Peperomia caperata is also known as Emerald Ripple peperomia. Heart-shaped richly veined ruffled dark green leaves. Red Peperomia caperata pronounced [pep-er-OH-mee-uh kap-er-AY-tuh].
The name of the genus ‘Peperomia” combines 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 ‘caperata’ refers to the plant’s wrinkled leaf texture.
The peperomia ripple is an herbaceous perennial, hailing from the rain forests of Brazil, South America. It belongs to the Piperaceae family.
This tropical plant is a seasonal bloomer with attractive evergreen leaves.
In the United States, Caperata Peperomia is recommended for USDA hardiness zones 11 – 12, where it grows as a groundcover. But it is most frequently used as a houseplant.
The compact plant grows best in partial shade. It has very low maintenance requirements and moderate water needs.
Peperomia Caperata Care Requirements
Size & Growth
Peperomia caperata is a compact usually growing only about 8″ inches tall and 8″ inches wide.
Several Peperomia varieties, sports, and cultivars are available:
- Peperomia caperata Rosso
- Peperomia caperata Frost
- Red Ripple Peperomia (black ripple, burgundy ripple, red ripple)
- Peperomia Silver Ripple
- Peperomia caperata Argentea
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. 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-purple tinged stalks.
Leaves may be variegated in that the color deepens in the valleys of the corrugations. The leaves of the crinkle peperomia 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. Protect plants 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 potting mix 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.
Feed monthly with a diluted (1/2 strength) plant fertilizer during the growing season. Do not fertilize during the fall and the winter.
Soil & Transplanting
It is easy to grow Peperomia caperata as a house plant. Use a peat based potting soil type (African Violet soil) or a soil mixture made for succulent plants. Good drainage and pots with drainage holes are of the utmost importance.
Even a simple potting mix of 3 parts peat moss and 2 parts perlite works well.
Remember with Peperomia the plants enjoy being a little bit root bound. An oversized pot with soggy soil can lead to root rot problems. Only repot when necessary, moving plants to the next pot size up.
NOTE: Many growers grow P. caperata in a plastic nursery pot with drainage holes.
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 cuttings or tip cuttings
- Leaf cuttings
As with succulents, allow the cut ends of the stems, tip cuttings, or leaves to dry before planting. Plants root easily in a light, airy, well-draining potting medium. A little rooting hormone powder can speed up rooting.
Learn more about Peperomia Propagation
Peperomia Caperata 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. Improve air circulation around the plant. It is difficult to treat this disease. You may end up having to throw out the entire plant.
Keep an eye out for common houseplant pests such as:
- Spider mites
Suggested Peperomia Caperata Uses
Caperata and the popular cultivar Peperomia caperata Rosso is best suited as a small houseplant or an office plant in most parts of the United States. They make excellent terrarium plants. They can also be used as a groundcover in tropical and semitropical areas.