Give your home some colour with peperomia

It is easy to make space for small-growing indoor plants, and peperomia stand out for their unusually textured and coloured leaves.

Peperomia are low growing, mounded plants, seldom reaching higher than 30cm when in flower, which means they fit in anywhere. Good for the home office desktop, coffee table, bookcase, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

Rumpled beauty

Peperomia caperata has rumpled, heart-shape leaves in various shades of green, deepening to maroon or with lighter pink-red leaves. It is a compact, round-shaped plant, 20 cm high and wide, that produces wands of creamy flowers in summer that add to their ornamental effect. Being slow growing and drought tolerant, they won’t outgrow their space and because they tolerate neglect are a smart choice for beginner gardeners.

Try this: Because their roots are shallow, plants look good in a shallow bowl, and it doesn’t take long before the bowl is covered with a neat cushion of leaves.

Instagram worthy

Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia Argyreia), has joined the league of what are called ‘Instagram-worthy plants. It occurs naturally in the tropical forests of northern South America, growing on the forest floor. While too much light will fade the bright colours in the leaves, too little light may cause the stems to stretch and become leggy. An east-facing window that receives good morning light is ideal. It can be grown outdoors as well in dappled light.

Did you know? Peperomia are safe for children and pets. Cats are notorious for nibbling on houseplants, so you can rest assured that these plants aren’t toxic. Other indoor plants that are safe are phalaenopsis (moth orchid), Kentia palm, Bamboo palm, and Calathea.

Queen of the night

This beautiful Peperomia Napoli Nights is indigenous to Bolivia. It is a dark coloured peperomia with silvery iridescent leaves.  It tolerates less light, because of its dark leaves, but will do better with bright, indirect light.

Some peperomia trivia: Many peperomia species grow as epiphytes in the wild. Like orchids, they can grow in the crook of a tree, drawing food from the decaying bark of the trees. That means they like loose, free-draining soil and a warm environment. Their fleshy, succulent leaves contribute to their drought tolerance, so they don’t need frequent watering and should be kept on the dry side.

Make a splash.

Peperomia rosso ‘Zorro’ is hard to beat for vivid foliage colour. Its dark green pointed leaves, with a silvery sheen, appear to grow upwards towards the light, showing off the deep reddish-brown underside of the leaf. This variety can flower if it receives enough bright indirect light.

What peperomia need

  • Plants like medium light, but not direct sunlight. To make the most of their rich colours, place them where the light picks up their colours and texture.
  • Keep the soil moist but don’t let it become waterlogged as the plant will immediately wilt and die. It shouldn’t be allowed to dry out completely either.
  • A good idea is to place pebbles in the bottom of a 15cm deep container. Cover with water. Group several plants, each in its individual pot, on top of the pebble bed to keep the pot base above the water..
  • From spring to autumn, feed monthly with a liquid fertiliser to encourage new leaves and repot only when the plant has outgrown its container.