The Peperomia puteolata, also known as parallel peperomia, is a visual treat that brings vibrancy to your indoor houseplant collection.
This is an interesting and uncommon species that looks similar to the watermelon peperomia, but features smaller, more delicate leaves arranged in a whorl down the stem. Peperomia puteolata leaves are arrow-shaped and slender, drawing your attention to the attractive small plant.
This is the ultimate guide to growing Peperomia puteolata with success.
We will explain how to water, where to plant, and how to propagate to increase the Peperomia puteolata growth rate.
What Is Peperomia Puteolata?
The Peperomia puteolata is an epiphytic plant that originates from South America where it is found growing wild in lush tropical and subtropical jungles. The common name of parallel peperomia comes from the variegated streaks on the leaves that run in parallel to one another. Currently, there is a dispute over the official name, with peperomia tetragona considered to be the correct scientific name for the plant, while peperomia puteolata is considered to be synonymous.
These plants will use their stems and leaves to climb trunks of trees and rocks in search of ideal growing conditions. In your home, you can provide the ideal climate for a growing parallel peperomia quite easily and with little fuss.
When these plants grow in the correct type of potting mix and are watered correctly, you will get many years of enjoyment from the attractive foliage and reddish stems.
Botanists consider this a trailing species, though in many homes, the Peperomia puteolata is grown on a pole providing it with a bush shape rather than a vine. Either way you choose to grow the parallel peperomia, you need to make sure the ideal conditions are present.
Once established, you’ll have few problems keeping this hardy house plant producing thick, variegated leaves and tough almost woody stems.
Peperomia Puteolata Care Guide
Here, we will break down for you everything you ever will need to know about keeping the Peperomia puteolata growing in your home.
If you are experiencing problems with this plant, follow along and we will describe the steps to take to keep this tropical plant in your collection.
Like most epiphytes, the Peperomia puteolata requires a fast-draining, airy soil that allows air to reach the roots. In nature, these plants are most often found growing in the space between branches of large trees where they can exist with almost no soil. You will have the most success with your Peperomia puteolata houseplant by mixing your own potting soil for these plants.
You will notice that the leaves of the parallel peperomia are rigid and thick, with a feel similar to that of cardboard. This is a good indication that the plant is semi-succulent in function, so you will want a soil mixture that does not retain a ton of water and will drain and dry fairly quickly. The most important key when selecting soil for the Peperomia puteolata is to avoid clay-based soil or anything designed to hold and retain water.
A good mixture for the Peperomia puteolata is one-third cactus and succulent mix, one-third peat or sphagnum moss, and one-third pumice or perlite. This mixture provides ideal drainage conditions and prevents the roots of your Peperomia puteolata from sitting in water. The biggest mistake that home gardeners make when they are new to growing semi-succulent plants like this one is to provide soil that doesn’t drain well.
These plants will require somewhat more water than a true succulent, but not nearly as much as you may be used to providing for your houseplants. You should make sure not to overwater them.
You will have better growth and a healthier plant if you use filtered or distilled water to avoid introducing harsh chemicals to the roots of your plant. If you must use tap water, let it sit in a wide-mouth, open container for at least 24 hours for the chemicals to dissipate before using it on your plants.
You will need to let the top one or two inches of soil dry completely between watering. These plants will grow much better when you replicate situations where water comes and goes with some regularity, as happens in the wilds of Columbia.
When you do water, the best practice is to allow water to slowly trickle into the roots of the plant until water runs clear from the bottom of the drainage holes. The roots will absorb water as long as the water is present, so you need to avoid watering too often.
You can watch the leaves for a good indication of when the plant requires water. Like a succulent, the Peperomia puteolata plant stores water in its leaves. You will notice wrinkling or slight wilting at the bottom leaves when it is time to water. These plants will do much better with less than optimal water rather than too much.
The parallel Peperomia plant requires bright, indirect lighting to grow well. It will survive dim environments, but growth will be noticeably slow and leaves will develop smaller sizes.
Stems will be longer and create a leggy, awkward-looking plant. It is critical to avoid putting this plant in direct sunlight for any length of time unless it has gradually been acclimated to the experience.
The best choice for placing these plants is in an east or west window. These locations provide excellent amounts of light. You may be able to get the parallel peperomia plant against the windowpane in these locations, but monitor leaves for signs of overexposure.
South-facing windows work very well for these plants and you’ll find that you can get significant growth each season by placing them a few feet from the window. Remember to provide a curtain or screen to diffuse light in a south-facing window. If you see signs of overexposure on the leaves, you may need to move the plant a few feet from the window.
Leaves will curl upward, have brown edges, or drop off the plant when it gets too much light exposure. While these are light-loving plants, in nature, they gather all they need from beneath the jungle canopy.
The average household temperature is typically ideal for the peperomia puteolata plant. They thrive when kept in conditions between 65 and 85 degrees. These plants will tolerate higher temperatures for short periods of time, but will not survive temperatures below 55 degrees.
It is important to pay attention to your plant when the seasons change. A perfect location in fall and winter may be too warm in summer, while AC vents may cast a breeze on hot days the plant can’t handle.
When your peperomia plant experiences cold temperatures, it is most likely to drop leaves. You should try to catch it before all the leaves fall off, but if they do, don’t despair. Your plant will regrow leaves in time if you keep the growing conditions perfect.
Burnt edges and yellowing or graying of the leaf surface indicate too much light. You may need to move these plants from one location to another as the seasons change to keep them in optimal conditions.
In the wild, these plants thrive in high-humidity regions, but it isn’t necessary to provide those conditions for excellent growth in your home. Generally, the average humidity of your home will be sufficient for these plants to grow.
During the summer and winter, when artificial heating and cooling are being used, monitor the leaves of your plant to ensure there is enough humidity and the plant isn’t experiencing cold drafts.
If you live in a particularly dry area or the heater in your home reduces humidity to desert-like conditions, you can finely mist the leaves once per week to increase humidity. Another great way to increase the humidity is the use of a homemade evaporative tray. This simple-to-make humidifier also looks nice and increases the visual appeal of your entire planting area.
To make an evaporative tray, place small stones, rocks, or pumice in the tray and add enough water to almost cover the stones. Place the Peperomia puteolata plant on the stones, making sure the bottom of the pot does not sit in the water. If you put the pot in the water, the soil will draw up moisture and you may kill your plant.
One of the best ways you can encourage strong and healthy growth from your Peperomia puteolata plant is to set a regular fertilizing schedule. These plants will benefit from twice-monthly feeding during the spring and summer. Don’t fertilize the plant during dormant stages because the roots may get damaged.
When you are selecting a fertilizer, you will have the best results with a mild, balanced fertilizer. An 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 is a good recommendation, but dilute the dose to half-strength. A liquid fertilizer you can provide during watering is the best option. Slow-release fertilizer can also be used with the potting mix in the early spring. If you use a slow release, don’t add additional fertilizer or you risk burning your plants.
You will want to take the time to carefully prune this plant to keep the growth under control. Pruning encourages additional stem growth, so if you are trying to get your Peperomia puteolata plant bigger, pruning may help.
The key with pruning is to start with sharp, sterile scissors or a knife. Pruning is best done in early spring before the plant starts showing signs of new growth. Alternatively, you can prune in the mid to late spring or summer if you plan on propagating your plant.
When you are pruning, the goal is to take off stems at the height you desire the plant to grow. You may have to remove quite a bit of growth each year to keep the Peperomia puteolata at the size you prefer. In nature, this plant often forms large, mounding, and trailing sections along the ground.
Propagation Guide for Peperomia Puteolata
The parallel peperomia is relatively easy to propagate. In the wild, it is common for parts of the plant to break off, either during storms or due to animals. The broken stems simply root, growing new plants. You can do the same thing at home without a hurricane or howler monkeys.
The best way to propagate this plant is through stem-tip cuttings. This is a simple method that is effective with a large number of plants. Using sterile scissors or a knife, cut a healthy stem just below a leaf node. Remove the first few sets of leaves, keeping about one-half of the foliage. Immediately place the cut stem in rooting hormone if you are using it, then in a glass of water.
Change the water at least once per week until a sufficient amount of roots have appeared. Roots may grow from the cut stem, from the leaf nodes, or even from a random place on the stem that is in the water. Keep the cutting in a warm, dark place for best results. Always use filtered or distilled water because chemicals in tap water prevent root growth.
It will take between three and five weeks for roots to form. You may be able to encourage root growth by cutting each leaf in half across the length. The plant will expend less energy on foliage and produce roots.
If the stem cutting begins feeling mushy or slimy, immediately discard the cutting. This is a sign of rot, and if you transplant a cutting with rot, you risk spreading the infection to any other plant that comes in contact. If the cuttings have shown no sign of roots after five weeks, discard them and start over.
It is possible to propagate this plant through leaf cuttings, but success rates may be much lower than with stem cutting. The trade-off is that you are only cutting a leaf from the plant, not an entire stem. Always begin with a sharp, sterile cutting instrument when you are taking cuttings or pruning.
To root a leaf cutting, cut the leaf at the stem, then remove about one-quarter inch from the bottom of the leaf. Place the cut in very fast-draining potting soil, orchid bark, or pumice stones. Water regularly since there will be very little retention and keep the leaf covered to increase humidity. A warming mat can help encourage rooting from a leaf cutting.
Another reason to avoid planting a parallel peperomia plant in a large pot is due to drainage. In nature, these plants often grow in places with little to no soil, forcing them to find what limited access they can to nutrients and water. In a large pot, the plant will exhaust itself growing roots, and the top of the soil will dry long before the lower reaches.
Eventually, the roots will rot, killing the plant. It is a good idea to use shallow pots, but make sure they have lots of drainage.
Common Problems of Peperomia Puteolata
This is a hardy plant that rarely has serious problems. Most of the issues you are likely to encounter can be remedied quite quickly. The best advice is to pay attention to the leaves and soil.
You are likely to learn the early signs of trouble and be able to save your Peperomia puteolata.
- Yellowing Leaves: This is an indication that the plant is too close to a direct light source. Move the plant or add a curtain to correct the problem.
- Wilting Leaves: This is the result of the plant getting too much water. These plants will continue to absorb water into the leaves as long as the water is present. Eventually, the leaves, stem, and roots rot. Decrease watering and consider repotting in dry, well-draining soil.
- Small Leaves: These plants start to show small leaf development when they do not have enough light or the humidity is incorrect. Start by making sure the plant is in a bright, indirect light source. You may need to mist the plant every few days or add an evaporative tray to increase humidity.
- Stems Falling Off: This alarming problem is very serious and requires immediate intervention. The plant is showing signs of root rot from too much water or poorly draining soil. At this stage of the infection, you will need to make stem cuttings from any parts of the plant not showing mushy, brown, or slimy sections. Discard all rot. Do not put it in compost or where it may get mixed into the soil because it will spread rot.
- Spider Mites: These delightfully disturbing sap-sucking spiders are one of the only pests common to these plants. They prefer warm, moist conditions, so make sure the humidity isn’t too high. A simple insecticidal soap that includes a few drops of dish liquid and isopropyl alcohol finely misted onto the leaves and stems will wipe out spider mites. You may need to reapply the spray for several weeks to kill emerging adults.
- Soil Gnats: If you are seeing little, black flies coming from the soi around your plant, you are overwatering. These pests don’t cause much harm, but they are unsightly and an indication of poor care. Make sure the potting mix is well draining and allow the surface to dry between waterings to kill the gnats.
- The Peperomia puteolata comes from Columbia but makes an excellent and collectible houseplant.
- These plants prefer fast-draining soil and bright, indirect light for proper growth.
- The potting mix needs to dry out to about two inches from the surface between waterings.
- Average household temperature and humidity are typically sufficient.
- Most problems with the plant can be identified by paying attention to the leaves.
If you get an opportunity to add this interesting species to your peperomia collection, you should take it. The unique and interesting shape of the leaves is perfectly set off by the zig-zagging, parallel variegation.
It makes a stunning accent plant that compliments both darker and lighter varieties, and the compact growth habit makes pruning fast.
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