It is often hard to identify a peperomia plant since there are over 1000 varieties that look quite different from each other. Peperomia plants are native to Central and South America, all belong to the Pepper family, and are semi-succulents with very similar care requirements. One main difference is that those with thick leaves that store water are more drought resistant and forgiving if you forget to water than those varieties with thin leaves. Nicknames for the plant include Baby rubber plant, Pepper elder, and Radiator plant.
Peperomia Plant Description
Peperomia plant leaves can be thick, plump, rippled, quilted, corrugated, smooth, hairy, or shiny; and can be various shades of green, red, gray, and cream. The pattern on the leaves may be marbled, striped, or a solid color. When small, peperomia houseplants can be used in dish gardens and terrariums. Indoors, mature peperomia plants rarely grow taller than 10”-16″ and are perfect sitting on a table or desk. Though usually an upright plant, some varieties make excellent hanging plants. Peperomia plant flowers are tiny and inconsequential, growing in clusters on upright conical spikes. They get the unpleasant name “rat-tail” flowers because of their appearance.
Peperomia Plant Varieties
The most popular peperomias used as indoor house plants are the caperata and the obtusifolia varieties.
Peperomia Caperata Rosso is a dramatic looking plant. The dark green pointed leaves have red undersides; the top surface of the leaf appears wrinkled or corrugated. The very small, light green flowers appear in the spring and summer atop 2”-3” spikes.
Peperomia Icana (Felted peperomia) has round to oval, 2”-3,” gray green leaves. The leaves are covered in whitish gray hairs which gives the plant a fuzzy appearance. A peperomia icana has thick green stems with a touch of red.
Peperomia obtusifolia Variegata is a compact plant with shiny, leathery cup shaped leaves. The patterned leaves come in various shades of dark green, light green, and cream. It produces reddish brown flower spikes topped with tiny cream-colored flowers.
Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia) has oval to tear-drop shaped green and silver striped leaves with red stems. The small, inconsequential flowers appear at the top of thin flower stalks in the summer. flowers
Peperomia Tri Color (Red Edge Peperomia or Peperomia Ginny) has large leaves for a peperomia plant. The inner part of the thick leaves is green, and the leaf edges are bordered in cream and pink.
Other popular varieties include the: Peperomia Hope, Emerald Ripple, Raindrop Peperomia, and String of Turtles
“Rosso” “Icana” “Variegated” “Watermelon” “TriColor”
Quick Care Tips
Leaves lose color in low light, provide bright indirect light
Do not over-water, semi succulent Peperomia stores water in its leaves
Minimum temperature of 50°- 55°F (10°-12.8°C)
Do not rush to re-pot
Easily propagated using stem cutting in spring and summer
Water less and do not fertilize in the fall and winter
Peperomia plants are compact, easy care, semi – succulents that come in many varieties. Some varieties are small enough to planted in a dish garden, some are perfect as a table plant for a small area, while other varieties look beautiful in a hanging basket. The very popular Peperomia plant was chosen as the 2022’s Houseplant of the Year by the National Garden Bureau’s annual “Year of Plants” program.
Peperomia plants grow well in the bright, indirect light provided by a west or east-facing window. These plants even grow under fluorescent lights. Insufficient light causes the slow growing peperomia plant to stop growing all together. Direct sunlight burns the leaves.
Allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before you water. Over-watering, resulting in root-rot, is the main cause of serious peperomia plant problems. It’s best to water these plants from the bottom. This technique keeps the leaves dry and helps prevent plant diseases. The thick leaves of peperomia plants hold water and allow the plant to withstand long periods without moisture.
Fertilize monthly in the spring and summer with a balanced houseplant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. It’s not necessary to feed a peperomia plant in the fall and winter.
Warm temperatures between 60°-80°F (15.6°-26.7°C) are best. Temperatures below 50°-55° F (10°-12.8°C) and cold drafts from windows and doors damage peperomia plant leaves.
Peperomia plants are originally from the rain forests of Brazil and like a warm, humid environment.
The flowers of peperomia plants are very small and inconsequential. It’s the leaves of certain varieties that are so interesting.
Houseplant pests such as mealy bugs and aphids can be a problem.
Ringspot, a virus that marks the leaves with unsightly round marks, develops in high humidity. Since there is no good treatment for this plant disease, damaged leaves and even the entire infected plant may have to be thrown out. Keep peperomia leaves dry and provide good air circulation to prevent diseases.
Use a well-aerated loose potting soil that drains quickly.
Re-pot peperomia plants to the next size container when the roots of the plant have filled the existing pot. Planting a peperomia in a pot that is too large prevents the soil from drying out quickly and causes root-rot.
Peperomia plants can be pruned anywhere along the stem. New growth develops from the nodes just below the cut in the stem.
These plants are easily propagated from leaf cuttings, stem tip cuttings, and plant division. Be sure to allow the cut ends of the peperomia leaves or stems being used for propagation to dry out for several hours or overnight before planting them.
Poisonous Plant Info
A Peperomia is an non-poisonous plant.
The leaves and stems of a Peperomia plant contain alkaloids so the plant is considered a poisonous indoor house plant. Please keep peperomia plants away from small children and pets.
Peperomia plants usually start to lose leaves when the soil stays too wet.This is a semi succulent plant and does like dry soil.
Your Peperomia plant may be getting brown leaf tips because the temperature is too cold. Be sure your plantis not sitting on a cold windowsill or near a door during cold weather. Also, be careful with your fertilizer; too much plant food can cause brown leaf tips on plants. Feed a peperomia plant monthly in the spring and summer when it is actively growing, never in the fall and winter.
My favorite indoor peperomia houseplants are: Peperomia Emerald Ripple, a bushy table plant with quilted green leaves; Peperomia Cupid, a hanging variety; Watermelon Peperomia, a variety with grayish stripes on green leaves; and Peperomia obtusifolia, a Peperomia that resembles a baby Rubber Tree plant.
In cool weather, Peperomia plants need less water and no plant food at all. Cut back on your water, let the soil dry out, eliminate any plant food and move your peperomia to a warm bright location. Hopefully it will recover soon.