Do you like plants but don’t have much time to dedicate to their care? If the answer is positive, and I’m assuming it is, peperomia prostrata is just the one for you. This easy-to-care indoor cutie is also known as radiator plant, or string of turtles, and it’s an excellent one to keep in hanging baskets.
Peperomia prostrata care summary: This relatively miniature plant can reach the height of approximately one foot, which means it won’t invade much of your space nor will bother the neighboring plants. Its small leaves are covered in adorable patterns and their color varies depending on the plant’s maturity. As for the soil, keep it wet, but make sure it’s well-aerated and ensure proper drainage as well. Do not expose it to direct sunlight for too long. Water it sparingly, and replant it only if it becomes too crowded.
Intrigued by these highlights? Do you think you could get yourself one adorable string of turtles? Stay with me and enjoy my guide, as I have prepared the answers to all of your questions and doubts regarding this charming semi-succulent!
Peperomia Prostrata Origin and Appearance
This lovely plant is native to Brazil and is also popular by a couple of other names- magic marmer, radiator, and of course string of turtles plant.
You probably wonder about this “radiator” part, where does it come from? This one, just like all other plants from peperomia adore warmer air and sunlight, but surprisingly, they handle other conditions quite well.
This tropical beauty is an annual and a perennial, and it’s a slow-growing one. Its leaves are not like the ones found in other plants from the same group. They resemble those in succulents, which explains why this one loves a humid environment. After all, that’s why it is considered a semi-succulent.
As for the size, it is very compact, so finding a fine place to put it won’t cause you lots of headaches. It can reach the max height in three to five years- one foot.
If you ask me, they look the best when placed in hanging baskets, that’s where the authentic charm of this vining plant is accentuated the best.
Paying close attention to its leaves, you will see enchanting markings that consist of white veins. Those can be of different colors, depending on the plant’s age. It varies from dark blue to purple in younger ones, while the “oldies” have silvery-white patterns.
If you get one (or more), be sure that your home will be filled with plenty of tropical vibrations. Plus, it’s a low-maintenance one, meaning an excellent choice for those who are just getting started.
Most commonly kept varieties of Peperomia include:
- Peperomia caperata
- Peperomia obtusifolia
- Peperomia quadrangularis
- Peperomia verticillata
- Peperomia Metallica var. Columbiana
- Peperomia trinervula ‘Bibi’
- Peperomia scandens ‘Variegata’
- Peperomia Perciliata
- Peperomia Clusiifolia ‘Jelly’
- Peperomia hoffmanii
- Peperomia argyreia aka Watermelon peperomia
- Peperomia Japonica
- Peperomia caperata ‘Red Ripple’
- Peperomia orba ‘Variegata’
- Peperomia clusiifolia ‘Rainbow’
- Peperomia serpens
- Peperomia rubella
What are the Soil Requirements for String of Turtle?
Having in mind that they come from rainforests of South America, they will appreciate wet soil.
However, it doesn’t mean waterlogged, as that can be counter-effective. What I mean is that its fragile stems could easily get damaged if you keep them in excessively wet soil for too long. That’s why you need to select a container that has proper drainage, and ensures the water doesn’t stay inside.
When choosing a soil, also pick one which can provide good airflow. You can improve this “property” by mixing it with perlite. As for the pH level, let’s say anything between 5 to 7 is okay. That environment is acidic to neutral, just the one your peperomia needs.
Does it Like Excessive Light?
One thing for sure, this is a sun-loving plant, but it doesn’t tolerate being located in direct sun. To make sure it grows optimally, you should put her someplace where the light is indirect.
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In terms of hours, approximately one or two hours per day is more than enough for this peperomia. Preferably the morning light, as it is not as strong as the one in the noon, for example. If you put it in direct sun, you risk burning its foliage.
In case your home is too dark, you can always rely on artificial or fluorescent light. There are plenty of excellent growing lights that do the magic if you use them properly.
Now, what you need to know about this plant is that its growth starts on the top. So, when picking the right location for it, it would be wise to place it so that the uppermost layer of the soil receives enough light. That’s how you will encourage proper growth.
An ideal spot would be the shadier one, but of course, not overly shady. On the other hand, curtains can be of help if you want to diffuse the light a bit.
For its optimal development, put it on the north-oriented or south-oriented window. That way you will ensure just the right amount and brightness this plant requires.
How to Water It Properly?
As with any other succulent, you don’t have to water it every day, but you have to do so regularly. This plant appreciates a moist environment but doesn’t like being soaked in the water.
If you pour too much liquid too often, the plant will begin to rot. So, it’s much safer to underwater it, than to overwater it. Let me be clear, none of the extremes is good, but the latter one can cause less damage, that’s for sure.
What you need to pay attention to as well as the overall course of the development. During the active phase, when the plant is growing, it requires more water. On the other hand, during the passive stage, you can freely let the soil to dry well before you pour another dose of the precious liquid. When the temperature is lower, and there’s not as much light as during summer, your plant will store water in its leaves for longer periods of time, hence- you won’t need you to water it too often.
More tips for successful watering
First and foremost, check the soil before watering. Only when the top layer of the soil is dry (few inches) you can irrigate it.
If by any chance, leaves start to shed, it’s a signal that your peperomia is getting more water than it needs. Yet again, if you rearranged the watering schedule, and this still happens, then perhaps fertilizer or temperature are not adequate.
Now, allow me to give you a mathematically precise tip! Jokes aside, but if you are not sure about the amount, the best is to stick with the dose which is equal to 1/5th of the volume of the container. Refresh your plant every two or three weeks, depending on the outdoor and indoor conditions.
Do know that watering frequency is also impacted by light exposure. How so? Well, if your plant is receiving too much light, the soil will dry out quicker, and its foliage will scorch.
Have you heard of the bottom watering method?
It’s a good choice if your plant is accommodated in a smaller container. It’s quite simple, all you have to do is submerge 1/4th the pot in another container filled with water. Leave it like that for approximately 10 minutes, then pull it out and let the liquid drain thoroughly.
Ideal Temperature and Humidity for String of Turtles
This plant won’t endure cold temperature, you should never expose it to those below 50°F (10°C). If you notice the leaves are wilting, that’s because of the inadequate temp. It thrives in T between 64°F to 75°F (18°C – 24°C).
Knowing that this plant appreciates a moist environment, you can be sure that it will enjoy regular misting. This is especially important during summer, so you need to find some ways to boost humidity. A gravel tray with water under the pot is one of the great ways to do so.
As for misting, also pay attention not to overdo it. If the leaves are wet for too long, that can lead to some other issues.
Do I Need to Prune It?
It is advisable to do so, as that’s the best way to control its size and growth. But it’s also a process during which you can help your plant get rid of dead foliage, or damaged leaves.
If you like the extremely bushy look, you can leave it be, but if you want it to look “neater”, then remove the top of some of the stems. However, don’t prune it too heavily, the effect will be the opposite- you will slow down its development.
Pruning the plant is both about its look and health, which is why it is an important segment of plant development. As usual, make sure the tools you use are sharp and clean. Don’t forget to disinfect them before and after you finish pruning. Both knife and scissors are okay.
Is It Necessary to Fertilize Turtle Plant Frequently?
No, this is not a type of plant which requires too much additional food. As with the majority of other plants, it’s important to follow its natural cycle of growth.
Do so every two weeks during active development. Use a diluted liquid fertilizer. There’s an alternative- slow-release food, but you need to put it at the beginning of the active season.
You should halt feeding during fall and winter, and in summer you can apply it once a month. It would be wise to water the plant after fertilizing it so that it can absorb all the nutrients well. And you will avoid burning the roots as well.
If the fertilization schedule well-planned, your plant will thrive. Its leaves will be healthy and patterns well-shaped.
How to Propagate- Step by Step Explanation
The ideal time to do so is at the beginning of spring. Let’s say March is quite okay. There are several ways to propagate this cutie- by using cuttings from either leaf, root, or stem.
Here’s how the procedure goes:
- Pick the most representative and the most strongest stems, never use dry or broken ones
- Make a cutting of at least 5 inches of the vine
- Curl it in the round shape and put it in a container with adequate mix- a well-drained and fresh one, with enough moisture.
- Do not cover the cutting with soil or it won’t be able to receive the needed amount of light
- Wait a week until you water your newbie and then relocate it in a propagation case
- Don’t seal the case and don’t forget to mist the soil and the foliage weekly
- Place it in the diffused but bright light and mind the temperature, don’t let it go below 18 degrees Celsius
- Inspect your plant every day to see how it progresses and remove any yellow or rotten leaves, and change the water from time to time
Finally, be patient. This whole process can take up to two months, so you will have to wait a bit until you can be sure that the propagation mission is completed successfully.
Would you like to try luck with tip cuttings? Just remove the ones from the lowermost foliage and dip the stem in rooting hormone. This way you will speed up the development.
If you opt for leaf cuttings, you should place them on a surface for two hours. During this time, a protective callus tissue should form, and prepare your plant for development. The only downside that goes along with this method is that the plant loses its variegation.
When roots are formed, relocate the cuttings to 3-inch containers or put them in hanging baskets.
What to Know About Potting and Repotting
As this plant doesn’t grow too fast, you won’t have to transplant it too often. Only do so if the plant becomes too crowded, as in too bushy.
Now, the pot.
Look for the one which has drainage holes in the bottom. Knowing that this particular peperomia is not a huge plant, it doesn’t have to be a large one. Also, find a shallow one, as this plant’s root system is not too huge.
To be able to evaluate well what size of the container you need for it, you need to know how large this plant can grow. Even though this particular peperomia itself is not an overly large one- it can grow up to one and a half feet in length, it’s the vines that actually grow too much.
That’s why you can keep it as a hanging plant as well. If you don’t prune and don’t trim it, expect it to become very busy. On the other hand, you cannot allow the plant to become too messy- it’s not just the appearance, it’s the health.
When potting or repotting it, choose a well-aerated mix with good draining properties. Also, to make sure the soil doesn’t become too poor in nutrients, add fresh soil to the uppermost layer once a year. Preferably in spring.
Common Problems for Turtle Plant
If you follow all the guidelines, you won’t have any problems with this lovely plant. However, just like any other house plant, this one is susceptible to some common pests and diseases and may experience some issues with roots or leaves.
Here’s what bothers it the most:
That’s the annoying fuzzy white stuff usually found on the stems or below the leaves, one of the common enemies of houseplants. It is caused either by overwatering or by excessive fertilization.
On the other hand, getting rid of those is nothing complicated. All you need is a solution of isopropyl alcohol and water with a ratio of 1:10. Use this to spray the foliage generously. Continue until all of them are gone.
It would be wise to relocate the affected plant to some other place, away from the healthy ones so that they don’t become infected as well.
And those webs underneath the leaves or the leaf joint? Those are spider mites, common enemy number two. They come in many different colors- white, red, or black.
How to recognize these nuisances? They make the plant look dusty, that’s how.
These nasty bugs usually appear during winter, they thrive in dry conditions. The bad thing is that they multiply rapidly, and they feed on the sap from the leaves.
So, if the foliage on your plant looks discolored, dried, or curled, then it’s attacked by these miniature enemies.
On the other hand, getting rid of them is quite simple. Homemade insecticidal soap is your secret weapon. If you don’t treat them, they can kill your peperomia, which is why reacting on time is of vital importance.
To prevent them from appearing, the best would be to keep higher levels of humidity. Your plant likes it, spider mites hate it, consider it a win-win situation.
These hostile bugs commonly attack smaller plants such as this one. They suck the juices from the foliage, and as a result, they begin to yellow and drop.
How to be sure your plant is infected? Check underneath the leaves, as that’s where females usually lay eggs. Also, when you move the foliage, it will disturb the flies and they will start flying around. That’s how you can confirm your peperomia is attacked.
Even though this particular trouble starts inside, it can spread to the entire plant, if you don’t spot it on time. If left untreated, it can hinder the plant’s growth, and lead to leaves yellowing. Or the worst scenario- the death of the vines.
A funky smell is one of the signals that roots have started rotting, but that’s probably when a too-large portion is already affected. If your plant looks suspicious, then inspect the root system.
The best way to save your plant is to repot it. Clean the roots, remove the affected parts and avoid pouring additional water in the next two weeks. Give to roots enough time to heal well.
Also, to prevent this from repeating, be smart with watering.
Issues with leaves
If they are wilted or discolored leaves, you are irrigating your plant more than it needs. Drain it from the excessive amount of the precious liquid, and it should recover quickly.
Do they look dull and damaged? That means they are exposed to direct sunlight. Relocate the plant and you will solve the problem.
In case you have noticed the foliage is turning red, then you are not keeping it in adequate light. It’s too strong for your plant. So, move it someplace where the sunshine is not as intense, and you will solve the problem. Like I’ve mentioned, one hour of sunlight daily is more than enough.
Frequently Asked Questions
Being of compact size and adorable appearance, it is one of the most favorite choices as a desktop plant. Plus, it is a low-maintenance one, should a beginner ask for more?
Here are a couple of extra quick tips, so to make 100% sure you’ve grasped the main points well:
- As the foliage is very sensitive, handle the plant carefully while pruning or moving it to another location
- Transplant it to a one-size bigger container when it has outgrown the current one
- Provide enough indirect sunlight and never put it in a shady place
- To propagate it, use vine cuttings and place them in water to encourage rooting; do this in spring
- Make sure the overall conditions are optimal, and you will avoid all those common problems
If you already have one, I hope this guide brought you some additional valuable insights into overall care. In case you don’t, well, I truly hope it inspired you to consider buying yourself one Peperomia prostrata.
How do you usually propagate your string of turtles?
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