Peperomia is a beautiful foliage plant that is adored in the houseplant community. Its compact size and bushy appearance make it an ideal addition to your living space. Wait for a second! Is your peperomia not looking bushy anymore but instead growing long with very few leaves on the stems? This state is called legginess, and we will find out why your peperomia is getting leggy.
The primary cause of leggy peperomia is the lack of light. Peperomia loves bright indirect or filtered light. If your peperomia is not getting enough of it, it will become leggy and droopy. Move the plant to a brightly lit spot or use artificial light to fix the problem of legginess in peperomia.
Keep the basics in mind. The right lighting, proper watering, the correct supply of fertilizers, and occasional pruning should do the trick and prevent legginess or rescue your peperomia from it.
After pruning the leggy stems, start taking the proper care of your peperomia, and you will see it recover and become bushy again.
Now let’s dive into the causes and solutions of a leggy peperomia so that you can fix it without getting a panic attack!
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Why is my peperomia leggy?
Low light is the main reason behind leggy peperomia. Plants require light to run all the essential processes and to remain in good shape. Low or uneven light can make the peperomia leggy.
Leggy growth refers to the state when your plants grow long stems with very few leaves on them. This can happen due to different reasons.
- Low light
- Improper fertilization
- Temperature fluctuations
A healthy peperomia will look bushy, but placing it in an area where it is not getting enough light for a long time can make it leggy. This happens mainly because enthusiasts don’t understand the lighting conditions.
One easy way to judge if your plant is getting enough light is not to look at the light from where you are standing but keeping yourself in place of the plant and then coming to a decision from that perspective.
Peperomia is a light feeder, which means it doesn’t require heavy doses of fertilizers.
So, if you are feeding your peperomia excessively, hoping for more and more growth, you are harming your plant. This can eventually lead to a leggy peperomia plant.
When you overfertilize the peperomia, it speeds up its growth, leading to weakness and extended growth.
If you keep overfertilizing your peperomia, the stems will grow tall and weak. The lower leaves will fall off and never grow back. No leaves in the lower part indicate that your peperomia is leggy.
Therefore, you should never go overboard with fertilizing your peperomia.
Temperature fluctuations can stress out your peperomia. A stressed plant will not be able to focus its energy on growth.
This will make the peperomia weak, and the stems will grow lean and long with fewer leaves on them.
You must protect your peperomia from drastic temperature changes to keep it healthy and prevent legginess.
How to fix leggy peperomia?
Now that you know the reasons behind a leggy peperomia plant, let’s find out how to fix it.
Here are some quick fixes that can help you have a fuller-looking peperomia.
- Adding the right amount of fertilizer
- Fixing the light
- Maintain the temperature
Along with these, you must care for your peperomia the right way to avoid leggy growth in the future.
Pruning helps to keep your peperomia in shape by getting rid of the unhealthy and overgrowth.
Your peperomia can take on an ugly look when it becomes leggy. Pruning is the initial step of controlling leggy growth and encouraging new and healthy growth.
You must prune the stems that are stretching out. Also, prune the stems that have fewer leaves on them.
You must prune till you get rid of all the unhealthy parts. But one thing to remember, don’t prune a lot at once. Start by pruning 20% at a time. Pruning more than that will stress the peperomia.
Pruning can also improve the soil’s functioning by reducing the load from the roots and the soil.
Lack of pruning can also lead to a lack of nutrients. How? Lack of pruning puts a lot of pressure on the soil as the plant requires more nutrients to support all the growth.
Lack of pruning will deplete nutrition from the soil, and the plant will seek more nutrients much before you fertilize it the next time. This will make the plant weak and leggy.
Use sterilized garden shears or pruners to prune the peperomia. Start pruning from the top of the plant and gradually move downwards.
Peperomia can grow well without fertilizers. But the correct amount of fertilizer will support bushier growth.
If you see your peperomia getting weak and discolored, it might be due to a lack of nutrients. You must amend this by adding fertilizer.
However, over-fertilizing and under-fertilizing are not the correct ways to go at it.
You must go for organic or all-purpose fertilizer and give the plant the right dose during the growing season.
Dilute the fertilizer to half-strength and feed this solution to the soil and roots once every month. Diluting will help to avoid overfertilization.
You can also opt for composting, which is an excellent way of adding nutrients to the soil. Every time you water your plant, the compost will release nutrients into the soil.
You can stop fertilizing in the winter months after fertilizing your peperomia well in spring through summer.
During winter, the plant will rest. It might not stop growing, but the growth will slow down. This is a natural process, so nothing to get worried about.
Your peperomia will remain healthy and bushy as it has received enough care and nutrients from the fertilizer during the growing season to sustain itself in winter.
Fixing the light
It is not possible to keep any plant happy and healthy without light. The lighting requirements might differ from plant to plant, but the need for light will remain.
If you want to keep your peperomia healthy, give it indirect bright light. You can place your peperomia near a window with curtains to filter the direct sunlight and make it suitable for your peperomia.
The direction of the window will not be an issue as long as the plant receives enough indirect light.
One crucial point you can’t miss. You must rotate the peperomia so that it gets light on all sides. Not rotating it regularly can make the plant leggy on the side that is not getting light.
Finding a bright spot that receives diffused light will work well for your peperomia. If you want to place it outdoors, keep it under shade so that the direct sunlight cannot get to it.
If you live in the freezing zones, do not place your peperomia outdoors. You can use grow lights to provide sufficient light to your peperomia.
Maintain the temperature
If the temperature is the issue behind a leggy peperomia, fix it immediately.
Peperomia prefers temperatures between 55-80°F. Temperatures below 50°F or higher than 90°F might cause stress or shock to the plant.
So, you must maintain the ideal temperature level to have a healthy peperomia plant.
If the temperature is too low:
- Do not keep the plant outside.
- Provide direct sunlight during the day.
- Use a wooden forge or heat pump to manipulate the cold temperature.
In case of higher temperatures, you can increase the humidity to help the plant. Mist the peperomia or use a humidifier to reduce the heat from the atmosphere.
Propagate the plant
Pruning the peperomia is a must, but instead of throwing away the cuttings, you can propagate them to get new plants out of them.
- Take the healthiest ones from all the cuttings you have pruned.
- Place the cutting inside a jar of water.
- Change the water every week or whenever it starts looking dirty.
- You can add some fertilizer to the water.
- You will notice root growth within a few weeks.
- Once the roots have grown one or two inches long, take it out and plant it in a pot with a well-draining and rich potting mix.
Note: Do not propagate a dry plant. Make sure to provide it enough water and let it soak the water before you propagate.
How to prune a leggy peperomia?
You must prune the leggy growth to allow space for healthy growth.
Tools you will need:
These steps can help you prune your leggy peperomia plant.
- Find the points from where the stems start growing thin.
- Sterilize the pruners or garden shears and get ready to prune.
- Make the cuttings just below the node (between two leaves).
- You can prune the bushier side of the peperomia and plant those on the side that has bare or no growth.
- Water the peperomia after pruning to add some moisture to the soil.
After replanting the cuttings, don’t forget to keep the soil moist for at least 2-3 weeks.
Use organic fertilizer to feed your peperomia if you haven’t fertilized it for long.
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If you want to prevent legginess on your peperomia, keep the following points in mind:
- Don’t avoid pruning the peperomia from time to time.
- Provide sufficient filtered light to your peperomia during the daytime.
- Water the plant whenever the topsoil gets dry.
- Do not expose the plant to direct harsh sunlight.
- Fertilize with diluted liquid fertilizer during the growing season.
- Let your peperomia get root-bound. Do not repot too often.
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.