Peperomia belongs to a large genus of perennial epiphytes native to tropical and subtropical regions. Peperomias are regarded as easy-going and adaptable plant species with fantastic ornamental foliage of unique patterns. Peperomias are tolerant of many factors, but some issues need to be addressed, especially during the dormant season.
Winter is the dormant period for peperomia as their growth rate slows down with a decrease in the temperatures. The plant remains inactive during this phase and shows little or no growth at all.
Plants become sensitive during their dormant phase. Thus overcare becomes a subject of harm to their health. To keep your plant healthy during the winter, you must make changes in the care routine of your peperomia.
During the winter months, you must cut down your peperomia’s watering frequency, and fertilizer dosing as the plant remains dormant. Also, move the peperomia plant away from cold drafts and make sure it gets bright indirect lighting along with 50% or more humidity to thrive.
Although peperomia plants require minimal care, you must take care of some basic things during their seasonal resting phase. This article will talk about the problems that peperomias can face during winter and the solutions in detail. Let’s dive into the article to know more about it.
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Common problems of peperomia during winter
Peperomias are slow-growing plants, and their growth rate further slows down during the winter months. Beginners often make mistakes in understanding the signs of hibernating and stress the plant with overcare.
Few common problems that are faced by peperomias during the winter season are:
Winter is a dormant phase for many organisms due to cold climate, low humidity, low light, and peperomias are no exception. Many enzymatic actions responsible for rapid growth rate, slow down their action with a decrease in environmental temperature.
Beginners misunderstand the signs of dormancy and start feeding the plant with excess water and fertilizers. This is an alarming issue that most peperomia plants face. Overwatering is one of the most harmful causes that affect their health massively.
Overwatering leads to the accumulation of water at the root level, making the soil damp and soggy. This causes infestation of some disease-causing microbes. The plant ends up having serious issues like root rot, stem rot, etc.
Plant keepers often take dormancy and slow growth as a sign of malnutrition and start applying excess fertilizers to the soil mix, which is immensely harmful. Wondering why?
When you add excess fertilizers beyond the permissible limit, you alter the soil’s natural composition, which causes stress on the plant. Moreover, overfertilization makes the root dry and hinders the natural absorption process by the root system.
A decrease in the humidity level causes dryness which affects the plant. Low sunlight affects the structural arrangement of the plant, making it leggy. To absorb sufficient light, the plant starts growing nonuniformly.
Peperomia remains extremely sensitive during the dormant season, and any external stress can cause health hazards to the plant. The absence of enough light, slower growth rate, low moisture content, cold air, etc., affect the leaves, and the leaves start dropping.
How to care for your peperomia plant during winter?
If you maintain a proper care routine and provide ideal conditions to your Peperomia during the winter season, you will have a healthy plant by the end of the dormant phase.
Let’s check out some basic winter care routines for the plant.
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Light plays a vital role in a plant’s growth by inducing a photosynthesis process that fulfills the requirement of energy in the plant’s body.
Peperomia plants are not tolerant to direct sunlight but prefer diffused light. However, light intensity and duration of light go down significantly during the winter season, for which plant species suffer.
If you feel your Peperomia plant is not getting proper sunlight, you can follow these steps:
- Keep your peperomia plant under an artificial source of light.
- You can even provide an hour or two of direct sunlight. It will be beneficial for your plant’s health.
- Keep your plant near the window.
- Wash off the dust from the leaves as it prevents the absorption of light.
- Fluorescent bulbs are a great source of light for your peperomia. You can use them efficiently to serve the purpose.
- Don’t keep the plants too close to the bulb, as the heat produced by the blub can cause drying out of the leaves. Keep your plant 4-10 inches away from the light source.
- Make sure the plant is not exposed to direct sunlight for long hours.
- Clean your windowpane regularly to allow uninterrupted light to come into the room.
Water is the primary mode of transport in plants, and plants absorb water through their root system through osmosis from the soil.
However, water needs among plants vary from species to species and season to season. Peperomias are semi-succulent and have minimal water needs. Their water absorption rate decreases even more during winter.
Observing the dormant nature of the plant, the first mistake plant owners make: overwatering, leaving the soil mix damp and soggy – an ideal environment for pathogen attack.
The only way to keep your Peperomia protected from overwatering and other consequences is to water the plant only when the topsoil is completely dry.
Here are some essential tips on watering during winter:
- Don’t apply water to the whole plant. You should apply water to the soil near the root system.
- Make sure the topsoil layer has dried out completely before applying water.
- Don’t take the decision of watering only by looking at the soil. In many instances, the top layer may look dry due to exposure to light, but it may remain moist or damp deep inside.
- To check the moisture status of the soil, insert your finger into the soil up to 2 inches. You can, thereafter, water your plant if the soil feels dry at that depth.
- If you are ready for a bit of expenditure, you can use a moisture meter to check the exact moisture content of the soil.
- You can also get an idea for watering by lifting the pot. When the soil is dry, the pot will be lighter.
- Water the plant as per humidity. If your house is humid during winter, your peperomia plant might not require any water.
- Use a porous pot to allow the water to escape easily.
- Ensure the drainage holes are not blocked.
The main idea is to check the soil condition before watering.
Peperomia plants thrive well between 55-75°F and can even tolerate a minor deviation in this range. But peperomia plants do not like chilling temperatures. They must not be kept below 30°F as it hinders their growth altogether.
It is vital to maintain a constant temperature for your peperomia during winter, and to do so, follow these tips.
- Don’t keep your plant on an open windowpane, as chilling winds will cause massive harm to the leaves.
- If you stay in a freezing area where windows frost overnight, you must place your plants far away from the window.
- You can switch on the heating system to provide warmth if the weather is below 40°F.
- Keep your plant away from any heating sources.
- You can even use insulating materials between the plants and the window glass to prevent heat escape.
During winter, the humidity level in the air decreases rapidly, which causes a rise in the transpiration (release of excess water from plants’ bodies) process in plants. This elevated transpiration makes the plant dry. In low humidity, the leaves can turn brown from the tips and can start falling.
To avoid low humidity effect on your plant, try to follow the precautionary measures:
- Humidifier: These are devices that add moisture to the air and increase the humidity of your room. These are extremely helpful, especially during dry seasons.
- Misting: An easy process of spraying water to give your plant the moisture content they need. You can apply this process twice or thrice a week, although this might not be very effective.
- Pebble tray: You can prepare a pebble tray by placing pebbles on a flat tray and filling it with water. Now place your peperomia plant pot on this tray to allow water absorption through the pot’s drainage holes.
- Group your plants: Plants lose excess water from their body through tiny holes called stomata in the leaves by a process called transpiration.
By grouping your plants, you allow them to increase the relative humidity of the surrounding air as the water vapor enters the air in the plant’s immediate vicinity.
- Set up a drying rack near your plants and hang your wet clothes there. Water evaporating from the clothes will eventually increase the humidity of the room.
- Two pot method: Put your peperomia pot into a pot two inches larger than the actual pot. Fill the gap between the pots with sphagnum moss and soak it with water. The water-soaked moss will dry out slowly, releasing the water vapor into the air around your plants.
Fertilizers are essential for coping with the plant’s nutrient needs that are lacking in the natural soil medium. However, when it comes to fertilizing peperomias, even less is more.
A well-balanced NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium) and iron supplement application once every two weeks during the growing season is sufficient to meet the basic need of these epiphytes. But this frequency must be cut down to half during winter as the growth rate slows down.
The general mistake plant keepers make is overfertilization. You have to be excessively careful about your peperomia in terms of fertilization.
Remember these tips.
- You can altogether avoid fertilization during winter, and it will not cause any harm to the plant.
- Even if you are applying fertilizer, make sure it is diluted enough.
- If needed, then only fertilize the soil once a month or once in two months. This gap should not be reduced.
- Never apply fertilizers to the leaves as it prevents transpiration and burns out the leaves.
- Excess of fertilizer changes the natural composition of the soil, which hampers the growth of the plant.
Being a compact plant, peperomia can thrive well in the same pot for years. However, if you feel your plant needs a bigger space, you can repot your plant by carefully handling its root system as they are extremely delicate.
- Repotting of peperomia plants during the winter season must be avoided as they remain in a dormant state and show almost no growth signs.
- Changing its position will cause stress, which can be a matter of concern. The plant becomes less adaptive to a new environment during winter because of its slow growth rate and physiological process.
- The plant might not be able to adjust to the new soil medium, which can cause health issues and even death of the plant.
- If repotting is needed, do it during the growing months of spring and summer seasons when peperomias are most active and adaptive.
Pruning of Peperomia is generally done during the beginning of spring to get rid of any leggy parts and give the plant a more bushy appearance.
The plants become leggy mainly during the winter months as they grow in a nonuniform manner due to insufficient light. However, pruning or shedding off those extra parts must not be done during this season.
You must wait for the spring to come.
Consider these essential tips while pruning.
- Try to prune your plant if needed at the end of winter or the beginning of spring.
- Before pruning, always sterilize the shears by soaking them in a dilute bleach solution to prevent any pathogen attack.
- Pinch of dead yellow leaves to make your plant look healthy.
- Try to avoid pruning in winter as the plant takes a comparatively longer time to heal, making it more susceptible to microbial attack.
Tips for healthy growth of peperomia during winter
Winter brings more delicacy to the plant’s health. Hence handling your plant more carefully is the key to the good health of your Peperomia.
- Maintain a temperature between 50-75°F.
- Don’t touch your plant frequently.
- Try to place your plant in a well-lit area.
- Keep your plant away from the cold wind.
- While watering the plant, try to use medium-temperature water.
By understanding the minimal need for peperomia and fulfilling it accordingly during the winter months, you can keep your plant healthy and comfortable.
The good health of your plant will get reflected during the spring. Don’t indulge in over caring for your plant and over-stressing your and your plant’s health during the cold season. Keep patience till the spring comes, and you will see the massive change.
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.