Peperomia belongs to a beautiful genus of epiphytic plants, which are very easy to care for and are less demanding. Peperomias can efficiently adapt in most circumstances, but a few conditions can affect these plants, resulting in the curling of the leaves.
Underwatering is usually the primary cause of curling leaves in peperomia. Inadequate water causes draining out of the physiological water from the body, causing deformed leaves. Other issues such as low light, under-fertilization, and temperature fluctuations can also lead to leaves curling.
Peperomias efficiently retain water in their leaves, and frequent watering is not required for these species. So, overwatering can cause serious harm to these plants, leading to root rot and browning of the plant, and for that, most plant owners are advised to keep the topsoil dry.
Let’s learn the reasons behind the curling of the leaves in your peperomia plant and the ways with which you can fix and prevent each.
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Why is my peperomia curling?
Luckily, most often, the curling of peperomia leaves isn’t a sign of any severe illness. But if you ignore the deteriorating health of your plant, you will end up complicating the situation.
We will guide you with some of the common causes for peperomia leaves curling.
Underwatering is one of the most common reasons for the curling of peperomia leaves. These semi-succulent epiphytes have thick leaves which allow them to store water for future use. But you can not forget about their water needs entirely for long.
Water is one of the fundamental components that support almost all biochemical and physiological functions of most living organisms.
Dry soil with low moisture content causes a relative decrease in physiological water, which induces the peperomias to draw out water from their reservoirs(leaves) towards the stem to carry on cellular functions. Thus the leaves curl.
Most of the peperomia species thrive well in diffused or indirect light. Different species have varying needs when it comes to the intensity of the duration of light.
As a thumb rule, a fully green peperomia generally requires more light than variegated peperomias (with more white parts).
Light is the principal source of energy for plants. If your plant is not getting the required light, it will show you significant signs, one of which is the curling of leaves.
Stress from repotting
If you have repotted your peperomia recently, the curling of leaves can be a sign of repotting stress.
With the change of pot and soil mix, the plant tries to adapt to the new environment, exerting stress over the plant, affecting its leaves.
Overwatering is one factor that can harm your plant in many ways, be it root rot or curling of leaves.
Although underwatering is generally the leading cause of leaf curling, this can be a symptom of root rot that happens because of overwatering.
Watering the plant while maintaining the limitation can be tricky, as many factors like humidity, soil mix, temperature, etc., affect the plant’s watering needs.
Peperomia thrives well between 50-75°F. However, they are tolerant to a bit of shift in this temperature range.
But freezing temperatures are harmful to this ornamental species. A rapid decrease in temperature slows down their bodily functions by inactivating many plant enzymes and hormones.
Moreover, the winter season is comparatively dry due to low humidity. The moisture deficit in the atmosphere draws out water from plants’ leaves, leaving the plants dry, wrinkled, and curled.
Similarly, an excess of heat causes drying out of the leaves and curling by increasing transpiration.
Nutrient deficiency, too, can show up as curling leaves. If you are not fertilizing your peperomia adequately, you can suspect nutrient deficiency to be the cause of leaf curling.
Peperomia has very little need for fertilizer. However, their nutrient demand increases during the growing season, and they uptake much of the soil nutrient. If you avoid fertilizing them during their growing season, you will nearly restrict their growth.
On the other hand, overfertilization is more harmful to the plant as it changes the soil’s natural composition and pH. Moreover, the excess nutrient load forces the cellular metabolic pathway, which in turn alters them.
This will get reflected on the leaves through curling.
The development of curled leaves in peperomia can also be due to pest infection.
Pests like mealybugs, mites, fungus gnats, shore flies, etc., can infest your peperomia and create an easy route for viruses like leaf spot virus.
How do you fix curling leaves?
Fixing all these problems will also help to fix curling leaves. So let’s find out how you can do that.
1. Do not keep your peperomia thirsty for too long.
You can fix underwatering issues easily if you identify the signs early. However, delaying or ignoring your plants’ water needs can complicate the condition.
Follow these tips to revive your plant.
- Water immediately if the soil seems dry and cracked.
- But don’t pour a lot of water at once, as it will run down through the loose granules to the drainage hole, leaving the soil only partially wet.
- Due to excess dryness, the soil might fail to soak water properly. In such a case, you need to soak the peperomia in lukewarm water.
- Fill a bucket with an inch or more of water (depending on the size of the plant). Let the plant remain in the water for some time (about an hour).
- The dry soil will soak the water through a porous pot and will eventually become loose and moist.
- If the topsoil appears moist, take out the pot, and if not, repeat.
- The best way to water your plant is by applying capillary action.
Have you ever watched a water droplet when released on a paper towel? At first, it is soaked, and then it starts spreading evenly.
Follow this manner by misting the top dry soil first. This will moisten the soil. After this, add ½ or 1 cup of water.
The already moist soil will now allow a uniform movement of water in all directions.
Prevent underwatering in peperomia
Keep these in mind to never have an underwatered peperomia.
- Stick your finger inside the soil to check the dryness of the soil. If it feels dry, water your plant immediately. If not, wait for 2-3 days before watering.
- Put a pop-up reminder on your online calendar scheduling the watering process depending on the season.
- Water until water starts draining out from the drainage holes.
- Water your plant more frequently in summer and less in winter. The rate of transpiration increases during summer, leading to more water intake by the plant.
While preventing or fixing your plant from the consequences of underwatering, you must keep one thing in mind. Don’t stress it with excess water as it can harm your plant more adversely.
2. Do not keep your peperomia in low light.
The solution to this problem is simple.
- Move your plant near the window, keeping in mind not to put it under direct sunlight. Use curtains or blinds to diffuse the direct sunlight.
- This problem is more common during winter when the intensity of the light is relatively low. For winter, you can keep your plant under a fluorescent light source. It will serve the purpose well.
- You can even keep your plant outdoor for 1-2 hours during winter. Make sure not to lengthen this time span.
- Keep your peperomia dust-free as dust prevents the leaves from absorbing light.
3. Reduce repotting stress in your peperomia.
You must repot your peperomia carefully to avoid stressing it. Take the help of the following steps.
- Avoid repotting your plant soon after bringing it home. The plant is already under stress due to the change in environment, and you don’t need to increase that stress by repotting it.
- Give your plant some time to get accustomed to the new atmosphere.
- Peperomia requires less repotting as they can spend years in that pot. Still, if you want to give your plant a fresh soil mix, try to avoid a bigger pot.
- Peperomia generally like tight pots. Moreover, oversized pots with excess soil (compared to root) increase the risk of overwatering.
4. Avoid overwatering your peperomia.
You can keep your plant healthy by understanding its water needs accurately while limiting the risk of over or underwatering.
- Keep a check on the watering frequency during the summer months, reduce it to half or less during winter.
- Let the topsoil dry out before watering. You can insert a dry chopstick to check the underlayer soil condition.
- Insert it up to 2 inches in the soil. If the stick remains dry, only then apply water near the root system.
- Add chunky particles to the soil mix to allow free movement of water.
- Make sure the pot has adequate drainage holes.
- Repot the peperomia if it has root rot.
Overwatering is always harmful to peperomia and can even cause the death of the plant if not maintained efficiently.
However, it is a relative factor, as the water needs of the plant change from time to time depending on other environmental factors.
5. Do not expose the peperomia to temperature fluctuation.
To avoid the consequences of temperature stress, try to keep the following factors in mind.
- Keep your plants away from cold drafts during the winter season.
- Don’t keep your plant on an open windowpane during winter.
- If you live in a freezing area, keep your plant in a well-insulated room.
- Try to cover the glass windows with properly insulated materials.
- Don’t water your plant frequently, as it will further decrease the plant’s body temperature.
- Follow the opposite methods for the summer months.
- Keep your plant in a well-ventilated room to allow fresh air to come in.
- Water your plant frequently after checking the soil condition.
Follow these steps to fix overfertilization and prevent it.
6. Avoid overfertilizing your peperomia.
- Try to use a diluted 20:20:20 mixture of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium supplement.
- Apply NPK mix in a diluted form once in two weeks during the growing season, reduce the frequency to half during other seasons.
- Try to avoid fertilizing during winter.
- If your peperomia is showing signs of overfertilization, change the soil mix and repot your plant carefully.
7. How to deal with a pest infestation?
You must address pest infestation as soon as possible. Here are some steps that will help you do this.
- Isolate the infected plant immediately.
- Blend 1-2 teaspoons of neem oil into 2 liters of water and spray the mixture using a spraying bottle over the peperomia once a week.
- Keep your peperomia leaves dry as a moist, damp environment is ideal for pathogenic infestation.
- If the disease is out of control, it is better to discard the plant.
- You can propagate the peperomia by taking a healthy cutting.
Will curled leaves uncurl in peperomia?
In some cases, the leaves might uncurl and become normal again. However, there can be exceptions as well.
If you notice that the curled leaves persist even after fixing the issue causing it, you can prune the leaves.
Pruning the curled leaves will save your peperomia’s energy that it was wasting in trying to fix them. Instead, it can focus on new growth.
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Tips for healthy growth in Peperomia
Peperomias are adored for their ornamental foliage and low maintenance. Beginners love them for their easy-going nature. If you are a little careful with inspecting the possible signs of your peperomia’s illness, your plant can survive against all odds.
Always remember to keep your plant isolated for a few days after bringing it home. This gives you a chance to inspect the plant properly and gives the plant space to adapt to the new environment.
Keep a close check of your peperomia’s light, humidity, water, and nutrient needs, and your plant is good to go.
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.