How to Grow & Care for Peperomia Plants

Close up of Peperomia leaf and one in a terra cotta potNo space? No problem. Peperomia provides colorful foliage in a compact package. Depending on the species (and there are hundreds in the genus Peperomia), this Central and South American native may grow in an upright mound of leaves or spill over the container in a gentle draping form. Don't hold your breath waiting for showy flowers; peperomia flowers are pale green spikes that lack familiar-looking sepals and petals. However, what peperomia lack in flowers, they more than make up for with striking leaves. Leaves may be smooth, waxy, fuzzy, or corrugated in texture, and green, white, red, or silver in color. 

Cultivars/Types of Peperomia to Try

Peperomia is an extremely diverse group of plants with hundreds for gardeners to choose from!

Peperomia obtusifolia 'Golden Gate’: grows in a bushy, upright form and sports rubbery, two-toned leaves

Peperomia argyreia: heart-shaped silver and green striped leaves sit atop red stems, earning the common name Watermelon Peperomia

Peperomia prostrata: a trailing variety fit for a hanging basket, this plant features tiny circular leaves and is commonly called "String of Turtles"


Best Growing Conditions for Peperomia Plants 

Light: Peperomia plants do best in medium to bright indirect light but can tolerate low light as well. They should be protected from direct sunlight, as it can burn their leaves. 

Soil: Peperomia plants prefer a loose and well-draining soil that holds moisture well. Many species are epiphytes, meaning that in their native habitat, they settle into a nook of a tree and rely on leaf litter and decaying tree bark for their nutrients. To mimic this, pot your peperomia up in a chunky potting soil that is still nutrient-rich: an orchid potting medium or a mix of coco coir and perlite can work well. The soil should be slightly acidic, with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. 

Humidity: Peperomia plants enjoy high humidity, as they are native to tropical rainforests. They can benefit from misting, pebble trays, or humidifiers. However, they can also adapt to average indoor humidity levels. 


How to Care for Peperomia Plants 


Peperomia plants need to be watered infrequently, as they are prone to overwatering. The soil should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings, and the plant should not sit in water. A good way to check the soil moisture is to insert your finger up to the second knuckle and feel if it is dry or moist. 


Peperomia plants do not need much fertilizer, as they are slow-growing and have low nutrient requirements. A balanced fertilizer diluted to half-strength can be applied monthly during the spring and summer growing seasons. Fertilizer should be avoided during the winter, when the plant is dormant. 


Peperomia plants can be pruned to maintain their shape and size, or to remove any dead or damaged leaves. Pruning can be done at any time of the year, but it is best to avoid pruning during the winter. A sharp and sterile pair of scissors or pruning shears can be used to make clean cuts at the base of the stems or leaves. 


Peperomia plants are easy to propagate by stem or leaf cuttings. The cuttings can be taken from healthy and mature plants, preferably in the spring or summer. The cuttings should have at least one or two nodes (the points where leaves attach to the stem) and a few leaves. The cuttings can be placed in water or moist soil until they develop roots, which can take a few weeks. 


Peperomia plants grow fairly slowly, and should only need a larger pot every few years. Go up just 1 pot size (for example, from a 4 inch pot to a 6 inch pot) and be sure your new container has adequate drainage on the bottom. Tip your original container on its side and gently shake the plant loose to free it.


Peperomia Plant Pests and Problems 

Notable Pests: Peperomia plants are generally pest-free, but they can occasionally attract mealybugs, spider mites, or fungus gnats. These pests can be controlled by wiping the leaves with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol, spraying the plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil, or using sticky traps for fungus gnats. 

Notable Diseases: Peperomia plants are susceptible to fungal diseases, such as root rot or stem rot, caused by overwatering or poor drainage. These diseases can be prevented by watering sparingly, using well-draining soil, and avoiding wetting the leaves. Other diseases that can affect peperomia plants include leaf spot, powdery mildew, or ring spot virus. These diseases can be treated by removing the infected parts, improving air circulation, and applying fungicides if necessary. 

Signs of Stress

Peperomia plants can show signs of stress due to environmental factors, such as light, temperature, humidity, or water. Some common signs of stress are: 

Wilting or drooping leaves: This can indicate underwatering or low humidity. The plant should be watered thoroughly and misted regularly until it recovers. 

Yellowing or falling leaves: This can indicate overwatering or root rot. The plant should be checked for soggy soil and rotten roots and repotted in fresh soil if needed. The watering frequency should be reduced and the drainage should be improved. 

Curling or brown edges on leaves: This can indicate low humidity or sunburn. The plant should be moved away from direct sunlight and placed in a more humid environment. 

Pale or faded leaves: This can indicate insufficient light or nutrient deficiency. The plant should be moved to a brighter location and fertilized with a balanced fertilizer. 


One of the best features of Peperomias is that they are non-toxic to pets and humans. This makes them a safe choice for households with animals and children. 


Peperomia FAQs 

Q: How do I know if I'm overwatering my Peperomia? 

A: Signs of overwatering include yellowing leaves, a mushy base, and drooping. Only water your Peperomia when the top 50% of the soil is dry, and then water deeply. 

Q: Can Peperomias handle low light conditions? 

A: While they prefer bright, indirect light, some species, like Peperomia obtusifolia, can tolerate lower light conditions. However, growth may be slower, and leaves may lose their vibrancy or variegated patterns. 

Q: Why are the leaves on my Peperomia curling? 

A: Leaf curling is often a sign of underwatering or low humidity. Ensure a consistent watering schedule and consider using a humidifier or pebble tray to increase humidity.

Petite and peppy Peperomias offer a huge array of leaf shapes, textures, colors, and growth habits, making them a must-have houseplant! The key to growing these cuties is moderation — provide average amounts of light and maintain adequate soil moisture, and you’ll be a Peperomia pro in no time. 

Last updated: 05/09/2024