How to Grow and Care for Peperomia Scandens

Peperomia scandens (pep-er-ROH-mee-uh SKAN-dens) hails from South and Central America and Mexico, where it grows in the treetops.

This epiphytic perennial plant is a member of the Piperaceae family of plants. It is a relative of the common pepper plant. The genus name, Peperomia, combines the two Greek words, homoios and peperi, meaning “similar to pepper.” The specific epithet, scandens, means “sprawling or climbing.”

Peperomia scandensPin

Common names include: 

  • False Philodendron 
  • Cupid Peperomia 
  • Radiator Plant

The scandens Peperomia is also known as Peperomia nitida (pep-er-ROH-mee-uh NI-ti-duh) its botanical name. 

Peperomia Scandens Care

Size & Growth

False Philodendron is a quick-growing, trailing/climbing plant that can attain a stem length of about five feet with a spread (at the base of the plant) of about 12″ inches.

The semi-succulent, type of Peperomia has heart-shaped leaves and pinkish, trailing stems of this plant store water. The stems are quite stiff and sturdy. The fleshy leaves are thick, green, and glossy with pale borders. 

There is also a variegated variety with green leaves and cream-colored, golden, yellow, or off-white markings.

Flowering & Fragrance

The pretty foliage of this plant is its main attraction, but your Cupid Peperomia may present you with clusters of tiny green flowers on rat-tail-like spikes in the springtime. They are unscented and unremarkable. 

Light Conditions & Temperature

Indoors, place your Peperomia near (but not in direct sunlight) a bright window. These plants do best with abundant bright, indirect light. 

Outdoors, place your plant in a setting that receives dappled sunlight. Under a tall tree that provides high shade is a good choice. 

False Philodendron also does very well under grow lights or fluorescent lights.

Indoors, if you are comfortable, your Peperomia will be comfortable. Keep your plant in an area with comfortable, consistent temperatures, and protect it from hot or cold drafts.

Outdoors, this plant is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zone 10 and higher. 

During the growing season, temperatures ranging from 68° to 72° degrees Fahrenheit are ideal. In winter, temperatures ranging from 55° to 60° degrees Fahrenheit are best. 

Watering & Feeding

Use the soak and dry watering method to soak the potting medium thoroughly. Then allow the soil to become almost entirely dry before drenching again. Use room temperature rainwater, bottled water, or tap water sitting in the open for 24 hours to allow chemicals to dissipate. 

The roots of this epiphyte are shallow, but the plant gleans moisture from the air, and the leaves and stems store up quite a bit of water, so allowing the potting medium to become nearly dry between watering will not harm the plant. 

As with most plants, you should water more frequently during the growing season (spring through summer) and less during the winter months. Even so, be aware of the humidity in your home (or lack thereof). 

If your heating system causes the air to become very dry, you may need to water more in winter. Using a humidifier or placing your Peperomia on a pebble tray with water will help to increase humidity levels around the plant. 

Peperomia are not heavy feeders, so a 1/4 strength mixture of a water-soluble fertilizer with an NPK rating of 20-20-20 applied monthly throughout the growing season should provide ample nourishment. Stop applying fertilizer during the fall and winter months. 

Soil Type & Transplanting

Because it is epiphytic, Peperomia scandens does best in a very light, well-drained soil potting mix. A soilless mixture (50-50 peat and perlite) is ideal. Always use a pot with a drainage hole. 

You needn’t worry much about pH level because this plant can do well at any rating between 5 and 7.5.

If planting outdoors in the landscape, amend the soil with fine gravel, sand, and/or peat to produce a light, airy mixture. 

Because these plants have very shallow root systems, you do not need to repot very often. Once every three or four years should do just fine. But, of course, if you notice that your plant is becoming root bound, or if it seems to be wilting excessively, it may be time to repot. 

Always replace the potting medium entirely. Brush old potting medium off the roots and rinse them as needed to provide an entirely fresh start for your plant. Give it a thorough watering once you have your Peperomia settled in its new pot. 

Grooming & Maintenance

Trim away dead, damaged, or yellow leaves as needed throughout the growing season. Trim for shape and fullness as needed. 

When you repot your plant, provide a thorough pruning and carefully examine the roots. Trim away any that seem unhealthy or appear to be dead. 

How To Propagate Peperomia Scandens

Peperomia grows very easily from leaf or stem cuttings. You can propagate Peperomias in potting soil or water. You can also use the air layering method by simply allowing a tendril to ramble into a pot of fresh planting medium and set down roots. 

When pruning or taking cuttings, always use a sharp, sterile cutting tool, razor blades are excellent!

When starting cuttings in water, change the water daily to prevent fungal growth. 

 Peperomia Scandens Pest or Disease Problems

For the most part, this plant is resistant to pests; however, excessive watering can lead to disaster in the form of edema, stem, and root rot. Always be sure to use a sharply draining potting medium, allow water to run through the medium when watering, and never let your plant stand in water. 

If your plant becomes waterlogged, it may develop a serious fungal infection called the Pythium. Unfortunately, Pythium usually starts in the roots, so you may not know about the problem until it is too late. 

Fungal infection also attracts fungus gnats, which are annoying in your plant room. Additionally, their larvae live in the potting medium and eat the plants’ roots. The best treatment for fungal infection is prevention. Don’t overwater. 

Excessive sunlight can also cause problems. Harsh, direct sun will burn the leaves, causing them to become yellow and then brown. Whether indoors or outdoors, protect your Peperomia from the punishing rays of the sun. 

Conversely, too little sun will cause your plant to grow in a leggy, uneven manner. If this happens, you may wish to do a little pruning and move your plant to a slightly brighter setting. Turn your indoor plant periodically to encourage even growth. 

Leaf curl can be a problem and caused by a lack of nutrients and/or sucking insect pests. If this happens, examine your plant carefully to determine if you have a pests infestation (e.g., mealybugs or spider mites.) If not, trim away damaged foliage and provide a fertilizer treatment. In addition, you may need to repot.

Is the Scandens considered Toxic or Poisonous to People, Kids, or Pets?

Peperomia is entirely non-toxic. 

Is Scandens considered invasive?

Peperomia scandens is not listed as an invasive plant in the United States.

Suggested Peperomia Scandens Uses 

This popular plant is lovely in a hanging basket, indoors or outdoors. It makes a good addition to a porch or patio or placed near a sunny window indoors. 

Because this Peperomia does so well with artificial lighting, it can be an excellent choice as a desktop plant or in a room that does not receive much natural light, such as a bathroom. 

 In a tropical or semi-tropical setting, plant scandens Peperomia as a ground cover in a shady setting. Be sure to provide light, airy soil, and excellent drainage.

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