Native to Peru, this easy to care for Peperomia succulent is a must-have in every plant lovers home!
Meet the Radiator plant or Peperomia Nivalis, a climbing bushy Peperomia with fleshy red stems and vivid green boat-shaped leaves and with creamy white variegation. According to Researchgate, these plants grow among tree roots in the shade of very dry woods.
How much crazier can Peperomias get? Lucky for us, the peculiar looks don’t mean that the plant is high maintenance.
These are ideal houseplants for an office or room that doesn’t need re-potting often and will not suffer greatly in lower light.
If you want to know more about this tropical succulent that smells like anise, read on.
- 1 Radiator Plant Basic Care Instructions
- 2 Common Problems with Radiator plant
- 3 Tips to keep your Radiator plant problem-free
- 4 Radiator Plant FAQ
- 5 Radiator Plant Care Conclusion
Radiator Plant Basic Care Instructions
Radiator plant like a peat-based compost instead of soil. You can mix your own soil mixture that consists of two parts peat moss and one part perlite or sand, and this will be the perfect, well-draining home for your Radiator plant’s roots.
If you can’t get your hands on peat moss, a well-draining soil mix with one part growers mix, one part perlite, and one part orchid mix might do the trick.
Make sure there is enough soil in the mix so that the plant is stable and the roots have contact with moisture.
Radiator plant is one of the rare plants that will fare well in low light, but for optimal growth, it will need bright indirect light.
A west-facing window is an ideal location for a Radiator plant but make sure it is never exposed to direct sunlight, which will fade the variegation on the leaves or even burn the leaves and kill the plant if exposed for a longer period.
They easily thrive under fluorescent light.
Radiator plant require little but consistent watering during the spring and summer.
Water moderately every 7 to 10 days and make sure the top couple of inches of the soil are dry before you water.
During the winter season water your Radiator plants even less. The plant goes dormant and too much watering could cause root rot.
If you are seeing rotting of stalks, wilting, yellowing of the leaves the cause might be overwatering and waterlogged soil.
Ideally, the Radiator plant needs room temperatures from 65° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit (18° – 27° C).
Avoid temperatures below 60 as this could kill the plant.
They are definitely not winter hardy.
For a Radiator plant, the ideal humidity is 40 to 50%. Due to their leaves being succulent they do not need high humidity to thrive as they store water in the leaves.
If your home is overly dry you might try adding a humidity mat or finely misting every couple of days but increase air circulation to prevent mold.
Fertilizing a Radiator plant is an easy job. It requires light fertilizing with 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing season which is spring and summer.
You do not need to fertilize your Radiator plant in the winter at all.
If you want to use an organic fertilizer you can, use either compost or vermiculite.
You can easily propagate your Radiator plant in the spring by division.
Simply pop off the little baby leaves with a couple of roots and place them on top of the soil, keep it moist and cover it with a plastic foil to preserve moisture.
Remember to lift it every once in a while to prevent rotting and mold.
You can also propagate it by leaf or stem cuttings in the spring or summer.
You can cut the stem at the bottom of a node and remove the lower leaves. Leave it to air dry and form a protective layer over the wounds you just caused and then put it in water or on top of the soil.
This process will be a lot easier and faster if you also dip it in some rooting hormone.
Maintaining high temperatures will be crucial for your Radiator plant cuttings to put out roots, this is why I recommend you use a propagation box. Enclosing your cuttings of any kind (not just Radiator plant) will help keep the temperature and moisture even.
Keep the box at a minimum of 70 degrees F.
When you are propagating succulents like the Radiator plant in a propagation box, I recommend not sealing the box tightly, as excessive moisture can be detrimental for succulents and cause molding and rotting.
Once the next roots have formed you can pot your new Radiator plant in a 3-inch pot with the soil mixture I outlined before.
Radiator plant is generally a small plant that grows a maximum of one to two inches in height if you have a dwarf species or up to twelve to fifteen inches for the much rarer larger species.
This plant appreciates some pruning and you will cause new growth by pinching dead or damaged parts of the plant at the node.
New growth will develop from that node, sometimes even more than one stem will pop out just below the cut you made.
Radiator plant is in no rush to be repotted. They like getting a little pot bound and you can plan on repotting it every two years at best.
If you have any trouble getting the plant out of a pot when it’s a little root bound, water the plant just before repotting so the soil sticks together and maybe consider cut off the bottom of your pot if it’s plastic, to damage the roots as little as possible during this process.
When you are repotting make sure you are always using fresh soil that is free of disease and pests. I always recommend moistening the soil before planting a plant in it for the best results.
Always choose a pot with enough drainage holes as this is very important to prevent root rot.
Common Problems with Radiator plant
Radiator plant is usually problem-free plants but look out for the usual suspects like spider mites, mealybugs, and whiteflies.
Spider Mites are little spider-like white creatures that feed on the sap of your plant. Usually, the first sign of spider mites you notice is the fine webs that they create around the stem and leaves. You can usually spot them below the leaves where they gather and hide.
They can cause yellowing, brown spots, and wilting and will feed on the plant until it dies. They are not very easy to get rid of as they like to hide in little holes and crevices of the plant and come back after you treated the plant, but if you are persistent you can get rid of them.
Firstly you should use a strong shower to wash the bugs and their webs off your Radiator plant. You can consider an insecticidal soap treatment and lather the plant well everywhere and repeat this process once or twice until you are sure they are gone.
During this process enclose the bottom part of your plant (soil and roots) in a plastic bag to make sure you are not getting it too wet.
For added protection, I always recommend spraying your plants with Neem oil which will deter future pests from feeding and help you get rid of the current pest situation faster.
Mealybugs are also wingless white little round bugs that look like tiny little cotton balls and gather under the leaves and around the stems of your plant.
Unlike Spider Mites these are slower and do not form webs. They are easy to get rid of and you can firstly remove them with a q-tip dipped in alcohol and then do an insecticidal soap wash.
This should be good enough, but you can further increase your chances of success if you change the environment of the plant and make it less inviting for them by lowering humidity and holding off on fertilization for a while as they like humid and nitrogen-rich environments.
You can be sure you have an infestation of whiteflies if there are tiny little white flies around your plant and you notice a sticky sap-like material on your plant.
These bugs feed on the sap of your plant and exude a sweet sap that ants like to feed on. This sap will also cause mold and rotting problems if the whitefly infestation is not treated appropriately.
They prefer to feed on new growth and soft material on your plant so will generally gather under the leaves and on new leaves of your Radiator plant. You can get rid of them by spraying them off with a shower or hose, giving the plant a thorough insecticidal soap wash or even a regular mix of water and dish soap.
This should do the trick, but if you see them coming back try and carefully remove them as you see them with a vacuum or q-tips is you can catch them.
As always, you can treat with Neem oil to prevent future infestations.
Tips to keep your Radiator plant problem-free
- Keep your Radiator plant out of direct sunlight as it will cause sunburns
- Do not overwater your Radiator plant as they are a succulent plant and will suffer from root rot if the soil you plant it in is too saturated with water
- Use a well-draining peat-based soil to give your plant the well-draining medium it needs to thrive.
- Do not expose your Radiator plant to cold temperatures as it is not winter hardy. If you have cold winters where you live, make sure you move it away from windows and sources of drafts.
- If you plant your Radiator plant in a hanging planter, make sure the top of the plant is low enough so that all of the leaves get enough sunlight.
- If you live in a humid environment provide enough air circulation around your plant. Succulent plants are susceptible to mold and rot when exposed to too much moisture and good air circulation is a perfect preventative for that, as well as making sure you do not wet the leaves when watering.
Radiator Plant FAQ
My Radiator plant looks stretched out and leggy, what is wrong?
Ok, so I know I mentioned it is a low light plant and will do fine with less light but it is still a plant that needs to photosynthesize.
Maybe you underestimated your Radiator plant light needs and I recommend moving it closet so a source of bright indirect light.
If the leggy look bothers you you can always cut off the wonky stems and leaves and they should grow back normal when exposed to enough light.
My Radiator plant lost its variegation, the leaves look bleached, what should I do?
This is usually a sign of too much light. Radiator plant like a spot in the shade if grown outside and an east/west facing window if grown indoors, with little to no direct light.
Try to move it away from the window or pick another spot where it won’t get sunburnt.
If the bleached look bothers you you can prune off the damaged leaves and the new ones should come back with normal vibrant colors and variegation.
Why is my Radiator plant is going yellow and saggy?
Yellow color and sagging are a sign of overwatering. Consider watering less often and be sure to allow the soil to almost dry between waterings.
Also try not to get the leaves wet when watering, using a thin watering spout to concentrate the water directly at the soil.
Radiator Plant Care Conclusion
In conclusion, the Radiator plant will be a fun and low maintenance plant that will make any succulent lover happy. They will do best with bright, indirect light, moderate watering, and at medium to high temperatures.
It will need a little more effort to propagate, but you will get new baby plants to divide every spring even if you decide you will not take on the propagation process yourself.
It will be a great addition for office tabletops and smaller spaces as it will not get very big and will not need repotting often.
They usually do not suffer from pests and any other major issues and any pests that might appear are usually easily removed.
Do you already have a Radiator plant growing in or outdoors? Share the pictures with us in our Facebook group, we would love to see it!