Peperomia caperata [pep-er-OH-mee-uh kap-er-AY-tuh] is also known as Emerald Ripple peperomia. Heart shaped richly veined ruffled dark green leaves.
The plant’s genus name is a combination of two Greek words, peperi means pepper and homoios means resembling.
These plants look like and are related to Piper nigrum, which is black pepper. The specific species caperatus refers to the plant’s wrinkled leaf texture.
The ripple peperomia is an herbaceous perennial, hailing from Brazil and belonging to the Piperaceae family. This tropical plant is a seasonal bloomer with for its attractive evergreen leaves.
In the United States, grow Peperomia Emerald Ripple in USDA hardiness zones 11 and 12, where it grows as a groundcover. But it is most frequently used as a houseplant.
The compact plant grows best in partial shade with very low maintenance requirements and moderate water requirements.
Peperomia Caperata Care
Size & Growth
Emerald Peperomia is a compact usually growing only about 8″ inches tall and 8″ inches wide.
One variety to look for is Peperomia caperata rosso.
Flowering & Fragrance
The scentless flowers are more appropriately described as interesting rather than beautiful. The flower spikes are often called ‘mouse tails’ or rat tails and the blooms are small, greenish-white and abundant.
The wrinkled, heart-shaped leaves are dark green, about an inch and a half long. They grow on red tinged stalks.
Leaves may be said to be variegated in that the color deepens in the valleys of the corrugations. Leaves can look as if they are green and black striped.
Light & Temperature
Peperomia does best in an east or north facing window where it can receive bright, indirect light. Never any direct sunlight!
It will flourish growing under grow lights or fluorescent lights.
Peperomia does best in temperatures ranging from 60° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit. Never allow temperatures to fall below 50° degrees Fahrenheit, and protect the plant from cold drafts.
Watering & Feeding
The growing season for Peperomia is spring through fall. It needs moderate, consistent watering during these months. Allow the top inch of soil to dry and then water the plant thoroughly.
It is best to water these plants from the bottom and avoid getting the semi-succulent leaves wet.
Maintain high humidity levels by keeping the plant on a damp pebble tray. Maintain proper ventilation to prevent problems with fungus and rot.
Use a liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season with a diluted (1/2 strength) mixture of water-soluble house plant fertilizer. Do not fertilize during the fall and the winter.
Soil & Transplanting
It is easy to grow Emerald Ripple peperomia as a house plant. Use a peat based potting mix (African Violets soil) or a mixture made for succulent plants. Good drainage is of the utmost importance.
Peperomia plants enjoy being a little bit root bound. An oversized pot with soggy soil can lead to root rot problems. Only repot when necessary, and then just move to the next pot size up.
Grooming & Maintenance
Trim the plant at any point to maintain a bushier appearance. New growth will appear from any nodes on the stem directly beneath the cut.
How To Propagate Peperomia Caperata
Propagate Peperomias through:
- Plant division
- Stem tip cuttings
- Leaf cuttings
As with succulents, allow the cut ends of the stems or leaves to dry before planting them in a light, airy, well draining soil mixture. Plants root easily, but little rooting hormone powder can speed things up.
Emerald Ripple Pepper Pest or Disease Problems
This plant is relatively disease and insect free. But problems can occur when you overwater. Look out for root rot and other fungal problems.
Symptoms of overwatering include soggy stems and yellow leaves.
Because these plants like high humidity, they may also be subject to a virus called ringspot.
If you notice circular, damaged spots on the leaves, remove the leaves quickly and improve air circulation around the plant. It is difficult to treat this disease, and you may end up having to throw out the entire plant.
Keep an eye out for common houseplant pests such as whiteflies, spider mites, scale and mealybugs.
Are peperomia plants toxic? These plants are entirely non-toxic.
Suggested Peperomia caperata Uses
This plant is best suited as a small houseplant or an office plant in most parts of the United States. They make excellent terrarium plants, but can be used as a groundcover in tropical and semitropical areas.