The world of peperomia comes in many varieties. Some you’ll find down at the local garden center. Others are strictly for hobby collectors.
Peperomia: South American Pepper Relative
The peperomia is a perennial, coming from a large South American family (about 1,000 species, a few from Africa) and is related to pepper plants. In fact, the name alone means “the plant related to the pepper.”
The leaves of peperomia plants distinguish them from other small potted table top houseplants.
Leaves that are unique, attractive and plants fun to collect.
Size and Growth
Generally, any of the 1,000 – relatively slow growing – peperomias will only achieve an overall maximum height of 10-12 inches high.
Some varieties of Peperomia make good hanging plant specimens.
Flowering and Fragrance
The long flower axils covered closely with very tiny flowers have no scent.
Light and Temperature
Peperomias do not like deep shade or strong sunlight, two very big extremes. Grow them somewhere in between and you’ll be fine.
During the summer months, temperatures between 68 – 78 F. In the winter, temperatures should not go below 50 F.
Watering and Feeding
Since these plants do not like to be over-watered, watering the plant every 7 – 10 days should be enough, depending time or year and temperature.
Apply a balanced liquid plant food every 3 watering during the “growing” summer months.
Soil and Transplanting
Generally, peperomias do not need repotting. In fact, they are probably better off under potted than over potted.
However, at times a plant can become too big for its pot and repotting is required. When repotting, use a well draining soil (50% peat moss /50% perlite).
At any time of the year, if the plant is growing scraggly or out of hand, pruning may be required.
Peperomia plant leaves, growth and foliage comes in many forms that are:
- A single solid color
- Small pale green
- Reddish foliage and stems
Peperomia propagation is as easy as taking a few tip or leaf cuttings. Using a very light rooting media and dipping the ends in a rooting hormone, tips and leaves root quickly.
Learning to root peperomia cutting is a good way to keep plants in shape as they can, over time become straggly and “wild” in growth.
Soil For Rooting
Soil plays an important role in rooting peperomia. Since most peperomia plants have small root systems, the soil should gets lots of air.
A soil mix like a 50/50 mix of peatmoss & perlite, is simple and reliable for rooting and growing peperomias.
Most peperomias can be propagated from leaf cuttings. The best time for propagation is spring, but rooting can also be done in fall.
- Cut off leaf along with a little stem
- Stick several leaf cuttings in one pot
- Press or tamp soil down around cuttings after watering
- Cover pot with a plastic bag or “soda bottle” – put several holes in bag or soda bottle
- Leave pot in normal room temperature
- Remove plastic bag or soda bottle regularly for fresh air and prevent rotting
- New plants will start growing from leaf base
- When plants are rooted well and big enough they can be repotted into individual pots
- Cut off the growing tip along with several leaves
- Remove lowest pairs of leaves
- Dip lower stems into a rooting hormone
- Follow the guidelines for leaf cuttings
Peperomia Pest & Problems
Peperomias belong to a unique group of plants which have few pests or diseases attacking them. They greatest enemy is probably neglect.
However, peperomias do have a few maladies.
Fading Dull Leaves – When a peperomia plant has dull looking leaves, it is usually caused from light which is too strong.
Remedy – Move the plant to more shade.
Discolored Leaves and Flowers – This condition usually happens from over watering.
Remedy – Allow the soil to dry out and avoid getting water on the leaves which can sometimes cause them to rot.
Peperomia Caperata – Mouse Tails
Peperomia Caperata (emerald ripple), who flower axils resemble ‘mouse tails” (as do all peperomia plants) stand above the leaves are one of the most popular peperomia varieties.
Its origin – the Brazilian rainforest. Often found as a small houseplant, no more than about 8 inches, the plant is characterized
by its dark green leaves, which are wrinkled and no “real” stalks.
The tiny (seen through a magnifying glass) yellow white flowers emerge on the “mouse tails” standing above the crinkled, corrugated foliage.
Another popular variety is the watermelon peperomia – Peperomia argyreia.
This is a list of some available peperomias. There are some beauties of stiff, upright habit. These are the dangling and spreading varieties, with a wide variety of foliage design.
Peperomia cubensis (rotundifolia, ‘Yerba Linda’) – Branching, red-tinged stems with pointed-oval, gay green leaves divided by precise indented veins. The variegated form is dashingly splashed with creamy white.
Peperomia fosteri – Deep, dull-green pointed leaves with lighter veins; branches low and spreading.
Peperomia glabella – Glossy gray-green leaves tapering to a point, on lax, thin stems. The variegated version sports a white border.
Peperomia obtusifolia – pepper face – Popular florist and dish-garden plant with thick, cupped leaves. This plant evidently sports freely, because variegated, miniature, variegated miniature, albino, white-edged, and ‘Gold Tip’ varieties are available.
Peperomia prostrata – Tiniest trailer or creeper with threadlike stems stringing together perfect little blue button leaves, etched with a pattern of silver. This one may be reluctant to move about, takes a while to adjust to any new quarters.
Peperomia quadrangularis – Low creeper with dull bronze-green leaves indented with yellowish veins.
Peperomia scandens – Sturdy trailer with glossy green, heart-shaped leaves.
Peperomia trinervis – Creeper or trailer with small pointed leaves marked deeply with parallel veins.
Peperomia ‘Ginny’ also known as ‘Tricolor’ or ‘Rainbow,’ is a popular houseplant and a very tender perennial. It has a thick stem and leaves with green, cream & red color. ‘Ginny’ also has a slender spikes of tiny white flowers that occurs throughout the year on mature plants.
As with most Peperomias, ‘Ginny’, generally, is easy to grow and can add color to your garden. It is best in containers because of its large leaves and upright growth habit. Peperomia ‘Ginny’ can also be used as a groundcover with its ability to tolerate heat or shade.