Growing Peperomia Plants: Care, Propagation, Pest and Disease

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The world of peperomia comes in many varieties. Some you’ll find down at the local garden center in the house plant section. Others are strictly for hobby collectors.

Peperomias have long been favorite indoor houseplants due to their adaptability to the atmosphere of the house as well as their attractive foliage and compact growth habit.

Peperomia: South American Pepper Relative

Peperomia a perennial related to pepper plants, comes from a large South American family (about 1,000 species, a few from Africa). In fact, the name alone means “the plant related to the pepper.”

The leaves of peperomia plants distinguish them from other small potted table top houseplants.

Unique, succulent leaves both attractive and plants many find fun to collect.

Peperomia Care

Size and Growth

Generally, any of the 1,000 – relatively slow growing – peperomias along with many cultivars will only achieve an overall maximum height of 10-12 inches high.

Some varieties of Peperomia make good hanging plant specimens.

Flowering and Fragrance

The long flower spikes are covered closely with very tiny flowers have no scent.

Light and Temperature

These plants are easy to grow in the house. They like warmth, but do not need high humidity. They like bright light, but do not need direct sunlight. In fact, peperomia obtusifolia makes a good ground cover in shade.

Peperomias do not like deep shade or strong sunlight, two very big extremes. Grow them somewhere in between and you’ll be fine.

During the summer months, temperatures between 68 – 78 F. In the winter, temperatures should not go below 50 F.

Peperomia plant also known as the "Radiator Plant"

The peperomia plant was given the common name “Radiator Plant” by Bailey

Watering and Feeding

Do not over-water these plants. Watering every 7 – 10 days should be enough, depending on time of year and temperature.

Peperomias resent overwatering and will rot off at the base. Personally, I like to let the soil dry completely between waterings. This will greatly help prevent root rot.

Apply a balanced liquid plant food every 3 watering during the “growing” summer months.

Soil and Transplanting

Generally, peperomias do not need repotting. In fact, they do better under potted than over potted.

However, repot when the plant becomes too large for its pot. When repotting, use a well-draining soil (50% peat moss /50% perlite).

Grooming

At any time of the year, if the plant gets scraggly or out of hand, it may require pruning.

Peperomia plant leaves, growth and foliage comes in many forms that are:

  • A single solid color
  • Shiny
  • Fleshy
  • Variegated
  • Smooth
  • Crinkled
  • Small pale green
  • Reddish foliage and stems
  • Oblong
  • Round
  • Corrugated
  • Trailing
  • Erect

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Propagating Peperomia

Peperomia propagation is as easy as taking a few tip, leaf or stem cuttings. Using a very light rooting media and dipping the ends in a rooting hormone, tips and leaves root quickly.

Learning to root peperomia cuttings will help keep plants in shape. They can, become straggly and “wild” over time.

Soil For Rooting

Soil plays an important role in rooting peperomia. Since most peperomia plants have small root systems, use a well-drained soil that gets lots of air.

A soil mix like a 50/50 mix of peatmoss & perlite, is simple and reliable for rooting and growing peperomias.

Leaf Cuttings

Most peperomias will propagate from leaf cuttings like African violets. The best time for propagation is spring, but rooting can also be done in fall.

  • Cut off leaf along with a little stem
  • Stick several leaf cuttings in one pot
  • Press or tamp soil down around cuttings after watering
  • Cover pot with a plastic bag or “soda bottle” – put several holes in bag or soda bottle
  • Leave pot in normal room temperature
  • Remove plastic bag or soda bottle regularly for fresh air and prevent rotting
  • New plants will start growing from leaf base
  • When plants are rooted well and big enough they can be repotted into individual pots

Tip Cuttings

  • Cut off the growing tip along with several leaves
  • Remove lowest pairs of leaves
  • Dip lower stems into a rooting hormone
  • Follow the guidelines for leaf cuttings

Peperomia Pest & Problems

Peperomias belong to a unique group of plants which have few pests or diseases attacking them. They greatest enemy is probably neglect.

However, peperomias do have a few maladies.

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Fading Dull Leaves – When a peperomia plant has dull looking leaves, it is usually caused from light which is too strong.

Remedy – Move the plant to more shade.

Discolored Leaves and Flowers – This condition usually happens from over watering.

Remedy – Allow the soil to dry out and avoid getting water on the leaves which can sometimes cause them to rot.

Peperomia Questions & Answers

Leaves Of Large Peperomia Dropping Off?

Question: Can you tell me why the leaves of my large peperomia are dropping off? I have had it a number of years and would hate to lose it. Darcy Lincoln, Nebraska

Answer: Darcy, your plant may be taking a natural rest and signals its need by dropping the older leaves. If this is the case, do not water so often and withhold all fertilizer until new growth is obvious.

HOWEVER… If it has not been repotted in fresh soil in a long time, this may be the time to repot.

Be certain that the base of the plant has not rotted.

If this happens, the ends of the stems where they join the base of the plant turn to watery, tan colored mush.

Peperomias sometimes rot in this manner when overwatered, especially in soil that does not drain readily.

Your plant was originally potted in spongy, loose soil. However, over time the soil breaks down into smaller particles and compacts reducing its ability to properly drain.

If you diagnose the trouble as rot, spread a newspaper out on your kitchen table, tap the plant and soil out of the pot.

Shake the soil away and wash roots clean so you can determine what portion of the plant has rotted and what part is still healthy.

Using a sharp knife, salvage the parts of the plant that have not yet rotted.

Peperomias form many rosettes of leaves as they mature. To root one of these, remove the lower leaves and dust the cut portions with a rooting hormone like this (such as Rootone if you have it), and insert in moist, fresh soil.

Placed back in a sunny window, the cutting should root quickly and form a handsome new plant within a few months.

Peperomia Caperata – Mouse Tails

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Peperomia Caperata (emerald ripple), who flower axils resemble ‘mouse tails” (as do all peperomia plants) stand above the leaves are one of the most popular peperomia varieties.

Its origin – the Brazilian rainforest. Grown as a small houseplant, no more than about 8 inches tall, the plant is characterized by its dark green wrinkled leaves no “real” stalks.

The tiny (seen through a magnifying glass) yellow white flowers emerge on the “mouse tails” standing above the crinkled, corrugated foliage.

Another popular variety is the watermelon peperomia – Peperomia argyreia.

This is a list of some available peperomias sometimes called the “baby rubber plant”. There are some beauties of stiff, upright habit. These are the dangling and spreading varieties, with a wide variety of foliage design.

Peperomia cubensis (rotundifolia, ‘Yerba Linda’) – Branching, red-tinged stems with pointed-oval, gray green leaves divided by precise indented veins. The variegated form is dashingly splashed with creamy white.

Peperomia fosteri – Deep, dull-green pointed leaves with lighter veins; branches low and spreading.

Peperomia glabella – Glossy gray-green leaves tapering to a point, on lax, thin stems. The variegated version sports a white border.

Peperomia obtusifolia – pepper face – Popular florist, green leaf, dish-garden plant with thick, cupped leaves carrying an almost rubber plant like appearance. This plant evidently sports freely, because variegated, miniature, variegated miniature, albino, white-edged, and ‘Gold Tip’ varieties are available.

Peperomia prostrata – Tiniest trailer or creeper with threadlike stems stringing together perfect little blue button leaves, etched with a pattern of silver. This one may be reluctant to move about, takes a while to adjust to any new quarters.

Peperomia quadrangularis – Low creeper with dull bronze-green leaves indented with yellowish veins.

Peperomia scandens – Sturdy trailer with glossy green, heart-shaped leaves.

Peperomia trinervis – Creeper or trailer with small pointed leaves marked deeply with parallel veins.

Peperomia ‘Ginny’

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Peperomia ‘Ginny’ also known as ‘Tricolor’ or ‘Rainbow,’ is a popular peperomia houseplant and a very tender perennial. It has a thick stem and leaves with green, cream & red color. ‘Ginny’ also has a slender spikes of tiny white flowers that occurs throughout the year on mature plants.

As with most Peperomias, ‘Ginny’, generally, is easy to grow and can add color to your garden. It is best in containers because of its large leaves and upright growth habit. Peperomia ‘Ginny’ can also be used as a groundcover with its ability to tolerate heat or shade.

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