String of Turtles
Peperomia prostrata is an unusual trailing vine with thick, round succulent leaves. Resembling tiny little turtle shells (hence the name, string of turtles) they’re a deep green colour with beautiful light venation. Hailing from South America, it’s a surprisingly versatile plant and a common feature in – and out – of terrariums, planters and pots around the world. Peperomia prostrata is often displayed in a way that lets their vines spill over edges, so mounting them at the top of a terrarium can produce a stunning cascade effect.
At a Glance
Where to Buy String of Turtles
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Terrarium Plant Guide
Peperomia prostrata Care & Growth
For the best growth, place Peperomia prostrata under bright, diffuse/indirect light as much as possible. Take care to keep it out of direct sunlight, as the tender leaves will quickly burn under intense light.
Probably thanks to its succulent leaves, the string of turtles vine really doesn’t need watering regularly. In fact, overwatering is the fastest way to kill this plant, as it’ll quickly succumb to rot if left in excessive moisture. Add water only when the plant or the soil is looking dry.
To reduce the chance of overwatering, a well draining substrate is essential. A tropical mix with plenty of aeration and fibre would work well. Also, Peperomia prostrata grows epiphytically in the wild, so it’s possible to grow outside of the substrate in a terrarium environment.
Temperature & Humidity
Despite it’s succulent nature, the string of turtles is still a tropical plant, and so it favours hot and humid environments. A high humidity helps but isn’t absolutely necessary, whereas the plant can be sensitive to the cold – so avoid placing your terrarium in a drafty area. If your plant rapidly drops leaves, that’s the likely cause.
Peperomia prostrata grows relatively slowly (especially for a vine) but given time it can really fill out a terrarium. It’ll need the occasional trim to keep it healthy and contained, but it’s not difficult to keep in check.
The string of turtles is easy to propagate from stem cuttings. Simply snip off a healthy stretch with a viable node and a handful of leaves and it should happily root in sphagnum, compost or water.
Varieties & Similar Plants
Peperomia are a fantastic genus of terrarium plant, with lots of variation, but there don’t appear to be any varieties or cultivars for Peperomia prostrata. Though, there are some similar vining succulent-like plants such as the Ceropegia woodii ‘String of Hearts’ or Senecio rowleyanus ‘String of Pearls’.
Watering the just the right amount is the biggest challenge in caring for the string of turtles plant. Mounting it above the substrate can help keep it from sitting in sodden earth, and watering it indirectly with a light misting never hurts. Look out for mushy or wilting leaves as indicators of overwatering.