The watermelon peperomia is also known as peperomia argyreia. The plant gets the common name from the arresting foliage that looks very much like the rind of a ripe watermelon.
The watermelon peperomia makes an ideal houseplant that even purifies the air. Growing watermelon peperomia plants is easy when you know the right conditions to keep the plant healthy.
This growing guide will show you how to get the best growth from your watermelon peperomia plant.
What is a Watermelon Peperomia?
Watermelon peperomia is one of the most desirable types of the peperomia genus. These subtropical plants originate from South America where they are found growing in the undergrowth of the jungle.
The peperomia plants are grown for their artistic and interesting foliage. Many types have unique shapes and colors, and the watermelon peperomia is no different. The tear-drop shape of the watermelon peperomia leaves show a vibrant variegation in stripes that run together at the stem base.
These plants have unique characteristics and growing requirements. When the ideal conditions are met, the watermelon peperomia is a slow growing, compact houseplant. The leaves will grow in dense clumps that add vibrancy and intrigue to your indoor garden. The plant will average around 12 inches in height, while a mini watermelon peperomia variety grows only to about 6 inches tall.
This growing guide explains the correct way to care for a peperomia watermelon house plant so even the most novice gardener can have tremendous success. These plants are reasonably simple and undemanding with few problems and a devout following of cultivators. You’ll enjoy the quirky leaves of the watermelon peperomia in your home.
Watermelon Peperomia Care Guide
The watermelon peperomia is a slow-growing houseplant. You’ll want to take proper care of these plants to ensure healthy and consistent growth.
Once you have the right growing medium and you understand how to provide for these plants, they will surprise you with the ease it takes to make them happy.
– Light Requirements
In the natural environment where watermelon peperomia grows, you will find these plants in dappled shade beneath larger trees. They are light-loving plants, but can’t take direct sunshine for very long.
When you are deciding where to put your watermelon peperomia, you should first consider east, west, or south windows. Depending on your location and the obstructions your windows have, you may need to move this plant several feet from the window to get it in the proper spot.
Direct sunshine will cause the leaves to pleach, shrivel, and the plant may die rather quickly, so you should pay close attention to your new plant and look for signs of too much light. Gardeners who have particularly dark homes may find that adding an artificial light will help the watermelon peperomia to grow well.
These plants are tropical or subtropical in origin, and as such are not well suited for drastic temperature changes or extremes. These plants will do best in normal household temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees.
They will tolerate higher temperatures provided they are kept out of direct sun and have plenty of frequent waterings, but avoid cold temperatures. The watermelon peperomia will not survive below 50 degrees.
It is a good idea to place watermelon peperomia plants well away from AC and heater vents. They don’t appreciate the draftiness or the dry conditions. You will want to watch your plants as the seasons change and you use artificial heating and cooling.
– Water Requirements
Like other peperomia types, this plant has thick, succulent-like leaves. Watermelon peperomia isn’t a succulent, though so it will require more frequent watering.
These plants benefit from a slight drying out period between watering. You should wait to water until the top two inches of soil are dry. Then, water slowly and deeply, letting the water run clean from the drainage holes.
The watermelon peperomia is susceptible to rot often resulting from too much water and poorly draining soil. You should learn to pay attention to the leaves of the plant to determine when it is time to water. The leaves will feel thin and may wrinkle a little when it is time to water.
– Humidity Requirements for Healthy Growth
The watermelon peperomia is a humidity-loving plant. You’ll want to regularly mist the leaves with a fine sprayer, but don’t soak the leaves. The ideal humidity for these plants is between 40 and 80 percent. The average house is typically within these ranges, but you should watch the levels when running a heater or AC unit because these systems dry the air.
An evaporative tray is an excellent source of increased humidity. You can make one at home by filling a tray with small rocks and adding water almost to the top of the rocks. Place the pot on the rocks, making sure it isn’t touching the water. The evaporation from the tray will produce ideal humidity conditions for your watermelon peperomia.
Improper humidity is one of the main causes of poor plant growth. If your plant isn’t growing well, one of the first things you should check is the humidity level. A tester for checking humidity is an inexpensive tool you can use to make sure you have the right levels.
– Soil Conditions
You will need to create a well-draining potting soil for your peperomia plants. It is fairly common for plants to be shipped from the grower in small pots with inadequate soil meant to keep the plants in place rather than provide a good growing medium. The watermelon peperomia will benefit from a custom mix of materials for use as a potting medium.
The mix must be well-draining and not retain too much moisture. Peperomia plants typically grow in nutrient-dense places, but with little soil. Your mix will need to be light and airy so the roots can breath.
A good mix for watermelon peperomia plants is coco coir-based with orchid bark, worm compost, and a little nutrient-rich potting soil. You want the mixture to be mostly coco fiber which provides lightness. Adding activated charcoal and pumice will improve drainage, reduce odors, and provide an ideal medium for your plant.
– When to Fertilize
These plants benefit from a mild houseplant fertilizer applied monthly during the growing season. The best choice for your plant is a liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength.
Peperomia plants have sensitive roots that will be harmed by too much fertilizer. Using a liquid fertilizer lets you rinse the roots after feeding.
A slow-release fertilizer can also be helpful. This type of fertilizer should be applied in the early spring only. Don’t use any other fertilizer if you are applying a slow release type. Otherwise, you can burn the plant quite easily.
– How to Repot
Because these plants don’t like to have too much space for roots, you don’t want to get a much bigger pot. The roots will stress with too much soil, and deep, large pots can hold more water than smaller ones, making it difficult to tell when it is time to water.
Repotting is easiest when the soil is mostly dry. Tilt the plant and remove it from the pot, then gently brush off as much soil as possible. You will want to make sure you have a suitable potting mix ready. Water your plant well after you have transplanted it into a new pot.
Propagation Tips for Watermelon Peperomia
There are two basic ways to propagate the watermelon peperomia by cutting. Regardless of which method you use, you will want to have sharp, sterile scissors or a knife on hand.
If you are propagating in water, be sure to have a glass or jar nearby. If you are using a growing medium instead, make sure it is ready and well-wetted. Rooting hormone powder or willow water rooting hormone will aid in the development of roots, but it isn’t always necessary.
- Stem-tip cutting: For this method, you will select a growing stem with several leaves. Make your cut just below a leaf node, then cut the leaf off. You should immediately place the cutting in water or soil. Cover the cuttings with plastic to trap in humidity and place them in a warm, dark place. You can cut each of the leaves on your cutting across the width to reduce the strain on the stems. Roots will develop in four to six weeks. Watch for rot and discard cuttings showing signs.
- Leaf cutting: This is a great option if you do not want to cut a whole stem from your plan, but it generally has a lower success rate. You will cut a leaf and stem from your plant. Select a healthy, young leaf for the best results. Rooting hormone helps with success using this method. Dip the cut end into the hormone, then immediately place in water so the cut is covered but the stem is not resting on the bottom of the glass. Roots will appear in about six weeks at which time you will want to transfer the plant to a well-draining temporary soil. After about three months, your new peperomia plant is ready for a real pot.
It is fairly easy to learn the signs of a problem with your peperomia plants. When you know what to look for, you will be able to catch problems before they get out of hand.
Most of the common problems with watermelon peperomia are easy to fix without harming the plant.
- Yellow, drooping leaves: This is a sign of too much water and may indicate that the plant is suffering from rot. Ensure the potting mix is fast draining. Do not water until the surface is dry, then reduce the amount of water going forward.
- Dry, brown leaves: This indicates that your plant is severely underwatered. You will learn to watch the leaves for signs that the plant needs water. They will pucker a little and look thin when the plant is ready. Resume watering slowly and gradually increase the amount you water the plant until it is healthy again.
- Leaves turning grey: This is an indication of too much light exposure. Move the plant away from the light source or move it to a less bright location.
- Slow growth: These plants are not known for a rapid growth rate, but if your watermelon peperomia is growing slower than normal, it may need repotting into a slightly larger pot. This is a good time to inspect the roots and replace the soil with a better mix. Use fertilizer sparingly during the growing season to speed things up a little.
- Watermelon peperomia comes from South America and is a popular house plant for the interesting leaves.
- Growing these plants is easy when they have the right conditions.
- Watermelon peperomia need well-draining soil and bright, indirect light.
- Watering should be frequent with a drying out period in between. Humidity is also important for plant growth.
- Common problems are easily identified by the condition of leaves. Learning to pay attention to the leaves will make caring for these plants easy.
Watermelon peperomia is one of the more popular varieties of these South American tropical house plants. It is prized for the unique and curious patterns of the leaves. It is a surprisingly easy plant to care for and does very well in the house.
Available in standard and miniature, these plants are naturals in offices and cubicles where they require little care, grow slowly, and will typically do well under artificial light.
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