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Peperomia Caperata of the Piperaceae family should definitely make your bucket list if you like collecting small, colorful houseplants. Not only is it inexpensive and easy to find, but it also comes in more colors and patterns than you can imagine.
Needless to say, we doubt you’ll ever get bored of finding new cultivars to add to your indoor garden.
In this guide, we’ll reveal our best tips and tricks on how to care for Peperomia Caperata. We’ll also discuss propagation, as well as how to troubleshoot the most common problems of this Peperomia genus plant.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- What Is a Peperomia Caperata?
- Peperomia Caperata Care
- Pruning and Maintenance
What Is a Peperomia Caperata?
Peperomia Caperata is a tropical flowering plant native to Brazil. It belongs to the Peperomia genus, a group related to the black pepper, and is known under the common name of radiator plants. This Peperomia houseplant is popular in indoor gardening due to its small, contained growth habit and colorful foliage.
Peperomia Caperata Care
Peperomia Caperata can seem a bit complicated, especially if you’re a beginner. The most difficult part in caring for it is watering it correctly, as well as using the right soil mix. Here are things to consider if you want to grow Peperomia Caperata in your home:
Watering Peperomia Caperata can be a bit tricky. This plant has a shallow root system, which means that it can suffer if exposed to extended periods of drought, as well as too much water. Its fleshy, semi-succulent leaves help the plant retain some water, however, they will begin to shrivel up and fall off if you forget to water it for too long.
Our recommendation is to water your Peperomia Caperata when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Use a watering can with a long, narrow neck, and pour the water to the base of the plant. If you splash water on the leaves, you may notice that they will begin to develop brown leaf spots.
Another technique you can use for your Peperomia Caperata is bottom watering. Fill a wide, shallow container with water, and place the plant pot in there for about ten minutes. The plant will absorb the water this way.
Once that’s done, leave the pot to drain in a sink for a few minutes, then place it back on its tray. Never leave water sitting in the pot tray, as the soil can become oversaturated with water, resulting in root rot.
You can tell if you’re watering your Peperomia Caperata correctly by checking the leaves. They will feel soft and more wrinkly than normal when the plant is thirsty. The stems also tend to droop when the plant is receiving too much or too little water.
If you’re top-watering, always make sure that the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. For bottom watering, you can tell by the weight of the pot and the look of the leaves whether the plant needs to be watered.
Peperomia Caperata should be grown in low to moderate light conditions. The plant’s foliage is sensitive to direct sunlight exposure, which can cause scorch marks, as well as wilting. It can also be grown under artificial or fluorescent light, making it an excellent choice for decorating your office desk.
The ideal room for growing Peperomia Caperata should have eastern or northern exposure. In a room that’s facing east, you can even keep the plant on the windowsill. It can handle hours of mild sun in the morning, yet it’s best if you gradually acclimatize it to more light. In rooms facing south or west, the plant should be kept far away from any windows to prevent direct sunlight exposure.
We recommend using a Peperomia Caperata soil mix that is porous, aerated, and very well-draining. Most of the problems you’ll encounter when growing this plant are caused by thick, compacted soils.
Using the right soil mix is important especially if you’re using bottom watering for this plant. If the soil stays wet all the time, it can encourage the development of pathogens, and the delicate roots will soon begin to rot.
To make your own potting soil for Peperomia Caperata, you can combine equal parts peat-based universal plant mix and perlite. You can also substitute the universal soil for a succulent or African violet mix. Excellent drainage is the most important feature, so remember to add plenty of perlite or pumice into the substrate.
Peperomia Caperata thrives in indoor conditions, and the ideal temperature range for this plant is between 64 to 75 F (18 to 24 C). This tropical plant is not frost-hardy and will struggle to grow if temperatures drop below 59 F (15 C).
Although it’s called a radiator plant, you should never keep your Peperomia Caperata on top of a radiator. Heat sources such as heating vents and radiators create hot air drafts, which will cause the plant to wilt. Also, the hot drafts will dry out the air around the plant, which will harm its health.
Cold drafts from an air conditioning unit or even a drafty window are harmful to the plant. Avoid any extreme temperature fluctuations when growing the plant indoors.
Peperomia Caperata is a tropical plant that loves high humidity . Although it can grow in the average air moisture levels found in most homes, a boost in humidity will promote healthier, fuller growth.
The easiest way to meet the plant’s humidity needs is by placing the pot on a pebble tray half-filled with water. You can also grow it in a humid room, such as a kitchen or a bathroom that has a window.
You can also boost the humidity for your Peperomia Caperata by growing it in an open terrarium. This plant is very popular with terrarium gardeners because it retains its small, compact shape for the entire duration of its life.
You don’t need a very large container for it either. A mason jar or a round glass bowl would be perfect. Just remember to leave the terrarium open, to allow air circulation for the plant.
We recommend that you don’t mist your Peperomia Caperata. Even though this plant loves humidity, it is very susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases if the leaves get wet. A far better solution is simply using a pebble tray.
Peperomia Caperata is a very light feeder, and typically only needs fertilization once a month throughout spring and summer. You can use a balanced fertilizer with a nutrient ratio of 10-10-10, or even a fertilizer solution for cacti and succulents.
Always dilute the fertilizer to half the strength, to prevent burning the roots and fertilizer salts building up in the soil. In winter, the plant doesn’t need any additional feeding.
If you have recently repotted your Peperomia Caperata, avoid giving it any fertilizers for at least three months. The fresh soil will provide the plant with all the nutrients it needs to grow. Giving it extra nutrients can result in fertilizer burn, and can even cause the plant to grow leggy.
Pruning and Maintenance
Peperomia Caperata does not require pruning. Now and then, the plant will shed some of its older leaves, from the bottom of the stem. You don’t need to trim them off, simply wait until they fall off naturally and then discard them. Even if the leaves that have fallen off look like they’re in good shape, avoid using them for propagation, as they may not develop any roots.
Depending on the cultivar, if your Peperomia Caperata is older than three years you may notice that the stems will become long and bare. This is very noticeable especially in cultivars such as Rosso. At this stage, it’s best if you cut the part of the plant that still has leaves, and use it for propagation.
The corrugated leaves of Peperomia Caperata can easily attract dust and even pollen if the plant is flowering. To keep them healthy and allow the plant to produce photosynthesis, we recommend that you use a small brush and gently clean the dust, especially from the crevices.
Peperomia Caperata leaves can have very brittle stems that break easily, so avoid applying too much pressure when cleaning them.
Peperomia Caperata needs to be repotted once every two or three years. Its shallow root system rarely outgrows the pot, and the plant grows better if it’s a bit root-bound. However, if the roots are starting to come out to the drainage holes, it’s best if you repot the plant into a container that’s one size larger or two inches (five centimeters) wider.
It’s best to keep in mind that Peperomia Caperata is a short-lived plant. Unless it’s provided with the best possible growing conditions, the plant will rarely live for more than three years.
But if your caperata houseplant reaches the ripe age of three years, we recommend changing its soil even if the plant hasn’t yet outgrown its container.
You can propagate Peperomia Caperata using leaf or stem cuttings. Leaf cuttings propagation is best used on young, small plants. Meanwhile, stem propagation works best for mature peperomia, especially if the plant has a long, bare stem. Both methods are very beginner-friendly, and they have a higher success rate if you use them at the beginning of summer.
Here are our step-by-step guides for propagating Peperomia Caperata:
– Leaf Propagation
- Use a sharp, sterilized blade and cut the petioles of the leaves as close as you can to the main stem. For a bushy plant, we recommend using at least five leaves.
- Fill a shallow container with a mix of perlite and peat moss in equal amounts. You can also use seedling propagation trays for the bob.
- Use a spray pump to moisten the soil mix.
- Place each leaf cutting on top of the soil. The leaf should be facing up, with the petiole sticking halfway into the soil.
- Cover the propagation tray with a transparent plastic wrap to help preserve humidity, and keep it in a warm, bright spot, away from direct sunlight.
- Peperomia leaf cuttings root very easily, and they should start forming roots after a week or so.
- Keep the cuttings in the propagation tray until you see that the new plantlets have at least three leaves. Then, gently take them out and pot them in a well-draining soil mix.
- To help the young plants become established, we recommend keeping them covered with transparent plastic wrap for another month. Alternatively, you can also plant them in a terrarium, where they are sure to thrive.
– Stem Propagation
- This propagation method works best with a mature Peperomia, with a bare stem section at least an inch long.
- Use a sharp, sterilized blade to cut the stem.
- Keep the stem in a cool, dry place for a few days until the bottom develops a callus.
- Then, fill a small pot with a mix of perlite and peat moss. Wedge the bare stem into the potting mix, but make sure that the bottom leaves don’t touch the soil.
- Carefully water the plant at the bottom without splashing water on the foliage.
- Keep the pot in a bright, humid room but away from any direct sunlight. At this stage, you will need to be very careful about how much water you give the plant to prevent the stem from rotting.
- Your stem cutting should start growing roots after one or two weeks.
- If you notice that the leaves are starting to turn yellow, shrivel up or fall off, this could be a sign of stem rot. Take the cutting out of the soil and examine the bottom of the stem. Use a sterilized blade to trim off any soft, mushy sections. Sterilize the container, mix a fresh batch of soil, and repeat the process.
Here are a few problems to keep an eye out for when growing Peperomia Caperata:
– Stem and Leaf Rot
If you mist your Peperomia Caperata or if the leaves get wet during watering, the plant can become susceptible to stem and leaf rot. Our recommendation is to use bottom watering for this plant. If it is badly damaged by rot, the only way to save the plant is to prune any healthy stems and leaves and use them for propagation.
– Drooping Leaves
The leaves of your Peperomia Caperata will begin to droop if the plant is thirsty or if you’ve given it too much water. In some cases, drooping leaves can also indicate that the plant is exposed to hot or cold drafts. Check that the plant is growing in the right conditions and avoid any extremes.
– Lots of Leaves Falling Off
If your Peperomia Caperata is suddenly losing a lot of leaves, that’s a common sign that the plant is overwatered. Allow the soil to dry out a bit in between waterings, and make sure that the potting mix you’re using is very well-draining.
– How Big Does a Peperomia Caperata Grow?
Peperomia Caperata grows to a maximum height of eight inches (20 centimeters) as a houseplant. It has a bushy shape, producing clusters of semi-succulent, heart-shaped, leathery, deeply ridged leaves.
– Does a Peperomia Caperata Flower?
Yes. Throughout spring and summer, the plant will bloom. Its flower is a long, spike-like inflorescence that, depending on the cultivar, can be either white, yellow, or pale green.
Also known as the Emerald Ripple Peperomia, Peperomia Caperata has numerous cultivars, each with a unique set of colors and patterns. Most varieties have rounded, heart-shaped leaves and can range in color from dark red or burgundy to silvery green, and some can even be variegated. If you’re looking for something unique, the Rosso cultivar has narrow, oval-shaped leaves with a dark green color and bright red undersides.
– Is Peperomia Caperata Toxic?
No. Peperomia Caperata is not toxic to humans and pets, so you can safely bring one home if you have a cat or a dog.
Let’s go over the basics when it comes to caring for your Peperomia Caperata plant:
- Peperomia Caperata is a flowering plant native to Brazil, available in a wide range of colorful cultivars.
- It is a bit demanding about its growing requirements and is best cultivated as an indoor plant.
- Provide the plant with moderate light, very well-draining soil, and a regular watering routine to keep it happy.
- It is very sensitive to overwatering, as well as having its leaves wet. Bottom watering is recommended if you wish to avoid stem and leaf rot.
- This plant is very easy to propagate using stem and leaf cuttings.
- Peperomia Caperata is not toxic to pets.
Peperomia Caperata is a gorgeous plant that needs a bit more care than other houseplants. But once you get used to its care routine, we’re sure that it will thrive in your home.