If you see a stocky little plant with supple green leaves, with the two halves, fused shut along the midrib, similar to tender edamame pods, you’re probably looking at a Peperomia Dolabriformis.
Native to the warm valleys of Peruvian Andes, this plant is also known as ‘Prayer Peperomia’ and is grown quite obviously for its exotic foliage.
The first thing I would keep in mind about Peperomia Dolabriformis care is that it’s a succulent without a doubt.
It’s hardly difficult to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis if you’ve been growing succulents successfully and if you know how to manage moisture and humidity.
In my opinion, you should grow Peperomia Dolabriformis indoors to best exploit its low light and low humidity tolerance as well as its slow-growing habit.
The Peperomia genus belongs to the Piperaceae family according to the Texas A&M University Libraries.
These plants are warmth embracing, earning them their name “radiator plants”.
Let’s dive into this detailed manual on how to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis successfully.
- 1 Peperomia Dolabriformis Care Guide
- 2 Propagating Peperomia Dolabriformis Step by Step
- 3 Common Problems with Peperomia Dolabriformis
- 4 Tips to keep Peperomia Dolabriformis problem-free
- 5 Frequently asked questions about Peperomia Dolabriformis
- 6 Conclusion
Peperomia Dolabriformis Care Guide
Peperomia Dolabriformis care is governed by its Peruvian Andes origins.
Succulents of the Andes grow epiphytically on rocky terrains or under dense leaf cover drawing nutrients from the air, rain, water, or from debris accumulating around the roots.
They hate waterlogged soil beyond anything else. Therefore in order to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis the potting mix needs to be airy and water needs to drain very quickly without accumulating in the planter.
Finally, the soil should ideally be dense in organic nutrients. Organic matter retains moisture whilst staying warm and humid.
A good soil mix to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis is a combination of store-purchased balanced succulent mix and between 50% to 70% mineral grit such as coarse sand, pumice, or perlite for aeriation and drainage.
You can fortify the mix with some good quality organic manure pellets.
Pine bark or charcoal bits are good choices but I wouldn’t recommend too much of sphagnum peat moss, coco peat, etc. since these tend to trap moisture – unless, you are propagating.
Baby plants need more moisture in the early months and peat helps in that respect.
Pro tip: throw in a single layer of pebbles or gravel or kiln-fired brick bits in the bottom of the pot. This is great for drainage and also allows for easy damage-free transfer during repotting.
In its natural habitat, these plants grow tightly wedged between cracks in rocks or bark or cavities on the tree. That’s how they like it in their pot too, a snug fit with a lot of debris but the roots need to breathe.
Administering the right amount of light is an important part of Peperomia Dolabriformis care.
Observe the lime green leaves carefully. They’re folded upwards in half. The top of each leaf has a dark green translucence along the fold – like a strip of glass.
It is though this “glass window” along the top of the leaf that light enters for photosynthesis. The window is a common feature in many succulents but rare in Peperomias.
This gives us important cues about the ideal light conditions to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis.
The narrow window suggests that Prayer Peperomia is naturally a low-light plant. Its foliage is specifically designed to absorb light in a controlled manner.
This plant is without a doubt, shade-loving, and quick to show signs of distress when exposed to direct sun.
That said, being a green-leaved peperomia variety it needs indirect/filtered light. Do you see why this plant is a perfect curio for your mantle, a corner bookshelf, or by your study?
I discovered a fine way to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis from a friend of mine.
She’s a sucker for exotic succulents and has turned a large bright east window in her kitchen into a vertical succulent patch and likes to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis right there throughout the year.
Now if you have a window like that, I’d suggest you draw inspiration from her because Peperomia Dolabriformis care becomes easy indoors in the warmth of the kitchen where your plant can sit undisturbed throughout the year.
Remember that the most common cause of peperomia deaths is overwatering or waterlogging. So read this section of Peperomia Dolabriformis care very carefully.
Unlike deserts succulents, your Prayer Peperomia will be okay with a bit of even moisture and humidity although quite happy and comfortable without.
I am a great believer in mimicking the moisture conditions of a plant’s natural habitat to the extent possible.
For example, to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis to its fullest glory you need to educate yourself about the life of succulent epiphytes in the Andes valleys.
The soil around the roots is never waterlogged and they receive sparse rainfall which sometimes doesn’t reach the plant at all.
I draw on all of this information to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis in my garden, using stored rainwater.
I water deeply, thoroughly saturating the rootball but let the soil dry out at least 50% between watering. During winters, I cut back drastically on watering.
Peperomia Dolabriformis care resembles that which is given to succulents. They can hold water very well in their fleshy stems and leaves.
The chubbier the leaves of your Prayer Peperomia the lesser it’s watering needs. If your plant is very young and has fleshy stems, regular watering is required. A mature plant with woodier stems can take draughts better.
Pro-tip: Make sure you completely drench the soil and not water it slightly. This will help avoid the build-up of mineral salts – a very important aspect of Peperomia Dolabriformis care. They cannot sit in water so entry your drip trays after excess water drains out.
Finally, watering is closely linked with soil when it comes to homegrown Peperomia Dolabriformis care. As mentioned above, the use of pumice or perlite in the soil mix will help greatly in draining out the water.
Peperomia Dolabriformis care involves keeping it strictly away from frost. You can grow Peperomia Dolabriformis outdoors throughout the year if you live in regions where it never falls below 10ºC (30ºF).
Otherwise, bring them in at the first sign of draft and outwinter them indoors.
They do well in room temperatures above 16ºC (60ºF) with an optimal temperature between 18-26ºC (64-80ºF).
This aspect is simple in Peperomia Dolabriformis care because this plant is tolerant to a wide range of humidity conditions.
If you grow Peperomia Dolabriformis indoors this plant seems to be alright with air drying effects of room heaters and aircon.
The plants take well to occasional misting with soft water, especially during dry weather but make sure to keep the environs towards the dryer side to avoid infections.
In my experience, you don’t need heavy fertilization to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis. I am for organic as far as epiphytes are concerned.
The safest and best feed is a rich slow-release organic fertilizer mixed into the soil at the time of potting.
I top that up with a balanced organic succulent feed (which I pick up from a local store) once a month during growing months and I stop feeding the plant in winter months.
You can include fertilization in your Peperomia Dolabriformis care routine if you have been using them regularly for other succulents in your garden.
I’d recommend a balanced liquid fertilizer, triple diluted than what’s prescribed – so for example, if the Rx ratio is 5ml per gallon of water, make it 5ml per 3 gallons of water.
The most interesting part of Peperomia Dolabriformis care is propagation. You can grow Peperomia Dolabriformis out of its leaf cuttings or stem cuttings quite easily.
But I prefer not to use stem cuttings because this is, after all, a small slow-growing plant. They can be grown from seeds too, but cuttings are the way to produce clones.
I tend to enthusiastically propagate and grow Peperomia Dolabriformis every summer.
Plant the little ones with the mother to create a fuller look. This is your best hedge against plant losses particularly for hard to find, exotic varieties such as Prayer Peperomia.
Prayer Peperomia is a natural slow grower. The thick leaves measure about 3″ inches long and half an inch wide. The leaves may form a rosette or an upright stem depending on the type.
Over time, with proper care you can grow Peperomia Dolabriformis to a dense cluster reaching a height of about 12 inches (30 cms), but not a whole lot bigger.
It gets woodier with age even though the stems are fleshy and herbaceous in younger plants.
Peperomia Dolabriformis care shouldn’t require any pruning. If the plant gets leggy growth you may cut the shoots but make sure to propagate the cuttings right away.
Peperomia Dolabriformis care ideally needs a cramped potting condition true to its epiphytic succulent nature. But don’t mistake this to mean tightly packed soil – it’s quite the opposite.
The roots need to breathe.
What I mean is that the root systems of these plants bind themselves well to the organic matter in the soil mix. Don’t be tempted to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis in large pots.
Go for a cute little earthen or ceramic planter and use it as part of your room décor.
Younger plants may need repotting once a year around spring-summer. The stems and leaves tend to break while repotting.
You can minimize this by layering gravel or small pebbles at the bottom of the pot allowing the plant to fall out smoothly when you tip it upside-down for repotting.
Don’t untangle the root ball. Add fresh potting mix to the soil.
Propagating Peperomia Dolabriformis Step by Step
You can easily grow Peperomia Dolabriformis from leaf or stem cuttings. Peperomia Dolabriformis propagation can be done in soil or water but I’ve had better success in soil.
The cuttings are prone to rot in water. Spring to summer is the best time to propagate Peperomia Dolabriformis
Leaf-cutting propagation in soil
Cut a few healthy leaves along with the stalk or petiole from the soil end of a bug-free mother plant, taking care to cut under the node.
Let is lie on a surface for half a day to a day until a callus is formed on the cut. This is an important step in Peperomia Dolabriformis propagation to minimize the chances of rotting.
Pop the leaves 4 inches apart from each other in a sterile moist soil mix. A potting soil like a mix of succulent soil, peat moss, and perlite, is simple and reliable for rooting.
Don’t press down the soil around the stalk. Let the cut end simply just contact with the moist soil.
The soil moisture should be maintained but shouldn’t be wet because your leaf will definitely rot away. Water in the morning with a handheld spraying can or a misting can once every two days and keep the tray in a shaded spot.
Don’t cover the tray with plastic or the leaves will catch mold. Don’t disturb the cuttings until established.
New plants will should grow from the leaf base in about six to eight weeks. After they have about two leaves each, transplant them carefully into individual pots.
Water propagation of Peperomia Dolabriformis is more or less the same except that you put the leaves in water instead of soil. I prefer a slight variation to this.
Place a thick wad of sterile cotton wool inside the cleaned lid of a jam jar.
Pour water until the cotton wool is soaking wet.
Stick the callused stalks of your Prayer Peperomia in the cotton wool while the leaf rests along the edge of the lid. Keep the cotton wool moist but leave the set up undisturbed for a few weeks until you see translucent roots.
After the root structures are strong enough to transfer them to individual pots.
Potting best practices to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis baby plants
The pots can be 2.5 inch (6 cm) size and it will serve the plant for 6 months. Don’t forget to put a layer of gravel at the bottom to make repotting easier.
Once they’re in their individual pots, young plants need regular watering until they’re about 6 months to 1 year old. Make sure the potting mix is a combination of succulent soil, peat, and perlite to ensure moisture.
You can cut back on watering once the plant has grown.
You can grow Peperomia Dolabriformis from seeds with high humidity (trap moisture around the pot with a plastic bag or plastic box).
Maintain the day temperature at around 25ºC (77ºF) and through the night at 22ºC (68ºF). You can use a heating pad under the tray. This method is cumbersome for home gardeners.
So I would recommend sticking with leaf or stem cuttings methods.
Common Problems with Peperomia Dolabriformis
Wrinkled leaves: Plant needs water. They recover as soon as they are watered. But routine neglect will distress the plant.
Yellowing bottom leaves: The typical reason behind this is overwatering. The most important aspect of Peperomia Dolabriformis care is to save it from overwatering.
Completely stop watering. If required, check your soil. Remove the plant from the pot and wash out the root. Replace the mix with a well-draining mix as described in the above section.
Repot the plant after a couple of days lying outside until the roots are aired out.
Leaves turning pale (chlorotic)
This is typically nutrient deficiency in the soil. A balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to 3x the recommended strength, administered every fortnight should help
Leaves disfiguring and falling
Check for little fuzzy white mealybugs at the leaf nodes. Remove them with cotton swabs dipped in alcohol. Keep checking the leaves as a preventive measure.
If you find any give it the alcohol treatment with earbuds. You literally have to run after each bug but the Prayer Pereromia plant is small, so quite doable.
Little flat scab-like brown patches that wipe off easily
This could be scale bugs. First of all, wipe the plant and get rid of any visible sign of scale bugs.
As a preventive, spraying with diluted isopropyl rubbing alcohol from about 6″ away. Make sure to spray the base of the leaves and stem well and give the plant air circulation to allow alcohol to evaporate. Retreat 24 hours later.
Fuzzy white patches covering the leaf or stem
This could be mold due to high humidity. Allow the soil to completely dry out for a few days and keep it away from any humidity sources. Air circulation and adequate light are important for your succulents to thrive.
Brown spots on the leaves
If they look like burn spots this is most probably due to sun stress. Have you been exposing your plant to direct sun? Shift it to a shaded spot.
Sudden wilting and falling of leaves
I would immediately check for a root rot indicated by the base of the plant being soggy and dislodged from the roots.
An important part of Peperomia Dolabriformis care is watering and soil. Root rot is the most common reason for sudden wilting.
If the plant is young there’s unfortunately little you can do to save it. If it’s a mature plant with several branches, wash the roots and check the rot.
Salvage healthy roots or take cuttings and repot them in a sterile airy mix. Cut back on watering in general.
Tips to keep Peperomia Dolabriformis problem-free
The single most important aspect of Peperomia Dolabriformis care is ensuring the right amount of water because root rot is the most common reason for death. Here are a few handy tips to keep it problem-free:
– When you grow Peperomia Dolabriformis, think succulent
– For soil, think organic and excellent-draining, because what’s often marketed as “well-draining” may not be not good enough
– Minimum watering and medium lighting
– Young plants need more watering than older plants
– Don’t repot until you really must. They like being root-bound
– Peperomia Dolabriformis care requires maintaining a low humidity to stay disease-free
– Give the plant proper air circulation
– Optimum temperature to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis is room temperature
– Don’t expose it to cold drafts or direct sun and outwinter the plant indoors.
– Grow Peperomia Dolabriformis in heavy ceramic pots.
– Keep checking for pests and bugs proactively. Pests multiple really fast on Prayer Peperomia plants due to their succulent nature. The application of preventive insecticidal soap once a month isn’t a bad idea.
This is your ready reckoner checklist on tips to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis. Now you can sit back and enjoy these wonderful plants.
Frequently asked questions about Peperomia Dolabriformis
How often should I water Prayer Peperomia?
This depends on the weather conditions, age of the plant, and soil type. The soil has to be excellent draining for optimal Peperomia Dolabriformis care.
If your plant is young the optimal watering is about twice a week in summers. Cut back gradually post 6 months to about once a week. Cut back to the bare minimum in winters.
Is Peperomia Dolabriformis a succulent?
This is one of the rare succulent leaf varieties of the Peperomia genus. The major difference with other succulents is that Peperomia Dolabriformis is somewhat shade-loving.
Should I mist my Prayer Peperomia?
Not a good idea. Yes, misting normally helps keep pests at bay. But these epiphytic succulents are susceptible to microbial infections if misted. If at all, do it in the morning with proper air circulation so that they dry out.
Can you grow Peperomia Dolabriformis to look bushy?
Peperomia Dolabriformis is slow-growing and doesn’t get very tall. If the plant gets too leggy, prune and propagate the cuttings.
How much sun does Peperomia Dolabriformis need?
No direct sun, but they seek bright light. You should make sure they receive plenty of indirect sun at least for part of the day.
We grow them for the lovely green veiny foliage but for me the best part about Peperomia Dolabriformis care is propagation. I tell one and all to actively propagate not just this plant but all your Peperomias and succulents.
Sometimes the best of end up losing our favorite plants. If you have saplings lying around you won’t feel so bad!
Armed with the essential dos and don’ts of how to grow Peperomia Dolabriformis, you can now discover the joys of combining several succulents in a single planter.
These make great centerpieces and your Prayer Peperomia adds fantastic color texture to these pieces.
If your Prayer Peperomia is well established in your home garden you should consider growing other variants like Peperomia Quadrangularis (also a semi-succulent variety), Peperomia Polybotrya (a humidity loving tabletop piece) or Peperomia Serpens (a stunning trailer for hanging baskets). Happy growing!