(image credits, IG: literarynerd)
Quite a few species in the Peperomia family make great texture plants. Peperomia japonica is a vining epiphyte that’s perfect for this function, particularly for terrarium enthusiasts.
Peperomia japonica has small round emerald green leaves and thin green stems with very bushy growth. It’s quite low maintenance and very versatile.
Peperomia japonica care doesn’t need a lot of work. A well-draining moisture-retentive soil mix of the most basic kind, a lot of bright light, and preferable some morning sun exposure with consistent temperatures between 60 – 80ºF (16 – 26ºC) is most of what Peperomia japonica care involves. It holds water in its stems like succulents, so water when the topsoil dries out. It can tolerate some dryness in the air too, so humidity at 40 – 50% works well for Peperomia japonica care.
I’ve been able to propagate and grow Peperomia japonica in multiple pots quite easily.
It has made its way into hanging baskets, wide garden pots, tabletop planters in my garden adding a splash of vibrant green wherever it goes.
Let’s look at Peperomia japonica care in detail.
- 1 PEPEROMIA JAPONICA PLANT CARE GUIDE
- 2 PEPEROMIA JAPONICA PROPAGATION STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
- 3 COMMON PROBLEMS WITH PEPEROMIA JAPONICA
- 4 TIPS TO GROW PEPEROMIA JAPONICA PROBLEM-FREE
- 5 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PEPEROMIA JAPONICA
- 6 CONCLUSION
PEPEROMIA JAPONICA PLANT CARE GUIDE
Peperomia japonica care can be determined by its epiphytic nature drawing nutrients from the air, rain, water, or from debris accumulating around it. That said, it grows best in a soil substrate.
You need to grow Peperomia japonica in a well-draining soil mix dense in organic nutrients and very porous. The roots need to breathe and excess water needs to leave the pot very quickly, in fact within 10 seconds.
You may be wondering how the plant gets any moisture if the pot drains so fast. Well, organic matter retains moisture whilst keeping the roots warm, humid, and aerated.
A combination of peat, compost, mulch or humus, bits of bark, and some drainage material such as pumice or perlite makes for a great mix.
An effective Peperomia japonica care hack is to get a high-quality succulent mix from the store and add perlite for extra aeration.
Grow Peperomia japonica in slightly acidic soil with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 6.6. Peat and coffee grounds will help you with that.
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 and propagation.
From its bright green leaves, you can tell that Peperomia japonica care needs plenty of light exposure, but also must be protected from direct rays.
In my experience, it can actually take a bit of morning or evening sun. So an east window or a west window sill works great for the plant. The little sun brings out the emerald green of the leaves quite well.
Even when you grow Peperomia japonica outdoors they love well-lit situations but wilt in direct afternoon sun. If you grow Peperomia japonica under a cover or huddled in the midst of other plants, that sort of arrangement works great to filter the rays.
Peperomia japonica care is made easy by the fact that the plant tries to speak with you through its leaves.
Watch for signs like pale leaves or leggy growth, which means too low light, and burned edges, which indicates direct sun.
We’ve already spoken at length about the right soil mix for Peperomia japonica care.
That is in fact the most important element even in watering matters because soil determines how much moisture the roots are getting.
Once you’ve nailed the well-draining porous texture of the soil, make sure there’s less of the soil mix by using a small pot. Once this prep is done, you’re ready to water the plant.
The right moisture balance for Peperomia japonica care is to water deeply and dry out the soil partially between waterings.
Pinch the top 2-inch of the soil to check if it’s completely dry before watering again.
The plant is slightly drought tolerant. However, if you see the leaf edges burning then it could mean insufficient moisture.
Excessive watering causes root rot. The best way to avoid root rot is to absolutely avoid clayey soil and use the top soil test for watering.
A 3-day watering cycle works for me in the summer months.
Peperomia japonica care resembles that which is given to succulents. They can hold water very well in their fleshy stems and leaves.
You should grow Peperomia japonica in moderately warm environments. It prefers temperatures ranging from 60 – 80ºF (16 – 26ºC).
If you live close to the equator you can grow Peperomia japonica outdoors throughout the year. Otherwise, this summer child grows best in pots indoors.
Peperomia japonica care is tricky in cold weather countries due to its abysmal frost tolerance.
The temperatures need to be consistently above 55ºF (13ºC), so by late autumn, I bring the plant indoors. Otherwise, the fleshy plant dies down rapidly at first frost.
One Peperomia japonica care tip is to keep it away from drafts of air-conditioners and heaters.
Apparently, they’re called radiator plants for their love of heat. That bit is indeed true but they don’t like the hot radiator air or even cold drafts for that matter.
They stress easily under extreme temperature fluctuations.
Due to succulence, you can grow Peperomia japonica in a degree of dryness although I must say they do quite well in a humid microenvironment.
An average humidity level of 40 – 50% should ideally be maintained for ideal Peperomia japonica care. There are a few different ways that have worked for me.
In summer months a good wash down of the leaves with a water jet is advisable. This cleans up the leaves too. Just make sure you do it on a watering day and only in the mornings.
For indoors, you don’t need a humidifier unless it’s desert dry in your growing room. The plants take well to occasional misting with soft water, especially during dry weather.
My favorite Peperomia japonica care hack for humidity is to huddle up several tropical plants together.
This may not be practical for hanging baskets but works for all other pedestal planters.
The one Peperomia japonica care hack that I vouch for it to go organic as far as feeding is concerned. These epiphytes prefer that and respond very well to slow-release food.
Include rich organic manure in the soil mix and to replenish the soil in the growing months or every time you repot.
I am personally not a fan of chemical fertilizers for epiphytes but if you have been using them in your garden, you could go for a triple diluted solution 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.
My Peperomia japonica care schedule includes a balanced succulent fertilizer (which I pick up from a local store) once a month during growing months and I stop feeding the plant in winter months.
The most fun part of Peperomia japonica care is propagation. Almost every part of the plant propagates readily.
I’ve seen that accidentally broken leaves or stems if left undisturbed in the soil readily take root. It is easily propagated from leaf cuttings, stem tip cuttings, and plant division.
I’ve explained different propagation methods in detail in a separate section.
This plant is a low growing trailer. You can grow Peperomia japonica to about 4 – 6 inches tall after which the erect stems start trailing.
It spreads as wide as you allow it to trail. That’s how they make great plants for hanging baskets growing into pendulums encouragingly fast.
Under the right conditions, they cover the ground too with their trailing stems and adventitious stems.
By right conditions I mean warm equatorial weather. In the colder zones growth will be slower.
Because of its wonderful branching habit, it gets the compact bushy appearance very soon. Pruning does help in encouraging branching.
I never waste the cutting; I always propagate them into new containers. That’s how I have so many pots of them all around.
The flowers of the Peperomia japonica are spiky green and quite inconsequential although when the whole plant is covered in spikes in the flowering season it does look interesting.
Peperomia japonica doesn’t mind a cramped potting condition as with most epiphytic succulents. But don’t mistake this to mean tightly packed soil – it’s quite the opposite.
The root systems of these plants are relatively small, so in relation to their size, they don’t need large pots but wide ones are good
The roots bind themselves well to the soil mix. The stems are delicate and tend to break while repotting. Therefore, I prefer not to repot this plant at all. Instead, I propagate abundantly.
If a plant looks overgrown in its pot I simply carry out a plant division and separate it into two of three different pots.
PEPEROMIA JAPONICA PROPAGATION STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
Propagate Peperomia japonica from leaf cuttings
- Wait until June, just ahead of the growing season in the tropics.
- Cut a few healthy leaves along with the petiole from a bug-free mother plant.
- Let the cuts dry out for a day.
- Pop the leaves 4 inches apart from each other in a 50/50 peat/perlite soil mix.
- The stalk should be firmly under the soil. Press down the leaf in the soil just a bit.
- Keep it in a well-lit but shaded spot where there is limited breeze.
- The soil moisture should be maintained but shouldn’t be wet because your leaf will definitely rot away.
- Water with a handheld spraying can to moisten the soil when required.
- New plants will start growing from the leaf base in two to four weeks.
Propagate Peperomia japonica from stem cuttings
This is similar to the above leaf cutting method. Many online gardening stores just sell plant tips for home propagation. Just take a healthy stem tip with 3 to 4 leaves and follow all the remaining steps as above.
Propagate Peperomia japonica through ground layering
- Loosen up the top two inches of the soil with a spade.
- Twirl a healthy dangling stem back into the pot and hold it in the soil firmly with hairpins. Careful not to snap the stem.
- You could apply a bit of rooting hormone at the nodes along the stem, but this isn’t necessary.
- Continue your Peperomia japonica care as usual.
- In some time you’ll observe roots sprouting out of the nodes.
- Once established you can simply cut its umbilical connection with the mother plant and let it grow into a separate plant.
- Pro tip: DON’T constantly check for roots. The success rate improves if you forget about it for a few weeks.
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH PEPEROMIA JAPONICA
- I constantly check the underside of leaves because that’s where the bugs start. If I spot even a single bug I pinch off the leaf immediately.
- I wash my plant regularly on a watering day.
- The plant should be kept where there’s good air circulation so that the leaf surface dries up.
- One an Peperomia japonica care tip is to use an organic insecticide like neem oil or insecticidal soap in your weekly routine. Spray underleaf.
Other common problems with Peperomia japonica care
Fading Dull Leaves: When you grow Peperomia japonica for its bright green foliage this can be a letdown. The typical reason for this is low light. Give the leaves a wash to remove dust and then move the pot to a bright spot where the leaves can prepare chlorophyll and get bright again.
Leaves dropping off suddenly: There are a couple of reasons for this.
Firstly, if your Peperomia japonica is exposed to cold draft the leaves will fall off. You know what to do next. Immediately bring the plant indoors.
Secondly, 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 japonica care is watering and soil. If the plant is young there’s, unfortunately, little you can do to save it. If it’s a mature plant with several branches, salvage healthy stems and repot them in a sterile airy mix.
Stunted growth for months: It may be time to repot with more nutrients. Add a balanced soil supplement for foliage plants or succulents and improve lighting conditions.
Leaf edges burn: Either direct sun exposure or chemical salts in the water can burn up the leaves. Using RO water helps not just peperomia but all delicate houseplants in general.
Leaves discolor and the plant grows slowly: Yellowing of leaves is a typical sign that the plant isn’t getting enough nutrients.
Give it a light balanced fertilizer to improve the NPK levels for a few weeks. Using rainwater regularly is also helpful because it’s full of minerals.
If it’s a mature plant, you can repot it with a lot of good slow-release organic manure.
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TIPS TO GROW PEPEROMIA JAPONICA PROBLEM-FREE
- Grow Peperomia japonica where you want trailing cover
- Use shallow containers because it has a small root system
- Shallow containers reduce the chances of root rot
- Grow Peperomia japonica in terracotta or in coir baskets as they allow for drying out the moisture from the bottom.
- Limit winter Peperomia japonica care to just moisture management and absolutely no fertilizers
- Wash the leaves of your Peperomia japonica plant once in a way to keep pests at bay
- Use natural insecticides like neem oil treatment as a preventive
- Don’t expose it to cold drafts or direct sun
- Bring the plant indoors in winters
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PEPEROMIA JAPONICA
Is Peperomia japonica a succulent?
The plant has leaves that are slightly thick like succulents, but they are essentially epiphytes. Most of their needs are like succulents with the difference that they need more humidity than succulents. Certain other varieties of Peperomia however have even more succulent-like features.
How to grow Peperomia japonica to look bushy?
Peperomia japonica is a low growing trailer and doesn’t get tall. If you want a bushy look propagate it using the ground layering method I’ve detailed in the propagation section. I’ve had great results twirling the stems back into the soil inducing more shoots to spring out from the sides improving the volume of the foliage.
Can you grow Peperomia japonica under artificial light?
They can grow under fluorescent light kept on for about 12 hours a day.
Are Peperomia plants poisonous?
Peperomia plants are safe for humans and animals. They do not bring any harm if ingested. However, it is best to keep them away from children and pets.
If you grow Peperomia japonica you’ll notice that it’s a generous plant. It is non-invasive and doesn’t take up space in a way that damages other plants.
But it definitely covers bare spots very well and adds spots of lush green all around your garden.
In my experience, this plant is worth a lot more attention than it gets in the peperomia world.
If you had fun growing this, you should consider growing other popular variants with a similar trailing growth habit such as Peperomia Trinervula, Peperomia orba, Peperomia hoffmannii etc. All of these make great hanging vines and have close care requirements.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.