You decided to get a peperomia plant after getting attracted to its beautiful green foliage. But now, all the leaves have started turning yellow. That is not something that only you are stressing about. Most probably, your plant is going through stress due to some issue. Let’s figure out the underlying problems and understand why your peperomia is turning yellow.
Overwatering is the primary problem leading to yellow leaves in your peperomia. That may be accompanied by a poor drainage system and few other issues such as overfertilization, low humidity, and cold drafts. Bring down the watering frequency to prevent the remaining leaves from yellowing.
You might notice that the older leaves are turning yellow. This is nothing to get worried about. Some yellowing is natural.
If you can identify the reason behind the yellowing of leaves on your peperomia, you will be able to take steps to help the plant recover.
Now before you inspect your peperomia for all the possible reasons, we will discuss them in detail so that you gather enough knowledge to identify the exact problem.
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What causes peperomia leaves to turn yellow?
Your peperomia might be turning yellow because of one or more of the reasons mentioned below.
Watering is confusing, especially if you are a beginner. Peperomia is a tropical plant but doesn’t require as much water as most other tropical plants.
This can give rise to two kinds of problems: you might not know the water requirements of peperomia and end up watering it as much as other tropical houseplants. This will lead to overwatering.
On the other hand, if you know peperomia requires less water than other tropical plants, you might end up giving it a little water.
Moisture retention is a common reason for yellowing leaves of peperomia.
Many hobbyists prefer to follow a routine irrespective of the cultural condition. They do not realize that the water requirement largely depends on the plant and its surrounding conditions.
If you follow a schedule blindly, the plant is likely to get overwatered.
Overwatering is also possible because of the below-mentioned reasons. These can make the leaves of your peperomia yellow.
- Constricted roots: If your peperomia is living in a small pot, its roots will get constricted. Even if you water the plant right, the roots will fail to soak it up from the soil, leaving the soil soggy. This will lead to an overwatered peperomia.
- Clay-rich soil: Clay-rich soil is not ideal for peperomia and can lead to constricted roots. If this is the case with your peperomia, you might notice root rot along with yellow leaves.
- Heavy soil: You must not use garden soil or anything similar for your peperomia as that would be too heavy for it. If the soil is heavy, it will hold more water, leading to overwatering at some point.
Also read: How To Save Overwatered Peperomia?
Underwatering is less hard to deal with, and you can recover your peperomia by making some changes. Underwatering can lead to yellow leaves, stunted growth, and brown tips or edges on the peperomia plant.
Root-bound plant: Although peperomia likes to remain slightly compact inside the pot, you must not leave it root-bound for too long.
A root-bound plant will start forming a bundle inside the roots and displace the soil due to lack of space. Such roots will not absorb enough water or nutrients from the soil, making the peperomia dehydrated.
- Wrong soil mix: If you use soil with a lot of sand or more draining elements than retaining, it will drain more water. A soil that drains more water and doesn’t hold the required moisture will lead to underwatering.
First of all, peperomia plants can do well even without fertilizers. Still, for boosting growth, it is okay to take the help of some amount of fertilizer.
With that being said, let’s understand why fertilizing is essential and how peperomia can benefit from it.
Fertilizers contain micronutrients and macronutrients that support the plant in different ways. Now, if you use fertilizer without understanding its components and if your peperomia requires that or not, you might end up overfertilizing it with the wrong kind of fertilizer.
Take a look at the essential nutrients required by houseplants and how these affect the plants for a better understanding.
|Nitrogen||Entire leaves getting yellow.
Yellow veins on leaves in winter.
|Nitrogen fails to move up from lower parts to growing ends as a compensatory mechanism.||Adding nitrogen-rich compost. Example: Cow dung.|
|Phosphorous||Leaves turn dark and yellow at the tips.
The center of the leaves remains green.
|Acidic soil can lead to phosphorus deficiency. This can impact the growth and disease-resistance ability of the plant.||Spray fish emulsion.
Mix 4 tsp of rock phosphate into the soil.
|Potassium||Yellow tips while the margins of the leaves and the center remain green.||Alkaline soil is the primary reason.||Apply banana peels. You can also apply wood ash lightly.|
|Magnesium||Old leaves turn yellow at the edges and then the surfaces.
Veins remain green.
|Magnesium deficiency affects the older leaves first.||Water the plant with 1 tsp Epsom salt in 1 liter of water. Spray compost tea on the foliage.|
|Calcium||New leaves will turn yellow or become distorted.
You will notice burnt tips on leaves.
|If the soil already has high calcium content, it will become difficult for the plant to absorb calcium from it.||Spray a calcium solution on your plant.
Add crushed eggshells to the soil.
|Iron||Tips of the young leaves will turn yellow first.||Roots fail to absorb iron.
Iron can’t be carried up to the younger leaves from the older ones.
|Spray compost tea or a micronutrient solution on the foliage.
Rectify the pH of the soil if it is alkaline.
It is vital to check the pH of the soil as that plays an important role. You can alter the pH of the soil with natural or organic methods if it is on the wrong level.
Overfertilization can lead to yellow leaves and falling leaves.
If you use chemical fertilizers, there might be an excess of urea, DAP, or NPK granules that will have a toxic effect on your peperomia, making the leaves yellow.
The roots of the peperomia might not be able to absorb nutrients and might get burnt due to the accumulation of excess minerals.
Therefore, check the pH of the soil from time to time and give the peperomia the right kind of fertilizer based on that. Use a diluted dose so that you don’t give it excess.
Fluctuation in temperature levels can harm your peperomia as these plants do not enjoy sudden temperature fluctuations.
Temperatures lower than 50°F and above 90°F can result in yellow leaves.
Peperomia is a tropical plant that cannot tolerate low temperatures for an extended period and will get stressed. You might see yellow and wilted leaves due to this issue.
Peperomia can even die if exposed due to low temperatures and frost during winter.
Therefore, you must protect the plant during winter and keep it away from low temperatures, frost, and chilly drafts.
You can place your peperomia near the fireplace to increase the temperature but keep some distance to avoid burning the leaves.
Do not keep the peperomia near the window if the temperature is too low or too high. Too hot or cold temperatures will eventually lead to leaves falling off.
Too much sunlight
Although light is a vital requirement, excess sunlight is never good for your peperomia.
You can keep your peperomia happy with the right amount of light, but overexposure to direct sunlight can cause severe damage, including the yellowing of leaves.
While peperomia might be able to tolerate the soft direct sunlight in the morning for 1-2 hours, the sunlight will be too harsh for it for the rest of the days.
An excess light will turn the leaves yellow and make the plant dehydrated and scorch the leaves.
However, reduced exposure to bright light can also cause yellow leaves in peperomia. If the peperomia does not have enough light for photosynthesis, it will lead to the yellowing of leaves.
Pests such as aphids, scales, spider mites, mealybugs can attack your peperomia plants easily.
Pests can attack your peperomia if it is placed in low light, infected with pests from other plants, or exposed to low humidity. Pests damage the tissues of the leaves, causing them to become yellow.
Let’s check out what these pests do to your plants.
|Spider mites||Extremely tiny insects resemble spiders.
Light green or reddish with dark spots on them.
|These suck the sap from the plant and drain moisture, making the leaves yellow.||Yellow or brown leaves. The plant dies if not identified or treated on time.|
|Aphids||Pear-shaped tiny bugs.
Come in different colors such as white, grey, light green, pink, or black.
|Found around the stems and leaves. Suck the sap on the new growth.
Encourage fungal diseases and sooty mold.
|Distorted leaves and stems.
Yellow leaves and leaf drop.
|Scales||You will notice bumps on the leaves. They are usually oval or flat-shaped. Varies in color from brown to tan white.||Make the plant weak by sucking the sap from leaves and stems. They hang from the stem and leaf joints.||Stunted growth.
Yellowing of leaves.
Brown marks on leaves. Leaf drop.
|Mealybugs||Cotton-like white body.||Feed on the sap and secrete honeydew.||Yellow leaves and stunted growth.|
Root rot is the result of overwatering, but other reasons can cause root rot. Let’s take a look.
- Poor drainage system
- Heavy soil mix
- Overfertilizing or fertilizing in winter
- Low light
- Fungal diseases
- Contaminated soil
Overwatering leads to the suffocation of roots that can also cause pest infestation or fungal diseases.
When the roots are waterlogged, they do not get proper airflow and start decaying due to a lack of oxygen. If you don’t take action fast, the infected roots will affect the healthy roots.
Pathogens like Phytophthora, Pythium, Rhizoctonia, and fusarium can also cause root rot.
How to fix yellow leaves on peperomia?
First of all, you must not panic if you see yellow leaves as that is not the end of your peperomia. Fixing the lighting, watering, soil, and fertilizing can stop the problem of yellow leaves on your peperomia.
Fix the lighting
If your peperomia is getting exposed to direct sunlight, move it away and find a spot that gets filtered light. You can use curtains to filter the direct sunlight coming from the windows.
You can keep the peperomia under shade if it is placed outside.
If peperomia is not getting enough light, you must expose the plant to better lighting conditions by placing it in a brighter spot.
You can use grow lights to provide enough light to the plant.
Soil and fertilization
Not planting the peperomia in the right soil mix will lead to many problems that can cause yellow leaves.
If you were using the wrong soil for your peperomia, you could repot the plant in a fresh soil mix that suits the requirements of peperomia.
When it comes to fertilization, use a fertilizer that is safe for your peperomia and do not overfertilize.
Peperomia can sustain itself without fertilizers, but people prefer adding fertilizers to the plant to see some extra growth and to replenish the soil with nutrients.
However, you must not go overboard with fertilizing. You can fertilize with a half-strength diluted dose once a month during the spring and summer months.
You must not fertilize during the winter season as that will not get absorbed by the plant since it is the dormant period. The fertilizer will instead damage the roots.
If you have an overfertilized peperomia, you can shower the plant thoroughly to leach out the excess fertilizers. You can also replace the soil and repot the plant in a fresh soil mix.
You must keep a check on the pH level of the soil and mend it whenever required.
Water and drainage system
Water the peperomia when the topsoil has dried. Peperomia plants prefer slightly moist soil, so you should not let the soil get completely dry.
You can follow a routine, so you don’t forget to water the peperomia, but always check the soil first before watering.
If you have an overwatered peperomia experiencing root rot, you need to treat the plant as soon as possible.
- Take the peperomia out of the pot.
- Clean the soil from the roots.
- Prune the damaged roots.
- Prune the affected leaves and stems.
- Prepare a fresh soil mix.
- Get a new pot with drainage holes.
- Spray fungicides on the roots of the peperomia.
- Plant the peperomia inside the pot.
- Water the plant after repotting so that it can settle down.
If the pot doesn’t have drainage holes, make some drainage holes as without them, your plant will get overwatered.
Treat pests and fungi
Seclude your peperomia so that other plants of the house stay unaffected. Try to make sure that the humidity is low as high humidity encourages pest and fungi growth.
Do not give extra water to the peperomia. This means check the topsoil and water if it is dry. You can insert your finger inside the soil to understand if it is wet or not.
You can pluck the visible insects and wash the peperomia to get rid of as many bugs as possible.
Prune all the infected parts of your peperomia has fungus infections.
It is best to treat both these issues in organic ways. You can make a spray with 1 tsp neem oil mixed with 1 gallon of water. Spray this on the infected peperomia every week till all the pests get removed.
You can sprinkle cinnamon powder on the infected soil. Cinnamon has cinnamaldehyde that can help your peperomia.
You can use chemical products, but it is best to read the directions before applying. And use these if organic methods fail.
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Take care of all the essential requirements of your peperomia so that you don’t see yellow leaves. Some yellowing is natural, but if your peperomia has many yellow leaves that don’t seem usual, observe and inspect the plant thoroughly.
Once you have identified the issue, treat the plant. Repot it in a new pot with drainage holes and fresh soil mix if it has root rot. If it is placed in low light, move your peperomia to a brighter spot. Fertilize with a diluted dose of a well-balanced fertilizer every month.
Keep a check on the soil’s pH level, repot the plant whenever it gets root-bound, spray neem oil solution every month to keep the pests away, and ensure that the drainage is working along with good aeration around the plant.
Peperomia doesn’t require much attention, but once you take some time out to understand its requirements, you can give it the little care it needs that will be sufficient to save it from problems like yellowing of leaves.
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.