Peperomia Pep Talk
If your plant collection needs a little change up, our team at Groovy Plants Ranch suggests adding some peperomias to your line up. We truly BELIEVE in peperomias. They’re low-maintenance, top-performing players. Their range of leaves – shiny, quilted, corrugated and hairy -- bring variety and depth to your bench. Plus, their compact size allows them to fill multiple roles indoors on a shelf, desk or end table. And the National Garden Bureau has named 2022 the “Year of Peperomia” in its houseplant category. Here are a few growing tips and stats for a winning growing season.
Peperomias are tough plants from a beautifully diverse genus with more than 1,500 varieties. The plants typically have rounded, thicker succulent-like leaves and are distinguished by their iconic rattail-like flowers (or “inflorescences”). While peperomias are solely ornamental, we love learning they’re nontoxic to pets and distantly related to black peppercorn vines (Piper nigrum). The plants stay relatively compact and may trail, grow upright or clump. Many are epiphytic (“air plants”) and grow natively from decaying trunks or hanging from trees in the forests of Central and South America and Asia. They’re very resilient and have adapted characteristics like shiny, thick leaves to absorb and store water and survive weather extremes.
Easy Does It
Peperomias do best with more diffuse or medium light. They’re happiest behind a sheer curtain by a west- or east-facing window. In too low of light, they will become leggy and slow down their growth. In too harsh of light, their leaves will begin to yellow and burn. Don’t sweat it if they aren’t keeping up with your pothos, peperomias are slow growers.
When it comes to watering, peperomias can tolerate some neglect. Check soil moisture by sticking your finger in the soil. If it’s dry, then it’s time to water. Just be careful not to overwater, or you’ll be facing root rot. Also, use a container with a drainage hole and well-draining potting mix like our Jungle Boogie Soil. Another key to peperomias’ success is humidity. Indoors, try growing them in a bathroom or terrarium display. In warmer months, move them outdoors to take advantage of summer’s heat and humidity.
Peperomias thrive when they’re slightly pot bound, so plant them in pots that just fit the root ball. Repot them in the spring every two to three years, even if it's just to refresh the soil. You can either replace them in their existing container if the roots still fit or go up a pot size. For more adventuresome displays, try planting Peperomia caperata in terrariums or mounting Peperomia angulata on a log, like you would other air plants.
With so many desirable peperomias, we are frequently adding new and unusual varieties to our store. Here are some of our mainstays and other favorites:
- Watermelon peperomias: Peperomia argygeia: ‘Watermelon Peperomia’ is one of the most well-known and recognizable peperomias with its rounded melon-like leaves.
- Metallic peperomias: If you like iridescent foliage, look for hybrids like 'Frost’ with frosty, heart-shaped leaves, ‘Little Toscani’ with mini silver leaves, and ‘Napoli Nights’ with elongated silver-green ones.
- Rippled peperomias: Peperomia caperata are quite stunning with their heart-shaped, deeply puckered leaves, ranging in colors from rich green to reds and silvers. For a romantic vibe, try ‘Schumi Red’ with its shimmery red-purple leaves. Also, try ‘Ripple Burgundy’ with green leaves and burgundy stems, ‘Emerald Ripple’ in all green or ‘Emerald Silver’ in silvery green.
- Trailing peperomias: For a trailing variety, try ‘Cupid’ with glossy, heart-shaped leaves in light green with creamy white edges. ‘Trailing Jade’ (Peperomia kimnachii) features oval leaves and red stems. ‘Ruby Cascade’ is a succulent-like trailing peperomia with green leaves and red undersides. ‘Hope’ charms with its striped, rounded leaves and pinkish-orange stems. ‘String of Turtles’ (Peperomia prostrata) is beloved for its tortoise-like leaves.
- Rubber peperomias: Peperomia obtusifolia, also known as ‘baby rubber plants,’ have upright stems and thick oval, dark green, succulent-like leaves. Try ‘Lemon Lime’ with vibrant foliage, ‘Golden Gate’ with gold- and cream-speckled foliage, or ‘Variegata’ with cream and white leaves.
Unusual peperomias: Peperomia ferreyrae 'Happy Bean' clearly breaks the heart-shaped peperomia mold with its narrow, green-bean-like foliage. Peperomia columella is a rare, adorable plant featuring a columnar stem covered in fleshy leaves. ‘Funky Frog’ is aptly named with its lime green-veined foliage. And ‘Ginny’ is a favorite for its pink-edged, variegated leaves.