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Hundreds of plants make up the genus Peperomia, and they're some of the easiest, most attractive houseplants you can grow. These cute, low-maintenance plants, also known as radiator plants, feature a wide variety of textures, leaf and stem colors, and growth habits. You'll want to add as many as you can to your collection.
- Botanical Name: Peperomia
- Common Name: Baby rubber plant, pepper elder, radiator plant, shining bush plant, emerald ripper pepper
- Plant Type: Perennial
- Mature Size: 6–12 inches hight
- Sun Exposure: Medium to bright light
- Soil Type: Well-drained potting soil
- Soil pH: 5.0– 6.0
- Toxicity: Non-toxic
Keep an eye on your plant's soil moisture when you first bring it home, and allow the soil to come close to drying out completely before watering again. Keep in mind that your plant may dry out more quickly in warm weather than it does in the winter months.
While peperomias are relatively vigorous growers on their own, they can benefit from an occasional dose of fertilizer. Feed them with standard houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength every three to four months.
These low-growing jungle plants love warmth and humidity, so choose a spot to display yours away from drafty areas or any heating or cooling vents, which may chill your plant or dry it out.
Best Growing Conditions for Peperomia
Peperomias prefer cool to warm temperatures and bright, indirect light, although they can also grow in low-light conditions. A north-facing or east-facing window works well, or you can position them a few feet from a brighter south-facing or west-facing window. Some peperomia types with trailing growth habits are well suited to hanging baskets.
In terms of soil, peperomias are very adaptable. Plant them in a well-drained standard houseplant mix. These plants typically do well in clay terra-cotta planters, which allow moisture to wick away more easily and prevent waterlogged roots, but plastic or glazed ceramic pots work well as long as they offer good drainage.
Common peperomia species include the hardy Peperomia obtusifolia, or baby rubber plant, which comes in variegated types such as 'Golden Gate.' Peperomia clusiifolia 'Rainbow' features elongated pale-green and yellow leaves tinged with pink borders, and the arcing stripes on Peperomia argyreia, or watermelon peperomia, resemble the skin of its namesake fruit.
Others are less common and more sought-after: Wrinkle-leaved peperomias like Peperomia caperata 'Red Ripple' have uniquely textured leaves, while Peperomia incana, or felted pepperface plant, features velvety heart-shaped leaves. And there are many species with long, trailing stems and tiny leaves, like Peperomia prostrata, also known as string of turtles.
How to Propagate Peperomia
Peperomias can be propagated easily using stem cuttings. You can do this by rooting cuttings in soil or in water.
If using the water method, follow Step 1 below, and simply submerge the lower leaf nodes in a glass or jar of water (and skip the plastic bag). When roots are well established and new growth begins to appear, transplant the cutting into soil, and care for it as usual.
How to Propagate Peperomia Using Stem Cuttings
To use this method, you'll need a healthy mother plant, a sharp knife or pruners, a small plant pot, well-draining potting soil mix, a clear plastic bag, and optional rooting hormone powder to speed up the rooting process.
Step 1: Examine the mother plant, and select a healthy stem with more than three leaves. Cut off this stem just below the bottom leaf. Remove the bottom two leaves from the cutting.
Step 2: Fill the pot to one inch from the rim with soil, and then water the soil until it's well moistened. Use a pencil or your finger to make a small hole a few inches deep into the soil.
Step 3: Dip the bottom end of the cutting in rooting hormone, if using. Plant the cutting in the soil so that the nodes of the lower leaves you removed are below the soil line. Gently pat the soil around the stems to hold the cuttings in place.
Step 4: Place the plastic bag over the pot to create a humid environment for your cutting, taking care to ensure that the bag isn't touching the plant.
Step 5: Keep the cuttings in a warm place with bright, indirect light but out of direct sunlight. Take off the bag for a few minutes every once in a while to air out the cutting, and keep the soil moist.
Step 6: When you see new growth appear, remove the bag. After the cutting has several new leaves, you can pot it up and care for the plant as usual.
Common Growing Problems
Some types of peperomias are semi-succulent and store water in their leaves and stems. Because of this, overwatering is the biggest pitfall to avoid.