(image credit, IG: urbanjunglersinparis)
The genus of Peperomia belongs to the pepper family, (Piperaceae). Out of all the wonderfully vibrant Peperomias, the one that looks strikingly similar to pepper itself is Peperomia maculosa. The leaves are a deep glossy green with pronounced veins.
Not just in terms of looks by the way. If you grow Peperomia maculosa in your garden you’ll notice it even gives out a distinctive spicy odor, much like ginger. Not surprisingly, this pepperlike Peperomia maculosa is commonly called Cilantro Peperomia or Dwarf Pepper and is edible too, used to season dishes.
Peperomia maculosa care is quite simple if you know it’s needed. They are best suited for a temperature range between 65° and 75ºF (18° – 24°C). They like moisture and humidity but can tolerate a bit of dryness. They do well in a rich organic soil mix well additives to make it well draining.
Read on for more detailed Peperomia maculosa care instructions.
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DETAILED PEPEROMIA MACULOSA CARE GUIDE
Peperomia maculosa care needs to resemble its native environment where it grows epiphytically or terrestrially in the undercover of forests. It draws nutrients from the air, rain, water, or from debris accumulating around the roots.
Due to high humidity and rains, the roots are used to being surrounded by moisture but never waterlogged. That’s why you need to grow Peperomia maculosa in a very porous, well-draining soil mix.
The substrate needs to be moisture-retentive but excess water must drain swiftly and thoroughly. Organic matter helps with retaining moisture and also makes the soil very soft which is desirable for Peperomia maculosa care.
You can use a combination of peat, compost, mulch or humus, plenty of chunky bark, and some drainage material such as pumice or perlite makes for a great mix.
An effective Peperomia maculosa care hack is to get a high-quality succulent mix from the store and add perlite for extra aeration. Throw in some slow-release organic pellets or rabbit manure into the substrate.
Try to grow Peperomia maculosa in slightly acidic soil with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 6.6. Items like peat, moss, and compost should help with that.
Peperomia maculosa care doesn’t need strong sun exposure, but does need plenty of bright shade and preferably some sun in the mornings or evenings. This is the perfect candidate for a sunny east window or a west window spot both in summers and certainly in winters.
There are some Peperomia maculosa care hacks to mimic their natural growing environment. You can grow Peperomia maculosa as groundcover under a bigger plant which can give them the sort of dappled light they receive in forests.
If you grow Peperomia maculosa in a pot then keep it huddled in the midst of other plants. Both these arrangements work great to filter light.
This plant doesn’t work for dark shaded places and tends to lose color in the leaves.
Succulence is the main feature to watch for in Peperomia maculosa care. Even though they like moisture, they can tolerate drought due to the moisture storage in their fleshy leaves. But they will not tolerate waterlogging.
For proper Peperomia maculosa care, first, get the soil mix right – well-draining, coarse texture. Now make sure there’s less of the soil mix altogether i.e. use a compact pot with plenty of drain holes. After that, you can water the plant confidently.
Peperomia maculosa care requirements for the right amount of moisture can change based on where you live, the age of the plant, and the time of the year. They can hold water very well in their fleshy stems and leaves.
Around the equator during the dry hot season, you can freely water the plant every day but as you move towards the colder climatic zones the cycle comes to around once in 3 to 4 days. Younger plants need a bit more consistent watering.
All in all, the topsoil test is a reasonable way to manage moisture. Pinch the top 1-inch of the soil to check if it’s completely dry before watering again. Decide your watering cycle based on this.
In winters, cut back on watering but don’t stop completely.
To put it simply, Peperomia maculosa care requires comfortable room temperature levels throughout the year. They prefer it moderate to cool. For best results, I recommend that you grow Peperomia maculosa in temperatures ranging from 65° and 75ºF (18° – 24°C) i.e. the same temperatures to which our homes are warmed.
Peperomia maculosa can’t handle frost in the least. It will perish swiftly at the first frost. Bring them indoors as soon as the temperature touches 59°F (15°C).
If you live close to the equator you can grow Peperomia maculosa outdoors throughout the year. Otherwise, it’s best to grow them in pots and bring them indoors in the colder months away from the cold drafts.
Peperomias are called radiator plants for being warmth loving. But they stress easily under extreme temperature fluctuations. One Peperomia maculosa care tip is to keep it away from drafts of air-conditioners and heaters.
Due to succulence, Peperomia maculosa can store water in its stems and leaves and will tolerate low humidity levels. However, the ideal Peperomia maculosa care condition is at least 50% humidity level. They will thrive in high humidity zones.
In summer months an occasional wash down of the leaves is advisable. Just make sure you do it on a watering day and only in the mornings so that the leaves dry out during the day.
For indoors, use a humidifier if it’s desert dry in your growing room. The plants take well to occasional misting with soft water, especially during dry weather.
Placing the pots next to an aquarium or a garden pond or even in your bathroom where the air is muggy are all great Peperomia maculosa care humidity hacks.
The ideal Peperomia maculosa care tip to prepare a nutrient-rich soil mix right at the time of potting. You can replenish topsoil in the growing months if you feel you need to do so.
As mentioned before cow dung manure or rabbit manure work wonders not only as slow-release fertilizers but also enhance the soil texture to a loose and crumbly mix that the roots love.
I wouldn’t recommend chemical fertilizers for succulent epiphytes but if you have been using them in your garden, you could go for a good quality succulent 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.
A nitrogen-rich fertilizer would be the best to grow Peperomia maculosa. Don’t fertilize too frequently. Once in 4 to 6 weeks is sufficient. If you use chemicals then make sure you drench the soil deeply to avoid any chemical buildup.
My Peperomia maculosa care schedule includes an organic 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 interesting part of Peperomia maculosa care is propagation. I’ve seen that accidentally broken leaves or stems if left undisturbed in the soil readily take root.
Almost every part of the plant propagates readily. 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 runner and is very versatile for your home garden. You can grow Peperomia maculosa perfectly well in small containers for your tabletop or in hanging baskets for your patio or window-side.
You can even grow Peperomia maculosa for ground cover if you live in the warm zones. They are not invasive and they advance at a moderate pace.
Spring to autumn is their growing season after which they’ll need to be outwintered indoors.
Pruning isn’t necessary for this plant as it’s a runner and low grower. But I regularly remove dead leaves.
In general, I am wary about repotting Peperomia maculosa. It much prefers a cramped pot as with most epiphytic succulents. They also don’t appreciate frequent repotting. Once 2 or 3 years is sufficient in my opinion.
The root systems of these plants are relatively small, so in relation to their size, they don’t need large pots. Terracotta pots are a great choice for Peperomia maculosa care.
Another Peperomia maculosa care hack is to use a netted pot which allows you to examine the roots. I love this potting technique for all my epiphytes that are root-bound. You just need to take the netted pot out of the liner to check if the roots are overgrown. It’s also a great pot for correcting over watering mistakes.
The roots bind themselves well to the soil mix. The stems are delicate and tend to get damaged while repotting. Therefore, I prefer not to repot this plant at all. Instead, I propagate abundantly.
In any case if you do decide to repot, make sure you change the soil substrate entirely and replenish nutrients because I’ve noticed it boosts plant growth after the stress of repotting.
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PEPEROMIA MACULOSA PROPAGATION STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
Propagate Peperomia maculosa from leaf cuttings
- Wait for spring, just ahead of the growing season in the tropics.
- Make sure your plant isn’t covered in blooms at the time. The plant doesn’t take root in the blooming season.
- 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 a 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 maculosa 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 about 2 – 3 nodes and follow all the remaining steps as above.
Propagate Peperomia maculosa 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 maculosa 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. Success rate improves if you forget about it for a few weeks.
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH PEPEROMIA MACULOSA
Fading Dull Leaves: We all grow Peperomia maculosa for its deep green foliage and this isn’t something we want to see. The most common cause of this is low light. So move the pot to a bright spot.
Leaves dropping off suddenly: There are a couple of reasons for this.
Firstly, if your Peperomia maculosa is exposed to cold draft the leaves turn brown fall off. You need toiImmediately bring the plant indoors.
Secondly, I would also check for a root rot indicated by the base of the plant being soggy and dislodged from the roots.
An important part of Peperomia maculosa 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 propagate them in the methods explained above.
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.
Leaf spots: These appear in concentric rings of elliptical or irregular shapes. They may start at the leaf margin and spread all over the leaf. The spots have a slightly raised appearance.
This is a fungal infection caused due to excessive moisture on the leaves. First of all prune and destroy affected leaves at the first sight before the disease spreads. move the plant to a well-ventilated spot.
Keep the plant area clean by removing dead leaves etc. Fungicides don’t normally work for Peperomia maculosa care. Your best bet is prevention.
- 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.
- Include an organic insecticide like neem oil or insecticidal soap in your Peperomia maculosa care routine as a best practice.
TIPS TO GROW PEPEROMIA MACULOSA PROBLEM-FREE
- Grow Peperomia maculosa like a succulent
- Grow Peperomia maculosa at ambient room temperature all year through. It likes what you like in terms of warmth.
- Water using the topsoil dryness test. Less is more as far as watering is concerned.
- The best way to grow Peperomia maculosa is as a trailing cover
- Use small shallow containers because it has a small root system
- Grow Peperomia maculosa in terracotta or a netted pot as it allows for drying out the moisture from the bottom
- Limit winter Peperomia maculosa care to just moisture management and absolutely no fertilizers
- Wash your Peperomia maculosa plant once in a way to keep pests at bay
- Let the leaves dry out after watering or washing to avoid fungal infections
- 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 MACULOSA
Is Peperomia maculosa a succulent?
The plant has leaves that are thick and herbaceous just like succulents, but they are essentially epiphytes. Most of their needs are like succulents with the difference that they need more humidity than succulents.
How to grow Peperomia maculosa to look bushy?
Peperomia maculosa is a low growing trailer and doesn’t get tall. If you want a bushy look propagate it using the node rooting 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 maculosa under artificial light?
You can grow under fluorescent light for about 12 hours a day.
Is Peperomia maculosa edible?
People grow Peperomia maculosa to season their dishes taking advantage of it’s spicy ginger-like fragrance. Many Peperomias are used as cooked greens and are rich in nutrients like potassium.
Does peperomia plant purify the air?
One unique aspect of Peperomia is that all that their foliage purifies the air, according to NASA research. The supplementary Wolverton’s Clean Air study shows that Peperomia reduces the level of formaldehyde indoors by 47%.
Peperomia maculosa is quite rare to find in-home gardens but it’s native to the tropical parts of North America, Panama and West Indies where it grows as a perennial, evergreen succulent both terrestrially as a ground running vine and on treetops.
If you’re a collector of exotic garden plants you’ll definitely want to grow Peperomia maculosa. In some regions, they are apparently harvested for medicinal purposes such as headache cure.
We have put together quite a collection of detailed care guides for a variety of exotics/succulents that you may like to go through. If you love your maculosa I’d strongly recommend that you go through Peperomia obtusifolia, Peperomia Columella, Begonia Conchifolia, and Hoya Serpens.
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.