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Can You Grow String of Turtles from A Leaf?

The string of Turtles (Peperomia prostrata) is a straightforward plant to propagate. They will set root from as little as a single leaf, generating a whole new plant from surprisingly small cuttings.

A single leaf will quickly propagate a string of turtles. You can expect to see roots in as little as two weeks if you provide soil, consistent moisture, and plenty of bright, indirect light. But, of course, you can also propagate them on water. 

The string of Turtles, while commonly considered a succulent, is a type of Peperomia, more closely related to Watermelon Peperomia or the much-loved Baby Rubber Plant.

They propagate quickly from as little as a single leaf, making them an excellent starting point for indoor gardeners learning how to propagate plants at home.

How to propagate a String of Turtles in soil

  • A String of Turtles plant leaf.
  • Potting soil.
  • A clear, shallow container with a lid. A produce tub with a lid similar to those used to ship berries is ideal.
  • Garden shears or scissors should be clean.
  • Shallow pot
  • Small trowel or shovel
  • Clean water spray bottle
  • Hormone for rooting (optional).

Propagating String of Turtles from A Single Leaf

Step One

Trim a large, healthy leaf from the parent plant, including as much stem as possible.

Step Two

Add an inch or two of potting mix to the transparent container. Mist the soil until it is damp but not soaked.

Step Three

Gently insert the leaf’s stem into the soil until only the leaf itself is above the surface.

If you’ve opted to use a rooting hormone, now is the time to dust the end of the stem. Rooting compounds (Amazon link) give a real boost to small cuttings like a single leaf.

Step Four

Place the container in a warm location with plenty of bright, indirect light. Allowing it to sit in direct sunlight overheats the plant.

Step Five

It’s time to watch as the String of Turtles leaf develops new roots.

Check it every morning and mist the soil if it becomes dry. The soil must remain damp but not soggy, or the leaf will rot instead of producing roots.

Roots can appear in as little as two weeks. Larger leaves will also have faster root growth because they have more resources to draw from. Smaller ones could take up to two months.

When the leaf feels firm in the soil, you’ll know that the seedling is ready to be moved. If you gently tap or wiggle it and it refuses to budge, it’s time to pot.

Step Six

Choosing the right pot for a tiny String of Turtles is critical to its success. A shallow pot no larger than two or three inches across is ideal for a little new propagation.

Once you’ve found the perfect pot, fill it two-thirds of the way with wet potting mix to get the String of Turtles started.

Step Seven

Using your spade or trowel, carefully scoop up the rooted String of Turtles plants and the soil beneath it.

Fill in around the edges of the new pot with the plant and soil. Water the new plant thoroughly and place it in a well-lit area with plenty of indirect light.

How to propagate String of Turtles in Water

It’s also possible to propagate a String of Turtles in Water. To do so:

You will need the following:

  • A single-leaf string of turtles
  • A clear, clean-water jar works well.
  • Clean scissors or garden shears

Step One

Trim a large, healthy leaf from the parent plant as close to the vine as possible. The more stem you can include, the better.

Step Two

Put the leaf in the water vessel so only the stem is submerged.

Step Three

Place the vessel in a warm, well-lit area with plenty of diffused light. Allowing the jar to be exposed to direct sunlight will cause the water to overheat and kill the emerging roots.

Step Four

Fine root fibers take two to three weeks to develop on average. Smaller leaves may take up to two months to mature. Once they are at least an inch long, pot the leaf as described above.

Optimum Conditions for Propagating from A Single Leaf

Light

A tiny String of Turtles thrives in bright, indirect light. However, you must protect it from direct sunlight, as stray sunbeams can cook the baby plant before it has a chance to establish itself.

I use a sheet of white tissue paper or a thin napkin to shade my nursery container.

This keeps direct sunlight from overheating the plant while allowing enough light into the container to encourage the growth of those vital new roots.

Soil

A string of Turtles requires a potting mix that is free draining and moist enough to support those thick, juicy leaves.

I make mine with two potting soil, two perlites, and one coco coir or peat. This provides excellent drainage while retaining the ideal amount of moisture.

If you don’t want to make your own, a commercial cactus and succulent blend (Amazon link) will suffice.

Moisture

The most critical aspect of propagating a new String of Turtles is maintaining consistent moisture. The potting medium must be kept moist but not sopping wet.

To water your new propagation, a spray bottle is an excellent tool. It delivers small amounts of water at a time, only penetrating the soil as far as the new roots require.

This is also why a closed container works so well. It keeps the water from evaporating and drifting away by keeping it close to the leaf as a gentle, supportive humidity.

Temperature

The string of Turtles plants needs to be kept warm while their new roots grow. Maintain a consistent temperature range of 77 to 86°F (25 to 30°C).

With pleasant toasty temperatures, they’ll have all the necessary help to establish new roots in no time.