Peperomia Plant Bio: Podcast Ep#26
Updated: Oct 10, 2021
Peperomia has many varieties, all with different textures, colors, shapes, and sizes. This happens to be a great starter plant for any beginner, but also a wonderful plant to collect for an experienced houseplant lover! Peperomia can take a little bit of neglect while you are trying to learn the ropes on how to take care of it.
Peperomia Common Name: Radiator Plant (for most varieties)
Botanical Name- Other Common Name or Varieties
Peperomia obtusifolia- Baby Rubber Plant, Variegata, Marble, Red Edge, Golden Gate
Peperomia argyreia- Watermelon Peperomia
Peperomia caperat- Eden Rosso, Emerald Ripple, Red Ripple, Ruby Ripple
Peperomia prostrata- String of Turtles (because the pattern looks like a turtle shell)
Peperomia clusiifolia- Ginny Peperomia, Tricolor Peperomia
Peperomia tetraphylla- Peperomia Hope
Peperomia Ruby Cascade
Peperomia polybotrya- Raindrop Peperomia, Coin-Leaf Peperomia
Peperomia orba- Teardrop Peperomia, Pixie Peperomia
Peperomia graveolens- Ruby Glow Peperomia
Peperomia puteolata- Parallel Peperomia
Peperomia scandens- Cupid Peperomia or Piper Peperomia
Peperomia rotundifolia- Trailing Jade Peperomia, Creeping Buttons
Peperomia 'Peppermill' (this is a hybrid that you will see in images)
This list DOES NOT include all of them! There are 1,500 other species of Peperomia out there but I just touched on the most commonly found varieties! I have seen each of the ones listed on social media, in plant shops or online plant shopping (and I of course have several of them at home!).
This starts to get complicated because the light depends on the variety you bring home. Based on the requirement for each, I can summarize...
Overall, the consensus is that MOST Peperomia can handle medium light (in nature you find them as an understory plant so this makes sense!).
If you have a darker foliage, or dark green leaves with no variegation, MOST of those varieties can handle low to medium light.
If there is variegation, or multiple colors in the leaves, these can handle medium to bright, indirect light. The more variegation in the leaves, the brighter light it needs. Always avoid direct sunlight for all Peperomia.
Of course there are exceptions for this that is why I wrote "most" in all caps! All the varieties I listed above work with these rules for sun requirement.
This is pretty simple since almost all Peperomia follow the same watering rule (hallelujah!). You may notice that most Peperomia have a rubbery texture with a thicker leaf. This allows them to retain water better than some houseplants.
That being said, Peperomia like to be consistently moist but never wet or waterlogged. When the soil is just about to dry out, that is when you can water again. If you are worried about overwatering, wait another day or two to make sure the soil dries out enough. Honestly, a moisture meter reader is the best tool to really understand if your plant needs your attention or not. Overwatering is the main way people kill this plant!
Normal household humidity for MOST Peperomia is sufficient. None of my Peperomia are near my humidifier and they are all thriving! Even though they don't NEED it, it can always help! They are natively from tropical and subtropical climates where the humidity is higher.
Here are a few ways to do that...
Place near or next to a humidifier.
Place them in a greenhouse, or greenhouse cabinet.
Put a tray or saucer full of pebbles below the pot and fill with water.
Misting often with a mister or spray bottle.
A humidifier or greenhouse will be the BEST way to increase humidity, but the other options will help!
As I always say, there are many correct ways to do this. Here are a couple recommended from the resources I have...
In The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual by Barbara Pleasant it recommends the following, "Spring to fall, feed twice monthly with a balanced houseplant fertilizer mixed at half the normal rate. In winter, feed monthly."
In Doctor Houseplant by William Davidson it recommends the following "in summer feed every two weeks using half the recommended dosage."
As you can see, fertilizing recommendations can change just by who you ask! I currently use Espoma Indoor Liquid Plant Food and use this at slightly less than the recommended strength every month in peak season (end of February- end of October). In winter, I fertilize every 2 months or so with the same diluted liquid fertilizer. Realistically I only fertilize in December because at the end of February I start my peak season fertilizing again. So far this has worked for me!
I've never tried this myself UNTIL NOW! I cut up my plants to show you some examples and with those, I am going to try and propagate them!
There are two ways of doing this and it (of course) depends on the variety. But most resources suggest allowing your cuttings (no matter how you do it) to dry out for a day before propagating. Below I listed the ways to propagate and the varieties that you should do each with (remember this doesn't include all Peperomia, only the varieties I listed above).
Stem cuttings: cut an inch or two below a leaf, with two to three leaves at the top of the stem.
Peperomia obtusifolia (in image)
Peperomia Ruby Cascade
Leaf Cuttings and Leaf/Petiole Cuttings: Cut the stem just before a leaf and place this on top of new soil (Petiole is the stem JUST below the leaf).
Peperomia Ruby Cascade (in image)
Let me know what method you used and how your propagation experience went in the comments below!
Part of the Piperaceae family, which also contains Black Pepper!
Native primarily to tropical and subtropical climates in Central America, northern South America, parts of Africa and Australia.
Peperomia are epiphytes in their native habit.
Peperomia are known for their thicker waxy leaves that feel like rubber. Even though they are succulent-like, these are NOT a succulent.
The varieties I listed above come in shades of green, red, pink, purple, white, a combination of some, and variegation on others!
MOST of the varieties listed above don't exceed 12" tall/long and most stay closer to 8-10"tall/long. Yet Peperomia prostrata, Peperomia clusiifolia, Peperomia Ruby Cascade, and Peperomia scandens can exceed that! But they are VERY slow growing. It will take a hot second to get there! For example, my Peperomia prostrata in a west window grew about an inch in 5 months!
Because of their smaller sizes, they are GREAT tabletop plants and PERFECT for a small apartment!
Peperomia do not have an extensive root system so repotting isn't needed often. They love to be root bound! You can repot it every couple years to replace the depleted soil but you shouldn't need to increase your pot size for awhile.
If your plants leaves are drooping this could be a sign of underwatering or it could be a lack of oxygen.
Their roots like to have a bit more oxygen around them so using a lighter soil mix can help. If you are using a peat based soil or using extra perlite, this will do the trick!
Peperomia are pretty pest resistant but (of course) it can still be susceptible to common houseplant pests like spider mites or mealy bugs.
Peperomia does bloom but it is insignificant. It looks like a white rat tail is sticking out of your plant! Most people cut it off so the energy can be focused back into the foliage.
Because they are easy houseplants, they may do pretty good in an office setting! I specifically saw Peperomia obtusifolia recommended in The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, but I'm sure others would work as well! Maybe avoid the varieties with lots of variegation for your office since they prefer bright, indirect light.
Peperomia is pet-friendly! Score!!!
ALL images are taken by yours truly and they are actually my plants at home! Each image is labeled with their variety name below the image.
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Here are some online places to search for Peperomia! I ALWAYS recommend checking your local plant shop or garden center first! But these are always good alternatives!
Bros with Hoes Plant Shop- I've bought plants here! They are very reliable and have a weekly plant restock on Wednesdays!
Pigment- I've bought plants here too! They were very nice and sent high-quality plants! They are based out of San Diego, CA with multiple retail locations there.
Etsy- You would be surprised how many houseplant growers you can find on here! Just make sure to read the reviews first.
Bloomscape- They don't have variety but they do sell the Ginny (as or right now).
The Sill- They only have Peperomia obtusifolia as of right now.
Planterina- Sometimes prices are a little bit high here but they do have a few varieties! Their social media is really fun to follow too!
Steve's Leaves- I haven't personally bought from here but I have seen people in the plant community groups on Facebook recommend them!
In this podcast I talked about how much I love Harry Potter and mentioned another podcast I love listening to called Swish and Flick! If you're a fan, check it out!!!
Always written with extreme plant passion!
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