Compact and pretty, the peperomia plant is a beautiful indoor plant to have on a desk. This is why we are talking about peperomia plant care today, and it is rather a simple topic to discuss. There could be a lot of things to know for a small plant, but every guide and tip will be useful for you. If you are interested in growing peperomia plants, what you are about to read below has everything you need to know.
1. What Is A Peperomia Plant?
Peperomia is a tropical plant native to the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America, with over 1,000 known species in total. The unique thing about this type of plant is that it has thick fleshy leaves, with the ability to thrive even in drought. Depending on the species, the leaves can be in different colors, such as gray, green, purple, or even marbled.
Because they are easy to grow and care for, peperomia plants are among the most popular indoor plants these days. Plus, with the compact size, having them at home is simply nice. A peperomia plant rarely grows larger than 12 inches tall, and you can keep them pretty much anywhere. From balconies and bathrooms to the living rooms and more, these plants can thrive in all those settings.
2. How To Grow Peperomia From Seed
You can easily grow your peperomia plant from seed, and the process is both easy and simple. If you prefer this method, then you will need a soilless seed starting mix to aid their growth. Also, make sure that you have a bright, sunny, and warm spot to germinate the seeds. Regularly water to keep the soil moist until germination starts, which is between 15 to 30 days. Once the seedlings emerge, you may transfer them to another container and take care of them as they grow.
If you get a small plant or want to grow them via propagation, then follow some of the steps below:
- Find a pot with ample drainage holes so that excess water can escape after the plant absorbs what they need. The size of the pot should be compact because the plant itself is not too big.
- Grow your peperomia plant in an orchid potting mix because this type of soil is beneficial and healthy for them. The great thing about orchid potting mix is that it provides proper air circulation so that the roots can breathe.
- Placing the pot in bright indirect sunlight near the window will do, especially for indoor growing. As long as the plant gets some light every day, it will surely thrive.
- Water your peperomia plant only when the soil is dry, this type of plant does not need daily watering. You may use a probe or your finger to test the moisture level of the soil before giving it water. If it starts to dry, then you know it is time to water it again.
3. How To Care For Peperomia Plants
Peperomia plants are very easy to care for, making them one of the perfect plants for beginners out there. So if you have already grown one or two, you may want to know the caring guide for this plant below. Just several easy steps and your peperomia plants will surely flourish beautifully under your care.
If you have read my takes on indoor plant care before, you probably know that fertilization is not necessary for indoor plants. In the case of peperomia plants, they can grow without the need for additional fertilizer at all. The nutrients from the soil and natural factors like light and water can aid their growth very well. You may feed them a little during their growing seasons, which are the hot summer months. Apart from that, fertilization is not important for them.
Some peperomia plant owners think discoloration or dropping leaves is a sign of poor nutrition. However, this is not the case because peperomia plants do not really require fertilizer. If this is the case, you may want to check the position of the plants or your watering habits instead. Sometimes color changing or dropping leaves could be from inadequate sunlight or overwatering so don’t forget to check for that.
Peperomia plants are hardy, so they can tolerate dry air in the room. However, it would be nice if you grow them in areas with high humidity. A peperomia plant prefers areas between 40% to 50% of humidity, and that means you can easily grow them in your bathroom. You can also create more humidity by misting them once a week or more often during summer and hot days.
During early spring, your peperomia plants can be leggy if they grow very healthily and well. This is when you need to prune the plants to maintain their beautiful and compact appearance. The pruning process is rather easy since you can simply pinch back the stems of the plant. Doing so does not only minimize the lush look of the plant but also encourages more branching. Manually pinching the end of each stem is easy, but you can also use pruners for a clean and neat cut.
Since they don’t change much, repotting is really not a frequent habit that you will have to do. A peperomia plant can live in the same small container for years, and it is fond of the root-bound condition. The time to repot a peperomia plant is when you start to see roots coming out of the drainage holes. This is when you know that the pots do not have more space for the roots to grow.
When repotting, select a container or pot that is one or two sizes larger because it will last for years. At the same time, make sure that the container is at least 2 inches deep and wide at the brim. This is to provide growing room for not only the roots but also the leaves in general. I recommend terracotta pots because the porous material prevents the soil from becoming too wet in case you overwater sometimes. As for the soil, go for the acidic potting mix or orchid bark because they provide the right growing conditions.
In the wild, a number of peperomia grow as epiphytes type of plants. You are likely to find them in the nook of a tree, with their roots settling into slightly decaying barks. This simply means the ideal soil conditions for them should have similar characteristics to the ones in the wild. The perfect soil blend for peperomia plants should be acidic, chunky, and loose; hence orchid potting medium is perfect.
If you are unable to find the orchid potting medium, regular potting soil will also do. To make it resemble the ideal soil, you may add peat moss or vermiculite to make it lighter. The key is to make sure that the soil is chunky and loose so that the plant can thrive.
As I have mentioned above, direct sunlight is not necessary for a peperomia plant. You can easily place the pot in an area with bright to medium light, and that is it. This is to maintain the vibrant foliage and colors of the leaves of the plants. When leaving them by the window, your plants will receive natural light which is nice. This plant can also tolerate low indirect light, so taking care of them is very easy.
At the same time, artificial light or filtered light is also quite good if you prefer that choice. In this case, you need to offer the plant between 12 to 16 hours of artificial lights to meet their needs. Without sufficient light, you will notice drab coloration, fewer leaves, leaf drops, and more. Meanwhile, too much light can result in burned leaves which is not what you want at all.
So what are the perfect temperatures for the indoor plants that can also thrive in outdoor conditions? Peperomia plants are tropical plants, so they enjoy steamy and warm environments during the hot summer months. Speaking of hot summer months, those are also the times when their growing moments are active. Do not expose your peperomia plants to temperatures that are less than 30 degrees Fahrenheit. A warm temperature keeps them happy, so make sure to stick to that.
Although they are indoor plants, taking them out sometimes in summer is absolutely healthy for them. Another method is to place the pot on a tray of pebbles and water so to increase ambient humidity. In case you live in a cold area, you may get a mini humidifier to keep the plants warm. Simply put, your peperomia plants will be comfortable if you are comfortable with the temperatures you are in.
If you look closely, you can tell that peperomia plants have succulent leaves. This simply means daily watering is not necessary for them at all, making them perfect for busy plant owners. You may water the peperomia plant once every week or once every two weeks, depending on the weather conditions. Sometimes the water dries out fast in hot weather, so you may need to water it more frequently than usual. The key is to allow the soil surface to dry out between waterings because keeping them on the dry side is better.
Remember to avoid overwatering the plant because damp or soggy soil can result in disease and pest problems. Too much moisture in the soil can lead to fungus gnat problems or root rot that can damage the plants. In case that already happens, you may find out the solutions from our next parts below.
4. Peperomia Plant Propagation
You can propagate your peperomia plant at any time of the year, but I highly recommend spring. In springtime, peperomia plants are more active with the growth so propagation is likely to be very successful. Another awesome thing about this type of plant is that there are a few propagation methods that you can try. Let’s take a look and see which approach is the most convenient and suitable for you.
4.1. Leaf Cutting
The leaf-cutting method is an easy and fast way to propagate a peperomia plant. There are several steps for you to follow, including:
- Get the pot and soil (perlite with potting compost) ready before you start the propagation process. Sterile and keep every piece of equipment clean for the propagation of the plants to avoid fungal disease and other problems.
- Look for a healthy leaf and cut it off the plant by using a clean and sharp pruner or scissors. A whole leaf is good, but you can also cut across the width of the leaf for the propagation process.
- After cutting, get rooting powder and dip the leaf edges in so that new roots will grow fast. Then insert the cutting into your potting mix and firm the soil to support it. Water the soil thoroughly and cover it with a polythene bag or tray.
- Leave the pot in areas with bright yet indirect light, preferably near the window, to encourage growth. Remove the cover for a couple of hours twice a week to get rid of unnecessary humidity. This also prevents the possibility of fungal disease on the plant or soil as well.
- Once you see new roots start to develop, you may transfer the seedlings into separate pots to grow.
4.2. Stem Cutting
In case leaf cutting is not what you prefer, then you may like the stem cutting method. This approach is way easier and faster, and it is ideal for spring. Just like the leaf-cutting method, make sure that every item is clean and sterile.
- Pick a stem with 6 leaves and cut it using clean and sharp pruners or scissors.
- Remove a pair of leaves in the bottom part, and dunk the cut end in rooting powder.
- Directly insert the cutting into the soil and firm it to support the stem, then thoroughly water it.
- You may transfer the stem to another pot once the roots start growing, and follow the caring tips above.
For more details regarding the two propagation methods, Epic Gardening can surely help you out.
5. Peperomia Plant Common Disease & Pests
While being a hardy plant, peperomia still has some enemies that you should look out for. The disease is quite rare, but the pests are the same ones that attack other indoor plants. We are going to talk about what they are and how to fix them in case your peperomia plant experience those.
5.1. Fungus Gnats
Fungus gnats are tiny flies with black color that you may see at the base of the plant in the soil. They infest potting mix, soil, and other organic decomposition that you use for your plants. Adult fungus gnats lay their eggs in the soil, and the larvae that hatch eat the plant roots. This is how to damages begin, and you have to deal with this problem before it is too late.
These pests are attracted to moisture, and this is the first thing that you should do to get rid of them. Reduce watering and leave the soil dry so that they will not have a favorable condition to live in. If they are at the soil surface, you may scoop them out using a scooper or a trowel. You can also mix liquid dish soap with water and spray the mixture to the soil to kill the larvae. There are also other methods that you can try, so feel free to check them out Garden Therapy.
These are not new, mealybugs are the tiny bugs that love to camp on leaf surfaces and roots of the plants. When the infestation begins, you will notice white masses on their favorite spots of your peperomia plant. The easiest way to treat them is by using neem oil mix with water and spraying the solution on them. Neem oil is effective and safe to use, and they are very useful to have at home. In case you want to try a different approach, then you may find out more information from Planet Natural.
Mites are probably the smallest pests of them all, it can be already too late when you finally detect them. Spider mites or mites damage the plants by sucking dry the chlorophyll and nutrients directly from the plant’s leaves. At the same time, they also do webbing damage to the spider-like web that they scatter to hide their eggs. Once again, you can use neem oil to get rid of these pests within a few days. Simply dab or spray the oil mix with water on them, then clean their webs from the plants. Don’t forget to isolate the infected plants because these mites spread fast.
5.4. Root Rot
This is a common problem with not only peperomia plants but also other indoor plants out there. When you overwater the plants, they are prone to suffering from root rot which can damage their appearance and health. If your peperomia plants are having root rot, you may notice a rotting smell coming from the pot. Check the roots to make sure, and remove the rotting roots immediately to prevent further spreading. Then you may repot or change the soil so that the same problem won’t occur again. After you change the pot or soil, make sure to not overwater it again. Wait until the soil is completely dry before watering it again to prevent root rot from occurring on your plants.
You can also fix the problem by sterilizing the pot in a diluted bleach solution. This is to kill any bacteria and other causes from the pot so that they won’t cause root rot. After that, use fresh and well-draining soil for the plants after you cut away all the mushy and rotting roots. Don’t forget to wash the healthy roots thoroughly and allow the roots to dry for hours before repotting them.
5.5. Peperomia Varieties
- P. Perciliata: has dark green and oval-shaped leaves, and it is nice for a small terrarium. This variety has red stems, and they hang over the edge of the pot or trail along with the soil beautifully.
- Peperomia Caperata: has heart-shaped and succulent-like leaves with colors ranging from red and rich green to silver-gray. This tropical plant is easy to grow, and it is super compact to have on the table and in other small spaces.
- Peperomia Metallica Var. Colombiana: has dark red leaves with a silver lining in the middle. The foliage of the plant varies in color, such as dark brown, pink, purple, and red. It is beautiful, and it adds a gorgeous touch of color to all indoor gardens out there.
- Peperomia Nitida: has thick fleshy leaves that are mostly light green in color, and the shape of its leaves is a heart. It is easy to grow, and it thrives in bright indirect light and high humidity.
- Peperomia Verticillata: is very vibrant due to its vibrant red shading beneath the leaves. Besides being beautiful, it is also rare but absolutely gorgeous to have and grow. The unique coloration makes it a wonderful fit, and it is quite easy to care for as well.
Peperomia plants are compact and gorgeous, and every beginner can easily grow and take care of them. Although the problems are uncommon, I include them so that you know how to deal with those should they happen. While there are so many things to know, growing peperomia plants are easier than you think. Get one, and you will know how awesome and convenient these plants are. And if you have questions, feel free to shoot them, and I will be happy to help you out.