Callisia Repens (Turtle Vine): The Best Way To Grow Your Succulents At Home

Callisia Repens or ‘Turtle Vine’ is known as semi-succulent, which means that while it can hold water in its leaves and stems, it is not as drought tolerant as full succulents, such as Echeveria, Senecio Radican, or Agave Parryi.

How to Identify Turtle Vine

Turtle Vine has features that are similar to String of Turtles, but fortunately, it also has some distinct features of its own that make it easy to identify. Look for these features when identifying a Turtle Vine.

  • Thin waxy leaves
  • Low growing and cascading vines
  • Leaves with variegated colors (stripes of pink, purple, mint green, green, and/or white)
  • Leaves that turn burgundy or purple in the fall and winter

Where Does Turtle Vine Grow

This plant is native to the southeastern United States, the West Indies, and Central and South America.

Uses of Turtle Vine

Since this is such a small and dainty plant, it is an excellent choice for keeping indoors. It can provide a lovely piece of décor on shelving, on tabletops, or on a windowsill. Its cute, dainty features also make it the perfect plant to give away as a housewarming or hostess gift.

How to Grow Turtle Vine from Seed

Turtle Vine Garden

It is possible to grow a Turtle Vine plant from a seedling, but this process does require a lot of patience. Because it takes so long to grow a plant from a seedling and it is relatively easy to propagate one from a stem cutting, most gardeners choose to start from a cutting instead of a seed. If you decide to grow one of these plants from seedlings, follow these steps:

  • Plant the seeds in a pot filled with potting soil designed for succulents
  • Place the pots in a tray filled with water so the soil will absorb the water from the bottom
  • Place the tray of pots in a warm area with indirect sunlight
  • Add water to the tray as needed
  • Move the new plants to a larger pot, if needed
  • Water the plants only when the soil is dry.

Turtle Vine Growing Conditions

This plant grows best in tropical to subtropical climates that provide it with plenty of bright sunlight and well-drained gravelly soil.

When to Plant Turtle Vine

It is best to plant Turtle Vine in the spring season so that it will have plenty of bright sunlight.

How to Plant Turtle Vine

The best type of soil for these plants is well-drained and gravelly or sandy. They do really well when planted in a mix of succulent potting soil and compost mixed sand. As long as the soil is well-drained and has a pH level between 6.3 and 6.8, these plants will be content.

Be sure they are planted in an area within USDA Hardiness Zone 12a, otherwise, they will need to be kept in a container that can be transported indoors when the temperatures dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. These plants are not hardy and weather can easily damage or kill them.

Turtle Vine Water Requirements

The water requirements of Turtle Vine are typical of most succulents.  Since this plant is susceptible to root rot, it is best to use the soak and dry method when watering it.  The steps for doing this are as follows:

  • Fill a tray or a sink with a few inches of water.
  • Set the plant container in the tray making sure that the water is not so deep that it will run over the top of the container.  The point of watering in this way is so that the roots will soak up the water and the leaves will not get wet.
  • Let the plant soak in the water for fifteen minutes.  This will allow the root system to soak up water from the bottom of the container.
  • Take the plant container out of the water.
  • Place the plant container in a spot where the excess water can drain from the hole in the bottom.
  • Repeat this only when the top inch of soil around the plant is dry. Since this is a semi-succulent plant, don’t let the entirety of the soil dry out or the plant will begin shedding its inner leaves.

Turtle Vine Sun Requirements

Allow your Turtle Vine plant to get plenty of bright, but indirect sunlight. Also, it is recommended that they be provided with a little humidity since they are natives of tropic or subtropical regions. They can handle more sunlight during their growing season (Spring and Summer) and will need less light during their dormant season (Autumn and Winter).

Best Turtle Vine Fertilizer

Turtle Vine plants can be given some liquid fertilizer every other week during the spring and summer growing seasons, but will not need any feedings during the fall and winter seasons. Use a liquid houseplant fertilizer for the best results.

Best Turtle Vine Companion Plantings

String of Turtles

String of Turtles

This is an adorable succulent from the rainforests of South America.  It, too, is perfectly named to describe its tiny turtle shell leaves.  These two plants were just made for each other.

Pros:

  • Does not require fertilizer
  • Grows well in indirect sunlight or with a grow light
  • Can handle moisture better than most other types of succulents
  • It is a small plant that is perfect for decorating living spaces
  • It has many of the same sunlight, water, and soil requirements as Turtle Vine

Cons:

  • It is toxic to animals

Roseling Callisia

Roseling Callisia

This is another lovely option to set next to your Turtle Vine plant. It is perfect to keep indoors, it is very easy to care for, and it is daintily beautiful.

Pros:

  • Only needs light watering
  • Produces blossoms of purple, pink, or white any time of the year
  • It is easy to propagate by seed or by cuttings

Cons:

  • Does not tolerate cold weather
  • Takes two years to reach maturity

Portulacaria Afra

Portulacaria Afra

This plant is also known as Elephant Bush.  It is a thickly stemmed succulent that grows into a bushy plant that is ideal for planting in a hanging basket.  Not only is this a lovely plant to use in indoor and outdoor décor, it actually improves air quality.  Portulacaria Afra is known to absorb high levels of carbon from the air surrounding it.

Pros:

  • Water requirements are typical of succulents
  • Comes in miniature and variegated varieties
  • It is easy to propagate from stem cuttings
  • It is known to clean air of carbon
  • It is generally not toxic
  • It is able to take more frequent watering than most other types of succulents

Cons:

Turtle Vine Diseases and Common Problems

Since this is a semi-succulent plant it can actually suffer from underwatering and too much exposure to the sun. Since this is a native of the tropics and subtropics it can also suffer from too-low humidity.

Turtle Vine Treatments and Maintenance

Turtle Vine

Underwatering

If you begin to notice that your Turtle Vine plant has yellow leaves, has stopped growing, and is wilted, you may be dealing with a plant that is underwatered. While this is not a typical issue with full-succulents, it can be problematic to a semi-succulent plant such as a Turtle Vine.

The best way to treat an underwatered plant is to make sure it is getting the proper amount of heat and sunlight. It often happens that a Turtle Vine plant that is exposed to too much direct sunlight or too much direct heat will suffer from underwatering.

It may need to be moved to an area where it gets bright, but indirect sunlight and less dry heat.  At this point, you should begin increasing the frequency and amount of water you give it; this plant likes moist, but not soggy, soil. Once the plant has recovered, it can be watered in a regular fashion.

Too Much Sunlight

If you begin to notice that your Turtle Vine plant has shriveled, brown, or dry leaves, you may be dealing with a plant that has been exposed to too much sunlight. The best treatment for this issue is to move the plant to a more shaded area, remove any leaves that have dried out, and give it water more frequently until it recovers.

Too Low Humidity

If you begin to notice that your Turtle Vine plant has brown leaf tips with yellow halos, you may be dealing with a plant that has not been getting enough humidity. Remember, this is a tropical plant and it likes moisture better than full-succulents. The best treatment for this issue is to use a pebble tray or a humidifier.

Turtle Vine Repotting Instructions

These types of plants should be repotted every three years. This is for the purpose of providing them with new soil and room to grow. However, it is best to remember that these plants do suffer from transplant shock, so be very careful when repotting and try to only do it when necessary.

When the time comes for you to replant your Turtle Vine, follow these steps:

  • Plan to transplant in the spring
  • Select a pot that is bigger than its current container
  • Select a succulent potting soil
  • Give the plant a thorough water 24 hours before repotting it
  • Remove the plant from its current container very carefully
  • Inspect the roots for insects and root rot (remove these if necessary)
  • Fill the new container a quarter full with the potting soil
  • Place a layer of grit on top of the layer of potting soil
  • Place the roots into the pot and cover them with potting soil
  • Do not pat down the soil, but instead, lightly tap the pot onto the ground
  • Begin caring for the plant as you normally would

Where to Buy Turtle Vine Seeds Online

Most Turtle Vine plants are sold as full grow plants or are propagated by cuttings, but if growing a plant from a seedling is what you want to do, then look at Rarexoticseeds and Nursery Live for some options.

Where to Buy Turtle Vine Plants Online

This type of plant is common at many online shops.  Some of the shops that promote selling it are:

FAQs

Question: Should Turtle Vine Plants be Pruned?

Answer: Yes, these plants will need a healthy trim once in a while. Trim off any dead, dried, or yellowed leaves and vines as needed. Trim the plant to a smaller more presentable size also.

Pruning a Turtle Vine plant is also a great opportunity to grab some vine cutting for propagating new plants. The method for propagating via a vine cutting is simple, just follow these steps:

  • Plan to propagate in the spring or summer seasons
  • Choose a healthy-looking vine that is at least three inches long
  • Cut below a leaf with a clean knife
  • Put the bottom of the cutting into the water for a few weeks so it can start growing its own roots
  • Select a small pot with good drainage holes
  • Fill the pot with well-draining compost
  • Place the rooted part of the plant into the compost
  • Set the pot in a humid area that does not receive direct sunlight
  • Place a plastic bag over the pot for a few weeks
  • Remove the plastic bag for thirty minutes every other day
  • Remove the plastic bag completely after a month
  • Care for the plant per its normal requirements

Question: Are Turtle Vine Plants Toxic?

Answer: Unfortunately, these plants are toxic. If ingested, it could cause vomiting, nausea, and a loss of appetite.

Question: Do Turtle Vine Plants Produce Flowers?

Answer: Yes, these plants get even more adorable during the summer and autumn seasons when they blossom tiny white flowers. If you plan to propagate one of these from seedlings, this is the time to harvest the seeds. Look for tiny oblong capsules with brown seeds inside.

Question: Should Turtle Vine Plants be Pruned?

Answer: Yes, these plants will need a healthy trim once in a while. Trim off any dead, dried, or yellowed leaves and vines as needed. Trim the plant to a smaller more presentable size also.

Pruning a Turtle Vine plant is also a great opportunity to grab some vine cutting for propagating new plants. The method for propagating via a vine cutting is simple, just follow these steps:

– Plan to propagate in the spring or summer seasons
– Choose a healthy-looking vine that is at least three inches long
– Cut below a leaf with a clean knife
– Put the bottom of the cutting into the water for a few weeks so it can start growing its own roots
– Select a small pot with good drainage holes
– Fill the pot with well-draining compost
– Place the rooted part of the plant into the compost
– Set the pot in a humid area that does not receive direct sunlight
– Place a plastic bag over the pot for a few weeks
– Remove the plastic bag for thirty minutes every other day
– Remove the plastic bag completely after a month
– Care for the plant per its normal requirements

Concluding Thoughts

Turtle Vine plants are absolutely lovely to own and care for. They are unique in the succulent world and this makes them a lot of fun to own. They offer color and texture to home décor without much hassle and without taking up a lot of space. This is the plant you should get if you need a little extra beauty and goodness in your home.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *