Peperomia quadrangularis or the Beetle plant is quite popular among houseplant enthusiasts for its unique ovate, green leaves. It looks gorgeous in hanging baskets and can grow up to 12 inches in size.
Learn from our experts the right way to grow and care for Peperomia quadrangularis.
What Is Peperomia Quadrangularis?
Peperomia quadrangularis (also known as Beetle peperomia, Radiator plant, and Peperomia angulata) is a tropical perennial shrub belonging to the Piperaceae family. It hails from South America and grows abundantly in Brazil and Panama.
It is grown as a trailing plant in pots and also as a ground cover plant. As a ground plant cover, it grows well in terrariums also. Sometimes considered a succulent, Peperomia quadrangularis needs more humidity and care than a succulent.
– Size and Growth
Peperomia quadrangularis grows up to 12 inches in size when trailing. The leaves can grow up to 1 inch in length. It is a slow-growing plant like succulents. In some tropical regions, it grows a bit faster when planted on the ground. But in pots, the growth will be limited.
Peperomia quadrangularis has beautiful, dark green, variegated leaves. The oblong leaves are stiff and have golden veins running across them. These golden veins make the plant look lovely in hanging baskets. It is grown as a ground cover plant too.
The stems of Peperomia quadrangularis are thin, flexible, soft, and wiry. They are generally found trailing below the pots.
The roots of Peperomia quadrangularis are small, and that is why these plants do not need large pots. Their growth rate is slow to moderate, which is why they grow fine in shallow pots.
Blooms are a rare occurrence in Peperomia quadrangularis. But in spring and summer, sometimes it produces white flowers which look like ice-pops.
Peperomia quadrangularis is perfectly safe to keep in houses. It is non-toxic to pets.
Peperomia Quadrangularis Care
– Light Requirements
Peperomia quadrangularis like to be in partial shade with medium to bright, indirect, or filtered sunlight throughout the day. They need bright outdoor light but cannot tolerate the harsh summer sun.
They can be grown in low-light conditions, but the leaves lose their dark green color. Pale, yellow, and insufficient leaves and leggy stems are an indication of low light. Keep your plant under grow lights for 12 hours a day if there is no light coming into the house.
– Water Requirements
The water requirements of Peperomia quadrangularis are not too high, but it prefers small amounts of regular watering. It loves rainwater and wants the soil to be moist but not too soggy. Similar to succulents, water your Beetle peperomia in small quantities, preferably with stored rainwater.
Remember, never to over-water your plant. Peperomia quadrangularis is prone to root rot when over-watered. Avoid under-watering as well as it causes leaves to wilt.
To check if it is time to water, stick your finger into the soil. If the top one inch of the soil feels dry, then water it. Otherwise, wait for a few more days. Do this soil test each time you water your plant to prevent waterlogging in the soil. On average, watering the plant once a week works fine.
As a general rule, the watering frequency will increase in summer and reduce in winter. Allow it to get dry a bit in between waterings.
Just like other epiphytes growing in the wild, either on the ground or through the tree’s support, Peperomia quadrangularis also grows like an epiphyte getting nutrition from air, wood bark, and water. It grows well in moist soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5.
Prepare a chunky and loose soil mix for Beetle peperomia. It should be well-draining and must have organic matter like coco coir to retain the moisture and warmth that the plant needs. Combine peat moss, compost, mulch, and some orchid bark to prepare the potting mix. Add perlite or gravel for extra drainage.
Peperomia quadrangularis grows well in the warm temperatures of tropical jungles. Because of Beetle peperomia’s love for warm weather, it is also called the Radiator plant.
It cannot handle frost and extreme cold. Therefore, the ideal temperature for its optimum growth is above 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the temperature goes below 59 degrees Fahrenheit, Peperomia quadrangularis goes dormant. If put outside in frost, it may also die. During winter, move your plant indoors to some warm spot.
Peperomia quadrangularis loves humidity just like other plants hailing from South America do. More than watering, it is the humidity that the plant cares about. Misting once a week helps in regulating moisture.
To maintain humidity, keep your plant near other plants. Mist your plant occasionally or place a humidifier next to your plant. If you do not have a humidifier, try the pebble tray method to maintain humidity around your plant.
Keep the plant away from air conditioners and heaters at all times, as the dry air can burn the leaves of Peperomia angulata. Keep the plant around other shade-loving plants to maintain proper humidity.
Peperomia quadrangularis is not a heavy fertilizer feeder. It needs mild nutrients for growth, so less is more in this case. Use any organic fertilizer monthly to feed Peperomia quadrangularis. Fertilize monthly only during the growing months of the year. Do not fertilize in winter as the plant goes into the dormancy stage.
To make organic fertilizer at home, make a banana peel fertilizer or orange peel fertilizer. Both provide essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to the plant.
– Pruning and Trimming
Peperomia quadrangularis is not a high-maintenance plant when it comes to pruning and trimming. Heavy pruning can damage the plant, light pruning, trimming, and pinching work better. If you see any damaged leaves or stems, remove them by pinching or by cutting.
Keep checking your plant every month or two to check for damaged leaves. Pruning is only required when the plant size increases beyond 12 inches. Then, use the pruned stems to propagate your Peperomia angulata.
– Repotting Peperomia Quadrangularis
Peperomia quadrangularis has a shallow root system, which is why it manages well in smaller pots for years. They like to be root bound. But it does not mean that it loves to be in highly tight soil. The soil should be well-draining with some perlite or gravel in it.
The best time to repot Peperomia quadrangularis is in winter. When you notice leaves turning yellow and dull or the roots coming out of the drainage hole, and the plant has stopped growing, then it is time to repot. Choose a pot one size bigger than the previous pot.
While repotting your plant, do not disturb the plant’s roots and add fertilizer to the soil to improve the nutrition level. If you think that your plant will get bushier and larger if you will repot, you may be wrong because it is almost impossible for Peperomia quadrangularis to grow beyond 12 inches.
To make the plant denser and bushier, propagate the existing plant and plant the cuttings in the same pot.
Propagating Peperomia Quadrangularis
– Propagation by Leaf Cuttings
Propagate Peperomia quadrangularis by leaf cuttings in the growing months of the year. Choose big, healthy leaves from a mature mother plant and remove the leaf from the stalk.
Bury the leaf’s stalk in a potting mix similar to that of succulents containing peat moss, succulent soil, and perlite. Water the cuttings and keep them in the shade and other plants so that appropriate humidity is maintained.
Optional – Before burying the leaf’s stalk into the potting mix, dip the stalk in a rooting hormone to promote faster root development. Alternatively, you can also use cinnamon powder as a rooting hormone.
– Propagation by Stem Cuttings
Propagating Peperomia quadrangularis by cuttings is even simpler. First, choose a healthy-looking stem from the mother plant, and cut it below the stem’s node. Now, bury the stem in the potting mix. You can dip the stem in a rooting hormone, but it is optional.
After burying the cutting, water the pot and keep it in a shaded spot for a few days. Its roots will develop within a few weeks. Once the plant outgrows the small container, move it to a bigger pot.
Peperomia Quadrangularis Problems
Peperomia quadrangularis does not face many problems. It is easy to maintain, but there are a few issues that might come up.
– Pests and Insects
Peperomia quadrangularis does not attract many pests, but it is vulnerable to mealybugs. Keep away the pests by regularly misting your plant with rainwater. If you do not have stored rainwater, use neem oil or soap water to spray the leaves to prevent pest infestation.
– Yellow Leaves and Stunted Growth
Both of these could be a sign of low light. Move the plant to a brighter space where it gets some filtered sunlight.
– Drooping and Falling Leaves
If your leaves have dropped despite keeping the plant in bright light, it may be because of over-watering the plant. Curly, droopy, and falling leaves are a classic sign of overwatering.
Check the soil if it is wet. In case of root rot, take the plant out of the pot and check if there are any healthy roots left. Separate rotten roots from healthy ones and plant the healthy roots into a well-draining mixture of soil. Use terracotta pots instead of plastic pots because they help in absorbing extra moisture from the soil.
– Leaf Discoloration
Peperomia quadrangularis cannot handle cold temperatures. If it is exposed to extremely low temperatures, its leaves will start to lose color. It is a common problem in all Peperomia varieties. Move the plant inside to a warm spot if you notice any discolored leaves.
– Root Rot
Root rot due to overwatering and poor drainage is the most common problem of Peperomia quadrangularis. To deal with root rot, keep a few tips in mind. Treat your Peperomia quadrangularis like a succulent, do not water too much but provide bright, filtered sunlight.
Grow your plant in terracotta planters because they help in absorbing excess water from the soil. If you are using a plastic pot, then make sure to have many drainage holes at the bottom.
– Wilting Leaves
If the leaves have wilted and dropped below completely, it may be because of a lack of water. In this case, water your plant immediately and see if the plant revives after a couple of hours. If the leaves do not stand up, then the plant may be dead. Mist the plant weekly to maintain humidity.
The slow-growing Beetle plant makes for a perfect table plant. It is a must-have plant for people who love trailing plants.
So, let us sum up what we have learned so far:
- The Beetle plant’s natural habitat is in the tropical jungles of South America
- It is used as a bedding plant cover and also in a hanging basket
- It is not toxic and perfectly safe to keep around kids and pets
- Bright, filtered sunlight works the best for Peperomia quadrangularis’ growth
- It is considered succulent by many, but unlike the succulents, it loves some humidity
- Do not let the soil dry out completely and maintain a consistent watering schedule
- Mist your plant regularly to keep the moisture around it
- It can be propagated by both leaves and stems
- You can treat problems like dull and yellow leaves, root rot, pests, etc.
We hope that you loved our guide to grow and care for the effortless and attractive Peperomia quadrangularis plant. Grow it in hanging pots or containers or on the ground and make your home vibrant with this ornamental plant.
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