This post shares everything you need to know about peperomia plant care, including the most common peperomia varieties and how to help them thrive.
All about peperomia plant care
It’s peperomia time! I’m surprised at how much I don’t see people recommending peperomia plants. Especially since they are so easy to care for. They are patient and forgiving, and with over 1,500 species of peperomia, you’re sure to find something to your liking.
But what are peperomias? Well, I can best describe them as lovely small plants with a variety of beautiful leaves. “Peperomia” is the name of the genus. And since there are so many varieties, you’ll probably see a sign saying something like “various peperomia” at your nursery. You might have also heard them referred to as “radiator plants.”
While these plants are generally easy to care for, there are a few key things to keep in mind to keep your peperomia happy and healthy. In this post, we’ll go over the basics of peperomia plant care, including how to water, trim, and propagate these adorable plants—plus a lot more.
Whether you’re a seasoned plant parent or new to the world of indoor gardening, you’ll find something useful in this guide to peperomia care. So let’s dive in with a bit of background and some info on the common varieties you might find before we start with care tips.
Table of contents
- Peperomia genus background
- What are the most common varieties of Peperomia?
- Does peperomia need sunlight?
- Where should I place a peperomia?
- What is the best soil?
- How often should a peperomia be watered?
- Do you water peperomia from the top or bottom?
- How do I know if my peperomia needs water?
- What does an overwatered peperomia look like?
- Can I water peperomia with tap water?
- What is the best temperature?
- Do peperomia like to be misted?
- When should I repot my peperomia?
- How do I make my peperomia bushier?
- How big do peperomia plants get?
- Do peperomia plants bloom?
- Peperomia propagation
- Other peperomia questions answered
Peperomia genus background
Peperomia is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Piperaceae. Most types of peperomia are native to Central and South America, although some can be found in other tropical and subtropical regions of the world. This includes Africa, southern Asia, and Oceania.
They are known for their fleshy, succulent-like leaves and small, pointy, nondescript flowers. Peperomia plants come in a wide range of leaf shapes and colors, making them a popular choice for plant hobbyists.
What are the most common varieties of Peperomia?
While there are loads of different varieties of peperomia, some varieties are way more common than others. And some can look quite different from what you might typically think of when you think of peperomia. Here are a few of the most common varieties you might see at your local nursery.
1. Peperomia obtusifolia (aka baby rubber plant)
This variety is often called the baby rubber plant because the plants have leaves with a smooth, rubbery look to them. And the plants stay quite small, unlike other plants with leaves like these. Leaves are often variegated with greens and yellows. See my Peperomia Obtusifolia Care post for more.
2. Peperomia argyreia (aka watermelon peperomia)
Watermelon peperomia is a beautiful variety with circular-shaped leaves. The leaves are smooth and shiny looking with gray/silverish “stripes” that give the leaves a watermelon-like pattern. Absolutely stunning!
Check out my Watermelon Peperomia Care & Propagation guide…and if you like the silver, you should also check out my post about 9 Gorgeous Silver Houseplants to Add to Your Collection. I absolutely love silver houseplants!
3. Peperomia prostrata (aka string of turtles)
This variety has beautiful round, flat leaves with veining on them that makes them resemble little turtle shells. Then cascade from thin stems and look great in hanging baskets. See my String of Turtles Care and Propagation post for more.
4. Peperomia caperata (aka ripple peperomia)
I think I see this variety the most, usually labeled as “assorted peperomia” and coming in different colors. The leaves have a great crinkly texture, and the leaves have a big of a waxy look. Some varieties have leaves with a red tint (Red Luna), some have a grayish tint, and some of a bold green color (Emerald Ripple). Peperomia Frost Care is also a type of caperata.
5. Peperomia rosso
The lovely peperomia rosso (see my rosso care guide here) is one of my favorites. The leaves are smaller, more narrow, and a bit pointier than some other varieties. But they have a lovely ripple and silver hue.
6. Peperomia tetraphylla (aka peperomia hope)
This lovely little lady has thick, round, green leaves that cascade down thick, succulent-like stems. The plant strongly resembles the true succulent Xerosicyos Danguyi, but it isn’t a true succulent at all. See my Peperomia Hope Care & Propagation Guide for more on this one.
Does peperomia need sunlight?
Yes. While you might hear peperomia referred to as a “low light plant,” this is not the case. Sure, it might survive, slowly struggling and generating lackluster leaves. But it won’t look its best.
That said, peperomia is flexible and forgiving with light as long as you don’t have it in an extremely dark or extremely bright area. Anywhere with medium, or medium-to-high, or high light is fine. Peperomia pals can also grow under fluorescent lights, making them a great choice to perk up your sad cubicle.
Where should I place a peperomia?
They can tolerate some direct sunlight, but it is important to avoid exposing them to intense, direct sunlight for extended periods of time, as this can cause the leaves to become scorched or faded. If you are growing your peperomia indoors, placing it near a window that receives plenty of indirect light is a good choice.
If your plant is only getting light from one side, remember to rotate the plant every few weeks. Otherwise it may begin slowly leaning toward the light as it grows. And it’s harder to balance out a lopsided plant.
If your peperomia isn’t getting enough light, it can become leggy and grow more slowly. The leaves may emerge smaller, while the stems can be longer, thinner, and floppier. In general, it can just make the plant look a little scraggly.
What is the best soil?
Just shoot for a houseplant mixture with some perlite added in. This will help protect the roots from rot and give them some extra air. If the soil is too dense, it can lead to water-logging and prevent the flow of oxygen, ultimately contributing to root rot.
How often should a peperomia be watered?
I recommend watering your peperomia plant once the top half of the soil has dried out. For my plants, this is generally weekly in the spring and summer and every 10-14 days in the fall and winter. Frequency of watering can depend on the amount of light a plant gets, the temperature, the soil…so many factors.
So it’s always best to check the moisture level. After a while, you will get to know your plant and fall into somewhat of a schedule. Some peperomia varieties are more tolerant to neglect than others, too. For example, peperomia hope has nice, thick leaves, while the peperomia ripple may not be able to store as much water.
Do you water peperomia from the top or bottom?
Peperomia does best when watered from its roots. To do this, sit your pot in a pan of water for 5 minutes every week or so. This technique is called bottom watering, and you can read more about it in my post How to Bottom Water Plants. The crown of the plant is sensitive to rot, which is why it responds well to bottom watering.
But—full disclosure—I do not generally bottom water, and mine have been fine. Just avoid watering directly into the crown of the plant, and water in the morning so that your plant will have plenty of time to dry out before it gets a bit cooler and dark.
How do I know if my peperomia needs water?
If your peperomia needs water, there will be three major signs. Keep in mind that these can be a sign of other things, too—but they are often a sign that the plant needs water.
- Thin, flimsy leaves. If the leaves have lost their thick, juicy appearance and are no longer as firm, this suggests it might need water.
- General wilting of the plant’s stems and leaves.
- Dry soil. This is an obvious one, but if you have flimsy leaves and wilting stems accompanied by dry soil, these are all probably signs of underwatering.
What does an overwatered peperomia look like?
On the other hand, if you notice thin, flimsy leaves accompanied by consistently wet soil…then it’s probably overwatering! Many overwatered plants also have more yellowing in the leaves. Leaves can slowly yellow until they fall off. Mushy spots on the leaves, stems, or crown of the plant can also be a sign of root rot.
Can I water peperomia with tap water?
Yes, I water my peperomia plants (and all of my houseplants) with tap water and have not had any issues. However, tap water can vary greatly across the country and world. So if you notice your plant is not doing well and there are no other signs of problems, perhaps consider using filtered or distilled water.
Some people swear by using distilled water, filtered water, tap water that has sat out overnight, or rain water. If you want to try it, go for it! I just haven’t personally had any issues with my tap water.
What is the best temperature?
Most peperomia varieties you’ll find at your local nursery do well in a variety of normal household temperatures—about 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t let these plants be exposed to cold or drafts from windows; give them a stable home.
And you might be wondering where the name “radiator plant” comes from. Many say it has to do with the temperatures that peperomia plants prefer. They were originally popularized in the early 20th century as plants that could be grown on or near radiators.
At the time, many homes and buildings were heated by radiators, and these plants were thought to thrive in the warm, dry conditions found near radiators. The fleshy, often succulent-like leaves of peperomia plants made them well-suited to these conditions, as they could store moisture and withstand the dry air.
Do peperomia like to be misted?
And speaking of dry air, let’s talk about humidity. While peperomia plants can withstand dry air well, they also appreciate a bit of humidity. One way to do that is to mist your peperomia plant. However, this provides only a temporary increase in humidity.
Make sure to mist in the mornings, too, so water doesn’t pool too much on your plant’s leaves. Especially if the leaves have deep ripples that could trap the moisture and encourage fungal growth.
When should I repot my peperomia?
These plants enjoy being a bit root-bound, so don’t hurry to repot your peperomia as soon as it grows a bit. Their root systems are generally shallow, so they can also do well in smaller indoor pots or dishes. I would wait until you notice that the roots are circling the bottom of the pot multiple times or growing out of the pot’s drainage holes.
When you do repot the plant, make sure to size the pot up only about an inch or so. If you use a pot that is too large, you run the risk of the soil retaining too much moisture. I don’t really loosen the root ball, either. Just plop it in a new pot with some fresh soil.
How do I make my peperomia bushier?
You generally shouldn’t have to repot peperomia often since the plants stay fairly small and grow slowly. However, you can prune your peperomia by pinching or snipping off pieces at the stem. This will help to encourage bushiness in peperomia plants because the stem will sprout new growth at the nearest node below the cut.
How big do peperomia plants get?
Depending on the specific species, a mature peperomia plant may reach anywhere from a few inches to a few feet in height and width. Most peperomia plants are relatively small and will not grow very large. Many species of peperomia are naturally slow-growing and will remain small, even when mature.
Some peperomia species, such as Peperomia obtusifolia (baby rubber plant) and Peperomia prostrata (string of turtles), are relatively small and will only reach a few inches in height and width. Other species, such as Peperomia argyreia (watermelon peperomia), is slightly larger and may reach up to a foot or more in height and width.
Do peperomia plants bloom?
Yes! But they don’t look exactly like flowers. I’ve had peperomia flower many times. And I’ve seen them flowering at nurseries, too. Peperomias aren’t known for their flowers, but I love them anyways because it means the plant is happy and healthy!
The flowers can be rare to see on an indoor peperomia depending on the growing conditions. They are long string-like spiky stalks that sprout from the plant. They can be yellow, brown, or greenish, and the tips have an almost textured appearance.
I kind of love how they shoot out and look so crazy. Below is a shot of a flowering peperomia rosso. If you don’t like the flowers, you can simply snip them off without harming the plant. Or you can let them die off naturally and then trim them off.
I have a whole post about peperomia propagation that walks you through the steps with lots of pictures. However, I’ll provide a brief overview here of how to propagate peperomia using both leaf and stem cuttings.
Can peperomia be grown from leaf?
One of the cool things about peperomia is that many types can be grown by a single leaf. This is much like snake plants, which can also be started with a leaf. It’s a simple and easy way to create new plants, but it can take some time. Here are the steps.
- Choose a healthy, mature leaf from your peperomia plant.
- Cut the leaf off the plant. Cut as close to the base of the leaf as possible, leaving a small section of the stem attached.
- Place the leaf in a small pot or tray filled with a well-draining propagation mix, such as soil or sphagnum moss and perlite.
- Water the soil lightly (or keep the moss lightly wet) and place it in a warm, well-lit location.
- After several weeks or even months, new roots will form and you’ll notice a new plant begin to sprout.
Can peperomia grow from cuttings?
Peperomia plants can also be propagated from cuttings. Here are the general steps for that process.
- Snip a healthy, mature stem from your plant.
- Remove the lower leaves from the cutting, leaving just a few leaves at the top of the stem; you can also take a single leaf cutting.
- Fill a small pot or tray with a well-draining propagation mix or pop it in water.
- Plant the cutting or put i tin the water; keep in a warm, well-lit location.
Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and be patient. It can take a long time. You might even begin to see a new plant sprout from the bottom of your cutting in water! If in soil, you’ll have to wait a bit longer for it to breach the soil’s surface.
Other peperomia questions answered
There are a few other things I want to touch on before wrapping up, and they don’t necessarilly fit anywhere else in this post. Here are some other peperomia questions answered.
1. How long do peperomia live for?
This is a tough question to answer because there are so many different types of peperomia. Some can live for a few years, while others can live for decades. I recommend figuring out what type of peperomia you have and digging in a bit further.
2. Is a peperomia a succulent?
I often see peperomia plants referred to as having “succulent-like” leaves. So you might be wondering if peperomia plants are succulents—they are not. Succulents are a group of plants that are characterized by their ability to store water in their leaves, stems, or roots.
Peperomia plants are native to tropical and subtropical regions and are not adapted to survive in dry or arid conditions. However, some peperomia species do have fleshy, succulent-like leaves that allow them to store moisture and withstand periods of drought. This is especially true of peperomia species that are native to regions with high humidity and regular rainfall, such as those found in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America.
3. How do you get big Peperomia leaves?
There are a few key things you can do to encourage your peperomia plant to produce large leaves. First, provide your peperomia plant with the right growing conditions—bright, indirect light and well-draining soil. You can also fertilize regularly, but make sure to follow the instructions on a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer to avoid burning the plant.
I also recommend regular pruning.This can help encourage new growth and can help keep the plant looking neat and healthy. By following these guidelines, you can help your peperomia plant produce large, healthy leaves.
4. Is peperomia safe to have around pets?
Yes, peperomia is generally considered safe to have around pets. It is not toxic to dogs or cats, according to the ASPCA’s database. However, as with any houseplant, it is always a good idea to keep plants out of reach of pets and kids and to supervise your pets when they are near plants in case they try to chew on them.