green and heart-shaped, wrinkled, and ridged leaves grow at the ends of long stems.
  • Pink Lady (Peperomia Griseoargentea): Very rare. Leaves are dark green in the center with pink veins and borders.
  • Jayde Peperomia (Peperomia Polybotrya): Dark green, heart-shaped, succulent leaves that grow upright. This plant is also called the Coin Leaf Peperomia for its thick, coin-like leaves.
  • Red Ripple (Peperomia caperata): Iridescent, purple, and red leaves with distinct ripples. Heart-shaped leaves and a tiny plant.
  • Pixie Peperomia (Peperomia Orba): Smaller of the Peperomia plants. Small green leaves that are round and waxy. The leaves have a white stripe down the center when they mature.
  • Peperomia Hope (Peperomia Rotundifolia): Also known as the Trailing Jade. The plant is a blend of two varieties: Peperomia Quadrifolia and Peperomia Deppeana.

Other Popular “String of” Plants

  • String of Hearts (Ceropegia): Part of the Apocynaceae family. Native to Africa, southern Asia, and Australia. Originally thought that the flowers looked like a fountain of wax.
  • String of Pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus): A flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae. It’s a creeping, perennial, succulent vine native to the drier parts of southwest Africa. It trails on the ground, rooting wherever they touch and forming dense mats.

The semi-succulent String of Turtles makes a great addition to any window sill or terrarium because of its small footprint and striking appearance. Plant care for Peperomia Prostrata is simple, and displaying this indoor plant in a hanging basket in your home will justify any needed time and attention. As long as you remember to water this tropical vining plant sparingly, we trust these Turtles will flourish in your care!

By Brent Hellendoorn

By Brent Hellendoorn

Brent is excited about all things minimal, and thus environmentally sustainable. From kitchen-scrap composting to indoor herb gardens and air-purifying houseplants, he enjoys continual learning and innovation. In simple, eco-conscious living, there is always room to… grow!

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My husband and I are attempting to turn our tiny city condo into an urban gardening oasis. Join us on our journey toward sustainable living and making the most of our space.

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