How to grow and care for a peperomia plantWith over one thousand varieties, this Mexican and South American native plant is one of the easiest indoor plants for new home gardeners to start their gardening journey. The Peperomia, famously known as the radiator plants, are extremely low-maintenance tropical plants with thick glossy leaves that store a good amount of moisture making the plant drought tolerant to a large degree. The plants of the peperomia family boast of such a variety of foliage from large emerald greens to small variegated and striped that it is difficult to classify them as the members of the same family just on sight.
Peperomias are excellent for home gardens and indoor spaces, they can be trailing, upright, growing in clusters or spreading depending on the variety you choose, making them suitable for almost all corners of your home. Peperomias are slow-growing plants that can be planted all year round and love bright indirect to medium light. They can be very easily propagated from both stem and leaf cuttings, making them a great candidate to practice your propagation skills on.
Some of the most famous peperomia varieties are: Peperomia Obtusifolia, Peperomia caperata, Peperomia angulata, Peperomia rosso, String of turtles, Trailing Jade, Peperomia hope, Peperomia cupid, and so many more.
Let’s take a detailed look at peperomias and their care
Common name: Baby rubber plant, pepper elder, Radiator plant, Emerald ripper pepper
Botanical name: Peperomia spp.
Famous plant members: Peperomia Obtusifolia, Peperomia caperata, Peperomia angulata, Peperomia rosso, and so on.
Sunlight: Partial to bright indirect sunlight
Air: Well ventilated
Soil: Very well-draining soil with organic matter. A mix of equal parts Ugaoo Pot-o-mix and garden soil, with a part of perlite should work well.
Water: When the top few inch of the potting soil is almost dry. Allow the soil to dry out in between waterings.
Fertilisers: Once every two to three weeks
Issues: Rot due to overwatering and aphids, mealy bugs, and spider mites
The peperomia is native to Mexico, South American, and the Caribbean and prefers bright indirect sunlight. It also does good in partial light, with morning or evening sun. It is wise to keep the peperomia out of the harsh afternoon sun to avoid leaf burn.
Peperomia do extremely well indoors in bright indirect light. Place them next to a natural light source like windows facing any direction. In case, you have a south or west facing room, you can keep the plant almost anywhere in the room till its view of the window is not blocked.
The trailing varieties of peperomia look great in hanging baskets, hang them on your windowsills or north and east-facing balconies to enjoy their stunning foliage gently swaying in the breeze.
Peperomias love their soil to be dried out in between watering sessions. Keep an eye on the soil colour and texture to determine when the top few inch of the soil is dry and then water thoroughly till water drains out of the drainage hole and always empty the base e plate. Don’t let the potting mix remain dry for long.
Peperomias are tropical drought-resistant plants that do better with underwatering than overwatering. However, being tropical they love their occasional misting for humidity and don’t like the potting mix to stay dry for too long.
When watering an extremely dried out soil (visible cracks and soil leaving the planter walls) water in batches. Watering all at once allows the water to simply pass through the soil without getting absorbed.
Every time a plant is watered, water it thoroughly till you see some draining out of the drainage hole and always empty the under plate.
Don’t plant your peperomias in too big a pot, these are drought resistant plants that love to be on the drier side and a large planter would mean excess moisture in the soil. Use a very well-draining soil mix. A smaller planter also ensures that much of the plant’s energy is devoted to leaf growth rather than growing roots to fill up the large planters.
Peperomias don’t like wet soil and prefer a growing medium that is almost epiphytic in nature. You can use a mix of succulent potting mix with equal parts regular potting mix or a mix of equal parts of orchid potting mix and regular potting mix.
Feed your Peperomias with a generic houseplant fertilizer every three weeks, diluted as instructed on the packaging. Fertilizing during the growing period of spring and summer is especially important, as they are slow growers and the growing season must be capitalised upon.
Ensure that the fertilizers have the three major nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Ugaoo’s Plant Tonic and NPK are great options for both root and foliar applications.
PruningPeperomias don’t require pruning of their ornamental foliage other than when you pant to shape or trim your overgrown plant.
If you want to propagate peperomia, take a stem cutting with at least two leaf nodes or a leaf-cutting preserving the leaf node. For stem cuttings, strip away the lower leaves and retain only the top one or two leaves, submerge the exposed leaf node either in soil or water and keep it in an area with partial sunlight and wait for the roots to appear.
For leaf cuttings, pluck the leaf carefully making sure that the node is preserved. Submerge the leaf stalk in water or in soil and keep it in bright indirect light. Make sure that the soil is moist but not soggy at all times. In a few weeks, an entirely new plant will emerge from the leaf node. When the new lant is a coupe of inches tall, transplant it to a new planter carefully.
Peperomia plant problems
- Yellow and floppy leaves mean that your peperomia could be overwatered. Water only when the soil is dry to touch.
- Brownish and dehydrated leaves indicate excessive heat and lack of humidity.
- A limp peperomia is generally a sign of either overwatering or underwatering. Check the soil and err on the side of underwatering.
- Etiolated or leggy plants with extra-large spaces in between leaves is a sign of lack of light.
- Stalled growth can be either due to lack of light, no nutrients, or hibernation in winters.
- Peperomias are vulnerable to sap-sucking pests like aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Wipe down with soap solution and spray neem oil.
- Shift your Peperomias indoors if you experience harsh winters to avoid leaf loss.
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