Peperomia, also called the radiator plant, is an epiphyte that has attracted the houseplant community with its low-maintenance properties and thick and lustrous foliage. Whether you want to add a peperomia to your houseplant collection or have one already, learning how to care for it is the best thing you can do for your plant.
Peperomia comes from the Mexico and South America regions, which can tell a lot about what these plants require. Bright and indirect light, thorough watering when the topsoil goes dry, and the right mix of retention and drainage in the soil are requirements of the peperomia that you cannot avoid.
Several other factors can affect the health of your peperomia, and we will discuss them all in this article. So, if you want to get a complete and detailed idea about the peperomia plant, keep reading this article.
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1. Provide bright and indirect light.
I can understand that it might be tricky to figure out what bright and indirect light signifies. A window that gets ample sunlight but has a curtain to filter the light is an excellent example of bright and indirect light.
So, if you have a window that gets a lot of sunlight, consider placing your peperomia in front of that window. Not near it or not some feet away.
However, don’t forget to add the curtains as you wouldn’t want to expose your peperomia to direct sunlight.
Why avoid direct sunlight? Most houseplants do not prefer direct sunlight, as that becomes too harsh for them, and the leaves get scorched.
Direct sunlight can increase the temperature levels more than your peperomia’s tolerance which will shock the plant.
However, if your house doesn’t get enough natural sunlight, consider getting artificial lights. 12 to 16 hours of artificial light will work well for your peperomia plant.
2. Thorough watering only when the topsoil is dry
Peperomia is a tropical plant so that it will need a lot of water. Wrong! When you don’t do your research well, you can make mistakes like this.
Peperomia is different than many other tropical plants in terms of its foliage and stems. The stems and foliage of the peperomia plant are succulent-like, meaning they can retain water better than many tropical plants.
Therefore, peperomia will require less water than other tropical houseplants. On average, peperomia will require water once every two weeks, depending on the other external factors.
You should follow the one thing that you should allow the topsoil to dry out before you water your peperomia the next time.
Soggy soil is the last thing that you would want for your peperomia.
Sometimes the soil can get dry, and the water can run through the edges and come out of the drainage holes without getting to the roots.
To avoid that, whenever you are watering your peperomia, water it lightly at first. Let the soil digest the water for a minute or so. And then water it thoroughly.
As a rule, that goes for all houseplants; you need to reduce the watering during the winter season. Winter is the dormant period when the plant rests, so it doesn’t use as much water.
You can use a moisture meter to judge the watering requirements of your peperomia.
3. Use the right kind of soil
You are mistaking if you are using regular potting soil. Regular potting soil will retain too much water and drain less. This will quickly lead to overwatering of the peperomia.
A balance of retention and drainage is required to keep the peperomia healthy. This might be true for many of your houseplants.
You can create an excellent potting mix by mixing:
Peperomia prefers slightly acidic soil with pH 6 to 6.6.
Using coco coir will be a good option as it supports proper drainage and allows aeration in the soil. If you want more soil recipe that suits your peperomia then read the article linked below.
4. To fertilize or not to fertilize!
There is enough mixed opinion on this topic. While some prefer not to fertilize their peperomia plant, some say that fertilization is necessary.
We suggest that you fertilize your peperomia during the growing season with a light and well-balanced fertilizer.
To avoid overfertilization, fertilize the peperomia with a 10:10:10 NPK liquid fertilizer. Make sure to dilute the dose to make it half-strength.
Fertilizing once a month during the growing season would be sufficient for your peperomia.
The fertilizer requirement might vary from plant to plant. You might find people stating that they fertilize their peperomia twice a month.
Fertilizing once a month works well for my peperomia plant. Decide your fertilization schedule depending upon the reaction of your peperomia after you fertilize it.
If you notice any sign that indicates that the plant is not getting enough nutrients or getting excess, you can cut back or increase the fertilization accordingly.
Do not fertilize in the winter months as your peperomia will not require any fertilizers in winter.
5. Maintain the temperature
Peperomia is a tropical plant; hence it enjoys warm living conditions with high temperatures.
The ideal temperature for your peperomia would fall between 65 to 80°F.
However, it will not tolerate temperatures below 50°F.
The problem can occur during the winter season when temperatures fall very low. If you live in the coldest zones, then peperomia might have a hard time surviving if you do not maintain the ideal temperatures.
You can manipulate the temperature by placing the peperomia in front of a heating source like a heating vent or a fireplace.
However, you should do this carefully as keeping the peperomia too close to the heating source can burn the leaves.
Maintain a safe distance of a few feet to avoid this problem.
6. Repot the peperomia when it gets root-bound
Peperomia has a shallow root system, which means that the roots take a long time to grow.
Your peperomia might take more time to get root-bound than many other houseplants in the house.
You must avoid repotting your peperomia too often and wait for the roots to get root-bound. But, repot the plant immediately if it becomes root-bound.
An exception: If you’re not stunted growth in your peperomia, the reason might be that the soil quality has gone down, and it cannot provide enough nutrients to the plant.
In such a case, you should repot your peperomia even if it’s not root-bound.
The rule of thumb goes like you should report your houseplants every 2 to 3 years.
7. Propagate the peperomia
You can propagate peperomia through both soil and water mediums.
The best thing about propagating peperomia is that it can be propagated with a stem, a leaf with a petiole, or even half of a leaf.
You need to propagate an adult peperomia as propagating a baby plant has less chance of being successful.
Use sharp and sterilized pruners to make a clear cut on the plant. A clear cut helps the roots to develop faster and better.
Water the soil so that there are no air pockets in it.
If you are propagating in water, take a container, fill it with water, and place the stem or leaf in the water.
Provide bright and indirect sunlight to this cutting and ensure that they get enough humidity for their growth.
8. Prune your peperomia
Although peperomia is a slow-growing plant, you will notice some growth all year round. This is a characteristic of a tropical plant.
Pruning is required for many reasons, such as:
- Eliminating the overgrowth
- Making the peperomia bushy
- Getting rid of the damaged or dead parts
- To maintain the preferred size and shape
You can prune your peperomia whenever you like, but the best time to prune it would be spring or early summer.
Spring and summer are the growing seasons of the plants. Pruning during this time will allow the plants to recover fast.
If your peperomia has a fungal disease like root rot or leaf spot, or it has dead leaves on it, you should prune those parts so that the plant doesn’t waste its energy on them. Instead, the plant will be able to focus on new growth.
You must also prune the leggy parts of your peperomia.
Other tips for caring for your peperomia
- Peperomia is not prone to pest attacks, but you can spray neem oil solution on the peperomia once a month to keep the pests away.
- Peperomia will thrive in average room humidity of 40 to 50%. Still, you can increase its humidity by using a Pebble or by installing a humidifier near it.
- Rotate the peperomia at least once a month so that it gets light on all sides and grows evenly.
- Do not place the peperomia outside in winter or don’t keep it in front of the window. This will keep it safe from low temperatures and frost.
- Keep the peperomia away from the dry air of the AC if you keep it in your bedroom.
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Keep all the tips in mind. Peperomia will go a long way with some care and attention. However, be realistic with your plant. It can develop problems, but if you keep an eye on the plant, you will be able to identify the problems on time before it goes out of hand.
Provide bright indirect light, sufficient water, occasional fertilizing, and use a well-draining potting mix. Repot when the plant gets root-bound and prune whenever required.
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.