Updated: July 2, 2023

Turtle plants, also known as the turtle vine or Callisia repens, are unique and beautiful houseplants that are popular among plant enthusiasts. These plants are native to Mexico and Central America and are known for their trailing vines adorned with small, round leaves. One of the fascinating aspects of turtle plants is their stages of growth, which showcase their development from a small cutting to a sprawling, lush specimen. In this article, we will explore the different stages of growth in turtle plants and provide tips on how to care for them at each stage.

Stage 1: Propagation

The first stage of growth in a turtle plant begins with propagation. Propagation can be done through stem cuttings, which involve taking a healthy stem from an existing plant and encouraging it to develop roots. To propagate a turtle plant, select a stem that has at least two sets of leaves and cut it just below a node (the point where the leaves attach to the stem). Remove the bottom set of leaves, leaving only the top set intact.

Once you have prepared your cutting, you can place it in a glass of water or directly into moist soil. Ensure that the cutting receives bright, indirect light and maintain a consistently moist environment. After a few weeks, roots will start to develop from the base of the cutting, indicating that it has successfully rooted.

Stage 2: Establishment

After rooting, the turtle plant enters the establishment stage. At this point, the plant will focus on developing a strong root system and establishing its foliage. It is crucial to provide the right conditions during this stage to ensure healthy growth.

Firstly, ensure that your turtle plant is placed in a location that receives bright but indirect light. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and hinder growth. Additionally, maintain a consistent temperature between 60°F (15°C) and 75°F (24°C) to promote optimal growth.

Watering is also crucial during the establishment stage. Turtle plants prefer slightly moist soil, so water them when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot. It is always better to underwater than overwater a turtle plant.

During this stage, you may notice new growth emerging from the stem nodes. These new shoots will eventually develop into new vines with small, round leaves. As the plant grows, you can provide support such as a trellis or moss pole to guide its growth upwards.

Stage 3: Growth and Expansion

Once established, the turtle plant enters a phase of rapid growth and expansion. This is when the plant truly showcases its trailing nature and starts to spread its vines. With proper care, a turtle plant can develop long, cascading vines that add beauty and greenery to any space.

To support the growth and expansion of your turtle plant, provide it with bright, indirect light. If necessary, rotate the plant occasionally to ensure even growth on all sides. Regularly check the moisture level of the soil and water as needed, ensuring that it is never too dry or too wet.

During this stage, you may need to prune your turtle plant occasionally. Pruning helps maintain a compact shape and encourages branching for a fuller appearance. Simply trim back any excessively long vines or leggy growth using sharp, clean pruning shears.

Stage 4: Maintenance

Once your turtle plant has reached its desired size and shape, it enters the maintenance stage. At this point, your main focus will be on providing regular care to ensure its continued health and vitality.

Continue to provide bright, indirect light for your turtle plant. You may also consider fertilizing it every month during the growing season (spring and summer) with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for proper dilution and application.

Water your turtle plant regularly, ensuring that the soil remains slightly moist. However, be mindful of seasonal changes and adjust your watering frequency accordingly. In the winter months, when the plant enters a period of dormancy, you can reduce watering to allow the soil to dry out more between waterings.

Regularly inspect your turtle plant for signs of pests, such as spider mites or mealybugs. If you notice any infestation, treat it immediately using an appropriate insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Additionally, remove any dead or yellowing leaves to maintain a clean and healthy appearance.


Watching a turtle plant go through its stages of growth is a rewarding experience for any plant lover. From propagation to maintenance, each stage brings new developments and challenges. By providing the right conditions and care at each stage, you can ensure that your turtle plant thrives and becomes a stunning addition to your indoor garden. So, grab a cutting, start propagating, and embark on this exciting journey with your turtle plant!