Peperomia is a popular genus of houseplants, and it’s no wonder why. These easy-care, low light plants are great for inexperienced gardeners, but with over one thousand species, they’re also a favorite of experienced collectors.
If you have one plant and develop a passion for them, there are so many more out there with varied shapes and colors. There is also a large range of common Peperomias that are easy to get your hands on.
Once you know how easy it is to care for these plants properly, it’ll be hard not to pick up a couple more!
What is Peperomia?
Peperomias are mostly Central and South American natives, though some also grow in Africa. In the wild, they grow on forest floors where they receive high humidity and low light conditions. They’ve long been popular in the houseplant world as they require little care and have beautiful, sometimes colorful, foliage to brighten up indoor spaces.
Blooming peperomia in a hanging basket
Choose a well-draining soil that doesn’t pack or clump together when wet. A mixture of half succulent soil and half perlite is popular among gardeners. I personally use African Violet soil amended with drainage materials like wood chips and aquarium gravel. Feel free to experiment and find the mix that works best for you.
You can tell when your plant needs water by gently pinching the leaves, which are less firm when the plant is thirsty. If the leaves are limp and the soil is completely dry, it’s time to water again.
It’s important to allow the soil to dry completely between waterings to avoid root rot. They don’t like to be drenched at all times, and succulent varieties especially prefer periods of drought.
Water less frequently in the autumn and winter, when the plant goes into dormancy.
Care for these plants by feeding them regularly during the growing season. Fertilize once every two weeks in spring and summer, but stop in the autumn and winter months.
These are low-light houseplants, but it is important to acknowledge that no plant likes a dark, dreary corner. They’ll thrive in a northern or eastern windowsill, where they can receive indirect light throughout the day.
Peperomia in a hanging basket
These plants do not tolerate freezing temperatures, which is why many gardeners cannot grow them outdoors. Beware of chilly windows if you live in a cold region. Move them a few inches away from the glass to keep them warm in the winter months.
How to Plant Peperomia
1. Choose the right pot
Any pot will work—it really depends upon your own preferences! Many gardeners grow these plants in hanging baskets, as bushy, full plants look nice displayed this way.
If you’re new to houseplants, a terra cotta pot can be a good choice. This material helps the water evaporate quickly, which in turn helps you avoid overwatering.
2. Remove old soil (optional, but recommended!)
Removing the old soil from the plant’s roots gives it a fresh start in its new home. It can also help you avoid pests, such as fungus gnats, that lay eggs in soil by removing them before they develop.
Be gentle and during this process to avoid damage to the roots. My favorite method of removing soil is to use water. Faucet attachments work, but the jet setting on a hose attachment is most thorough. Just make sure, if using a sink or tub, not to clog the drain!
3. Add a few inches of soil to the bottom of the pot
This will help prop the plant up to the desired height. You can check if you’ve added enough by holding the plant inside at the height you’d like it to sit at. If the roots touch the soil layer, you’re good to go! If not, just add some more.
4. Place the plant inside the pot and finish filling with soil
If you’ve removed the old soil from the plant, you’ll likely have to hold it up during this process.
Fill in with soil all around the plant, pressing it down with your fingers as you go. You want it to be compact to avoid air pockets.
5. Water your new plant
Lastly, water your plant. For most Peperomias, you can and should water immediately.
But for succulent varieties, wait around a week before watering for the first time. This allows any accidental root damage to heal first, which will help you avoid root rot.
How to Propagate Peperomia
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Propagate plants easily through leaf and stem cuttings.
For a stem cutting, simply trim off a stem with a handful of leaves. Remove the bottom leaves and set the plant in soil or water. You can easily get a bushy plant this way, by trimming long stems and replanting in the same pot.
Leaf propagations can be done in various ways, as shown in the video above.
Care for your propagations by providing ample humidity and watering once roots have developed.
Is Peperomia Toxic?
Peperomia is non-toxic to dogs, cats, and people.
Something’s Wrong with my Peperomia!
These plants may be hardy, but they aren’t completely foolproof. Here are some common problems you may see in your plants, along with some tactics to take care of these issues.
Yellowed leaves are typically a sign of overwatering. Make sure you always let the soil dry out thoroughly before watering again, and wait for the plant to show signs of thirst such as flimsy leaves.
Brown leaves are most commonly a sign of under-watering. Try watering a little more frequently if the leaves appear brown and crisp.
However, brown leaves can also be an indicator of other things such as overwatering, root rot, or pests.
You will know if your plant has root rot if it develops dark brown or black areas on its stems or leaves, or if it shows signs of under-watering that aren’t resolved after being watered. This is because when a plant’s roots are rotted, they can no longer take up moisture for the plant.
If you catch root rot early, you may be able to save some parts of your plant via cuttings. If you do save it, or buy another in the future, care for your new plant by placing it in well-draining soil and water sparingly to prevent the problem from reoccurring.
Mealybugs are a common pest for indoor plants, and unfortunately, Peperomia species are not exempt. If your plant is infested, the first step is to isolate it away from other plants to prevent the bugs from spreading.
Next, remove any visible pests. Many gardeners use a q-tip dipped in alcohol for this step, or you can spray them away with a hose or faucet attachment.
Then you can treat your plant with a natural solution, Neem Oil, or pesticide. Remember that even though Peperomia itself is non-toxic, any plant treated with chemical solutions should be kept far from pets and children.
You’ll likely have to repeat these steps several times, as mealybugs are persistent pests.
Another common household pest is the spider mite. Just like with mealy bugs, you’ll want to isolate your infested plant to keep the mites from spreading to the rest of your collection.
Remove any visible pests in the same way you would remove mealybugs. You may also want to wash your plant with soapy water.
Treat with pesticides or a natural solution until the pests are gone. This may take many attempts, as spider mites are difficult to get rid of.
Baby rubber tree without variegation
This plant is also known as the Baby Rubber Tree, as it looks similar to a rubber tree in appearance. They’re a great choice for those who can’t grow true rubber trees due to that plants toxicity, as Peperomia are non-toxic. These plants commonly display a yellow variegated coloring that’s not very common within the genus. They also stand more upright than most species.
Rounded leaves stem from the center of this plant. Their common name, Watermelon Peperomia, comes from the patterning on the leaves that looks much like the outer skin of the fruit. This is a great species to choose if you’re new to indoor gardening or the Peperomia genus.
Peperomia Rosso in a striped pot
These plants are adored for their dark coloring and rippled foliage. The leaves’ deep red undersides make this plant pop. They’re also compact and bushy, perfect for hanging baskets.
Also known as the silver ripple, this plant’s foliage looks like it’s been sprinkled with silver dust. This creates a beautiful, unique affect that catches many gardener’s eyes.
This succulent variety of Peperomia needs more light and less water than average. These plants also go by the name Ruby Glow because of the jewel-toned undersides of their leaves. Some people call succulent Peperomias “taco plants” for their unique leaf shape!