Peperomias are great house plants available in different shapes and sizes. Today’s plant is Peperomia Columella, is also a must-have if you are an avid plant collector. This flowering plant is a wonderful addition to your terrarium.
A nutritious, as well as a porous mixture, should be used to grow this plant. This shade-loving plant will do best in filtered but bright sunlight with a small quantity of fertilizer in the growing season.
According to The Encyclopedia of Succulents, Peperomia Columella originates from the desert of Peru, South America. This plant is a beautiful species that grows in tropical regions on steep cliffs. This is an endangered species and is also known as Columnar Peperomia or Pearly Peperomia.
The Columella is a Latin word meaning little columns; the plant is given this name because the leaves grow very close to each other, hiding the stalk. In the beginning, the stems grow upright and later become a pendant, making them perfect for cascading in hanging baskets.
Most growers consider this plant easy to grow. But if you have difficulty in understanding your plant’s requirements, we have collected all the information about the Peperomia Columella. Keep reading.
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Peperoma Columella Plant Care Guide
The pH of the potting mixture should be between 6-7. This plant prefers a mixed soil mixture that includes a combination of peat moss, perlite, charcoal, humus, and mulch.
I use a standard cactus mix, but you can use anything that provides excellent drainage and airflow. Just add perlite, pumice, or grit to the cactus mix to facilitate proper drainage.
It is important to grow Peperomia plants in soil that drains the water quickly without promoting any rots. In outdoor gardens also this plant should be grown only in well-drained soils. This species can be grown easily in USDA hardiness zone 10.
This plant has moderate watering needs, similar to most other Peperomia species.
As a protip, you should use the overhead watering method for this plant instead of bottom watering. This plant is drought tolerant and succulent. When there is a lack of water, the window tissues in mature leaves decreases in volume as the water is transferred to the young leaves.
If you have placed the plant outside, make sure the water does not stay in the pot for too long after a rainy day.
From spring to autumn, you can deeply water this plant but make sure to discard the excess water after a few minutes of watering. Before the next watering, allow the soil to dry. But do not allow the soil to dry out entirely if you want your Columella plant to grow all year.
However, in winter, the Columella plant needs very less water, so follow a watering schedule accordingly. I would suggest using room temperature water only. This plant also benefits from frequent misting, but this is optional if your indoor climate is not excessively dry.
This indoor Peperomia grows beautifully under natural light, as well as artificial lights. It can tolerate full sun to semi sun, but I would recommend placing it in the filtered sun because otherwise, the lovely foliage will be damaged.
It will be perfect if you locate this plant in a bright and sunny location. This plant can tolerate low light, but bright light works well for my Peperomia Columella. A north-east facing window would be best for this Peperomia.
If you don’t have a bright light in any of your windows, you can use inflorescent lights as this plant grows happily under controlled light. Outside you can keep it in partial shade.
Not picky about temperature, but this species likes moderate to warm places. Therefore you can grow it at any household temperature as long as it is comfortable for you. Generally, 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 27 degrees Celsius) is great.
This plant is winter hardy to a certain extent; make sure the temperature does not drop below 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) in winter.
To protect it from frost damage, it is best to bring the outdoor planters inside for winter. Avoid cold drafts; never place your houseplant next to an air conditioner or even radiator.
This plant is a high-humidity lover. Maintain 60-90% humidity during the day, and at night anything between 70-90% works great. You can place your plant on a pebble tray to fix the humidity level.
Frequently spray it with water to maintain the required humidity for your Peperomia Columella.
This houseplant Peperomia has very minimum fertilizing needs. It can survive with little or no plant food. But fertilizing will help your plant grow prolifically. I use a cactus fertilizer that is diluted to half strength in the growing months—applying once a month is good for the plant health.
Do not fertilize as the weather starts getting colder.
But you have to make sure the plant is not repotted to an excessively large pot else the roots can drown. This also increases the risk of root rot and other fungi that are encouraged by the presence of moisture. Generally, this species likes to stay pot-bound.
This perfectly shaped and attractive plant needs very little maintenance; however, it can be pruned easily for aesthetic purposes. Use protective gloves and clean tools for pruning.
Below is the step by step guide to successfully propagate a Peperomia Columella plant with stem cuttings.
- Sterilize all your tools, including scissors, pruning shears, etc. by wiping them with rubbing alcohol before you start taking the cuttings. You should repeat this step after propagation as well. Disinfection is very important to prevent the spread of any fungus or disease between plants. An infected cutting will most probably fail to root.
- Take at least 3-4 inch long stem cuttings with healthy leaves on it from a well-established Peperomia Columella. Trim leaves from the lower region of the cutting
- This plant will take several weeks for growth, and the growth rate highly depends on the health of the original plant. Therefore you have to be very patient.
- Take a small pot and fill half of the pot with a well-draining potting mix. Plant the stem cutting by making a small hole in the mixture, make sure the cutting is buried 1-2 inches deep.
- Fill the hole with some more potting soil and gently compact the soil around the cutting. Don’t let the lower leaves touch the soil surface.
- Right after planting, thoroughly water the plant until the soil is fully saturated.
- Later on, water once or twice only when the mix feels dry on touching.
- Place the Columella cutting in a location with high humidity and good sunlight. The pot should not be located in direct sun.
- You should provide a temperature of 55 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit (12 – 27 degrees Celsius).
- The season you choose for propagation matters because otherwise, you might lose the cutting and damage the original plant. Avoid propagating houseplants from October to February. The best time is early spring, as the plant can establish itself in the coming months.
- It is best to propagate more than one stem cuttings at the same time. This increases your chance of success.
In spring, the Columella plant produces tiny tail-like flowers at the top of stems. These flowers are white or green in color. The long spadix is lime green in color. The flowers are not fragrant. The leaves resemble dragon scales and complement the long panicle-like inflorescence.
The flowers on this one are a bit thicker but smaller compared to other Peperomia varieties.
Peperomia Columella is a climbing variety that’s an epiphyte; however, it has an average growth habit. This plant has very unique bloated small leaves that grow in a vining pattern. The leaves are pointy at edges and round at the center.
It has an adult height of 15.7 inches (40 cm) and a width of about 19.6 inches (50cm). Some say the leaves are slightly similar to those of Senecio Rowleyanus or String of Pearls in appearance.
It has several snake-like shoots that have several thick and fleshy leaves that are shaped like a horseshoe. The leaves are composed of water-storing tissues that extend from the epidermis. This tissue helps the plant with photosynthesis.
The unique shape of the leaves also helps this plant with maximum utilization of light. However, the old leaves have more window tissues for light capturing than young ones.
The stems are 2 inches (5 cm) to 7.8 inches (20cm) in length and 0.4 inches in diameter. It takes about ten years to reach maturity.
Common Problems for Peperomia Columella
This plant is very resilient against pests, but sometimes you may notice mealybugs. The female bug can lay more than 300 eggs. Mealybugs hide in holes and corners of plants. Since the leaves on Columella are tightly packed, they can easily host mealybugs.
Check your plant while pruning or watering for any pests or bugs. Male bugs look more like a housefly. If you notice a white mass on or in between the leaves of Peperomia Columella, you should immediately quarantine the infected plant. This will stop the further spread of infection.
The females lay their eggs under the white mass. So dab these areas with rubbing alcohol using cotton balls. Remove and destroy the infected leaves and flowers.
Mealybugs can attack any part of the plant, including stems, flowers, leaves. Therefore spray all parts of the plant with soapy water or an insecticide spray to completely get rid of them. Try to use organic solutions like neem oil since it prevents any damage caused by harmful chemicals.
Gently wash the plant with a water hose to further eliminate any remaining eggs or dead bugs. I would suggest replacing the top 1/3 of the soil. Do this only when the soil is fully dry. Keep this plant away from others for at least 4 weeks.
Spider mites might be difficult to eradicate compared to mealy bugs. These have a life cycle of 55 days, and the female lays about 20 eggs per day. This means they multiply quicker than mealybugs, so you have to treat them immediately. These go unnoticed because of their transparent bodies. You will notice yellow, mottled leaves on an infected plant.
These pest feed on the plant and form webs on the undersides of leaves and flowers. You will even find some webs on leaf joints or axils. The first step is to kill the visible bugs by crushing them, followed by pruning of infected parts. For small populations, you can remove them using a damp cloth.
Take the plant to the bathroom and spray it with soapy water. Make sure you do not skip any parts of the plants. Now gently rinse the plant with water to remove the soap from leaves and stems. After drying the plant for a few hours, use a chemical or organic pesticide.
Neem oil is the safest to use on all houseplants since its organic, has no harmful chemicals, and is cheap. To get rid of the mites completely, you will have to repeat the applications. Inspect your plant every week to know whether it has any mites left.
Watering is a major concern for almost all Peperomia species. The Peperomia Columella growers mostly have complained about overwatering. Whenever this plant is overwatered, it starts developing yellow leaves. The plant also suffers from stunted and disfigured growth.
The simple solution for any water stress is to change the watering schedule and see how your plant reacts. To prevent this issue in the future, make sure the soil drains properly. If the soil is too wet, repot the plant to a new, dry mix.
Brown leaves are a result of droughts and underwatering. Trim the brown leaf with scissors since it is not going to appear green again. Now make sure you strictly follow the watering schedule for your Peperomia Columella. Either set alarms or mark the days on your calendar so that you remember to water your houseplant.
Dry air or low humidity also causes leaf browning. Mist your plant regularly whenever the weather feels dry. You can also increase the humidity using a humidifier.
In tropical forests, these plants are accustomed to filtered light. Therefore excessive light or direct sun can damage the leaves. The leaves will scorch, turn brown and start losing their color.
Simply move the Peperomia Columella to a sheltered location with less light. Ensure your plant never gets direct sun. You can keep it in a window with blinds or sheer curtains as these will filter out the sun.
Tips for Growing
- Do not fertilize a freshly repotted plant for about six to eight weeks.
- This plant requires good air circulation for the prevention of diseases and pests.
- Provide sufficient bright light and airflow throughout the year.
- This plant has a succulent to semi-succulent nature; therefore, you need to pay attention to its watering.
- Do not place your plant near radiators or cold draft; otherwise, the leaves will turn brown.
- Clean the leaves every week because dust particles can accumulate and clog the pores. This will reduce the light capturing ability of the Peperomia Columella.
- Use filtered water because Peperomia plants are sensitive to chlorine or fluoride. If you are using tap water, let it sit overnight so that the salts can dissipate.
- Based on its natural growth, this species likes growing in rocky substrates.
- It is best to water your Peperomia Columella in the morning between 6-10 am. This reduces the chances of root rot and allows your plant to dry well.
Frequently Asked Questions about Peperomia Columella
What is the best location for Peperomia Columella?
It makes an attractive centerpiece at a shelf or table where the leaves show off. A windowsill with good sunlight is another great location for this plant. You can grow it individually or with other plants in a dish garden.
Is this species sensitive to overwatering?
Like other Peperomia plants, this one is also sensitive to overwatering. But remember that it likes consistently moist potting soil for optimum growth.
Can I use anything other than neem oil for pest treatment?
You can use cinnamite, which is another nontoxic pesticide; it is derived from cinnamon oil. Rosemary oil and herbal tea can also be used to treat any pests, including mealybugs and spider mites.
Why does my plant have tiny brown spots?
Brown spots on Peperomia are due to nutrient deficiencies, environmental stress, or disease. So make sure you supply your plant with a good fertilizer. Maintain temperature and light according to your plant’s requirements.
This plant is a piece of art with its tiny white blooms and unique foliage that adorn your indoor space throughout the year. The leaves grow close to each other, packed in ascending order.
The plant care for this plant is quite easy. All you have to do is avoid overwatering. If you are looking for a different houseplant, this is the one. Some growers claim that this species is the most bizarre window Peperomia.
Read about another similar plant, String of Pearls.