If you have a small apartment, you probably don’t have the space for a showy, sprawling plant species. You need something petite that can comfortably adjust itself on a corner table or windowpane. Or, if you’ve not been fortunate enough to find an apartment with an abundance of natural light, you probably need a plant that can survive even in artificial light sources. Without any further delay, go for a peperomia.
Now, if you want to know whether peperomias are easy to take care of or not then you are at the right spot. Let’s find it out quickly!
Peperomias are famous for their easy-to-care-for characteristics. They are tropical plants that require medium to bright indirect light, watering once in one or two weeks, and occasional fertilization. Your peperomia will not demand much attention if their basic needs are taken care of.
Don’t worry as we are here with this article to tell you how you can care for your peperomia as easily as possible. However, do not set unrealistic goals with the peperomia and be ready to face challenges and overcome them along with your plant.
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How to care for the peperomia?
Although peperomias do not create much fuss, ignoring them for too long can lead to unfavorable consequences. These are the fundamental factors that form the ideal care routine of a peperomia plant.
Sunlight is the energy source that plays a vital role in maintaining consistent growth among plants.
Peperomias originate from tropical lands, where they get a lot of natural light. But as houseplants, peperomias will remain happy with filtered sunlight that is not too harsh.
You can place the peperomia in front of a window that receives enough sunlight. But don’t forget to put a blind or curtain to filter the light.
Do not place it at a spot that gets direct sunlight. Direct sunlight is a big no for most houseplants as this can scorch the leaves and dehydrate the plants.
In case there is an absence of enough natural light, you can get artificial lights for your peperomia.
These semi-succulent epiphytic plants have thick leaves that can retain a large amount of water. For this reason, peperomia do not require too much water.
Unlike most tropical plants, peperomias won’t call out for frequent watering. You can consider watering it once in 1-2 weeks.
Water your peperomia only when the topsoil is dry. Overwatering the plant will lead to root and stem damage, causing severe harm to the plant.
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The tropical epiphytes thrive well between 55 to 75°F temperature. Although this optimum temperature range is best suited for the plants to perform their physiological processes, a slight rise or drop in this temperature range will not harm the peperomia.
However, too much deviation from the optimum temperatures can cause stunted growth in peperomias.
High-temperature levels increase the rate of transpiration or water loss process in plants, causing drooping and dryness.
Peperomias are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures. So, a word of caution, you must not keep these plants below 30°F as it hinders their growth and can even lead to death.
Although humidity is a critical factor in a plant’s healthy growth, peperomia plants do not need extra humidity, and average household humidity is enough for their normal growth.
Peperomias are content with an average of 40-50% moisture content in the atmosphere.
However, if you feel that your peperomia is not getting enough humidity, you can place a humidifier near it or place it on a pebble tray or group it with other humidity-loving plants.
The right amount of humidity will keep your peperomia happy, and you will notice much healthy growth.
Soil serves as the plant’s nutrient reservoir as all the inorganic salts taken by the plant with the help of the root system come from the soil mix.
In the case of soil, peperomias are a bit picky. They like to house in light, loose, chunky, and slightly acidic soil mix.
The soil should be well porous to allow free movement of air and water.
Peperomia plants are easy-going and can deal with less nutrient supply. When it comes to fertilizing your peperomia, less is more.
A well-balanced fertilizer with the right NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) ratio is ideal for peperomia’s consistent growth. You can add fertilizer once a month during the growing season and stop it during the dormant season.
Iron is another vital supplement. You can use a 20:20:20 ratio of Nitrogen, Potassium, and Iron supplements.
You should apply fertilizers in a diluted form to avoid nutrient overload and stress over the plant.
Peperomia like to accommodate themselves in small pots, and being relatively slow in growth, they can remain inside the same pot for years.
However, few tips must be kept in mind while selecting a pot for your favorite peperomia.
- The pot must have adequate drainage holes for the water to pass through quickly as peperomias do not like wet soil.
- Terracotta pots are well suited as they are porous. Avoiding plastic or glazed pots will be helpful for the plant.
These are some of the primary factors that have a significant effect on this plant’s growth. Keeping an eyeful check on these will surely make your care routine easy.
When the plants start moving into the dormant period, they start experiencing a change in their activities due to low light. This is when they slowly move into the dormant state, which calls for a change in the care routine.
If you don’t change the care routine during winter, you’ll soon notice an unhealthy peperomia instead of a healthy one. However, that doesn’t make this complicated. It is still easy to care for the peperomia in winter.
- First, do not expose the peperomia to frost or cold drafts. Don’t place it in front of the window or outside the house during this time.
- Reduce the watering as the soil takes longer to get dry due to low light and low temperatures.
- Stop fertilizing during winter as the plant doesn’t grow actively in winter, so it has no reason to use the fertilizers.
- Do not place the peperomia too close to any heating source as that will burn the leaves. You can place it few feet away from the fireplace or furnace to increase the temperature.
- Relocate the peperomia to the kitchen or bathroom if there is enough light. These rooms have higher humidity levels than other rooms of the house. You can also install a humidifier or group it with other plants.
- You can use grow lights if the peperomia is not getting any light or place it outside in the daytime for few hours to give it some sunlight.
How to save peperomia from the common diseases?
You might have the best intentions for your peperomia, but that doesn’t mean you won’t make any mistake. And due to any mistake, the peperomia might develop a disease or experience any problem.
You must be aware and prepared to get rid of those diseases or problems as that is also how you need to care for your plants.
Here are some common problems that you might notice in your peperomia.
Root rot is a common health issue that peperomia experiences. Peperomia roots are more susceptible to fungi like Pythium, Rhizoctonia which thrive well in moist soil and are the main reasons behind this disease.
Causes: Overwatering, soggy-inappropriate soil mix, poor ventilation, pathogenic infestation, inappropriate temperature.
Symptoms: Decaying roots, foul smell from the root system, black and mushy roots, drooping of the plant.
- Keep the soil mix dry.
- Do not overwater your plant
- Always check the soil’s moisture content before watering
- Trim the decaying parts or the entire root with sterilized tools
- Use fresh chunky soil mix while repotting the plant
- Keep your plant in a well-ventilated place that allows fresh air to come in.
- Check if the pot has suitable drainage holes.
Drooping or wilting of peperomia leaves
Wilting or drooping is a general phenomenon in which the plant loses rigidity, and the leaves hang lifelessly from the stems.
Many factors can cause droopy leaf and stem in peperomia. In some instances, it is a mild problem, whereas it can be life-threatening in other cases.
Causes: Watering is the most reasonable cause behind leaf drooping in peperomia. Besides this, high temperature, extreme cold, low humidity, and overwatering can also lead to this complication.
Symptoms: Leaves appear pale and soft And hang lifelessly from the stem.
- Don’t let the soil mix dry out too much, maintain a schedule routine for watering the plant, especially during the growing season.
- You can install a humidifier to provide constant moisture to your plant.
- Don’t put your peperomia under direct sunlight.
- Keep your plant away from cold winds.
- If the soil mix appears loose and flaky, your plant is possibly suffering from drying out. Water your plant immediately.
Browning of the leaves
Brown spots on peperomia leaves or brown leaf blades can be a way of your plant telling you it’s unhappy with something in the environment or is not getting proper care.
Causes: Pest infection, exposure to high-intensity light, root rot, environmental stress, or nutrient deficiencies.
Symptoms: Brown spotted appearance on the leaf, edges of the leaf turn brown, the tip of the leaf or the entire leaf can turn brown in severe cases.
- Prune brown leaves with the help of scissors.
- Keep your plant under indirect sunlight.
- Maintain consistent humidity with a humidifier.
- Never stress your plant with excess fertilizer as peperomia is not fond of excess fertilizer.
- Most brown spots are due to fungal infection (Cercospora, Phyllosticta, Rhizoctonia), so you can use fungicides in diluted form or apply meem oil mixed with water.
- If the damage is excess, you need to discard the plant
Ringspot in peperomia is a viral disease transmitted through stem cutting collected from an apparently healthy plant that is infected.
Causes: Extremely high humidity, low light, fungi like Rhizoctonia, Phyllosticta can affect the leaves and form ring-like brown or yellow spots.
Symptoms: Brown, necrotic ring marking on the leaves, distorted leaf blade, stunted growth
- Discard all the diseased parts immediately after noticing as they will not recover.
- Take stem cuttings from healthy plants.
- Propagate any cutting in a sterilized medium.
- Use sterilized equipment for cutting.
- Pests can transmit such viral diseases. Keep your plant pest-free by applying a neem oil mix.
Peperomia plants can suffer from another viral disorder, known as edema. Edema is swelling of any body parts primarily due to the accumulation of water in those areas.
Symptoms: Pimply, raised references on both the leaf’s surface, especially on the under leaves, the raised area becomes dark green but later turns brown, and in extreme condition, the leaf becomes distorted or twisted.
- Discard the diseased parts as it is a highly contagious disease.
- Keep your plant pest-free by applying neem oil solution.
- Do not overwater your peperomia.
- Keep the leaves dust-free as dust prevents transpiration and causes the accumulation of water in plant cells.
Peperomia is popular for being an easy-to-care-for plant. If you understand its basic needs and provide a favorable condition for growth, the plant will brighten its surroundings with its green foliage and healthy growth.
Take care of the peperomia by providing moderate to bright indirect light, adequate but not too much water, timely fertilization, and choosing the right potting mix for it. Don’t forget to change your care routine in the winter season.
Do not set unrealistic goals and expect your peperomia never to fall sick. Be prepared to face the challenges and be aware of the problems that you can come across. Understanding the problems of your peperomia will keep you one step ahead, and you will be able to identify the initial signs, which will make the treatment much easier both for you and the plant.
Ref: University of Florida, Sage Journal, University of Vermont, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
Rutgers, The University of Arkansas, Britannica, Wikipedia, Peperomia Diseases, NC State University.