Peperomia is a great houseplant for plant lovers of every skill level. Beginners appreciate how easy they are to care for, while experienced plant parents love seeking out new varieties to add to their collections.
Peperomia is a hearty, almost succulent-like houseplant that originated in the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. There are more than a thousand varieties, and although each looks very different, they are all easy to care for and will make stunning additions to your home.
You can successfully grow peperomia outdoors in zones 10 to 12, but most people will have more success growing them inside. In the wild, many varieties grow into the decaying cracks and crevices on trees, so choosing a soil that mimics these growing conditions will help your peperomia thrive.
They like soil that is acidic, loose, and chunky. Orchid potting mix is a good choice, but you can also use regular potting soil with added peat moss.
Most peperomias stay on the small side, so they don't need a lot of space. These plants prefer to be in slightly smaller pots, too, so there's no need to upgrade too quickly. How big your peperomia will get depends on the variety you choose. Some grow upright while others mound or trail, so you can find a peperomia that suits whatever space you have.
Because peperomias are native to places like Mexico and the Caribbean, they need a lot of filtered bright light from 12 to 16 hours a day. Artificial light is fine if you don't have enough natural light in your home. Avoid direct light because it can burn the leaves. If your plant isn't getting enough sun , you'll notice pale coloring, dropping leaves, and less new growth.
Peperomias are tropical plants, but they don't require a lot of water because they store some in their leaves. Water your plant when the top inch or so of soil is dry, and monitor the leaves carefully. Your peperomia will tell you when it needs water as the leaves will be less firm.
It is always better to underwater a peperomia than overwater it. They store enough water in their leaves that they can safely miss a watering, but too much water will quickly lead to root rot.
Peperomia is resistant to most pests, but mealybugs can cause problems for them, which suck the moisture out of plants and usually prefer new growth. Mealybugs are very distinctive-looking soft-bodied pests that often appear as fluffy cotton-like clusters on your plants.
Try treating light infestations by washing away the mealybugs with water as needed. Treat harder-to-control infestations with rubbing alcohol, insecticidal soap, or neem oil.
Many of the diseases that affect peperomia result from overwatering. Root rot is the most common and causes mushy roots, stalks, and leaves. The leaves may also start to curl or turn yellow once the roots no longer function properly and cannot deliver water to the rest of the plant.
Overwatering can also lead to ringspot, a virus that causes deformed leaves with necrotic areas that appear as rings. Sometimes, you can remove the infected leaves and the plant will continue to grow normally, but some won't recover from this disease.
Peperomia is generally easy to care for, but they can get leggy if you don't prune them as they grow. The plants grow very slowly, so regular pruning and maintenance are keys to getting a lush, full plant.
Start by removing dead or unhealthy leaves, then prune the healthy areas to get the shape you want. To encourage branching and new growth, cut or pinch off right above a lead node.
Peperomia plants are easy to propagate any time of year, but if you're looking for quick results, take your cuttings in the spring. You will need a sterile pair of pruning shears, a small pot filled with orchid or potting mix, plastic wrap, and a window or other area with bright light.
Snip off a leaf attached to an inch of stem, then place the stem of the cutting into the container. Cover the top of the pot with plastic wrap to maintain humidity and place the pot where it will get plenty of sunlight. Roots should form and the plant should begin showing new growth in a few weeks.
The benefits depend on the variety of peperomia. For example, the leaves of peperomia pellucida are edible, and they are often used in folk medicine to treat headaches, stomachaches, swelling, gout, and skin problems. Most types of peperomia don't have any additional benefits beyond their aesthetic appeal and ease of care.
There are over a thousand varieties of peperomia. The most popular include watermelon peperomia, which has rounded leaves with green and silvery stripes that resemble tiny watermelons. String of turtles grows in long thin vines and has small finger-nail-sized leaves that resemble tiny turtle shells. Peperomia ginny has pink-edged leaves that are larger than most peperomia varieties.