If you’re looking for an ultra-low-maintenance houseplant to bring into your home, then the peperomia plant is it! This tropical plant does not need very much attention, so it’s the perfect indoor plant for beginners and people with limited time.
Plus, it’s a gorgeous plant that can add vigor to any space with it’s heart-shaped leaves that grow upright.
It’s known for its slow-growth rate, too, so if you’re in need of a small houseplant that won’t overgrow quickly, give this plant a try. I’d look great on a bookshelf in your home office.
I like to compare this plant to the pothos plant because they’re both super low-maintenance and can take some serious neglect. But I actually think peperomia might beat out pothos in terms of being low-care.
There are hundreds of peperomia varieties to choose from, which makes adding a new one to your collection quite a thrill, in my opinion.
It’s always fun to get a few different varieties of the same plant! Soon, you’ll figure out which one is your favorite.
To keep this houseplant happy, all you really need is sufficient light, a good and sparse watering schedule, warm room temperature, and decent humidity levels.
There are a few common problems that might plague the plant from time to time but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will inevitably affect your plant.
Plus, there are quick and easy solutions to these issues, which I’ll cover shortly. Now let’s delve right into the details of peperomia care so you start off on the right foot!
Peperomia Plant Care
Peperomia plants are native to Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean, and are hardy to zones 10-12.
These tropical plants are used to high humidity and a warm environment, which makes them easy to care for as indoor plants. They’re small in size and can thrive in compact spaces.
Commonly referred to as baby rubber plant, radiator plant, and emerald ripper pepper, the plant is loved for its waxy leaves and ornamental foliage.
Some plants in the peperomia genus sport dark green leaves but others have textured leaves in colors of red, burgundy, variegated, purple, marbled, and even gray.
Some have tiny leaves but others have larger ones. And they’re all lovely to look at!
Some can grow up to a foot tall and a foot wide.
They’re considered epiphytes. What does this mean exactly?
Simply put, this means that in their natural habitat, they actually grow upon other plants and trees, specifically tree trunks, but are not parasitic.
Peperomia plants can nestle into tree barks and throw out their roots into old bark. They don’t actually need soil to survive!
At home, we need to support them with soil that best mimics their natural habitat, and we can do so by using a good orchid mix or potting soil amended with peat moss or vermiculite.
However, the soil your plant came in is likely perfectly fine and suited for it, so no need to stress over this until it’s time to repot in a year or two with fresh soil.
Just keep in mind that like many plants, peperomia appreciates well-draining soil with organic matter.
Peperomia Sunlight Needs
Now let’s talk about sunlight needs because it’s probably the most important aspect of care. This lovely plant appreciates medium to bright indirect light.
Indirect sunlight is key!
Like many houseplants, direct sun can harm and burn the leaves, especially in the summer months.
Fluorescent lights can work well, too, if you don’t get enough light during the winter months or you’d like to keep the plant in an office or cubicle.
It’s a good idea to place the plant near a window that lets in bright light but just be mindful that it doesn’t get too much full sun.
You can keep the plant in low light but unfortunately, your plant won’t grow as vigorously and the color won’t be as rich.
The plant needs enough light to produce new growth and to keep its color. Sparse leaves and leaf drop are two common signs of insufficient sunlight.
How to Water Peperomia Plants
The thick leaves help to make peperomia plants drought-tolerant, like succulents. So if you love semi-succulent houseplants, this one is a great choice.
Proper watering is important because you want to avoid root rot as best you can.
Many people either give their houseplants too much water or they forget to water them entirely. So let’s go over a few key tips:
- Peperomias have succulent-like leaves, which means they’re able to store water and tolerate periods of drought
- Water peperomia only when the soil surface feels dry about an inch or two deep into the pot
- Always make sure the pot has a drainage hole because this will be a huge help in clearing excess water and preventing soggy soil that rots the root system
- If your pot sits atop a saucer, always toss the water that collects inside the saucer after each watering. You don’t want the bottom of the pot to ever sit in a puddle of water.
- As far as how often to water peperomia, you’ll likely only water the plant once every two weeks, depending on how quickly the soil in your house dries out.
- You’ll probably water more often in late spring and summer, and less often in the winter.
Keep in mind, too, that if your plant sits near a heating vent, the soil might dry out quickly, so make it a habit of checking the soil once a week.
When you water, water the soil directly, not the leaves; the leaves don’t need to be sprayed or spritzed.
Signs of overwatering peperomia include yellow leaves and brown spots on the fleshy leaves. Other signs include fungus gnats, pest infestation, and droopy leaves.
Pests love soggy soil so it’s a breeding ground for them and a good sign that you’re overwatering! To remedy this, simply cut back on your watering frequency and let the soil dry out completely before you water again.
Signs of underwatering include dry, crispy leaves and leaf drop from the bottom half of the plant.
Try to pick one day out of the week to check the soil for dryness. If it feels dry, break out the watering can and water it!
Temperature and Humidity Requirements
Peperomia grows naturally in tropical regions so it enjoys warm temperatures and moderate to high humidity levels.
Warmth and humidity are two things the plant needs to put on good growth during the growing season, aka the summer.
The plant does not take well to freezing temperatures and can only be grown outdoors in zone 10. Protect it during the winter inside your house by keeping it away from cold drafts.
This means placing it away from front and back doors that let in the cold air each time your enter and leave your house. Believe it or not, this actually does affect the plant!
Room temperature should be between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your house has low humidity, you can increase the humidity around your plant in a few different ways.
One way is by placing your plant on top of a pebble tray filled with rocks and water (just keep in mind the bottom of the pot isn’t sitting in a puddle of water).
You can place a small humidifier near the plant or you can mist the leaves a few times a week. Keeping houseplants near each other also helps to increase ambient humidity levels.
Fertilizer for Peperomia Plants
Peperomia has a slow growth rate so they’re not heavy feeders. It’s just one more way they’re low-maintenance! The plant does benefit from fertilizer during the growing season, however, which is spring to fall.
To fertilize, you can use a liquid fertilizer made for houseplants or liquid kelp fertilizer at half the recommended strength about every other week.
Make sure to never fertilize during the winter because the plant is not actually growing at this time; it’s resting.
Before applying the fertilizer, always make sure to water the soil first. Pouring fertilizer onto dry soil can burn the root system.
When it’s time to fertilize, pour some water into the soil and let it absorb. Then grab your watering can and pour the liquid fertilizer into it along with more water.
Water the plant with the fertilizer solution. That’s it! Pretty simple.
One other important thing to note is to make sure the plant receives plenty of bright indirect light after you’ve fertilized it. Fertilizing a plant and giving it insufficient light time is a recipe for leggy growth and sparse leaves.
Types of peperomia varieties:
As stated above, there are hundreds of peperomia varieties but the ones below are the most commonly available at local garden centers;
Peperomia caperata: This one is gorgeous and colorful. The wrinkly, velvety leaves are usually a purple shade mixed with some dark grey veins. It’s one of the most interesting-looking houseplants you can grow!
If you find this one at your garden center, I’d recommend you take it home!
Peperomia obtusifolia: You might have heard this variety referred to as the watermelon peperomia because its leaves resemble the markings found on the outside of a watermelon!
It’s another common variety and it’s also very pretty. It features light-green oval-shaped leaves with dark line markings throughout.
Peperomia polybotrya – Known as raindrop peperomia, people love this plant for it’s big glossy green leaves that look like raindrops.
People sometimes confuse it for pothos plant because the leaves look similar but peperomia does not vine.
Common Pests and Problems
You won’t face too many problems with this low-maintenance plant but there are a few you should be aware of. If you overwater frequently, you might begin to notice small bugs flying around the pot.
These are fungus gnats and they’re attracted to soggy soil and fungal infections. To remedy this, stop watering until the water is completely dry inside the pot.
You can try a hydrogen peroxide solution to get rid of them easily. Here are the instructions:
- Mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 6 parts water
- Pour the solution directly onto the soil
The solution should kill all larvae, eggs, and gnats on contact.
Another pest you might encounter is the mealybug. They’ll appear like small cotton-like mounds under the leaves and on the stem.
Here’s another easy solution that this time involves rubbing alcohol.
- Mix 1 cup rubbing alcohol to 1 quart of water. Adjust as needed if you’re only watering one small plant or many.
- Pour into the soil
- You can also dip a Q-tip into the solution and wipe away the bugs on the leaves and stem
(If you want to learn more about this common pest, you can do so through my post about How to Get Rid of Mealybugs). You can see an example of a mealybug infestation below.
Scabs on Leaves
If you’ve overwatered, you might notice wilting and scabs on the leaves. Try to adjust your watering frequency to prevent this from happening to the other leaves.
How to Keep Peperomia Leaves Glossy
One thing that affects all houseplants is dust and water spots! These two things can make a once-vibrant plant appear lackluster and not well cared for.
Certain peperomia plant varieties feature glossy, waxy leaves; it’s what they’re known and celebrated for.
And even though you might be super careful about only watering the soil, water droplets might come into contact with the leaves, leaving behind unsightly water drops.
Don’t worry, though, as there’s an easy, quick, and inexpensive solution. All you need on hand in order to clean the leaves of your houseplants is a damp washcloth.
To clean the leaves, simply wet a clean microfiber cloth and wring out the excess water. Then, hold each leaf from the underside as you gently clean the top of the leaf with the washcloth to take all of the dust off.
Make sure to rise the cloth as you go. That’s it! Your plant should look much better after you wipe it down to a damp cloth.
Now that we’ve covered the most essential peperomia care tips, I hope you’ll find this plant easy to grow in your home! It really is a beautiful plant and one that is perfect if you’re just starting out with houseplants.