Peperomia: Radiator Plant Care

Peperomia plants are subtropical fleshy herbs, annuals, and perennial succulent plants that belong to the genus of the pepper family (Piperaceae).

Because they thrive in warm drafts, Peperomia plants are also known as radiator plants.

They have thick, dark, and fleshy leaves are native to Central and South America.

There are multiple Peperomia species that can grow as houseplants, but the top three most common peperomia plants are:

For more information on other types of peperomia plants, read our post on the varieties of peperomia plants.

In this post, you will learn more about peperomia plant care.

How to Care for Peperomia Plants

Care of a Peperomia plant is relatively easy.

However, it is necessary for you to pay attention to a few details in order to ensure that they have all of the necessary and favorable growing conditions to keep your plant alive.

Detailed descriptions of the following criteria, including watering, lighting, soil to use, and others, are provided below to help you gain a better understanding of how to grow and care for a Peperomia plant.

Light

Light For Peperomia Plants

Peperomia plants typically require bright, indirect light to thrive. If you provide them with low to medium levels of light, however, they will still be able to grow well and reach their maximum potential.

Make sure to keep the leaves out of direct sunlight, as this could result in them being scorched.

Bright, indirect light is the best kind of light required in order to ensure that the vibrant color of the leaves is maintained.

If you need to, you can put this plant on your balcony if there is enough shade, on your windowsill, or in any other place in your home that meets these needs.

If your house has windows facing south, it may not give enough light for your plants to thrive.

You should consider purchasing an artificial lighting system that will help you achieve optimal growth conditions.

Simple fluorescent lighting will work as an artificial growing light source.

Watering

Watering Peperomia Plants

The best way to determine when your Peperomia plant requires watering is to look at how dry the soil is around it.

Before watering your Peperomia plants, you should let the soil dry almost completely before doing so.

Immediately water your plant if it shows signs of drought stress, such as yellowed leaves or wilting stems, and then wait a few days before watering it again.

Make it a point to avoid overwatering the plant at all costs, as this can result in root rot as a result of fungal growth in the soil.

Using well-draining soil and a pot with a drainage hole can greatly reduce the likelihood of this happening.

As an aside, because several Peperomia plant species have succulent leaves (that is, leaves that are thick and fleshy and can hold water), you can get away with watering this plant only once or twice a week while still maintaining a healthy plant.

Temperature and Climate

Temperature And Climate For Peperomia Plants

As tropical plants, Peperomia plants prefer and thrive in summer-like weather. However, they can grow outdoors in USDA hardiness zone 10 or above.

The temperature must stay between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the daylight hours.

If you live in a colder climate than this, then peperomias need some protection from cold nights.

They are not hardy to frost, surprisingly they can survive a short bout of freezing temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius).

Winter Care

If you live in a particularly cold climate and are growing your plants outside or even on your balcony, bring them inside so that they can be kept warm enough.

When exposed to extreme cold or freezing temperatures, this plant may succumb to drying out or die as a result of the frost.

The plant also does not require as much attention during the winter months as most species of this plant go into dormancy during this period if the right conditions are met.

As a result, watering should be kept to a minimum or even eliminated during the winter months to allow the plants to rest.

Humidity Level for Peperomia plants

The Peperomia plant generally requires a high level of humidity in its surrounding environment.

As a result, if you live in a humid climate, this should be more than enough for your plant to thrive, especially when combined with warm temperatures.

However, if your climate is particularly dry, you may want to consider purchasing a humidifier to keep around your plant.

You can also keep it in a room that gets a lot of moisture, such as the kitchen or the bathroom, to keep it fresh.

Using a pebble tray filled with water as a humidifier is a simple solution to the problem of low humidity.

This will aid in providing moisture to the air surrounding the planter pot.

If at all possible, check that the pot has adequate drainage holes to ensure that excess water does not accumulate on top of the soil.

Consider growing several different types of peperomia together in a large garden so that they can all benefit from one another’s moisture requirements!

Soil

Soil For Peperomia Plants

Peperomia plants need well-draining succulent soils. However, because they are epiphytic species, in their native habitats, Peperomia plants rely on the bark of trees or the decaying wood of trees to spread their roots.

So, if you don’t find succulent soil, you’ll need some kind of coarse, loose, and well-draining plant soil to achieve the best growing conditions.

You can make your own soil by buying general potting soil and mixing it with some organic materials such as perlite or peat moss, coarse enough to make nutrient-dense soil and well-draining.

Just do a double check of the potting soil because the pH of the soil should be on the acidic side of the scale, i.e., less than 6.5-7.0 for this plant to thrive.

For soils that are already on the alkaline side of the pH scale, adding acidifying agents such as lime will be necessary to bring the pH of the soil down.

Last but not least, check that the pot you choose has drainage holes to ensure that any excess water does not collect in the soil of the plant. 

The one succulent soil that we can always rely on is this succulent soil. We like it because our succulents seem to thrive in it. It is designed specifically for succulents.

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Repotting Peperomia Plants

Repotting Peperomia Plants

Because of the slow growth rate of this plant, it is not necessary to repot it on a regular basis.

As a matter of fact, this plant is more likely to thrive in smaller containers where its roots are more compactly grown and restricted to a certain extent than in larger containers.

When you believe the plant has grown large enough and requires repotting, find a pot that is a few inches larger in diameter than the one in which it is currently housed.

First, fill in the bottom of the new pot with about half of the soil, then mix in some soil amendments such as compost or peat moss into the soil.

Make a hole in the bottom of the pot so that you can transplant your plant into it later.

Afterward, position the plant in its final position and gently press down firmly around the stem with your fingers, while lightly tapping the side of the pot with your other hand.

This will aid in the stabilization of the root ball and the prevention of any air pockets from forming, which could potentially cause root rot.

Water thoroughly until all excess water drains out through the drainage holes in the pot’s bottom.

If you’re looking for a pot with drainage holes, you should get one that is self-watering. This self-watering container is what we use for our indoor plants. There’s no need to worry about overwatering and thus helps prevent root rot.

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Fertilizing

Fertilizing Peperomia Plants

Fertilizing the soil around Peperomia plants on a regular basis is not necessary because the plants are capable of absorbing their nutrients from the soil’s contents.

Furthermore, because they grow at a relatively slow rate, you won’t have to worry about fertilizing them as frequently.

However, it would still be advisable to fertilize with a balanced organic fertilizer at least once a season, if not more.

This will aid in the acceleration of growth as well as the strengthening of root systems.

When adding any plant food, we recommend using an all-purpose balanced fertilizer (or plant food) and diluting it as needed.

Once during the growing season, it should be sufficient for this plant’s nutritional needs.

Overfertilizing will cause your peperomia plants to have weak roots, which will make them more susceptible to disease and pests in the long run.

We always use this slow-release fertilizer because one application lasts for months! It slowly dissolves into the soil on its own, so there’s no worry about over-fertilizing.

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Pruning Peperomia Plants

Pruning Peperomia Plants

Pruning your Peperomia plant can help to ensure that it does not become too spindly or unattractive as it grows larger.

In addition, it is possible that some of your plant’s leaves will turn yellow or die, which is why it is important to keep track of your plant so that you can prune back any decaying or leggy parts of it when they appear.

You can do this with shears or simply with your hands (don’t be afraid, this plant can handle it!) by cutting it off near the stem of the plant.

This method can also be used to remove some browning or older leaves from the mix.

In contrast, if a leaf has become so diseased and infected that there are no longer any healthy green portions remaining on it, the leaf should be removed from the plant completely and as soon as possible.

This will help to prevent the disease from spreading further within the plant.

Lastly, if you prune your peperomia plants, we suggest some pruning shears. We highly suggest these super-sharp pruning shears. They never seem to dull, plus, they are easy on the hands.

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Propagation

Propagating Peperomia Plants

Most peperomia plants can be propagated by division, leaf cuttings, and stem cuttings that root.

The most effective method of propagating peperomias is by stem or leaf cuttings that have been left alone for a period of time.

You should also experiment with cutting small pieces from the leaf or stem cuttings to see how a peperomia plant develops and forms new growth.

Learn more about how to propagate Peperomias by cuttings in the sections below on the mother plant.

Cuttings

You can use both leaf and stem cuttings from a mature Peperomia plant to propagate a new one. Go through the process below.

  • Take a small container or pot and fill it with loose, acidic, and coarse soil mixed with perlite.
  • Use shears or scissors to cut a leaf or a stem with a few leaves (make sure you remove a couple of the leaves at the bottom).
  • Dip the ends of the cuttings in rooting hormone to ensure proper growth.
  • Use your fingers or a tool to make a hole in the soil that you have placed in the pot or container and carefully plant the cutting into this hole.
  • Cover the surrounding part of the cutting with a growing medium such as potting soil, slightly decayed bark, or peat moss, and press it down properly.
  • Water the growing medium until it is completely soaked.
  • Once this is done, you should cover the topmost portion of the soil (including the cuttings) with a plastic cover.
  • Situate the plant pot or container in a place that receives bright but indirect sunlight (not direct sun) and keep the cover off once in a while whenever you notice water droplets or humidity on the cover.
  • Allow the roots to grow and develop, and once the plant grows a bit with a fully developed root system, you can repot it.

Seeds

You can also propagate the plant from seeds, so make sure you first obtain these seeds from a reliable source.

You will then need to germinate these seeds in a starter without soil and sufficient water with bright and indirect light.

Give the seeds up to one month to germinate, following which you can plant the seedlings in pots filled with suitable soil.

Water it only once the soil dries and ensure that you do not burn the leaves with direct sunlight.


For more detailed information, read our guide on propagating peperomia plants.


Peperomia Plant Problems

Other Problems To Watch Out For Peperomia Plants

Peperomia plants may experience various problems, including wilting, yellowing leaves, leaf drop, and mold.

Possible reasons for these issues include over-or under-watering, too much or too little light, a lack of nutrients in the soil, pests, or illnesses, among other things.

Adjusting watering practices, transferring the plant to a different area, amending the soil with fertilizer or compost, and treating the plant for pests or diseases are all possible solutions, and they vary based on the individual issue at hand.

Learn more about what these Peperomia problems are and how to fix your Peperomia plant.

Pests That Infest Peperomia plants

Pests That Infest Peperomia Plants

Some common pests that can infest Peperomia plants include those that you should be on the lookout for with all houseplants.

Mites, whiteflies, mealybugs, gnats, scales, and other pests are examples of the pests that you may have to deal with.

However, aphids commonly infest Peperomia plants. Aphids feed on the sap of the plant’s leaves, causing the leaves to wilt over time.

They also spread viruses, among other things. In order to avoid these issues, make sure that your peperomias are well-watered and that they receive regular fertilization.

Using insecticides or neem oil can help you get rid of some of these pests, but you should avoid using pesticides on a regular basis because they may cause damage to other parts of your garden.

Following that, repotting the plant might be a good idea.

If you are looking for a Neem oil spray, may we suggest this particular Neem oil spray? It’s nothing fancy, but we’ve used it on our pest infestations and it simply works.

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Peperomia Plant Diseases

Peperomia plants are susceptible to a number of diseases. Powdery mildew, a fungus that grows on the surface of the leaf, is the most common disease affecting many houseplants, including Peperomia plants.

The fungus can cause the leaves to curl and die, as well as any flowers that bloom.

This is easily controlled by applying a strong fungicide spray when symptoms first appear.

Another common disease is stem rot or root rot, which is caused by a soil-borne fungus infecting the plant’s stem.

Stem rot on the infected plant typically manifests as dark spots at the base of the stems, whereas rotting roots appear brownish-red, slimy, and soft. If not treated, the plant may perish due to a lack of nutrients.

Again, fungicides can be used to treat this problem in the early spring before new growth begins.

Wilting

Peperomia plants that are wilting can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from overwatering to insufficient light or nutrition.

If your plant is wilting, it’s critical to examine the root system to determine whether or not it is still alive.

If the roots of the plant appear brown or slimy, the plant may be suffering from root rot, which can be caused by an excessive amount of water or poor water drainage.

Underwatering of Peperomia plants could be another factor contributing to their wilting condition.

When the plant’s leaves begin to lose their turgidity and droop, it indicates that it requires water.

It might help to give your Peperomia plant more water or raise the humidity level in its surrounding environment to solve this problem.

Peperomia Dropping Leaves

Leaf drop can be caused by a variety of factors, including environmental stressors, pests, and disease.

It is possible that leaf drop in peperomia plants is caused by a buildup of salts in the soil or by overwatering the plant.

The leaves of the plant will droop and eventually fall off if the plant does not receive enough water.

The leaves of the plant will turn yellow or brown if they are subjected to an excessive amount of water.

Overwatering and root rot can cause your plant to lose leaves in excess of what is considered normal and healthy.

If this is the case, you can either temporarily pause the watering process or completely repot the plant to prevent further damage to it.

It’s possible that the plant will benefit from a little more light, so make sure to slightly increase the amount of direct sunlight that it receives.

Dropping Leaves

Drooping leaves are another sign that you are overwatering your Peperomia plants, which can lead to fungal growth around the roots of your plants and other problems.

The most effective solution in this situation is to repot your plant and trim away some of the damaged roots while also cleaning the remaining roots.

Check to see that your Peperomia plant has not been severely damaged, as this may necessitate its disposal due to the lack of any chance of recovery.

Also, keep an eye out for the smell of decay.

Yellowing Leaves

The yellowing of the leaves of the peperomia plant is a common occurrence.

This condition can be caused by a variety of factors, including overwatering and underwatering, a lack of light, and insufficient air circulation.

Additional side effects of overfertilization include the development of yellowing of the leaf margins.

It is important to address the yellowing of the plant’s leaves as soon as possible in order to prevent further harm.

It’s best to remove the plant that has been damaged or cut and prune the leaves that have been affected.

Mold

Peperomia plants become infected with mold when the humidity level is high and there is a lack of adequate air circulation.

The dampness creates an excellent habitat for mold growth, and the lack of air circulation keeps the mold spores from spreading around the room.

In some cases, this can cause the mold to spread to other sections of the plant and even result in the development of fungal illnesses.

You should remove the mold as well as the afflicted section of the leaves and soil if you discover it growing in your soil, leaves, or roots, or if you notice mold growing in your roots.

Following that, you can either completely clean the pot or repot the plant.

FAQ

How Fast Do Perperomia Plants Grow?

The growth rate of these Peperomia plants is actually quite slow when compared to other plants. Additionally, because the roots are restricted in their ability to spread, the size to which these plants will grow will be small and compact, reaching a maximum of 12 inches in diameter if they are grown in a pot inside your home. This can make them suitable as houseplants, especially because they do not require frequent repotting, which is a benefit of having them in a container. Even in the open air, these plants can reach heights of up to 24 inches.

Are Peperomia plants poisonous?

Peperomia plants are non-toxic and, as a result, perfectly safe for you to cultivate in your home environment. Even if your children or pets come into contact with these plants and eat a small amount of them, it is unlikely that they will suffer any significant consequences or harm to their bodies or health. As a result, you can keep it anywhere in the house you want without having to worry about poisoning or vomiting of any kind.

Are Peperomia Plants Flowering plants?

Yes, Peperomia plants do flower in the summer, but the flowers are not particularly attractive or distinctive. Usually, brown, white, or dark green leaves, are bushy in growth and some are barely visible due to their dense growth. During the growing season, however, you can look forward to the foliage of these plants, which can exhibit a variety of characteristics and colors. Green, purple, and red are some of the colors that can be found, with some displaying variegation, shapes, and textures. Of course, the type of leaves you get will vary depending on the species of Peperomia plant you are growing.

Conclusion

To summarize, whether you have a Baby Rubber plant, an Emerald Ripple Peperomia, or a Watermelon Peperomia, taking care of a peperomia is not difficult if you keep a few important aspects in mind.

Make certain that the potting mix is well-drained and that you water only when necessary.

Reduce the frequency of watering to once a month throughout the winter.

It’s also important to provide your plant with enough strong light but avoid direct sunlight.

Your peperomia will flourish for years to come if you give it a little tender loving care.

References

Show More
  • Henley, R.W., Chase, A.R., & Osborne, L.S. (1991). Peperomia Production Guide. University of Florida, IFAS, Central Florida Research and Education Center. URL: https://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/foliage/folnotes/pep.htm
  • Klingaman, G. (2012). Plant of the Week: Peperomia. Extension Horticulturist – Ornamentals Extension News, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. URL: https://www.uaex.uada.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/peperomia-11-30-12.aspx
  • UF/IFAS Extension: Gardening Solutions. (2021). Epiphytes. University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Gardening Solutions. URL: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/epiphytes.html
  • Hudelson, B. (2004). Root Rots on Houseplants. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Horticulture, Division of Extension. URL: https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/root-rots-houseplants/
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. USDA Agricultural Research Service. URL: https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/
  • About/mentions: peperomia, houseplant care, succulents

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