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Overwatered String of Turtles (Signs and 6 Steps to Save It)

One of the most challenging aspects of caring for a string of turtles is keeping them adequately watered. Nonetheless, it is critical to maintaining optimal health for your Peperomia prostrata.

Although you may be more concerned about drowning your succulents, the truth is that it is just as easy to over-irrigate and soak your string of turtles.

Strings of turtles that have been overwatered typically appear discolored or wilted, with soft, yellow, or mushy leaves. Remove the pot from your plant and inspect the roots; if they are rotted and brown, prune out the dead roots and repot into a new potting mix. If the plant is beyond repair, propagate it using a healthy cutting from the parent plant.

Signs of an Overwatered String of Turtles

Strings of turtles are small succulents native to Brazil’s rainforests. Still, they’re tough and can withstand a wide range of growing conditions.

However, excessive watering will cause the following symptoms:

Leaves Turning Yellow

Overwatered String of Turtles Turning Yellow
Overwatered String of Turtles Turning Yellow

A steady supply of moisture will initially make the leaves appear lush green. However, it won’t be long before they start turning yellow or pale green.

Nitrogen, iron, and other essential nutrients are washed away by excessive irrigation, resulting in leaf yellowing.

The string of Turtle Shriveling

It will appear puffy or swollen with water-soaked blisters on the string of turtle leaves at first. As a result, the leaf tissue is filled to the brim with excess moisture.

After root damage has occurred from excessive watering, the leaves will begin to wither.

Root Rot

The ultimate cost of overwatering is root rot.

Excessive irrigation will cause waterlogging of the soil, reducing oxygen supply to the roots. As a result, the roots are more vulnerable to infection by soil-borne fungi.

It’s difficult to miss the signs of root rot beneath the soil line…

  • The roots become brown, mushy, and soft.
  • The outer layer of roots is slimy and easily removed.
  • Roots may have a sour or rotten-egg odor.

Mushy Foliage

Mushy Foliage Due to Overwatering

Overwatering causes irreversible damage to the leaves of a plant. When leaves become overly moist, they become soft, limp, or floppy.

Wounds will eventually be a point of entry for bacterial and fungus pathogens. This will result in mushy and soft foliage. 

In that case, the leaves may develop black or reddish-brown lesions and spots.

The String of Turtles Wilting and Falling Off

Overwatered String of Turtle Falling off
Overwatered String of Turtle Falling off

The yellowed leaves will wilt even more if you don’t address the overwatering issue right away. They will eventually turn brown, die, and fall off the plant.

How to Save an Overwatered String of Turtles

If you water a string of turtles too often, it can get too wet. Likewise, your Peperomia prostrata will show signs of overwatering if its leaves become discolored, wilted, or yellow. 

Even worse, if it’s in poorly-drained soil or the pot doesn’t have enough drainage holes, it’s likely to develop root rot. So as soon as you notice that the roots are brown and soft, you must take action quickly.

To save your turtles from inevitable extinction, follow these simple steps:

1- Cut Back on the Watering Frequency

Reducing irrigation frequency is the first step you should take to save an overwatered string of turtles. It prefers slightly moist conditions, but it despises wet or soggy soil around the root ball.

It’s best if you water it once or twice a week from spring through summer, depending on the weather. When the temperatures drop in the winter, watering frequency should be drastically reduced.

A string of turtles sitting in an area with humidity levels above 60% should not be irrigated too frequently.

You should only water your plant after the first two inches of soil have dried out, not before. To ensure accurate readings, a good soil moisture meter is a must. (Check the latest price on Amazon here

2- Dial down Humidity Levels

Strings of turtles are tropical natives, but they can tolerate humidity levels as low as 40%.

As a result, one of the most effective ways to treat overwatering is to reduce humidity around your plant. This will assist the plant and soil lose moisture more quickly, reducing wetness.

Lowering humidity also reduces the likelihood of fungi and bacteria infecting your plant.

You can reduce the humidity levels in your plant in a variety of ways, including:

  • Spacing out your houseplants
  • Installing a dehumidifier
  • Removing the water tray if it has one
  • Using a fan to increase air circulation

3- Remove Your Plant from Pot and Dry out The Roots

An alternative method for saving a string of turtles that have been slightly overwatered is to pull the roots and let them dry. Then, you can rest assured that your plant has not succumbed to root rot.

Its shallow root system allows you to easily remove it from the pot. Place the root system on several old magazines or paper towel sheets to dry out. Plug it back into the pot when the roots and the soil are dry enough.

4- Repot the Plant Using well-draining soil

If the overwatering is moderate to severe, repotting is the best option. The same goes for overwatering problems caused by incorrect containers, poorly draining potting medium, or lack of drainage holes in the container.

  1. You need to remove the pots from your turtles first. It’s good to do this because it will expose the root system to root rot.
  2. The next step is to remove any affected roots by cutting them out. Use a disinfected cutting tool, such as a pair of scissors dipped in a chlorine solution.
  3. Allow the roots to dry before treating them with an appropriate fungicide.
  4. Prepare a new batch of soil mix for repotting. Use a growing medium rich in organic matter. It prefers soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH (5-7).
  5. Replant your turtle’s treated string. Before planting your Peperomia prostrata, fill the container three-quarters of the way full. Keep adding soil mix until the roots are entirely covered.
  6. It’s best if the growing medium is just moist enough. For a quick recovery, you should water your newly-relocated turtles once or twice a week.

5- Avoid Exposure to Direct Sunlight

When you have an overwatered plant, your first instinct is to take it out to a sunny spot to let the soil dry out. Big blunder. That’s a big no-no for your overwatered string of turtles. 

Exposure to direct sunlight will stress your plant and cause further damage.

6- Propagating String of Turtle 

If the root damage is severe, repotting will not be enough to save your plant. Fortunately, propagating from a healthy cutting is simple.

Here’s how:

  • Take a healthy cut that is at least 3 inches long. Cut just below the node with a sterilized, sharp knife.
  • Take out as many leaves as you can from the cutting.
  • Use a moist but not wet potting medium to fill a small container.
  • Plant the cutting after dipping the cut end in rooting hormone.
  • Allow it to receive bright, indirect light and keep the soil slightly moist.
  • Once it has enough roots, continue to care for it as usual.

Underwatered versus Overwatered String of Turtles – How Can You Tell?

The last thing you want to do is water an overwatered string of turtles, thinking it’s thirsty. But unfortunately, this is a common occurrence because these succulents show nearly identical symptoms when given too much or too little water.

Fortunately, there are subtle and not-so-subtle ways to tell…

And much of your attention should be directed toward the soil. Is it dripping wet or bone dry?

Is the color of the soil lighter or darker?

Do you get a rotting odor from the soil? Does it allow water to drain or hold on to a lot of it?

When troubleshooting watering problems, another place to look is the foliage. Having water-soaked bumps and yellowing leaves indicates that you’ve overwatered your plant.

Here’s a table illustrating the various signs and symptoms of an overwatered and underwatered string of turtles to aid your understanding.

Overwatered String of TurtlesUnderwatered String of Turtles
SoilThe soil appears darker and has a soggy or wet feel to it. Mold growth could be present. The smell is sour.The soil appears lighter and has a dry feel to it. There is no mold present, but the soil surface may be dusty.
LeavesThe leaves have shrunk, shriveled, or become smaller. The tips and edges may be dry and brown.The leaves are soft and drooping, turning yellow or pale. There may be water-soaked bumps.
DefoliationBoth old and new leaves can turn yellow before turning brown and falling off.Typically, only the oldest leaves fall off first.
Root StatusDue to root rot, some roots may turn brown and decay.Due to a lack of soil moisture, the roots are brittle and appear dry.
Stem StatusMoldy, rotting, or discolored stems are common.The stems are drier and wrinkled.

In general, underwatered turtle leaves will be smaller, shrunken, or withered. In addition, the lighter soil feels dry and dusty.

Overwatered turtles have discolored soft or yellowing leaves. In addition, the stem may turn brown and rotten, smelling rotten.