The Peperomia Plant is one of the more popular houseplants. It has a long history as an ornamental plant, but it also makes for a great indoor garden plant.
The peperomias are easy to grow indoors year round. Learn how to best care for the peperomia plant in this growing guide.
- Related: Complete List of Houseplants
Peperomia Plant Overview
Featuring a variety of colors, sizes, and even shapes, the peperomia plant is an easy-to-care-for houseplant that is native to tropical areas of Central America and South America.
A member of the Piperaceae family, it is also known as the Radiator Plant, the Emerald Ripper Pepper, the Pepper Elder or the Baby Rubber Plant. Requiring very little attention, this perennial epiphyte is a great houseplant for beginners and for those constantly on the go.
The Peperomia genus boasts well over a thousand species. Foliage may commonly feature oval or heart-shaped, fleshy leaves that come in shades of gray, red, or green, and may be striped or marbled.
As a plant that grows on the tropical forest floor without access to direct sunlight in its natural habitat, it is especially suited to indoor environments with low light conditions.
The peperomia is a slow grower and maintains a compact appearance. While it may appear to be succulent-like, it is not, even though its leaves are somewhat thick and fleshy.
It produces tiny flowers that are insignificant and grow in clusters, but the peperomia is appreciated above all for its ornamental foliage.
Peperomia Plant Care Guide
Smaller peperomia plants are often found in terrariums or dish gardens. When cultivated as an indoor houseplant, they never grow much taller than twelve to eighteen inches, making them ideal for tables, buffets, or desks.
A few peperomia varieties are also perfect for hanging baskets. Varieties most often found as houseplants include the obtusifolia and the caperata.
Soil for the Peperomia Plant
The peperomia will do well in a standard loose potting soil that is well-aerated. Drainage is of the utmost importance, so a container with a sufficient number of drainage holes is a must.
You can also occasionally aerate the soil with a chopstick or similar. Poke holes gently into the soil, being careful not to damage roots while improving air circulation.
To ensure good drainage, potting mix can be amended with one of the following: orchid bark, coir, or perlite in equal parts with your potting soil.
Light for the Peperomia Plant
Your peperomia will thrive nicely in bright indirect sunlight. If your home allows it, place them in or near east or west-facing windows. This will offer good lighting without going overboard with direct sunlight.
Direct light exposure to the sun should be avoided as the leaves will risk scorching.
As an indoor plant, they will also grow with fluorescent lights, but insufficient light will cause the plant to cease growing.
Water and Humidity for the Peperomia Plant
As with almost all houseplants, the real risk to the peperomia is overwatering. Waterlogged soil will lead to root rot.
To avoid this problem, this plant can be watered from the bottom by placing the plant in a dish with water and allowing the plant to soak up what it needs. Do not leave it sitting in a dish with water. This method helps to prevent fungal infections on foliage.
Leaves are fleshy and hold water for long periods, so if you forget to water, your peperomia will be okay. Better to miss a watering than to drown your plant.
Soil can be allowed to dry out and peperomia with particularly thick leaves can go longer between waterings.
With the tropical rainforest as its natural habitat, humidity is appreciated.
If you reside in an arid climate or your home has dryer air due to heating or air conditioning, you can increase the humidity level around the plant.
You can increase the level of humidity with a humidifier, or a pebble tray placed under your plant’s container, taking care not to let the pot’s bottom touch the water.
Fertilizer for the Peperomia Plant
The peperomia needs a good monthly feeding during its growing season in the spring and summer months.
A balanced plant fertilizer diluted to half strength will suffice. Avoid fertilization in the fall and winter. That can lead to leaf drop.
Feeding once every two weeks will keep your peperomias healthy throughout their life cycle.
Temperature for the Peperomia Plant
Cozy, warm room temperatures are perfect when measuring between 60° and 80° Fahrenheit. Cold temperatures that fall below 50° F, as well as cold drafts, can cause damage to this plant’s foliage.
Peperomias can be grown outdoors in a shady area, but should be brought indoors if nighttime temperatures are in or below the 50s F. They are cultivated outdoors in USDA hardy zone 10.
Pruning and Repotting the Peperomia Plant
Peperomia can be lightly trimmed in the spring if your plant begins to look leggy. Regularly pinching back stems can help maintain a fuller appearance.
Peperomias do not require frequent repotting because they are slow growers and enjoy being a bit rootbound. It may be necessary to repot your peperomia at some point, though.
If the plant begins to show signs of stress, such as yellowed leaves or wilted growth. Or if roots emerge from the container’s drainage holes, repot them with a new container that is no more than two inches larger.
Propagating the Peperomia Plant
Peperomia plant propagation can be done at any time, although the springtime is recommended because the plant is in its growth season.
Stem cuttings that have at least an inch of stem can be taken from the mother plant and placed in a small container with potting soil.
Cover it with plastic to maintain humidity and position it in a spot with bright but indirect light. Keep the soil consistently moist, but don’t let it dry out. In two to three weeks, roots should form.
Seeds can also be used for propagation. Place the seeds in a seed tray with a soilless moist growing medium. Keep them in a warm environment with bright light until germination takes place.
Within 20 to 30 days, seeds should germinate. Young seedlings can be placed in small pots in bright indirect light to grow.
Peperomia Plant Pests, Diseases, and Problems
Common houseplant pests include mealybugs and aphids. Fungus gnats may appear when there is overwatering and excess water. Neem oil or insecticidal soap should resolve pest infestation.
Peperomias are highly susceptible to root rot for which there is no cure, so prevention through controlled watering is the only option.
Plant edema is also a result of overwatering or uneven watering. Swollen spots will appear on leaves that cannot be removed and will not disappear. Leaf drop is another symptom of overwatering.
The peperomia can also be subject to fungal diseases like the Ringspot virus that will leave round marks on its leaves and usually develops in high humidity. There is no cure for this, unfortunately.
You can attempt to remove damaged leaves, but the plant may eventually need to be disposed of. This is a good reason for watering from underneath to keep leaves dry and with good air circulation to prevent disease.
Peperomia Plant Toxicity and Pets
The peperomia plant is non-toxic to both cats and dogs, so you shouldn’t worry about poisoning pets by having one around. However, if you’re concerned about pet safety, consider keeping your plants away from animals, especially if you happen to use any chemical products on plants.
Peperomia Plant Care Final Thoughts
All in all, the peperomia plant has many benefits, including beautiful foliage, easy care, low maintenance, and long bloom periods. It’s a great choice for beginners who want something different to add to their home decor.
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Here are other houseplant care guides to learn more about other great plants:
- Swedish Ivy Care and Grow Guide
- Wandering Jew Care and Grow Guide
- Calathea Plant Care and Grow Guide
Peperomia Plant Care FAQs
How do you take care of a Peperomia plant?
Take care of a peperomia plant by providing adequate sunlight, regular fertilization, proper moisture levels, and healthy soil conditions. Give it bright indirect light, monthly fertilizer, good humidity, and well-draining potting soil to let the peperomia flourish.
Does Peperomia need sunlight?
Yes, peperomia plants need sunlight, but keep it indirect. Direct sunlight can lead to scorched leaves. If it’s hard to get good light in your home, you can use grow lights or fluorescent lights too.
Is Peperomia a good indoor plant?
Yes, the peperomia makes for a great indoor plant because it doesn’t require much attention. You don’t have to provide direct sun, as they can also thrive under artificial lighting. They prefer warm temperatures and moist environments. Water them regularly during hot weather.
Is Peperomia a succulent?
No, the peperomia is not actually a succulent, even though it looks similar to one. Succulents are cacti and agaves while the peperomia belongs to the lily family. The peperomia does share some characteristics with succulents such as being drought tolerant, growing slowly, and producing flowers year after year. But unlike succulents, peperomias produce blooms throughout the entire summer season.
Does the peperomia plant purify air?
Yes, the peperomia plant is also an air purifying plant that cleans the air in your home. It’s a great addition to any room where there might be dust buildup. Just make sure to clean up any debris before adding the peperomia to avoid clogging drainage holes.
Do peperomia plants like to be misted?
Yes, peperomia plants like water when they first arrive at new homes. Mist them every few days depending on how dry the air is in your home. Then give them less frequent waterings every few days. Keep the pots slightly wetter than normal to encourage roots to spread out, but don’t let it become soggy soil.
How often do you water a Peperomia?
Water a peperomia once per week and adjust depending on your home environment. If you see that the first couple inches of soil are dry, you can water the plant. Make sure you have well-draining soil and a pot with good drainage holes.
Why is my Peperomia dropping leaves?
Your peperomia plant could be dropping leaves because it needs more space. Try repotting into larger containers so that it has enough room to expand its root system. It can also drop leaves due to overwatering or over fertilization.