There are many peperomia types and varieties that have become nearly indispensable foliage plants. The “baby rubber plant” or “radiator plant” adapts themselves to semi-sunny or shady locations in any home.
Over the years, three or four of these tropical America natives have become popular old standbys.
However, in general, the has been sadly neglected by indoor gardeners.
There are many unusual kinds of peperomias with handsome foliage. Give them a try!
Wide Distribution Of Peperomia Types
In their native habitat, the wide distribution of the peperomia plant is because their seeds are tiny and sticky and readily cling to any surface. Birds have carried them to many parts of the tropics.
The watermelon Peperomia is botanically known as Peperomia argyreia and the synonym Peperomia Sandersii. Scores of people have grown the watermelon peperomia in dish gardens and planters for many years.
It has been so popular in the past, in fact, that collectors often omitted it in favor of less common types.
Interest in the unusual peperomias has caused such a to-do that Peperomia argyreia is enjoying today a popularity revival.
There are many different types of growth found among the peperomias. There are:
- Semi-vining or trailing varieties
- Tall, semi-upright forms
- Short, bushy types
… all with an equally wide range of foliage. The leaves and stems are thick and fleshy.
Growing All Types Of Peperomia Plants
Some peperomias are more temperamental about cultural requirements than others.
‘Silver Mound’ (also called Peperomia Hederifolia) and Peperomia caperata ’Emerald Ripple’ are attractive in the house. Still, if the plants are kept the least bit too damp, root rot will invade.
These varieties are excellent in situations where there is low-light intensity. If you have had bad luck with them, try again. This time, keep them more on the dry side. That is, let the soil dry out slightly between waterings.
Peperomias, as a whole, prefer a loose soil mixture. Many of the newer and more delicate types, as well as the older kinds, do best in a soil mix of:
- ½ peat moss
- ¼ sand
- ¼ perlite
Rosette Forming Varieties Of Peperomias
In the first group of peperomias, the plants are almost stemless, and the leaves form attractive rosettes.
Peperomia argyreia, aka watermelon because of its round leaves, which have bands of silver radiating from the upper center with stems of bright red.
Peperomia griseo-argentea (‘Silver Mound’ or Peperomia hederifolia) is a bushy rosette of round cordate, quilted leaves, which are a glossy silver if they do not receive too much light.
A sport of this species, ‘Blackie,’ has leaves of a metallic olive-green to blackish copper, depending on the light.
Peperomia caperata (‘Emerald Ripple’) or “Ripple Peperomia” develops a dense cluster of roundish, heart-shaped leaves of dark, forest green, which is deeply corrugated and quilted.
Its variety ‘Tricolor’ is a variegated sport many enthusiasts collect.
Peperomia mannorata (‘Silver Heart’) is an attractive plant with thin, heart-shaped leaves that taper to a long point. Of similar form, Peperomia verschaffeltii is even more appealing.
The next group of peperomias is the semi-upright forms, which include some of the largest and the smallest family members
Peperomia obtusifolia is the common green species. It has a medium size oval, fleshy, and waxy leaves. Peperomia obtusifolia variegata is like its parent, except the leaves are heavily variegated with creamy yellow.
There are also miniature versions of both the green and variegated forms of Peperomia obtusifolia, which do not grow so fast and are even more free-branching.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘albomarginata’, also called ‘White Cloud’ is similar to the common variegated form except with pure white markings.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Silver Edge’ has glossy green leaves edged with a narrow silver band. Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Marble’ is a deep yellow form with beautiful marbleized yellow and green foliage.
An ornamental plant is Peperomia maculosa with pendent, lanceolate leaves up to seven inches in length. The leaves are waxy bluish gray-green with silvery green to ivory ribs.
Peperomia magnoliaefolia is a robust growing species with fleshy leaves four or five inches long of a glossy, fresh green color on brownish-green stems. Similar to Peperomia obtusifolia.
Peperomia clusifolia is a slow-growing plant with thick, fleshy, narrow leaves of metallic green with an edging of reddish-purple.
It is a true species and not a variety of Peperomia obtusifolia. Many consider it and Peperomia clusifolia variegata two of the most attractive peperomias in this class.
Peperomia clusifolia variegata could be called a tricolor as it is a study of green leaves, variegated creamy yellow, and occasionally edged in red.
This variety is a very slow grower, and scarce, but well worth the hunt.
This Peperomia Likes Cactus
You could class Peperomia incana as a succulent. It has been found in the natural state growing alongside cacti. This one has broadly heart-shaped, fleshy gray leaves covered with white felt.
Peperomia polybotrya, which is sometimes known as Peperomia arifolia, has thick, shiny green shield like leaves with a lighter spot where the leaf attaches to the petiole. There are several variegated forms also available.
Peperomia blanda has small grayish olive-green leaves, elliptic in shape, that are pinkish on the underside and grow on an upright sturdy plant.
A beautiful plant is Peperomia metallica from Peru, which has dark reddish stems and narrow waxy shining leaves of reddish copper with a metallic luster and a silver-green band down the middle.
This peperomia is a little “tricky” in its habits. If it doesn’t have the care it desires, it will simply sulk, droop, and die. It is especially sensitive to too much moisture.
Small branches root readily in moist sand, so one can always have beautiful bushy plants available with little effort.
Peperomia dolabriformis, the “prayer peperomia,” is a curious plant with fleshy spatulate leaves folded together, showing a pale green translucent layer across the upper edge of the leaf.
It always attracts attention with all of the thick green leaves growing sidewise on the stems and appearing as swollen sickles.
This is indeed one of the most novel and unusual plants – a real conversation piece.
Bushy, Semi-Upright Types
In the semi-upright forms, we find several small bushy types that are very appropriate for small planters. Only the choicest of these are listed.
Peperomia verticillata (rubella or pulchella) is a small upright, bushy plant with hairy red stems.
The crimson stems are densely set with whorls of tiny olive-green leaves marked with a silver network of veins and vivid crimson on the underside.
Peperomia nivalis is a lovely succulent type of peperomia. Nivalis has clustering stems, covered with small keel-shaped, almost folded aromatic leaves.
Their inner surface is light green while the underside is buff green.
Peperomia ‘Astrid’ (‘Pixie’) is a lovely plant that was first introduced into this country from Sweden, although it is probably a South American native.
It has short green stems with numerous waxy, light green, spoon-like leaves on short, stiff petioles.
If crowded, the leaves stay small (pixie-like) and densely clustered. Peperomia ‘Astrid’ variegata has a distinct silver stripe down the center of each leaf.
Peperomia ornata is a striking species with a short, stout stem that supports a cluster of symmetrical, elliptic, fleshy leaves on stiff red stalks.
These are green with length wise lighter veins above and paler beneath with striking parallel, purplish-red ribs.
In the semi-trailing class of peperomias, we have several lovely forms such as Peperomia glabella variegata with its slender, rosy pink stems and dainty light green elliptic leaves heavily variegated white.
Peperomia cubensis is a sturdy but soft and graceful little self-branching plant with reddish stems and fresh green leaves.
Peperomia scandens have fleshy stems and waxy, green, heart-shaped leaves which remind one of a miniature philodendron. There is also a variegated form of Peperomia scandens with cream edged leaves.
Peperomia puteolata (lanceolata) – the parallel peperomia – is a gorgeous hanging plant with angled stems, long slender leathery, pointed leaves of waxy dark green, with five contrasting, parallel, yellowish veins depressed on the surface.
Peperomia fosteri has deep forest-green leaves with light olive, parallel veins.
The leaves are set in whorls of two or three around a dark red stem. It is a beautiful plant and readily available.
Peperomia reflexa is an interesting small thread-like creeper with wiry green stems and small, round, light green leaves striped a deeper green.
Peperomia urocarpa (‘Brazilian Queen’) is a self-branching and vining plant that is attractive when trained on small trellises.
It has branches of fleshy, light green, pubescent leaves with lighter parallel veins. The leaves are silvery-white beneath, and most are splashed with red dots.