I’ve always admired the String of Turtles (Peperomia prostrata), with their trailing vines of fat round leaves. The sudden appearance of long, menacing-looking spikes on the bodies of these plump-leafed sweethearts can be pretty startling.
Is there something wrong with the Turtle String? What exactly is going on?
The string of Turtles plants is a type of Peperomia, and when the conditions are right, they produce spiky flowers. These long clusters of blossoms can be removed without harming the plant.
Does String of Turtles grow Flowers?
Flowers do appear on String of Turtles. However, it’s hard to believe that the flowers of such a plump and soft-looking plant would be so bizarre and spiky.
An inflorescence is a cluster of spikes that emerges between the strings. In this case, we have a cluster of flowers packed in rather tightly.
Adapting to its natural setting, the String of Turtles has developed its flowering method. Those unusual flowers are simply the best suited to the plant’s lifestyle.
A string of Turtles will only flower when the plant is mature, which takes between three and five years. Once they begin to bloom, you may have spikes all year.
The String of Turtles has no preferred flowering season, so you can expect a never-ending show throughout the year.
What Does String of Turtles Flowers Look Like?
A String of Turtles inflorescence at its base is a long, thin spike typically very light in color. They extend outward from the plant’s main stem two or three inches in length.
It might feel almost pebbly to the touch if it’s grainy or has another texture.
Every single grain represents a dormant flower waiting for its moment to bloom. The inflorescence turns a deeper shade of reddish brown as it ages.
Each flower will open soon to release its pollen, nectar, and sometimes fragrance.
Flowering can occur at any time of the year. It doesn’t matter if it’s winter or spring; as long as the conditions for growth are optimal, String of Turtles will happily expand its brilliant inflorescence.
What are the Spikes on String of Turtles?
Your String of Turtles’ spikes is flowers. Happy plants only produce flowers, so if you have them, it means you’re doing something right! They are always a sign of success, in my opinion.
Many houseplants are hesitant to bloom. It requires a lot of energy and getting just the right amount of water, light, and humidity for an indoor plant is difficult.
This is especially true of String of Turtles, frequently misidentified as a succulent. They are, in fact, more closely related to the popular Watermelon Peperomia and require similar growing conditions.
This common blunder has earned them an unfair reputation as a difficult plant to grow, with many people planting them alongside their Strings of Pearls or Strings of Bananas.
Conditions ideal for trailing succulents is often detrimental to the String of Turtles, causing them to struggle.
Those strange spikes look so promising for your String of Turtles. It means the plant is doing well, and your conditions are ideal.
What to Do with String of Turtle Flower Spikes?
When the String of Turtles hands you flowers, you have two options. You can either cut them or leave them alone.
Trim your plants if you want them to concentrate on producing foliage only. This will cause the String of Turtles to have more round leaves.
However, if you are content with the String of Turtles condition, you are free to leave them. They’re a great contrast to the soft green foliage, with the russet and brown flowers standing out.
Whatever you decide, it’s a good idea to give the Turtle some extra food if flowers appear. In addition, I like to add a bit of excess fertilizer to their water once a month.
A half-strength dose of all-purpose liquid fertilizer will provide enough extra help to keep both leaves and flowers in good condition.
Should I Cut a String of Turtles Flowers?
If you decide you don’t like the String of Turtles flowers, there’s no harm in cutting them off. Some growers despise their unusual shape, while others see them as a distraction from the Turtle’s beautiful leaves.
I’ve also heard that some people find them unpleasantly scented on rare occasions, reminiscent of sickly sweet rotting fruit, even though they have no scent.
You can remove them if you don’t like them. This action will have no negative consequences for the String of Turtles. The String of Turtles will be unaffected if you pinch the bud before it blooms.
How to Prevent String of Turtles from Flowering
If you prefer not to deal with flowers, the simplest way to avoid them is to limit the String of Turtles’ resources.
The string of Turtles plants thrives in bright, indirect light. Therefore, they will not waste their energy on flowers if you reduce the light they receive, preferably by an hour or two in the afternoon.
Instead, they will focus on leaves to make the most of what little they have.
Reducing humidity around the String of Turtles will also help to keep flowers at bay. They prefer high humidity but will survive if it is reduced to around 40%. I recommend purchasing a hygrometer (Amazon link) to track this accurately.
Your last option is to begin with, a young plant. A string of Turtles plants can be propagated from a single leaf. A newly propagated plant will take at least three years to mature and flower.
If you can’t bear the thought of keeping a String of Turtles in the dark corner, a young plant is your best bet.