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Are you having a hard time keeping Peperomia Ruby Cascade alive, let alone thriving? I’ve written this post to help the countless people that have told me that they can’t keep this plant alive.
Learn all about Peperomia Ruby Cascade plant care and propagation in this post, including the one growing secret that will make ALL the difference!
These plants are semi-succulent in nature, and hence why some people have problems with them.
They are NOT technically succulents, so don’t go around spreading vicious rumors. The leaves are semi-succulent though which means they are a little…juicy. That’s all.
Peperomia Ruby Cascade can easily rot out on you if you don’t provide this plant with good overall growing conditions.
Before I get to the one super important piece of information that will help you grow this plant, it is really important to understand that you must have a combination of conditions correct in order to have a healthy plant.
- Repotting Peperomias Plants
- Plants & Flowers
- How I pruned the Baby Rubber Plant:
- How to propagate a Baby Rubber Plant (Perperomia obtusifolia):
- How care for the cuttings in water while they’re rooting:
- Good things to know about the Baby Rubber Tree:
- All About Pepper Face
- Varieties of Peperomia Obtusifolia
- Caring For Your Baby Rubber Plant
- Frequently Asked Questions
- A. About Peperomia Caperata
- B. How To Grow Peperomia Caperata
- C. The Varieties of Peperomia Caperata
- 1. Beetle peperomia/ Peperomia angulata/ Peperomia quadrangularis
- 2. Belly button peperomia/Peperomia verticillata
- 3. Bibi peperomia/ Peperomia trinervula ‘Bibi’
- 4. Columbian peperomia/Peperomia metallica var columbiana
- 5. Cupid peperomia/Peperomia scandens ‘Variegata’
- 6. Golden gate peperomia/Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Golden Gate’
- 7. Isabella peperomia/ Peperomia hoffmanii
- 8. Jelly peperomia/peperomia clusiifolia ‘Jelly’
- 9. Peperomia japonica
- D. The Guides To Care for Peperomia Caperata
- E. The Fertilizer and The Peperomia Propagation
- Types Of Peperomias: Tips For Growing A Peperomia Houseplant
- Types of Peperomias
- Peperomia Care
- Peperomia Overview
- Types Of Peperomia
- Peperomia Problems
- 1. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
- 2. Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
- 3. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- 4. Mother-in-law’s tongue/Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)
- 5. Dracaena (Dracaena marginata, D. fragrans ‘Massangeana,’ D. deremensis ‘Janet Craig’ and ‘Warneckei’)
- 6. Gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
- 7. Devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
- 8. Broadleaf lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)
- 9. Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Help your houseplants thrive
Although it might seem really obvious to many, the topic of light is unfortunately a very misunderstood topic.
And I really believe that a lot of misconceptions are spread through social media (particularly on Instagram!). Which if you aren’t following me on Instagram, be sure to follow @ohiotropics.
If you want this plant to grow well and thrive, you must have it directly in front of a window. As close as possible and within a foot of a window for best results.
This really goes for any plant. It’s just that some plants are more forgiving than others. This one is not quite so forgiving.
So many people these days place plants several feet away from a window. No plant can thrive in those conditions. There are some that will tolerate it, but that’s about it.
I have two Ruby Cascades. One is in sitting under a skylight in my sunroom and the other is hanging right in front of a Southern exposure window (with blinds to diffuse the direct sun.)
I’m sure that larger Northern windows will be OK for these plants. Unobstructed Eastern exposure windows that get morning sun would be ideal.
Being semi-succulent in nature, if you have these plants in darker conditions, chances are that the soil will stay wet for a long time and thus cause rotting.
Most people lose this plant from rotting.
After you get the “light” portion correct, I’d like you to consider the following important topics.
Remember, houseplant care should be a holistic approach where you consider a variety of factors that result in a healthy houseplant.
Due to the semi-succulent nature of the leaves, you’ll want to allow your Peperomia Ruby Cascade to dry out a bit in between watering.
Always soak your plant thoroughly and let the excess water escape through the drainage holes. (And yes, drainage holes are a MUST).
Then allow the soil to dry out in between watering. The trick is to let it dry out enough, but not too much.
Depending on the size pot that you have your plant growing in, let the top inch or two dry out. It will be OK (though not preferable) to allow all of the soil to dry out in the pot, but not for too long.
If you let your Ruby Cascade completely dry out and stay dried out for extended periods of time, the lower leaves will dry up and the plant will become bare at the base.
How do you ensure that the soil will dry out in a reasonable amount of time? One important thing, as previously discussed, is LIGHT! Follow my tips in the light section.
Making sure not to overpot this plant (placing it in a pot that’s too big) will also help to ensure that the soil dries out quickly enough. My rule of thumb is only go up one pot size when you repot.
As far as fertilizing goes, I always recommend the following as a fantastic all-purpose fertilizer for all plants. It is available on Amazon and I use it for almost all my houseplants.
I simply add 1/4 teaspoon to a gallon of water and use it every time I water during the growing season. I don’t fertilize during the winter months.
And now onto the “secret” to make sure that this plant will thrive.
For any plant that has semi-succulent or succulent leaves (and also for true succulents), I use the same soil blend. Here is my “secret” that I referred to.
I used this soil blend after I propagated my plant. I had to chop my original plant after it grew a few feet and reached the surface of my spouse’s desk!
I simply used a combination of a good succulent/cactus mix along with pumice. I used approximately 2 parts of succulent mix and 1 part of 1/4″ size pumice.
You can purchase the following components on Amazon and I always have these on hand to repot and to pot up rooted cuttings!
Here is a great mix for succulents and cacti (and plants like Peperomia Ruby Cascade that need superior drainage).
And here is a fantastic 1/4″ sized pumice that I always use. The quality is great:
Remember, use about 2 parts of the cactus mix and 1 part of the pumice.
This blend is very sharply draining and it has really worked beautifully for this plant.
Like I mentioned earlier, if you let this plant completely dry out for extended periods, the base of the vines will go bare.
But the upside is that this plant grows very quickly in my experience so it makes a great subject for propagation!
My original plant that I purchased grew a few feet long, so I had to chop it and make a new plant.
I took quite a few cuttings so that I could create a full plant. When you want to make a nice full plant, always take as many cuttings as you can. Otherwise you will be waiting forever!
I will show you what my cuttings started out at and what the resulting plant looked like less than a year later.
Here is what my cuttings started out as:
I choose the water propagation method because I like to see the roots growing and then I potted them up.
- Take a pair of scissors and cut as many cuttings as you can (or as many as you are comfortable with!). My cuttings were all around 5 or 6 inches long or so.
- Strip off the bottom leaves with your fingers. The bare part of the stem will be in water.
- Place the cuttings all in water and change the water once a week or so. More often if you notice that the water is cloudy.
- Place the vase in bright indirect light and wait for rooting.
- Then plant the rooted cuttings in a smaller pot using the soil blend that I described earlier in this post.
(You can also use the soil propagation method as well. Dip the ends of the cuttings in rooting hormone, and then place directly in soil.)
Here is what the rooted plant looked like just several months afterwards! Nice and full!
Here are a couple more tips that will help you that I think are very important!
Start off with a smaller pot. I planted my cuttings in a 3.5 or 4 inch pot. Don’t use huge pots starting off because the soil will take too long to dry out and you will risk rotting your plant out.
And finally, be sure to follow my soil recipe and my cultural tips in this blog post for best results.
Do you have a Peperomia Ruby Cascade? Comment below! I love to hear from my readers.
Peperomias are among the easiest houseplants to grow and plainly put, I think they’re the cat’s meow. Have you ever given one a try? Those sold in the trade (and there is a wide variety of them) are either tabletop or hanging plants all with attractive foliage. Mine needed a new mix. I thought I’d share with you my process with repotting peperomia plants. I’ve got a soil blend which has proven to work.
The ones which I’m repotting here are the very popular Baby Rubber Plant (Peperomia obtusifolia) and the Rainbow Peperomia (Peperomia clusiifolia “rainbow”). Tabletop peperomias stay small and most max out at 12″ by 12″. Their roots aren’t extensive, and for this reason, they don’t need frequent repotting.
Repotting Peperomias Plants
Peperomias like being a bit tight in their pots. I usually don’t repot them unless the roots are coming out the drain holes. This wasn’t the case with mine but here’s why I repotted them. I’ve had these peperomias for almost 2 years now. Who knows old the soil mix is. Perhaps they were at the growers for a year or 2 before being shipped off to the retail nursery where I bought them. The soil just looked like it needed to be refreshed.
I live in Tucson where it’s hot and dry. These peperomias needed to be watered more frequently than my multitude of other houseplants. Time for the special mix to remedy that. Another reason: some growers grow many different types of houseplants and use the same mix for all. With some houseplants, I use straight potting soil and others I do my own blend.
The ingredients in the saucer from the top going clockwise: Smart Naturals potting soil, local potting soil (you can see it’s full of coco fiber), orchid bark, charcoal & local compost. That’s worm compost in the bowl.
Proven Soil Mix for Repotting Peperomia Plants
A local potting soil
It was the 1st time I bought this & discovered it wasn’t right for houseplants. Because it contains a good amount of coco fiber (coco coir), I could use it for peperomias. It would be suitable for hoyas too. Not as the sole mix but blended with the ingredients below. You could sub coco coir here.
Fox Farm Smart Naturals Potting Soil
It has lots of good stuff in it that houseplants love.
Many peperomias are epiphytic. Epiphytes love orchid bark.
This is optional but what charcoal does is improve the drainage & absorb impurities & odors. For this reason, it’s great to mix into your soil mix when doing any indoor potting project.
Just a handful of this into the pail because the Smart Naturals already has nutrients in it.
This is my favorite amendment, which I use sparingly because it’s rich. I’m currently using Worm Gold Plus. Here’s why I like it so much. Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.
When using more than 3 ingredients, I find it easiest to mix it all up in a pail. I also do this when the pots I’m transplanting into are a small size.
Ratio and Blend of Soil Mix
I mixed the 2 potting soils at a ratio of 1:1 with a few handfuls each of the orchid bark and the charcoal is thrown into the pail. An 1/8″ layer of worm compost was added at the end as topdressing.
Peperomias like a light but rich mix which drains well. They rot out easily so you want the mix to contain a good amount of something like coco coir. Growers love coco coir as a growing medium because it holds water well yet still provides good drainage and aeration. It’s much more environmentally friendly than peat moss which is considered to be a non-renewable resource but has all the same properties.
Other Soil Mixes to Try
1.) 1/2 potting soil to 1/2 of cup succulent & cactus mix
2.) 1/2 potting soil to 1/2 coco coir
3.) 1/2 succulent & cactus mix to 1/2 coco coir
4.) 1/2 potting soil to 1/2 perlite or pumice
5.) 1/2 potting soil to 1/2 orchid bark
6.) 1/3 potting soil to 1/3 coco coir to 1/3 perlite or pumice
You get the idea. There are many opinions on the blend to use but I’m sure you can find 1 which you and your peperomias like the best. Rich, light, and well drained is the key.
Repotting Peperomia Plants
Nothing out of the ordinary on the repotting technique here. You can watch the video to see how it’s done. The actual transplanting starts around the 6:37 mark.
Before the repotting. The Baby Rubber got planted directly into the opalescent pot & I kept the Rainbow Peperomia in a grow pot because the root ball was so small.
This has nothing to do with repotting but if you have pets, it’s good to know:
Peperomias are non-toxic to both cats & dogs.
As I said, tabletop peperomias don’t grow too big and their root balls stay small. I repot them when the soil mix is looking old or when the roots are showing out of the drain hole(s). In other words, don’t rush to repot yours. I won’t repot the 2 you see here for at least 3 years, maybe longer.
I’m looking forward to getting a couple more peperomias but who knows when that’ll be. First, I want a Monstera deliciosa and another dracaeana and maybe a rhaphis palm. So many houseplants to drool over! What’s next on your list??
Plants & Flowers
Common names: Baby Rubber Plant, Pepper Face
Distribution and habitat: Peperomia obtusifolia is a species of epiphytic flowering plant native to Mexico to northern jungles of South America and the Caribbean. It is an evergreen perennial growing to 25cm (10 inch) tall and broad, with cupped leathery leaves and narrow spikes of white flowers up to 12cm (5 inch) long.
Description: Peperomia obtusifolia has long stems and flashy, glossy, rounded but blunt-edged leaves 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long. Leaf colour is deep purplish green and the stems are slightly purple. Maximum height is about 30cm (12 inch). White flower spikes only 5-8cm (2-3inch) long appear between late spring and early autumn.
Houseplant care: Occasional pinching out of growing points during spring and summer will induce plants to produce more side-shoots and become bushier.
Light: Peperomia obtusifolia with green leaves need to be shaded from the hot sun during the sunniest months, but those with variegated foliage like a few hours of sunshine every day. There for these plants should be placed quite close to a bright window, especially in winter.
Temperature: Peperomia obtusifolia thrive in normal room temperatures. Even when not actively growing, they must have a temperature of at least 13°C (55°F). Despite of their appearance like succulents, they are not desert plants. They need high humidity during the growing season. In very warm rooms the plants will lose their leaves in dryness. It is recommended to keep the plants on trays of moist pebbles on in larger pots of damp peat moss.
Watering: Water the plant only when is clearly needed and then very sparingly. Allow the potting mixture to dry out almost completely between waterings. Too much water even for short periods will result in considerable leaf loss and may even bring on complete collapse of the plants.
The thick, fleshy leaves of these plants allow them to withstand short periods of drought. If at any time the leaves look unusually transparent, this probably indicates that the plant needs water.
Fertilising: Apply standard liquid fertiliser once a month at half-strength from mid-spring to autumn only. Too much feeding will result in soft, untypical growth and eventually the plant will collapse.
Potting and repotting: Peperomia obtusifolia best grown in a peat-based potting mixture. Because they have little root they will do well in small pots, half-pots, shallow pans, bowls and hanging baskets.
Young plants may need to be moved into pots one size larger in spring. Mature plants in 10 to 13cm (4-5 inch) pots are unlikely to need repotting. All pots should have a shallow layer of clay-pot fragments or other drainage material in the bottom to promote drainage.
Propagation: Peperomia obtusifolia can be propagated from 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long tip cuttings. Take cuttings in spring or early summer and insert several of them in same pot of 5-8cm (2-3 inch) with barely moist equal-parts of peat-moss and coarse sand or perlite. Keep the potted cuttings at a temperature of about 18°C (64°F) in bright light but not in direct sunlight and water them very sparingly. Tip cuttings are likely to root in four to six weeks. Move the rooted new plant into larger pots only when they have completely filled their pots with roots and clearly need more space.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Alba’ is a variegated form with pale lemon yellow new leaves, deepening in colour as they age.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Albo-marginata’ is a variegated form with silvery white borders on a grey-green leaf.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Variegata’ & Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Greengold’ are both variegated forms with patches of cream or yellow.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Minima’ is a dwarf form of Peperomia obtusifolia.
Peperomia obtusifolia is susceptible to grey mould (botrytis) that may appear at the base of the stems if the air is too stagnant. Brown-tipped leaves may be caused by sudden drops in temperature.
Treatment: Keep the plant in well ventilated place to avoid grey mold to appear. Remove the affected leaves immediately and always keep the plants away from droughts and cold window-sills.
Overwatering will result in wilting or discoloured leaves or/and stems and leaf root.
Uses: Peperomia obtusifolia is used in terrariums, mixed planters or in shelves by warm, sunny window.
These houseplants clean the air by emitting high oxygen content, and purifies indoor air by removing chemicals, such as formaldahyde or other toxins.
Foliage – green or variegated
Shape – bushy
Height: 30cm (12 inch)
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – sparingly
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 21°C (55-70°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high
Hardiness zone: 10a-11
Foliage Plants, Ground cover, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants Baby Rubber Plant, Peperomia obtusifolia, Peperomia obtusifolia Alba, Peperomia obtusifolia Albo-marginata, Peperomia obtusifolia Greengold, Peperomia obtusifolia Minima, Peperomia obtusifolia Variegata, Pepper Face
Time to take action – this is all about pruning & propagating my Peperomia obtusifolia aka Baby Rubber Plant.
Peperomias, which are available to you in a wide range of variegations and leaf shapes and sizes, make excellent and easy care houseplants. Most of them have glossy foliage; so why wouldn’t we want more of them? I have 2 in my guest bathroom and 1, a Peperomia obtusifolia or Baby Rubber Plant, was taking up too much real estate so on with the pruning.
I love the Baby Rubber Plant not only for its ease of maintenance but also for those dark, glossy green leaves.
The form mine was growing into, let’s call it flippy-floppy, was 1 I liked but I didn’t want another hanging plant. The Rainbow Peperomia growing next to it will be happy to have more space so it can better show off its beautiful self.
My Peperomia obtusifolia before the pruning.
Baby Rubber Plants respond very well to pruning. I’ve cut 1 back to 5″ tall and it came back just fine. This time I took about 10″ of stems off. My new plant that’ll result from these cuttings will have a good start in life. I have a favorite way of propagating these plants (in my opinion it’s the easiest!) which I share with you below and also in the video.
Viola – the post pruning result.
This post and video about pruning and propagating applies not only to the solid dark green leafed Peperomia obtusifolia but also to all the variegated forms of this plant also.
Best time to prune & propagate a Peperomia obtusifolia:
Spring & summer are the best times. Houseplants prefer not to be disturbed in the winter months. A big plus: rooting goes faster in the warmer months.
How I pruned the Baby Rubber Plant:
You’ll see this in the video. There’s nothing scientific or artistic about this pruning adventure. I’m just making cuts to shape the plant & also to propagate.
I made sure my pruners were clean & sharp. Cut cleans are much better & you’ll lessen the chance of spreading any diseases.
I took straight cuts right above a node. This is the point from which new leaves & roots will grow out of.
The stems which were winding & trailing out of the pot, along with those crossing over, were removed. I tip pruned (this is where the top 1-3″ of newer growth is removed) a few of the stems. Most of the cuttings I took were 8 – 12″ long.
Here’s the Baby Rubber Plant about a year earlier. That’s a Rainbow Peperomia next to it.
What this pruning will do:
This shaping of my Peperomia obtusifolia will force it to grow more upright. If I wanted another hanging plant, I would have left it be & just done a little tip pruning.
New side growth will emerge off the main stems & cause the plant to fill in more. If it gets too dense, I’ll prune it again in 6 months or so.
How to propagate a Baby Rubber Plant (Perperomia obtusifolia):
1.) Stem cuttings in water.
This is my favorite method & the one I always do when propagating Baby Rubber Plants. I’ll be referring to this method in the categories below. I take cuttings anywhere from 3″ – 10″ & remove the bottom 1 – 5 leaves.
Sometimes I’ll cut off more of the stems if they’re curved. I want the stems to be as straight as possible. Put the cuttings in a vase or jar & follow the care instructions below.
2.) Stem cuttings in mix.
Take shorter cuttings (3-5″) & put them into a light mix like a propagation or succulent & cactus mix. You want the roots to be able to easily emerge & a dense mix will prevent that. Keep them in bright light out of direct sun & keep evenly moist.
3.) Leaf cuttings.
I’ve never done this with Peperomias because I’m way too impatient. I know it can easily be done because there’s good amount of info out there on the internet for you.
This works just fine if you can find a way to split the plant in 2 or 3. I use a clean, sharp knife to get it started & then gently pull away the divided sections. You can see me dividing a ZZ Plant here.
Another method of propagating Peperomias I have no experience with.
The cuttings on my work table.
I had taken this cutting about a month earlier. You can see the root emerging from the node. The cuttings I took for this post & video are rooting much faster because the temps have significantly warmed up.
How care for the cuttings in water while they’re rooting:
Put them in a bright spot which receives little or no direct sunlight. Mine are currently on an east facing windowsill which gets an hour of direct sun early in the morning.
It’s late March & if they’re not sufficiently rooted for planting in a month (I’m in Tucson so the sun will be getting more intense & the days get hotter as we move closer to summer), I’ll move them to my utility room.
Check the water level to make sure the bottom nodes are covered with water. I do this every 2-3 days because I live in a warm, sunny climate. You may have to do it less often.
If the water starts looking funky, change it completely. I do this every few weeks to prevent bacteria from growing in the water.
How long it takes for the cuttings to root in water:
You’ll start to see roots emerging in a week or 2. In the warmer months, the roots will grow faster. I’ll be planting mine which I started rooting at the end of March in 5 – 7 weeks time.
This is the level at which I keep the water in the glass. Only 1 or 2 nodes are submerged.
Good things to know about the Baby Rubber Tree:
This has nothing to do with pruning or propagating a Baby Rubber Plant: they’re safe for pets. I know a lot of you are pets owners like myself (I have 2 kitties) & I wanted to let you know Peperomias are considered to be non-toxic.
Make sure only the bottom 1-2 nodes are in water. Don’t completely submerge of the stems in water.
Check the water level often to make sure the bottom couple of nodes are in water. Change the water completely every few weeks to so bacteria doesn’t start to grow.
Each cutting should have 3-7 leaves depending on the length of the stem. You don’t want any leaves to be submerged in the water.
Keep your cuttings out of any direct strong sunlight. They’ll burn.
Not the best picture but here you can see my Variegated Rubber Plant. It’s growing in this dish garden.
When these cuttings are sufficiently rooted, I’ll do a post and video on planting them. At that time I’ll show you how the mother plant is growing in after the pruning. You can see me repotting Peperomia plants here along with the mix I use.
The majority of the cuttings I pot up are given away. So not the case with these.
I’ll keep these because I love Peperomias and my Baby Rubber Plants. They do very well here in the desert.
Easy care and glossy foliage – what’s not to love?!
With its tropical origins, it’s no surprise that peperomia obtusifolia is popular. Often grown as a prized houseplant, the baby rubber plant loves its humidity, but can’t take cold temps. It’s surprisingly self-sufficient, and makes for a perfect green addition to your home.
Slender stems support fleshy, almost succulent-looking leaves. Whether it’s one of the multicolored varieties or all green, it’s quite a sight to behold. A perennial, it’s capable of living for years in the right environment. Inviting one of these beauties into your home is a joy!
So let’s talk about the “pepper face”, this sweet little gem amongst the varied peperomia species. We’ve collected all the tips you’ll need to grow your own. You’ll love the lush foliage it provides for you every year.
Useful Products for Baby Rubber Plant Care:
- Mite-X Houseplant Insect Killer
- Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap
- Monterey Liqui-Cop Fungicide
|Scientific Name:||Peperomia obtusifolia|
|Common Name(s):||Baby rubber plant, American rubber plant, pepper face|
|Height & Spread:||Grows and spreads up to 1 foot, dwarf cultivars smaller|
|Sun:||Bright, indirect lighting|
|Soil:||Peaty potting mix preferred|
|Water:||Water when surface is drying out|
|Pests & Diseases:||Sucking pests, stem & root rots, leaf spots, botrytis|
All About Pepper Face
Pepperomia obtusifolia is a lovely houseplant. Source: rachelgreenbelt
Variegated peperomia, sometimes called pepper face, originates from Mexico down to northern South America, and also grows in parts of the West Indies. It’s popular now in Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean – areas where the warmer climate is favorable.
This evergreen perennial can grow up to a foot tall and a similar width. Its flowers aren’t showy and are greenish white in hue. They grow on spikes that can reach five inches long.
The epithet obtusifolia means “blunt-leaved.” As such, it’s also referred to as blunt-leaved peperomia. But this lovely plant is most commonly known as baby rubber plant.
Gardeners have developed several cultivars over the years. Some have solid green leaves. Others have variegated foliage in shades of green with gray, gold, or cream-colored markings.
It’s possible to grow the baby rubber plant as a hanging garden plant, a low growing potted indoor plant, or as a ground cover in shade. Most opt for indoor conditions, as they’re a tropical plant and can’t take tolerate cold.
Why would this plant be called “pepper face”? That’s because of its visual similarity to Piper nigrum, the true black pepper plant. The shape and size of the leaves is quite remarkably similar. And indeed, peperomia is closely related to black pepper as part of the Piperaceae family. The botanical name “peperomia” even refers to it directly, as it’s taken from the Latin terms “peperi” (meaning pepper) and “homoios” (meaning resembling or similar to). So it’s unsurprising that it’s claimed to be “wearing a pepper face”!
Varieties of Peperomia Obtusifolia
Some varieties are variegated in color, with off-white, cream, or gold tones. Source: wallygrom
There are multiple cultivars of this lovely plant available on the market. Let’s go over a few of the most popular ones and some information about each.
Peperomia Obtusifolia ‘Alba’
With Alba, new leaves first form as a creamy ivory color. This leads to its varietal name, a reference to albinism. Over time, the pale-toned leaves gradually turn green. It can maintain a bit of variegation on the leaves once they’ve matured.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Variegata’ and ‘Greengold’
The fleshy leaves of Greengold and Variegata have cream to golden edges. The center of the leaves is a dark green color. Greengold’s lighter coloring can streak into the center of the leaves. By contrast, Variegata’s tends to stay at the edges, leaving the center wholly green. Both are quite similar and beautiful.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Albo-marginata’, ‘Hummel White Cloud’
One cultivar with two names. Distinctively grey-green leaf centers are edged with a silvery ivory. A waxy appearance to the leaf makes it stand out from other cultivars. This variant has a form which is petite in size, if not a true dwarf peperomia.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Minima’
This is a true dwarf peperomia obtusifolia. Its growing habits and size are distinctly smaller than others of the species. Tending to stay rather compact, it’s a perfect houseplant. But it maintains all the appeal of its larger relatives!
Caring For Your Baby Rubber Plant
Peperomia in its natural habitat at the base of a tree. source
Looking for an easy grower? Pepper face is perfect! The baby rubber plant is very easy to care for as long as a few needs are met. Let’s explore those needs now.
Light & Temperature
Bright, but indirect light is best for your plant. While short periods of direct light are fine, too much full sun will cause leaf discoloration. Partial shade is your best bet, as it loves a bit of early morning sunlight before the heat of the day hits. If you don’t have a location with only early morning sun, avoid afternoon sunlight and instead opt for a bright location in your home.
Temperature is definitely a concern. The natural environment for your baby rubber plant is growing zones 10 and 11. At temperatures below 55 degrees, your plant will be chilled and suffer problems. Maintain an indoor temperature of 60 degrees and above, and it will be happy!
Water & Humidity
Consistent, light watering through the spring and summer months is important. Wait until the soil is almost dry on the surface before watering again, but don’t allow it to dry out completely. In the late fall and winter, you can reduce the watering frequency. It’ll need less during the cooler months.
Because its leaves hold a considerable amount of moisture, this plant is slightly drought-tolerant. Allowing it to dry out too often may cause damage to the leaves, but the occasional skipped watering won’t do much harm.
As the plant’s in its active growing phase, it loves high humidity environments. These environments mimic its natural jungle atmosphere. Placing this in a frequently-used bathroom is great, as it’ll love the steam from the shower!
But if you don’t want to adorn your bathroom with plants, there’s alternatives. Place a pebble tray beneath the plant, or put it near a humidifier. Avoid placing it in the airflow from a heater or air conditioning system.
Peperomia’s tolerant of most soils. Clay, sand, or loam are all optional. But it performs best indoors in a peaty potting mix with good drainage. Avoid soils that hold lots of moisture against the epiphytic roots. Too much moisture can cause root rot to form.
That tolerance spreads to soil pH as well. Slightly-acidic, neutral, or slightly-alkaline soils are all fine for your plant. In the wild it often grows in plant debris along jungle floors, so it’s tolerant of many soil types as long as they’re well-draining.
Aim for a balanced, but diluted liquid plant food every 3 weeks during the spring and summer months. Apply the fertilizer directly to the soil rather than the leaves to avoid leaf burn.
In fall, drop back to once a month feedings. Gradually increase the time between feedings to every month and a half in the early winter. They need less fertilization during those months of the year.
Stem or leaf cuttings are the best way to propagate baby rubber plant. They grow easily from both. Use a rooting hormone on the base of your cutting to promote quick root development.
Care for your cuttings as you would most other plant species. Our guide to cuttings can give you some pointers!
While pruning isn’t absolutely necessary, it’s often performed for cosmetic purposes. Regular trimming can encourage bushier leaf development. Maintaining a particular size is also an option.
You can also prune off dead or dying leaves, but that too is mostly cosmetic. In the wild, this plant’s fallen leaves would form a mulch around its base. Over time, they’d break down and become part of the soil. If it doesn’t appeal to your aesthetic, you can remove these, but it’s not required.
The epiphytic roots may develop root rot in overly-wet conditions. Source: Alex Popovkin
Over all, your pepper face is pretty tough. But it may still encounter a few growing issues along the way. Let’s go over a short list of what might come up and how to handle it!
Overwatering may cause small blisters to form on the fleshy leaves. It can also lead to conditions that promote root or stem rots. Ensure your soil is well-draining and releases excess water. Avoid leaving your plant’s pot in standing water, as that can cause overwatering as well.
If the temperature dips below 55 degrees, leaf tips can begin to turn brown. The colder it becomes, the more pronounced this damage will be. Near-freezing temperatures will defoliate your plant and cause excessive damage. Keep it above 60 to keep your plant going!
Avoid placing your plant in drafty locations. Air conditioning vents can chill the plant’s leaves. Heaters can dry out the soil too rapidly and may cause wilting. A consistent temperature’s best for your peperomia obtusifolia.
The most common pest for these plants is spider mites. These irritating little pests suck the sap out of the fleshy leaves. For indoor growers, a product like MiteX is an excellent choice to kill these off. This blend of plant oils coats the mite eggs and prevents them from hatching.
Other sucking pests which may appear are mealybugs and whiteflies. These are somewhat more rare on your peperomia, but still can appear from time to time. Both can be treated with an insecticidal soap. If mealybugs persist, you can use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove them from the leaves.
Phytopthora can become a problem if your soil is overly moist. This water mold fungus can cause both root and stem rots to develop. Plants can die from a variation of damping off due to these rots. To avoid this fungal disease, don’t overwater, and make sure your soil’s well-draining.
Phytopthora can also cause cutting rot, as can rhizoctonia and pythium fungi. If your cuttings never develop roots and instead fail, it’s best to dispose of infected soil. Start again with sterile soil, being sure to sterilize your pot and tools before you start. This prevents further transmission of these fungal diseases.
Peperomia ring spot is caused by a virus. This creates large brown circular markings on leaves. Younger leaves may be distorted in shape. These concentric patterns may create indentations in older leaves or become sunken.
This ring spot isn’t curable. The most common point of transmission is through infected cuttings. Once the soil is infected with the virus, it can spread to healthy plants. Use sterile potting medium, and ensure your cuttings are only from healthy plants. Destroy infected plants.
Finally, some reports of the grey mold called botrytis exist. This is most common in very humid environments. While botrytis won’t necessarily kill your plants, it can prevent photosynthesis. The spores can also spread to other nearby plants. Treat any outbreaks of botrytis with a copper-based fungicidal spray.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about the baby rubber plants.
Q: Is my pepper face plant safe around my pets?
A: The ASPCA says so! Peperomia obtusifolia is non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.
Q. Can I grow baby rubber plant in a hanging basket?
A. Yes, baby rubber plant can be grown in a hanging basket easily. Be sure to check it more frequently, as hanging plants often dry out more quickly.
You’ll adore both green and variegated versions of peperomia obtusifolia. And, as you can see, it’s a surprisingly easy to care for plant indoors. I love this lush little tropical houseplant, and you will too!
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A house can look more beautiful inside with the right indoor plants. If you are interested, peperomia caperata is one to consider.
Also known as ivy-leaf peperomia or emerald ripple pepper, radiator plant, or emerald ripple peperomia, this houseplant can make a nice addition to your place.
How much should we know about this peperomia plant first?
A. About Peperomia Caperata
Peperomia flower has a natural habitat in the South America jungles. It is their epiphytic. Their leaves are dark green and heart-shaped. They can be as long as 4 centimeters (or 1.5 inches).
The leaves also have a corrugated surface, which makes the shade of green look even darker – almost black.
Peperomia has a leaf-stalk that is either red or pink. Throughout summer and autumn, white flower spikes with varied lengths. Although the flowers are not that colorful, they are still quite lovely.
They may remind you of arum lilies or anthuriums. They consist of small flowers, arranged along tinted red or brown arching stems.
Peperomia caperata cannot grow more than 25 cm high. As an indoor plant, peperomia is delightful and popular. It has been around for years. Not only it is easy to grow, but judging from its size, you do not need so much space for it.
You can also make these plants look even more beautiful. Just place them in colorful containers. You can even mix different shades and textures of peperomia. They will make a brilliant display at home?
How to grow peperomia at home? You need to know this.
B. How To Grow Peperomia Caperata
Here are the instructions on how to grow peperomia caperata:
- Put it in the medium or bright spot. This is also why colorful containers are suggested. The plant has a much better mood when it is put in an interesting pot, although it still tolerates low light.
- When it comes to peperomia caperata care, do not let the soil dry. Water it once you feel it dry just by touching it. The good things about this houseplant are its fleshy stems and leaves. They make this plant function like cactus that can keep enough water for a while.
- Peperomia caperata does not really need fertilizer. However, you can use one for indoor plants to make it grow faster. Just buy one and follow the instructions in the packaging.
- Peperomia caperata is not for consumption, so pruning it is not needed.
C. The Varieties of Peperomia Caperata
There are varieties of this ripple peperomia.You can check out some of them here:
1. Beetle peperomia/ Peperomia angulata/ Peperomia quadrangularis
This small houseplant has stems that creep. Their dark green leaves are shaded with lighter green stripes, which make them look more attractive. They are beautiful to look at the whole year round.
This one has little dark green leaves that are held close to the stems.
3. Bibi peperomia/ Peperomia trinervula ‘Bibi’
This small houseplant has small, dark green leaves that are also lance-shaped. The leaves are along their creeping stems.
4. Columbian peperomia/Peperomia metallica var columbiana
What stands out about this small houseplant is its bronze-purple leaves. They have metallic-silver stripes.
5. Cupid peperomia/Peperomia scandens ‘Variegata’
This small houseplant has heart-shaped, light green leaves. They have a creamy gold edge. It can grow up to 40 inches and should not be overwatered or it will rot.
6. Golden gate peperomia/Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Golden Gate’
This houseplant has large green leaves with a creamy white edge. It is also easy to grow.
7. Isabella peperomia/ Peperomia hoffmanii
With tiny leaves and a tight habit, this small houseplant can be a great groundcover for other taller plants. You can keep it in a hanging basket.
8. Jelly peperomia/peperomia clusiifolia ‘Jelly’
This houseplant has large green leaves with cream and pink edges.
9. Peperomia japonica
Its leaves are cool-textured and this plant is great for terrariums’ varieties.
D. The Guides To Care for Peperomia Caperata
When it comes to these radiator plants, you have to be strict with certain guidelines. Although peperomia (whether it is peperomia caperata rosso or else) is an easy-to-grow houseplant, this is what you still need to do:
1. No direct sunlight, please
As mentioned earlier, this small houseplant needs just enough light. How much is enough? One thing for sure: no direct sunlight or it will wither and die. Fluorescent light above one is acceptable, as long as you do not leave it in the dark as well.
2. Do not fully treat them like cacti
Earlier, it is mentioned that peperomia has fleshy stems and leaves that can function the way cacti stems and leaves do. However, this does not mean you can also treat them fully the same way.
When you water these plants, do it thoroughly and then wait. Check the soil. If it dries out, then you can start watering again. Keep the amount in the right moderation: not too moist and not too dry.
3. They need more humidity in the environment
The good thing is, you may not need to work so hard at giving them this. With dainty leaves, cleaning them up can be quite an issue, although rather mild. Just mist them when it is warm to get rid of the dust.
Speaking of humidity, we also need to note down on the temperature. Peperomia caperata needs to be in an environment with a temperature from 15 – 21 C.
E. The Fertilizer and The Peperomia Propagation
Peperomia caperata does not really need fertilizer so much. Just feed this plant with an all-purpose fertilizer two times in a year.
Then, how about the peperomia propagation? When it comes to cuttings from peperomia, it is more successful if it is done between spring through the late summer.
If the peperomia plant is tall, do the stem cutting. Cut a piece of it with a leaf or two attached, for starters.
After that, put it into a cutting compost. Wait it out for 1 – 2 months. It usually grows well if the compost is kept moist and warm.
Peperomia ‘Eden Rosso’, Peperomia caperata ‘Rosso’
Peperomia ‘Rosso’, more correctly known as Peperomia ‘Eden Rosso’, is an eye-catcher because of its red color on the underside of the leaf. The upper surface of the pointed leaves is dark green, sometimes with a blush of red, and dark green veins. It contains both male and female flowers on the same spike and normally blooms under daylength conditions of less than 12 hours of light.
USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
Photo via plantsam.com
How to Grow and Care
Peperomias are not particularly hard plants to grow and their small size and delicate leaves make them perfect for desktops and dish gardens. They will rarely overtake their neighbors or shade them out. In short, they are perfectly mannered and attractive little plants. The biggest problems are usually related to watering. They like steadily moist soil, but can be very sensitive to overwatering. Overwatered Peperomias tend to wilt or have raised, scab-like protrusions on their leaves. Do not be alarmed if your plant loses a few bottom leaves, but a massive leaf-drop is usually due to a temperature change or fertilizer problem. Lastly, Peperomias are susceptible to mealybugs, so keep an eye out for cottony white masses on the stems or undersides of leaves. These plants thrive when slightly pot-bound, so do not over pot them.
Repot plants in spring, especially to refresh the existing soil, but place either back into the same size container after root-pruning or go up only one pot size. The largest Peperomias remain relatively small, so they will never grow into large specimen plants. Most species can be relatively easily propagated from leaf cuttings.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Peperomia.
Peperomia ‘Rosso’ is a hybrid of Peperomia marmorata and Peperomia metallica. It derives from a breeding program conducted by Obed Smit, owner of Smit Kwekerijen in Sappemeer, Netherlands. Smit Kwekerijen brings this plant onto the market under the Eden Collection brand. Peperomia ‘Rosso’ was selected in 2010 and patented in the US in 2012.
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Types Of Peperomias: Tips For Growing A Peperomia Houseplant
The Peperomia houseplant is an attractive addition to a desk, a table or as a member of your houseplant collection. Peperomia care is not difficult and Peperomia plants have a compact form that lets them occupy a small space wherever you choose to place them.
Types of Peperomias
More than 1,000 types of Peperomias exist, but not all are cultivated and grown for distribution to the public. Plant collectors may have an unusual variety, as may arboretums or indoor displays at botanical gardens. Several types of Peperomia houseplants can brighten your indoor displays. Following are some of the most widely available types of Peperomias:
- Heart shaped leaves and foliage texture similar to a waffle make growing a Peperomia like Peperomia caperata a pleasure. The attractive leaves and stems may have a silvery or burgundy tint peeking through the green.
- The watermelon Peperomia, P. argyreia, has silver stripes with elliptical shaped leaves. Both this and the previous Peperomia plant reach only 8 inches in height and width if planted in a container large enough to allow for root development. Plants have a mounding habit with draping leaves.
- Peperomia obtusifolia, the baby rubber plant, has a more upright demeanor. Some of these types of Peperomias have solid green, shiny leaves, while others are variegated with gold and white coloration.
- P. obtusifolia `Minima’ is a dwarf specimen, reaching about half the size of the standard.
When growing a Peperomia, locate the plant in a medium to low light situation away from direct sun. You may also grow Peperomia plants under fluorescent lighting.
Grow Peperomia plants in a light houseplant mixture with perlite or coarse gravel included to allow roots to receive air circulation necessary for the health and development of your plant. If your peperomia plants are wilting, in spite of regular watering, the plant is likely not getting enough oxygen to the roots.
Water Peperomia houseplants sparingly and allow the soil to dry as deep as 5 inches between waterings.
Fertilize occasionally with a balanced houseplant food after watering. Leach the plant in summer by flushing with water to remove the salts left behind by fertilization.
Repot Peperomias in spring, but keep pots small unless you are growing Peperomia as part of a container combination.
Peperomia are beautiful little houseplants. Super-easy to grow, these small-leaved treasures add a pop of color to nearly any location. While they don’t typically produce fancy flowers (instead producing pale or light green spikes), they are lush and vibrant additions to your home.
There are dwarf varieties that only grow a few inches tall, and even the largest rarely get above 12-15″ in height. Some varieties have variegated leaf coloration, where others have a single shade. They’re all extremely easy to grow and care for!
Peperomia can be grown as houseplants, of course, and zones 10-11, they may even thrive outside as well.
Let’s dive into the fascinating world of the radiator plant, baby rubber plant, emerald ripple plant, and many other varieties, and explore everything about growing peperomia!
Good Products For Growing Peperomia:
- Safer Soap
- Garden Dust
|Common Name(s)||Peperomia, winged peperomia, watermelon peperomia, watermelon begonia, arid-land peperomia, hairy peperomia, etc.|
|Scientific Name||Peperomia alata, Peperomia argyreia, Peperomia blanda, Peperomia caperata, Peperomia nivalis, etc.|
|Origin||Tropical regions worldwide depending on species|
|Height||Species-dependent, ranging from 4-5” to 1.5 feet|
|Light||Low to medium indirect light|
|Water||Water sparingly, every 7-10 days or when completely dry|
|Temperature||65-75 degrees optimal|
|Humidity||40-50% humidity optimal|
|Soil||Extremely well-draining, often a 50/50 blend of peat moss & perlite|
|Fertilizer||Balanced liquid fertilizer, diluted. More fertilization in spring/summer.|
|Propagation||By seed or cuttings|
|Pests||Pests are rare, but most common are fungus gnats and spider mites.|
Types Of Peperomia
Peperomia obtusifolia is an epiphytic peperomia species. Source: Alex Popovkin
Peperomias are part of the Piperaceae family. Piperaceae are commonly known as the pepper family, and in fact the black pepper we use to cook with is a distant relative of peperomia!
However, while this plant may be related to Piper negrum, the black pepper, you probably won’t want to eat it.
Rainforest dwellers, these plants usually come in one of three types.
Epiphytic peperomia come from rainforests, often in South America. These typically grow in conditions where their roots don’t draw in much moisture, and they absorb it from the humid air around them. This makes up most of the species we’ll cover today.
Succulent varieties tend to be from high altitude environments. They can handle occasional and patchy direct sun, if not heat. During the winter, they are fine in low-moisture surroundings, but can be damaged by frost.
Geophytic types produce tuberous roots, and are very drought-resistant. These varieties require a cool season at around 40 degrees Fahrenheit to rest, but will come back to life the next spring.
There are about a thousand species and varieties of this vibrant little plant. With this level of diversity, it’s impossible to cover each variety here, but let’s go over some of the most popular houseplant varieties!
Peperomia alata, ‘Winged Peperomia’
A geophytic variety which spreads by rhizomes, Peperomia alata gets its name from “wings” that extend off its long stems. It produces tight, furry-looking green flower spikes. The leaves are oval to lanceolate, and are typically medium to dark green in color.
Originating from South and Central America, it can be found in parts of Florida as well as in the West Indies. In Florida, it grows in swamps and is a low groundcover.
Peperomia argyreia, ‘Watermelon Peperomia’, ‘Watermelon Begonia’
Peperomia argyreia. Source: Wikimedia Commons
The watermelon peperomia has distinctive watermelon-like striping on its leaves. Seen at certain angles, the leaves create an interesting visual effect, looking like tiny watermelons attached to a vine. It’s not related to either watermelons or begonias, so its name is deceptive!
Peperomia argyreia has its origins in South America, although it’s grown widely in the rest of the world as a houseplant. It is an evergreen perennial.
Peperomia blanda, ‘Arid-Land Peperomia’, ‘Hairy Peperomia’, ‘Alaala Wai Nui’
Peperomia blanda.Source: Wikimedia Commons
Found in Hawaii, ‘ala’ala wai nui is a common epiphytic bedding plant. However, it’s not limited to the Polynesian islands, and is found in most tropical regions of the world including Asia, Africa, Australasia, and the Americas. It is often found growing on damp rocks.
This arid-land plant is a deep green perennial which often is considered a creeping or low-lying species. In some conditions, it may have an upward growth up to 20-22″, but usually stays close to its growing surface.
Peperomia caperata, ‘Emerald Ripple Peperomia’, ‘Ripple Peperomia’, ‘Green Ripple Peperomia’, ‘Little Fantasy Peperomia’
Peperomia caperata.Source: Wikimedia Commons
Rippled, heart-shaped leaves with a bright green hue are the sign of a healthy emerald ripple peperomia. These somewhat-succulent little evergreen perennial grows in a mounding habit, reaching up to 8″ in height.
Native to Brazil, peperomia caperata is one of the most popular peperomia species to grow indoors. It does well in moderate to low-light environments and produces fuzzy white flower stalks. It does not like temperatures below 60 degrees.
Peperomia nivalis. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Averaging six inches in height, peperomia nivalis has tiny leaves which are fleshy and hatchet-shaped. It is a very common houseplant worldwide, and tends to be semi-succulent.
Originating in Peru, this plant tends to grow in a rounded or mounding sort of fashion. Its flower stalks are nearly the same color as the leaves, and tend to be understated.
Peperomia obtusifolia, ‘Baby Rubberplant’, ‘Baby Rubber Plant’, ‘Pepper Face’, ‘Blunt-Leaf Peperomia’
Peperomia obtusifolia. Source: Alex Popovkin
Pepper face, also called the baby rubber plant, comes from Mexico, parts of the Caribbean, and Florida. It looks quite a bit like an actual rubber plant, but this evergreen with its leathery, cupped leaves is actually not even related to the rubber plant.
Some cultivars of peperomia obtusifolia have different coloration on the leaves than the standard deep green. They can have cream, grey, or gold streaking. However, the growth habit is still that of an herbaceous perennial, and it seldom gets larger than 1 foot tall or wide.
In addition, a few cultivars have gained the Royal Horticulture Society’s Award of Garden Merit. This is one of the best-known peperomias.
Peperomia pellucida, ‘Pepper Elder’, ‘Shining Bush Plant’, ‘Man To Man’, ‘Silverbush’
Peperomia pellucida. Source: IITA
Pepper elder has a mustard-like aroma when the leaves are bruised, and is often used in traditional herbal medicine. A clumping growth habit with succulent-like stalks, heart-shaped fleshy leaves, and shallow epiphytic roots is common.
Found around the world in tropical, shaded and damp habitats, it is native to the Americas and Asia. It is used as a food plant as well as medicinally and ornamentally in segments of South and Central America.
Peperomia tetraphylla, ‘Acorn Peperomia’, ‘Four-Leaved Peperomia’
Peperomia tetraphylla. Source: Starr Environmental
Epiphytic peperomia tetraphylla is located in portions of Asia, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and other Pacific Ocean island regions. It prefers moist, semi-tropical environments overall.
Growing in clumps, this particular peperomia can be encouraged to be a ground cover plant in shady, humid areas. It can also be found spread across tree branches or on rocky outcroppings.
Peperomia wheeleri, ‘Wheeler’s Peperomia’
Peperomia wheeleri. Source: D.Eickhoff
In the wild, peperomia wheeleri is found almost exclusively in Puerto Rico from where it originates. This fleshy-leaved plant is also epiphytic, clinging onto the native rocks and humus found on its island habitat.
Considered endangered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, there have been steps taken to preserve specimens of Wheeler’s peperomia, both in Puerto Rico and elsewhere. It can occasionally be found as an ornamental, but is relatively rare outside of its ideal growing conditions.
Semi-succulent peperomia rubella has a vibrant red hue. Source: D.Eickhoff
Excellent houseplants, this particular species is surprisingly low-care. Let’s look at the perfect growing conditions for your plant, and you’ll soon learn just how easy they are!
Peperomia often grows in jungle or rainforest environments, and because of that, it’s a plant that can often handle low-light conditions. It naturally will turn towards a light source, so when keeping it as a houseplant, it needs to be turned to encourage even growth patterns.
Smaller-leaved varieties tend to grow in the lowest light conditions. The larger the leaves, the more light the peperomia may need, increasing to a medium light requirement. However, for most species, direct sunlight can cause sunburning to the leaves and other damage.
Loving the tropics, peperomia is ideally grown in the 65-75 degree range for most species. There are a very few varieties, mostly ones grown at high altitude, that can tolerate temperatures in the 40-50 range. Most cannot survive if it drops below 50.
In addition, while these plants can accept hotter temperatures, they need to be well-shaded from direct sunlight. Temperatures that regularly rise above 85 degrees are risky, and long periods of time in the 90’s or above should be avoided.
These temperatures often make this a perfect candidate for indoor growing, as most people like to maintain temperatures around 70 degrees indoors.
Wild peperomias get their water infrequently. Much will be absorbed through the leaves, so these plants prefer it to be relatively humid where they’re growing. 40-50% humidity is a good range to aim for, although higher can be better.
Water your peperomia plants sparsely, allowing their soil to dry out before watering again. A good rule of thumb is to water every 7-10 days.
If you keep your peperomias in a terrarium or grow them in the bathroom, the added humidity in the air will keep them surprisingly happy.
Semi-succulent peperomia columella in a very loose, well-draining soil. Source: Jhack
Since so many peperomia plants grow in loose soils or moss/humus in the wild, it’s really important to provide similar soils for your houseplants. A sandy, well-drained soil can work well. So can houseplant potting soil with extra perlite blended in.
A popular homemade blend for growing peperomia is a 50/50 blend of perlite with peat moss. This works quite well for any of the epiphytic varieties. Some of the ones which form tuberous roots will also do well in this soil blend.
Fertilizing your indoor peperomia should be done more frequently during the spring/summer months than the fall/winter months. Peperomia tends to do much of its growing during the spring and summer, and some varieties rest to rejuvenate during the cooler months.
Usually, a balanced liquid plant food every 3 weeks is good for the spring or summer. Be sure it’s one which is diluted properly, and use it sparingly. Spray it directly on the potting mix rather than on the plant itself to avoid foliar burn.
In fall/winter, reduce your frequency of fertilizing. Every month in the fall, or month-and-a-half in winter should be adequate.
If you are lucky enough to live in a climate where you can grow your peperomia outdoors year-round, skip fertilizing in the fall or winter months. Your plant is likely going to go dormant during that time anyway and does not need the added nutrition.
While certain species of peperomia do produce seeds, most people find that propagation from cuttings is easiest.
The process is nearly identical to how African violets are propagated. I’ve written extensively about that process, and you can read about it here. This video will show you the process which is used on African violets, and it works the same for most peperomia!
This plant does best in smaller pots, and in fact is surprisingly happy even when it seems rootbound. If it manages to become too large for its pot and starts to show signs of problems, increase only to the next largest size pot.
Even then, it’s quite likely that your plant doesn’t need a larger pot. As soil compacts down over time, it can start to become too dense for most of these plants to tolerate. When that happens it’s time to repot.
Prepare a batch of fresh, well-draining soil, and then carefully remove your peperomia from its pot. Knock off excess soil or compacted soil, and place it back into a new and fresh batch. Often, that’s all that’s required to keep your plant happy!
Cosmetic pruning is usually the most you’ll need to do to maintain these plants. Typically small in size anyway, it won’t require much other than softwood trimming from time to time.
Identify damaged or dead stems first and remove those with sterilized pruning shears. Examine your plant to see if it still requires cosmetic pruning after that point. If so, remove individual stems close to the base of the plant. You can always plant those healthy stems as cuttings.
Trying to encourage bushier growth? In the early spring, do a pinch-back on your plant. Remove the tips of the stems plus the first pair of leaves right before it starts into a flush of spring growth. This will spur the plant to bush out more.
Peperomia tetraphylla flower stalks. Source: D.Eickhoff
Problems growing this type of plant are surprisingly uncommon on the whole. Most of the stuff I’ll list below is actually rather rare, but it can happen. Since it’s better to be prepared in advance, this is the best way to handle most of the possible issues that might arise!
One of the most common problems with peperomia is wilting. There are two potential causes for this.
If your plants are wilting despite regular watering and fertilizing, their soil may have become too dense. At that point, repot to encourage your plant to perk back up.
Similarly, excess salts in the soil from overfertilization can cause your plants to wilt. You can leech these excess salts from the soil, but simply repotting it in a fresh batch of mix should revive your plant.
Chlorotic leaves – ones which have turned pale or yellow – are a sign of a lack of chlorophyll in the plant. This is a sign of nutrient deficiency, and usually is related to a lack of either nitrogen or potassium. If caught early and fertilized, your plant can make a complete recovery.
While pests are pretty rare on these plants, a few may actually move in and take up residence. Most are more common in outdoor plants than indoor ones.
Both indoor and outdoor plants are susceptible to fungus gnats and spider mites. Both thrive in drier conditions, and keeping the humidity up around your plant may completely eliminate them. Whiteflies can also become a bit of an issue indoors, although usually in greenhouses.
Mealybugs and other scale insects can also take up residence on your plant, although they’re mostly outdoors. The fleshy leaves are appetizing to these annoying little pests. Thrips may also appear in outdoor conditions.
All of the above pests can be handled with a light misting of an insecticidal soap like Safer Soap. Again, these are relatively rare if your plant is indoors.
One other outdoor pest can appear: caterpillars. While various types of caterpillars will feed on your peperomia, they are usually drawn to other targets first. You should keep a watchful eye out for any which are trying to nibble your plants.
Most caterpillars can be simply hand-picked off your plants, as it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have more than one at a time. If you find yourself with more, using a product like Garden Dust should eliminate your caterpillar problems quickly.
Peperomia glabella. Source: Nasser Halaweh
The most frequent problems for peperomia growers are caused by fungal diseases.
A wide variety of leaf spots can occur. Anthracnose is one of the most common, followed by Cercospora, Rhizoctonia, and Myrothesium. All four can be treated similarly, usually with the aid of a liquid copper fungicide like Monterey Liqui-Cop.
Rots can become a problem as well. Phytophthora stem & leaf rot, Pythium root rot, and Sclerotium stem rot (sometimes called southern blight) can appear on your plants. Verticillium wilt can also occur.
For these diseases, your best protection is prevention. These are extremely rare indoors, but can usually be prevented by not overwatering and maintaining clean and safe soil. Plants which contract these diseases are often at risk of plant death, so it’s generally best to avoid these fungi.
There are also two viruses which can inhabit peperomia, and these are spread via pests like fungus gnats. Cucumber mosaic virus and ring spot virus both will make your plant rapidly sicken and die off. Keeping pests at bay is the best way to prevent these viruses.
Q: Are peperomias safe around pets?
A: Generally, most peperomias can be presumed to be safe. While the ASPCA has not covered every single species of peperomia in their documentation, the following list have been determined to be non-toxic to dogs and cats, and in most cases also non-toxic to horses:
If your pepperomia is on that list, the ASPCA has determined it’s safe around your pets! Most other peperomias should be as well, but if there’s ever any concern, contact your local vet’s office to be sure.
Pretty, potted peperomias can certainly liven up your living space, and they’re easy to grow! Are you a fan of any particular version of peperomia? Let me know which one you like below!
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Indoor plants are beautiful additions to any interior, but they do more than add to the aesthetics of your home. They refresh the air by drawing in carbon dioxide and releasing pure oxygen as all green plants everywhere do. Plants also act as natural humidifiers, easing respiratory problems like dry coughs and colds. In addition to that, they absorb certain unwanted or toxic chemicals from the air, effectively removing them from the air we breathe. Several studies have shown that they improve mood and increase productivity in work environments.
It feels good to have something green and growing within our immediate living space. It could be considered a natural extension of our original existence in the lap of nature. While we demarcate the exteriors and the interiors with impermeable walls, bringing a few plants indoors can make all the difference. We already knew from experience that indoor plants lift up our spirits and make us less prone to headaches, mood swings and even allergies. But it took certain experiments by NASA in controlled conditions to tell us exactly why.
They tested a number of common houseplants against indoor air pollutants, particularly ammonia and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene, toluene, and xylene. High levels of VOCs in the indoor air result in several health problems, collectively called ‘sick building syndrome’. Some of them, like benzene, are known carcinogens. Benzene plays a major role in the carcinogenic effect of tobacco smoke. This chemical leaches into the air from plastics, synthetic fibers and resins in the house and cause nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Formaldehyde emitted by paints and varnishes and the adhesives used in wall boards can irritate the respiratory tract and cause allergies.
Many of the plants tested absorbed at least one or two of the toxic compounds while a few showed the capacity to mop up several of them, if not all. Surprisingly, the best performers are also easy-care plants that are readily available.
1. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
Peace lily tops the list of plants NASA recommends for cleaning the indoor air. The scientists have found that this popular houseplant can reduce the levels of all the five indoor air pollutants tested. Spathiphyllum, with its tuft of shiny, slightly ruffled leaves and white flowers held high above the foliage is one of the few houseplants that bloom reliably even in low light conditions. But it will reward you with continuous flowering if given ample light.
The thick growth of dark green leaves shows off the pristine white flowers to great advantage. The large, white, petal-like portion is a modified leaf called spathe that protects the creamy white, spiky inflorescence. It turns green as it ages. But removing older spathes promotes flowering.
Peace lilies thrive in warmth and humidity, so it is ideal for bathrooms and kitchen. It can withstand temperature variations from 40F to 100F, but does best in 65F to 85F range. Regular watering and feeding ensures lush growth but allows the soil to become nearly dry between subsequent watering.
Propagation is easy. You start with one plant, but end up with a potful soon. You can easily divide the clump to extend your collection to other rooms or share with friends.
2. Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
This flowering plant, better known as garden mums or florist’s chrysanthemum is a favorite with almost every gardener. The flowers come in several colors and shapes, but they are floriferous only when grown outdoors in full sun. But they make the list on the strength of their ability to improve indoor air quality. They are at par with peace lily in this regard, removing ammonia as well as all the five toxic VOCs tested.
Ideally, mums should be grown outdoors for the most part and then brought indoors after the buds have developed. That way, the plants will be healthy, and you will get to enjoy the flowers. They can spend the winter indoors in a brightly lit place, where they can continue to clean the air of pollutants. Return them to the garden in spring for the next cycle of flowering.
Feed chrysanthemums regularly and water them when the top layer of soil dries out. Take cuttings or divisions to multiply your collection.
3. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
English ivy has a long history of being used as a houseplant, but it has fallen out of favor of late because of its current status as an invasive weed in most parts of the country. Their beautiful leaves and trailing branches can be better enjoyed indoors, with no fear of the plants taking over the landscape. They are so versatile that you can use them in different ways to enhance your décor. Grow them in hanging pots or trained on trellises.
English ivy likes rich soil with a fair amount of organic matter that helps retain moisture. They need bright light to do well, especially the variegated varieties. Prune them whenever necessary, using the cut branches in flower arrangements or to start new plants. Have as many plants as you can find place for; they mop up the VOC from the indoor air, making it healthier for you. Just avoid throwing them into compost bins or anywhere outdoors where they can be a problem.
4. Mother-in-law’s tongue/Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)
This tough plant is nearly indestructible, its only weak spot being overwatering. You can relegate it to the darkest corner in the attic or basement, but it will survive there for a very long time, unattended and uncared for. However, surviving is not the same as thriving. Give them bright sunlight and regular watering, and they glow with bright variegation and healthy growth.
Sansevieria plants send out new leaves from the creeping rhizomes that remain underground, usually just below the top layer of soil. A loose soil structure helps the plant to spread faster and fill out the pots quickly. No feeding is necessary, but you can use a general fertilizer once or twice a year. They are free of pests and diseases, and the vertical orientation of leaves avoids dust collection.
Propagate snake plant by dividing the rhizomes. You can grow new plants from leaf sections, but the resultant plants sadly lose the bright yellow variegation along the edges. Divisions retain the variegation.
5. Dracaena (Dracaena marginata, D. fragrans ‘Massangeana,’ D. deremensis ‘Janet Craig’ and ‘Warneckei’)
Commonly called dragon tree plants, these are cane-forming plants with a tuft of leaves at the tip of branches. Of the several species and cultivars of dracaenas available, the red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata) seems to have come out the winner in NASA experiments, but the other three varieties are not far behind in offering health benefits.
Dracaenas are tough plants that will put up with a lot of neglect, but they will stretch and grow up to the ceiling with the slightest care. Water young plants frequently, but older plants are drought tolerant. Keep the plants under control by pruning the canes whenever necessary. Some people love the architectural shapes they assume as they grow tall with leafless stalks except for the terminal tuft. Others prefer a bushy plant. Pruning promotes branching and a much thicker tuft of leaves. If one grows too lanky, you can take a stem cutting to start a new plant.
You can use either tip cuttings or 6” long midsections of the stem for propagation, the former giving single-stemmed plants with upright growth, while stem sections grow into a multi- branched specimens, unless extra shoots are diligently removed.
6. Gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
These flowering plants are known for their beautiful flowers in vibrant colors. Often used as cut flowers, they last in vases for several days. They look equally good on the plants, each one consisting of a rosette of downy, radish-like leaves, with the flowers arising from the middle of the rosette.
Gerbera daisies are usually grown as annuals outdoors except in USDA zones 9 and above. When grown indoors, you can keep them as perennials for 2-3 years, but if you expect to get flowers, provide very bright light. An east-facing window is best because too much afternoon sun can scorch the leaves of plants kept indoors.
Rich, well-draining soil keeps the plants healthy. Regular feeding all through the flowering season is essential, so is deadheading to keep the blooms coming. The plants can be kept on the dry side to reduce the risk of diseases, but water stress should be avoided because frequent wilting weakens the plant and invite diseases.
7. Devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
This plant gets its common name from its vigorous growth habit in their native habitat in the tropical rainforests of South America. These fast climbers are known to overwhelm all the trees in their vicinity by climbing to their crowns and blocking sunlight and sending down long, whip-like secondary roots to ensure firm attachment. However, there’s no danger of that happening when they are grown indoors in containers. In fact, that is the only safe way to grow them in warmer areas.
Growing and propagating devil’s ivy is extremely easy. It does not require feeding or regular watering. It adapts well to low light conditions, but the growth may suffer, and the yellow streaks in the ‘Golden Pothos’ variety may be lost, all the leaves turning to solid green. However, it readily regains the bright coloration and vigorous growth when brought back to bright light. Trim the plants frequently to promote bushy growth. You can use each stem tip with 2-3 nodes to start new plants.
8. Broadleaf lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)
It is a fan palm with leaves divided all the way, making it look like a hybrid of palmate and pinnate palms. The growth habit is clumping and cane-forming. You usually get a bushy specimen with slender canes of different heights than a single tall plant as the years go by. Yes, these house plants are long living, and it is worth spending extra on one or two good-sized plants. And they do not like to be disturbed, so it makes sense to start them off in a large pot or tub.
Broadleaf lady palm is happiest when grown outdoors in tropical climates, but adapts well to a wide range of temperature from 20F to 100F. Light requirement is variable. This is one palm that can survive in low light, albeit with sluggish growth, but bright light does it justice. Another advantage is that they do equally well in high humidity and dryness, making them ideal for all kinds of interiors. They don’t need frequent feeding, but regular watering is essential. When grown in tall pots, deep watering is necessary to reach their roots that usually run closer to the bottom of the pots. Water stress can cause brown leaf tips.
Take your lady palms outdoors once in a while to check for scale insects. Divide the clumps to increase your collection, but do it without disturbing the roots too much.
9. Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plants are a favorite with children and a common fixture in many schoolrooms. That tells you how easy it is to grow them. They are usually grown in hanging planters to give space for the leaves to spread, but keeping them on a pedestal or a shelf can be just as effective. The grass-like variegated foliage can brighten up any dull corner in your home. If anything can be more interesting than the gracefully arching leaves, it is the flower stalks that shoot up from amidst the leaves. These eventually get weighed down by tiny plantlets that develop at their tips. These plantlets grow roots and get established as soon as they come in contact with soil, but that doesn’t happen with potted plants.
Spider plants are undemanding and low on maintenance. They don’t need pruning or frequent repotting. You can propagate them by dividing existing clumps or potting up the plantlets. Once potted up in well-draining soil, they will live happily for a long time, filling out the pot and overflowing its edges. They like constant moisture in the soil, but not waterlogging. The thick, fleshy roots may rot if there’s excess water. However, this plant can be grown directly in water too, in which case, the roots become acclimatized to the liquid medium. That makes it ideal for people who suffer from soil borne allergies.
Spider plants thrive in moderate light, but may suffer a bit in low light. The leaf variegation may get affected, and the leaf tips may start to brown. Feeding is rarely necessary if grown in a good quality potting mix containing long-release fertilizers.
Help your houseplants thrive
There’s no hard and fast rule about the placement of houseplants, but they do their best when each plant is given an environment closest to its ideal growing environment regarding temperature, humidity, and light. Like plants growing outside in the garden, houseplants love company. You can group those with similar cultural requirements together in larger containers to form pleasing arrangements.
Soil microbes in the pots do have a role in keeping the indoor air clean and healthy, but some people may develop allergies. Soil molds could be the main culprits. They can be controlled by limiting water and allowing good drainage and air circulation. Growing the houseplants in soilless media, or hydroponically, is another option.
So, if you are looking for a healthy addition to your home, consider one of these beautiful and low-maintenance, NASA approved houseplants and enjoy cleaner air and a more vibrant home.