| Peperomias are relatives of the plants that
the spice black peppers come from. Most of them have rather succulent leaves,
and their tiny flowers are held in long and pointed spikes. They all may
have similar flower spikes, but their leaves and growth habits are wonderfully
diverse in form. Most peperomias come from South America, and many of them
grow as epiphytes.
The peperomias with plain green leaves are
quite tolerant of shady conditions, but the ones with reddish or variegated
leaves need bright light to maintain their colors. Even though they have
succulent leaves, they still prefer high humidity. Temperatures should
not drop below around 55°F (12.8°C), and the plants prefer
it a bit warmer to grow well. The warmer they are kept, the more humidity
they'll need. Leaf drop in warm conditions mean that the plants either
need more humidity or are being overwatered.
Watering is the tricky part with peperomias.
Even though they like humid conditions, their roots aren't adapted to being
wet all the time. In tropical vivariums, where evaporation can be limited,
peperomias should be planted in very free-draining substrates or even grown
epiphytically. They do not require much fertilizing; in fact too much fertilizing
will result in soft floppy growth that is prone to rot.
Peperomias can be propagated by taking tip
cuttings, which are easily rooted in barely moist substrates. Some types
can also be propagated using leaf cuttings, but this method is a little
Some species of Peperomia that
may be available are:
FOR THE VIVARIUM
P. argyreia (also known as P. sandersii or Watermelon Peperomia)
This peperomia has large, thick, smooth, round green leaves with silvery
stripes radiating from where the petiole is attached. It grows in a rosette.
P. caperata also grows in a rosette, but its leaves are heavily
corrugated. 'Emerald Ripple' is a common variety. 'Little Fantasy' is a
P. griseoargentea resembles P. caperata but the leaves aren't as
corrugated, and they have a metallic silvery look to them. The veins are
P. magnoliifolia has rather large leaves. The variety 'Variegata'
has yellow splotches on the leaves, and reddish stems.
P. obtusifolia (baby rubber plant) looks like a miniature ficus
tree. The leaves tend to be glossy and rounded, with reddish edges. There
are several variegated forms as well as dwarf varieties.
P. puteolata has leaves that grow in whorls like propeller blades
along its rather long thin reddish stem. The light colored veins run almost
parallel to each other down the length of the leaves.
P. rotundifolia is a small trailing type with small round leaves
on thin delicate stems.
P. scandens looks remarkably like a small philodendron. It has a
vining habit and heart-shaped leaves.