Crinkly-leafed Peperomias, few small plants have the versatility and charm of Peperomia caperata ‘Emerald Ripple’, Silver Frost Peperomia, Peperomia Albovittata, Peperomia Rosso, and San Marino Peperomia.
These charmers from Brazil have an exotic-appearance drawing comment wherever seen, yet grow as easily as the African violet.
Indeed, the conditions in which African violets flourish are ideal for the crinkly-leafed peperomias, will grow in the same container with one or more violets.
Even though both will be enhanced by the contrast created, I would not recommend it.
The darker, three-dimensional leaf of peperomia is an excellent foil for the violet leaves, while the small spikes, resembling miniature cattails, are relief from too much blue, lavender and pink for violet flowers.
Bearing a slight resemblance to the larger, more familiar peperomias and being tree-like in appearance, it is much easier to care for and more resistant to cold and neglect.
Its leaves are cordate in shape, and unique in their depths of light and shade. The oyster-white spikes adorning the plant from the time it is six-months-old make it most distinctive.
The greenish-brown trunk has nodes which give a gnarled, aged aspect to the small plant. This and the other tree-like attributes – neatness, compactness, branching – make the crinkly-leafed peperomias especially useful in dish gardens where a landscape effect is desired.
These same growth habits make it appropriate for Japanese bonsai gardens. Attaining a height of not more than six inches at maturity, their proportions are perfect for growing in a covered bowl or glass.
How Can These Peperomias Be Grown?
The same way as the African violet.
That is, by division or by starting a new plant vegetatively from a leaf cutting.
Because of the shock a plant experiences when divided, propagation by the leaf is the most satisfactory method.
To the gardener interested in the life cycle of a plant, watching the first new leaf emerge at the base of the parent leaf, the multiplication of leaves and the formation of the spikes is rewarding.
The soil in which peperomias do well is composed of a mixture of half leaf mold and half garden loam in the old days. Today use a bagged African violet soil mix or use equal parts peat moss and perlite.
Add a tablespoonful of bone meal to a quart of the mixture.
How Do You Propagate A Peperomia From Leaves?
For propagation select only crisp perfect leaves from mature plants, and those with no tears or spots of any kind.
The leaf may be on a short stem or stemless. The rosy stems are pretty, but they break easily. Plants will grow from a leaf with or without a stem.
If there is a stem, stick it deeply into the potting soil. But if you have only the leaf, place it on top of the soil and mound soil around it to hold it in place.
Water thoroughly and place in a sunny position.
Usually, the first leaf of the new plant appears about six weeks after the planting the parent leaf.
Other leaves follow rapidly, and the enchanting spikes may be expected while the leaves are still tiny.
When the plant is a year old, it is fully mature. By that time it will have twin trunks, each of which has a root system. Division can be made now.
The plant if left undisturbed will progress without interruption while if moved to a new planter will have its growth retarded several months.
Unless some transplanting material is applied, it will lose some of its leaves.
The crinkly-leafed peperomias need water at least three times a week.
They can survive drought, but should not be subjected to this condition.
Nor should they be deprived of light for long, for then the stems will grow limp, brittle and become almost transparent.
Though they like a temperature of 60° degrees Fahrenheit, they may be left in a south window throughout the winter without shielding even at night.