The tropical plant, Peperomia Rosso [pep-er-ROH-mee-uh] [ros-so], is a sport of the popular Peperomia caperata (kap-er-AY-tuh).
You may hear ‘rosso’ call by the common names:
- Emerald Ripple Pepper
- Radiator Plant
It is one of many peperomia plant cultivars in the Piperaceae (pepper) family.
The plant originally hails from Brazil, South America & Central America.
This plant’s genus name comes from two Greek words: peperi, which means pepper and homoios, which means resembling.
These plants do, indeed, resemble pepper plants and are related to true black pepper.
The specific epithet, caperata, is derived from the Latin meaning wrinkled.
This is a reference to the texture of the green leaves which resembles a baby rubber plant during early growth.
Other popular Peperomia varieties include:
- Peperomia argyreia (watermelon peperomia)
- Peperomia clusiifolia
- Peperomia prostrata (String of Turtles)
- Peperomia obtusifolia
Peperomia Rosso Plant Care
Size & Growth
This compact plant grows to be about 8″ inches high and wide.
The foliage grows in a rosette formation.
The dark green, deeply corrugated, heart-shaped, wrinkled leaves grow at the ends of long stems.
The leaves themselves are 1″ – 1.5″ inch long.
The stems are red-tinged. Leaves may be deeply veined and may be so dark green as to appear black along the corrugated surface.
Flowering & Fragrance
The flowers are greenish white, very small and grow at the end of 2″ – 3″ inches long reddish spikes.
The scentless flowers appear in the springtime and summer.
They’re not especially pretty or showy, but they are unusual and exciting.
Light & Temperature
This plant does best with bright, indirect light.
It can do well in partial sun or with either morning or evening sun, but it does not tolerate full, direct sun.
Fluorescent lighting is an excellent choice when growing these easy care indoor plants.
They do not like to be kept in very dark settings or very harsh, direct sunlight.
Consistent light of a grow light, or fluorescent light bulb is perfect for them.
Some problems come from inconsistent or incorrect lighting.
Too little light can cause your plant to grow very slowly and too much sun produces scorched leaves.
The best temperature for your Emerald Ripple is at temperatures ranging from 55° – 75° degrees Fahrenheit (13° C – 24° C).
Place this Radiator Plant well away from heating vents and doors that open and close in the hot summer time or the cold winter. These plants cannot tolerate extremes of hot or cold.
This plant is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 11 through 12.
Watering & Feeding
The Emerald Ripple cannot stand extremes. Do not allow ‘rosso’ to dry out entirely nor overwater it.
When the soil feels mostly dry, provide a thorough, deep watering.
The fragile roots of Peperomia do not tolerate drought conditions.
Always water from below and allow the plant to soak up all the water it needs.
Then allow the allow excess water to pour out of the drainage holes before setting the plant in a saucer.
Water your Emerald Ripple every 7 – 10 days.
Never get the crown of the plant wet. This is especially important during cold weather as dampness on the plant’s crown will lead to rot.
About once a year, late in the springtime, pour water through the plant (being careful not to get the foliage wet).
Allow the water to run through the potting soil to help remove salts which build up from fertilizers.
Peperomia plants prefer standard household humidity.
If the weather is especially hot and dry in the summertime or if your house or terrarium is arid due to heating, set your plant on a pebble tray for high humidity to balance out the environment.
Misting is unnecessary unless you use it as a means of cleaning the plant.
Reduce watering significantly for indoor Radiator Plants in the wintertime.
Outdoors, never water your Peperomia during the autumn and winter months.
A balanced, 20–20–20 fertilizer is the right choice for these houseplants.
Read the instructions carefully and use a half strength mixture.
During the plants growing season, use diluted liquid fertilizer twice a month and use plant food every 3 watering sessions.
Indoors during the fall and winter, fertilize only once a month.
You may also choose to use time-released granules or plant fertilizer spikes.
As with water, take care not to allow fertilizer to come in contact with the leaves.
If you’ve just repotted your plant in fresh potting soil or just purchased your plant, do not fertilize it for 6 months.
Begin fertilizing in the first spring after 6 months has passed.
Soil & Transplanting
Peperomia is sometimes considered a succulent and sometimes thought of as an epiphyte.
Like epiphytes, some types of Peperomia can grow on trees.
However, these plants are not true epiphytes. They do not just use their roots as a means of staying in place.
They feed off the structure of the tree in a parasitic manner.
Either way, these plants need a well-draining potting mix that retains some moisture.
A standard cactus or succulent potting mix will do. An orchid mix may even be a possibility.
Because of the plants’ tiny root system and fine roots, it is a good candidate as a dish garden plant.
It does not need especially deep soil, but it does need light, airy well-draining soil.
A soil that retains moisture and feeds the roots consistently.
If a commercial succulent or cactus mix is not available, make potting soil by combining 50% perlite and 50% peat moss.
A little gravel also helps to provide good air circulation around the roots.
Like many succulents, Peperomia Rosso likes to be a little bit root bound.
Don’t repot until the plant begins to outgrow its home.
Your Emerald Ripple pepper needs to move a pot size up if the roots begin to grow through the drain holes.
Take care when repotting as this plant has fragile, delicate roots and damages easily.
Grooming & Maintenance
Prune the plant periodically to control size and shape.
Mist once or twice a month and wipe the leaves gently with a soft cloth to control dust.
The best time to prune your Emerald Ripple plant is early in the springtime.
Don’t be afraid of pruning dramatically. These fast-growing plants fill out quickly.
Regular pinching back and pruning will help the plant maintain an attractive, bushy appearance.
How To Propagate Emerald Ripple Pepper
Rosso is easy to propagate from stem cuttings or leaf cuttings, similar to the African Violets.
Propagation of Peperomia is very much like the propagation of other succulents.
If you plan to propagate with stem cuttings:
- Cut off a relatively long stem with a couple of leaves.
- Poke a hole into some clean, fresh compost and place the end of the stem in the hole.
- Firm up the compost around the stem.
- Keep the compost lightly watered and keep the cutting in a warm, still setting with indirect, bright sunlight.
If you choose to do leaf cuttings:
- Cut off a leaf with the stem attached.
- Cut the stem in a sloping manner and dip it into some rooting hormone.
- Put the leaf stem into a clean, fresh compost with a little rooting hormone mixed in.
- Treat as you would a stem cutting.
You will see growth within a month.
Peperomia Pests and Diseases
A well-kept Peperomia plant has no disease or insect problems.
Overwatering, extremes in temperature and extremes in lighting can cause problems.
Weakened plants are susceptible to attacks from:
Poor conditions may also cause problems with leaf spot.
Excessive watering or overhead watering can cause root and crown rot.
Spider mites and fungus gnats may be problematic for overwatered plants.
Take care to water your plant infrequently.
Peperomia is sometimes subject to cucumber mosaic virus which causes a malady known as ring spot.
If you notice withered, deformed the leaves on your plant, pinch or prune them off and the plant should recover on its own.
Plants in need of repotting or overwatered plants may tend to wilt because their roots are not getting enough air.
Be sure to keep your plant in the right sized pot with a suitable, airy potting medium. Water correctly.
Outdoors Peperomia may have a problem with slugs and snails.
Use a slug and snail bait which contains sodium ferric EDTA. Alternately, just set out a few small dishes filled with beer.
The slugs and snails will climb in to get a drink and will not be able to get out.
Is Peperomia Toxic or Poisonous?
Peperomia of all sorts are entirely safe to grow around children and pets.
They are entirely non-toxic.
Is Peperomia Invasive?
Peperomia is not considered invasive.
Uses For Peperomia Caperata ‘Rosso
Since peperomia care is easy it makes an excellent desktop plant or general office or public space plant.
The consistent temperature and lighting to be found in public places and offices are very conducive to happy, healthy, thriving Emerald Ripple plants.
These plants are also excellent choices as bathroom plants if your bathroom gets good natural light or if you keep a fluorescent light set up for your plant.
If you’re in a tropical setting, use your Peperomia as a groundcover in a shady area with well-aerated soil and good drainage.