How to Grow and Care for Peperomia

Peperomia

Quick Overview

Plant Type: Tropical perennial
Family: Piperaceae
Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect sunligh
Watering: Water every 1-2 weeks
Colors: White, green, brown, dark red, burgundy
Size: 6–12 in. tall, 6–12 in. wide
Hardiness Zones: 10–12 (USDA)
Soil Type: Perlite or sand
Soil pH: Neutral to acidic
Propagation: Leaf or steam cuttings
Toxicity: Non-toxic

Peperomia are native to tropical regions. Most commonly, they are found natively in South America. In Brazil, these plants are sometimes considered a sign of good luck. 

Peperomia are low-maintenance, perennial plants that come in a variety of patterns and colors. They prefer more humid environments and bright, indirect sunlight. But they are also tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions. This makes them an excellent choice for new plant owners. They only grow about 1-2 feet tall, and they have air-purifying tendencies. Because of this and their range of decorative, colorful foliage, they make excellent houseplants. 

By following just a few standard tips of care, you can keep your peperomia lush and healthy. Keep reading to learn more about this versatile plant and how to brighten and even purify your home with it!

Peperomia

About Peperomia

Peperomia is a part of a large family of ornamental plants with over 1000 discovered species.  

In the wild, they grow in the Amazon region of South America. There, they like to grow in shaded, warm areas beneath a cover of trees.They grow as epiphytes in their native habitat, meaning they can grow on other plants. Typically it will nestle itself in a nook of a tree. 

The best way to care for your peperomia is to, more often than not, just let it be. These plants are low-maintenance and likely require less care than you think. This makes it a perfect plant for new plant owners or for those looking to purchase a low-maintenance plant. Their leaves come in a variety of attractive patterns and colors that come in red, green, yellow, and purple leaves.

They do flower, but their flowers look more like spikes. These spikes poke through the plant’s flowers in long thin stalks. Their flowers are tiny and unscented. Their biggest appeal does not lie in their flowering capabilities. The patterns and colors that peperomia come in can brighten up any space easily enough on their own.  Many varieties have succulent-like appearances, which can be confusing for some. 

They have fleshy leaves that range in shape. Their stems are thick and also come in a variety of colors, depending on your specific plant. 

Peperomia

Peperomia General Care

Proper environments will help your peperomia grow. This is not too difficult to foster because these green beauties are non-fussy. Overall, they prefer an environment that is humid and warm with bright, indirect sunlight. Read below for more specific care tips. 

Peperomia Dimensions

Even though there is a wide variety in peperomia plant colors and patterns, they all tend to be slow growers that stay small in size. There are bushy and vining varieties, as well, that will vary slightly in their spread and height. Most grow to be about 12 inches in height. Some can grow up to two feet, but this is more uncommon and occurs in fewer varieties. 

Watering

Your peperomia likely only needs to be watered every 1-2 weeks, sometimes longer, depending on the environment your plant is in. Only water your plant when the top couple inches of the soil is dry. Water thoroughly and allow the soil to dry before watering again. The finger test is always helpful to determine if your plant needs to be watered! Use your finger to test the first couple of inches of soil. If it is dry, water it. If it is rotting, wilting, or if its leaves are yellowing, it can mean that you are watering your plant too much. 

Overwatering can also cause fungus gnats and root rot, so err on the side of underwatering if you are not sure. You can also always purchase a water meter to help keep an eye on the plant’s moisture levels. Though with peperomia, this is probably not necessary. 

Pay attention to your plant and resist the urge to overwater, and you should be fine. 

Light

Peperomia plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight. During the summer months, when the sunlight is brighter, watch that your plant does not get too much sunlight as this can bleach the leaves.

If you keep your plant somewhere where it does not receive enough light, it will begin to reach in the direction of the sunlight. This causes “leggy” stalks to develop as they try to reach the available sun.You can prune the leggier leaves if you prefer to keep your plant more compact. Insufficient light can also cause leaf drop and muted coloring. Move your plant to a better location if you notice any of these things happening.

Temperature 

Peperomia plants like warm temperatures and high humidity. The humidity it needs will vary slightly based on its variety. A good rule of thumb is to look at your plant’s leaves to determine how much humidity it needs. If it has thicker leaves, the lower humidity the plant will tolerate. 

Generally speaking, they prefer warmer temperatures and high humidity. But they are resilient and can tolerate a normal range of temperature and humidity. 

leaves

Soil and Fertilization

Well-draining soil is a requirement for peperomia plants. In their native environments, they often grow as epiphytes, growing on the bark or in a nook of a tree. The soil they are planted in should emulate this natural environment. Use a mix that includes perlite or sand to increase aeration and make sure that your plant has proper drainage. 

Fertilization is not a high need. You are at much more risk of overfertilizing your plant than under-fertilizing. 

If your plant looks like it may need to be fertilized or if you are concerned it is not getting enough nutrients, use a balanced fertilizer about once a month during the growing season. However, if your potting medium is good, your plant should be able to get the nutrients it needs from there. Healthy plants can often go their whole lives without supplemental fertilizer. 

Pruning Peperomia

Peperomia plants can be pruned easily. They tolerate it quite well, too, so do not be afraid to shape it and prune it as you need. You can also use the cuttings to propagate new plants (more on that below)!

Do make it a priority to remove dead leaves and growth that accumulate on and around your plant. This will keep it clean and prevent the attraction of pests or the development of disease. 

houseplant

Rpotting a Peperomia

Peperomia’s do not need to be repotted very often. Typically, their soil will become depleted or too compact after 2-3 years. 

When you do repot, choosing well-draining soil is essential. Be sure the pot you choose has excellent drainage holes. To repot your green friend, gently remove it from its pot and do your best to clean the solid from its roots. Place it in the new pot, and gently add the fresh soil around it. 

Pat the soil down, but do not pack it too tightly. Water the plant to help it settle. 

Peperomia Plant Propagation

Peperomia plants propagate easily. Below are a couple of methods you can use to do so. 

Leaf cuttings in soil: 

  • Cut a healthy leaf off of your plant, either from the base of the stem or with a little stem attached. 
  • Use a clean, sharp pair of pruning scissors. 
  • Dip your cutting into rooting powder.
  • Insert your cutting into a prepared pot of soil and pat down the soil around it. 
  • Thoroughly water. 
  • Cover the cuttings with a plastic bag and place them in bright, indirect sunlight. (Be sure to remove the bag for a couple of hours every day to avoid the development of mold or fungus.) 

Stem cuttings in soil:

  • Cut a healthy stem off the plant with a sharp, clean pair of pruning scissors. 
  • Dip the cutting into root powder.
  • Insert the cutting into a pot of soil and water thoroughly.
  • Use the same steps as leaf-cutting to encourage growth (like covering it with a plastic bag and placing it in indirect sunlight, etc.) 

Stem cuttings in water:

  • You can also propagate plant through stem cuttings in water. 
  • Cut a healthy stem off of your peperomia as you would do in the above “stem cutting in soil” method.
  • Place the stem in a cup of water. 
  • Roots will develop in a couple of weeks.
  • Wait until they are several inches long before planting in soil. They cannot live long-term in the water. 
Peperomia

Toxicity

Peperomia plants are safe for humans and pets. There are no noted issues if a child or pet accidentally ingests it. However, the best practice is always to try to keep your plants out of reach of small children and your pets. 

Peperomia Air Purification

Peperomia can help remove toxin particles from the air, according to a study done by NASA. The Wolverton’s Clean Air Study found that it reduces the level of formaldehyde by 47%. Formaldehyde is a substance that is often found in homes. It can be harmful to the body over time and in large amounts. 

Peperomia Plants in Bedrooms

Peperomia make excellent bedroom plants. They are compact plants that do not take up a lot of space, and they tolerate lower-light environments. 

Not only that, their air-purifying capabilities will help keep your bedroom air clean. 

Peperomia

Interesting Varieties

Peperomia come in multiple different varieties. Below are just a couple that may make a unique, interesting plant for your home. 

  • Emerald ripple peperomia. As the name may suggest, the emerald ripple variant has heart-shaped leaves of deep red. Their texture is puckered and veined.
  • Pepeomia verticilllata. This variety comes with green-topped leaves that boast a vibrant red belly. This plant is also called the “red log” and “belly button” peperomia. 
  • Watermelon peperomia. They get their name for their large, striped leaves that resemble the skin of a watermelon. 
  • Peperomia Hope. This is a beautiful vining variant. It has thick but tiny teardrop-shaped leaves and thin stems. 
  • Peperomia Perciliata. This is another vining plant. It has small, heart-shaped leaves with red stems. Because of their vining tendencies, they can be grown in a pot or hanging basket. 
  • Rainbow Peperomia. The rainbow variant typically boasts several colors on its large, thick leaves. It has red stems with creamy white, green, and yellow-colored leaves with rose red tips. 
Peperomia

Common Problems

Peperomia plants are very pest-resistant. There are some diseases that they can be prone to catching, but most of those diseases are fixed easily. Perhaps the most common issues that they experience are related to the watering it receives. 

  • Mushy stem. If the stem of your peperomia is brown and mushy, this means it has root rot. If you are overwatering your plant or have poorly draining soil, your peperomia could begin to rot. 
  • Brown Tips. If your plant’s leaves are browning at the tip, it is most likely due to a lack of humidity. It could also be from underwatering your plant, but that is less likely. 
  • Yellow Leaves. If your peperomia is yellowing near the base of the plant, this could be because you are overwatering it. Check the soil. If it is wet a couple of days after you water it, you are overwatering.  However, if your plant is yellowing all over and the leaves are drying out, that is likely due to underwatering.  Check, too, to make sure that the soil is not overly compacted and affecting your plant’s ability to soak up water. 
  • Slowed growth. Peperomia plants are slow-growing, but you should see some growth in your plant. Do a little research on your specific variety to understand its specific light requirements. It could be that your plant may want more light. 
plants

Final Thoughts

Peperomia plants are easy to care for and attractive plants that make a great addition to any space. They are perfect for new plant owners and make excellent houseplants. 

Do not fuss over your plant. Try to keep it in a room with bright, indirect light and warm, humid temperatures. You can prune it to keep it compact and propagate it easily to create new plants.