How to grow and care for String of Turtles Plant Indoors

Houseplant, String of Turtles Plant

Botanical name: Peperomia prostrata
Family: Piperaceae

String of Turtles Plant also called Magic Marmer is a compact perennial houseplant that is easy to grow and adapts well to indoor growing conditions. The plant is a trailing type of Peperomia and is an excellent choice for a hanging basket. The succulent leaves are about 1 in. long, heart-shaped with beautiful patterns of white veins which vary in color from maroon to dark blue to purple in young plants. They become silvery-white as the plant matures. The veining on the leaves gives them the look of tiny turtles and hence the common name "String of Turtles". The flowers are rat-tail flower-heads made up of cream-colored flowers on an upright spike. The plant is native to the tropical rain forests in Brazil where it grows as an epiphyte on trees.

There are numerous varieties of Peperomias; trailing, bushy and upright ones are available. Popular trailing types include Peperomia scandens variegata (Cupid Peperomia), Peperomia glabella (Wax Rivet), Peperomia prostrata (String of Turtles) and Peperomia rotundifolia (Creeping Peperomia). The bushy types grow to about 4-6 in. high and include Peperomia caperata (Radiator Plant), Peperomia argyreia (Watermelon Peperomia), Peperomia hederaefolia (Ivy Peperomia).The upright types have more distinct stems which grow vertically for part or all of the plant's life. They include Peperomia magnoliaefolia variegata (Desert Privet), Peperomia obtusifolia, (Baby Rubber Plant) and Peperomia verticillata (Whorled Peperomia)

How to Grow String of Turtles Plant (Peperomia prostrata)

Light

String of Turtles Plant prefers bright light with a few hours of sunshine. It will also thrive under artificial light. Too little light will result in leggy plants. Keep it away from hot direct sunshine as it can lead to scorching of the leaves. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Water String of Turtles Plant liberally during the growing season and allow the soil to slightly dry out between waterings. Significantly reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil barely moist. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead in root-rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth between 18-250C is ideal for String of Turtles Plant. Protect the plant from cold draughts as they can cause leaf drop. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

String of Turtles Plant thrives in a high humidity environment. Mist leaves frequently or set pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. String of Turtles Plant can also be grown in a terrarium as high humidity can be maintained.

Feeding

Feed String of Turtles Plant with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 3 weeks during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn. Learn more on feeding houseplants.

Repotting

Repot String of Turtles Plant during the growing season only when the plant has become pot-bound. However, the soil can be refreshed at the beginning of the growing season if not repotting. Use a rich, free-draining soil. Use a pot one size larger for repotting as the plant grows slowly. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging which can lead to root-rot. A shallow rather than deep pot is preferable as the plant has a small root system.

Pruning

Pruning String of Turtles Plant involves regular removal of dead foliage to maintain the plant neat and tidy. To encourage a bushy compact growth and to control growth, regularly pinch off the growing tips. Plant the tips in the pot to fill up the empty spaces for a fuller plant or use them to propagate new plants. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate String of Turtles Plant (Peperomia prostrata)

String of Turtles Plant can be propagated from leaf and stem-tip cuttings or by division.

Propagating String of Turtles Plants from leaf cuttings
Leaf cuttings root easily, there is no need for a rooting hormone. Take leaf cuttings from a healthy String of Turtles Plant. Ensure each leaf cutting has a petiole. Allow sometime for the formation of a protective callous tissue over the cuts. Place the leaf cuttings in a jar of clean plain water and change the water every 7-10 days. Place in warm shaded place until growth begins at the base of the petiole. Allow for substantial growth of the roots and new leaves. Transfer to individual pots and place in a cool shaded place. Maintain the soil moist until the plant is well established. For a fuller plant, plant several cuttings in one pot.

Propagating String of Turtles Plants from stem-tip cuttings
Stem-tip cuttings root easily, there is no need for a rooting hormone. Take stem-tip cuttings of about 4-5 in. length from a healthy String of Turtles Plant. Ensure each cutting has at least 2 sets of leaves. Lay the cuttings on moist rooting soil. Place in warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges and substantial growth has been observed. For a fuller plant plant several cuttings in one pot.

Propagating String of Turtles Plants by division
Take out the String of Turtles Plant from its pot and divide it into several sections. Pot up these sections in individual pots. Place in a cool shaded place. Maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges. Allow the new String of Turtles Plants to be well established before transplanting.

Common Problems in Growing String of Turtles Plant (Peperomia prostrata)

  • Brown leaf tips and edges
  • Brown leaf tips and edges in String of Turtles Plant are due to sudden drop in temperature from cold draughts. Remove all the damaged leaves and keep the plant away from cold draughts.

  • Sudden loss of leaves
  • There are two causes of sudden loss of leaves in String of Turtles Plant. Either the temperature is too low; move to a warmer spot or the plant has been underwatered causing the foliage to wilt.

  • Brown, shrivelled leaves
  • The cause of brown and shrivelled leaves in String of Turtles Plant is dry air. String of Turtles Plant prefers a humid environment. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for the plant. String of Turtles Plant can also be grown in a terrarium as high humidity can be maintained.

  • Dull and lifeless leaves
  • Exposing String of Turtles to hot direct sunlight will cause the leaves to become dull and lifeless. Protect the plant from hot direct sunlight or move to a shaded spot.

  • Leggy stems
  • Leggy stems in String of Turtles Plant are due to low light. Cut back the stems to rejuvenate growth and move the plant to a brighter spot.

  • Leaves wilted and discolored. Corky swellings under leaves
  • Waterlogging of String of Turtles Plant is the cause of wilted and discolored leaves and corky (scabs) on the underside. If not corrected in time, waterlogging can lead to Root-rot disease.

  • Diseases
  • Common diseases in String of Turtles Plants are Leaf Spot Disease and Root-rot.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in String of Turtles Plants are Spider Mites, Whiteflies and Mealy Bugs.

Toxicity

String of Turtles Plant (Peperomia prostrata) is toxic to both humans and pets. If ingested, it can cause burning in the mouth and throat, vomiting and diarrhea. Keep the plant away from the rich of children and pets.

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