Caring For Peperomia Plants

Peperomia is a genus of the Piperaceae family. There are well over 1,000 species of Peperomia, the vast majority of which are native to Central and South America.

There are also a select number of species that are native to Africa, as well as other species found in various subtropical regions around the world.

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The common names for plants in the Peperomia genus include baby rubber tree, radiator plant, and emerald ripple peperomia.

Growing The Peperomia Plant

Most Peperomia plants won’t grow taller than 12”. The vast majority of them, including the commercially grown household varieties, top out at around 8”. The variety in their appearance is amazing. The leaves tend to be smooth and fleshy but the shape differs from one species to another.

Although mostly grown for their attractive ornamental foliage, they also make eye-catching and fragrant flowers, especially Peperomia fraseri.

The size of the leaves also varies between 1″ and 4″ inches. The colors of the flowers are vast but the flowers aren’t too big. What is interesting is the spike-like shape in some Peperomia species.

Despite having flowers and even berry-like fruit, Peperomia plants don’t have a specific or potent fragrance. The plants are easy to grow as long as they’re not kept in an overly humid environment.

You can grow them indoors because they don’t need direct sunlight. The plants also need a warm environment with temperatures between 68 and 78 degrees but can endure temperatures as low as 50 degrees.

Peperomia plants develop complex but small root systems. This is why the right soil composition is important – 50/50 mix of perlite and peat moss is ideal. Although small amounts of fertilizer may be needed when growing the plants indoors, the plants don’t need too much water.

How To Propagate

Propagating Peperomia plants is rather easy. Most of the time it is done by planting seeds. However, you can also use cuttings [1] that you make yourself or buy commercially. Leaf and stem cuttings yield the best results if cut in the spring.

Caring For The Plant

Overwatering the plants will cause the roots to rot at the base. You can water them once a week or once every 10 days, depending on how quickly the soil dries at the top.

Once a month, some fertilizer in the form of liquid plant food may be needed in the summer, which is considered the plant’s growing period. What’s interesting is that Peperomias thrive when underpotted. This means that repotting is not necessary unless the plant gets too big and grooming is no longer an option.

Pests, Diseases, Or Problems

It is believed that the biggest enemy of Peperomia plants is neglect. However, there are a few diseases that can affect them, or that they can develop due to neglect.

Among the common fungal diseases you may encounter are the Southern blight, Myrothecium leaf spot, and Pythium root rot. There are also two known viral diseases called Mosaic and ring spot. [2] The latter is due to an unidentified virus.

A few basic indicators of unhealthy plants are faded or discolored leaves and flowers. If you notice these indicators, you may want to provide the plant with more shade. Alternatively, you may also want to dry the soil and stop spraying the leaves with water.

Tips, Tricks, And Suggestions About Peperomia

Before planting a Peperomia cutting, let it sit under shade for a few hours. This will cause a callus to develop on the wound, which should prevent diseases and excess moisture from getting in.

If you’re using propagating cases, you might not want to cover them completely. Because of the semi-succulent nature of Peperomia plants, the excess humidity is not good for root development.

Propagating cases are not a requirement. You can just as easily use a regular pot and cover it with a plastic bag. Just make sure to poke some holes in the bag so that you don’t create an overly humid environment. Plastic bottles also work if you’re growing one of the smaller species.

You can also grow Peperomia plants in a grow tent or a hydroponic garden. Although the roots need soil, the plants do very well under fluorescent lighting.

Best Ways To Use Peperomia In Design – Indoors Or Outdoors

Due to the amazing variety in Peperomia plants, they are best used as ornamental plants. They can be easily grown indoors but they can also be used in landscaping projects if you have the proper climate.

You can’t exactly use them for their flowers. However, the diverse and impressive foliage with differently shaped leaves and multiple colors adds plenty of value to any floral arrangement or home garden.

Peperomia Buying Tips

Since Peperomia plants can be bought as mature plants, cuttings, or seeds, you can find them virtually anywhere. Both local garden supply stores and online stores should have a decent selection.

But for the rarest species, you might have to track down collectors or specialized dealers.

If you’re not buying a mature plant, the most important thing to look for is a proper growing soil mixture that’s able to promote healthy root development in your new plants.

What Are The Most Popular Peperomia Species And Varieties?

Peperomia caperata is one of the most widely available species. It comes with heart-shaped leaves and interesting relief foliage. The leaves are mostly green though they can present a silver or burgundy tint.

Peperomia obtusifolia is different. The plant looks stoic with its upright demeanor. The leaves are solid green and glossy as opposed to most of the variegated varieties. You may find it under the name ‘baby rubber plant’.

Peperomia argyreia or the watermelon peperomia grows up to 8” in height. It features silver stripes and draped elliptical leaves.


Because there are so many species propagated for commercial purposes, Peperomia plants are some of the most common household plants. They require a bit of extra care but they’re still relatively easy to tend to when grown indoors.

What separates them from most household plants is the wildly different foliage from one species to another. Multiple Peperomia plants can be used to create a very complex ornamental garden or flower arrangement.

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