How to Grow and Care for Peperomia Plants

peperomia plant

The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak

Peperomia is a large genus of tropical plants in the family Piperaceae that are native to Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. With more than 1,000 known species, these hearty plants boast thick, fleshy leaves that contribute to their drought tolerance and vigor.

If you haven't experienced much luck with flowering houseplants, you will appreciate that the Peperomia sports ornamental foliage. Its leaves can be textured or smooth in red, green, gray, or purple; variegated, marbled, or solid; large, heart-shaped, or tiny.

Plants in the Peperomia genus can look so different from one to the next that it's difficult to discern if they are even related. For example, varieties like the Peperomia obtusifolia are commonly confused with rubber plants due to their similar appearance. All Peperomia plants are low maintenance, slow-growing, and can be planted all year long. Plus, they are considered clean-air plants.

Common Names Baby rubber plant, pepper elder, radiator plant, shining bush plant, emerald ripper pepper
Botanical Name Peperomia spp. (including P. caperata, P. obtusifolia, and others)
Family Piperaceae
Plant Type Perennial, epiphyte
Mature Size 6–12 in. tall, 6–12 in. wide
Sun Exposure Full or partial
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Neutral to acidic
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color White, green, brown
Hardiness Zones 10–12 (USDA)
Native Area Central America, South America, and the Caribbean

Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for a Peperomia Plant

Peperomia Plant Care

Here are the main care requirements for growing Peperomia plants indoors:

  • Does best in medium to bright indirect light and should be protected from direct sunlight.
  • Choose a potting mix that is loose and well-draining but still retains moisture well.
  • Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Be cautious of overwatering.
  • Prefers warm temperatures and medium to high humidity. Not frost tolerant.
closeup of a peperomia plant
The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak 
top down view of a peperomia plant
The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak 


Position your Peperomia in a spot that receives medium to bright light to maintain its vibrant foliage colors. Directly in front of a north- or east-facing window is ideal, or set a couple of feet back from a south- or west-facing window. Insufficient light will result in fewer leaves, leaf drop, and drab coloration. Direct sun rays should be avoided, as they can burn the leaves.


Many Peperomia plant species grow as epiphytes, which means in the wild, they might settle into the nook of a tree and send their roots into some slightly decaying bark. The key to a thriving Peperomia is choosing a soil blend that mimics these conditions—chunky, loose, and acidic. An orchid potting medium typically works well, but regular potting soil is fine too. You can always lighten it with a handful of peat moss or vermiculite.


Allow the surface of the soil to dry out between waterings. Keeping the peperomia on the dry side is better than saturating it. Soggy soil can lead to root rot. The Peperomia has succulent leaves that indicate that these plants don't need frequent watering to maintain vigor.

Temperature and Humidity

Outdoors, Peperomia plants are hardy to USDA zone 10, so they cannot handle freezing temperatures. As tropical plants, peperomia plants prefer a warm and steamy environment, especially in the summer months when their growth is most active. If your plant doesn't get an outdoor vacation in the summer, place it on a tray of pebbles and water to increase ambient humidity, mist the plant regularly, or invest in a small-scale humidifier to place nearby. Alternatively, choosing a naturally humid room in the home such as a bathroom is a great choice for these humidity-loving plants.


When it comes to fertilizing peperomia plants, less is more. As a slow-growing epiphyte, the peperomia can go its entire life without supplemental fertilizer, getting what it needs from its planting media.

How to care for peperomia plants

The Spruce / Photo Illustration by Amy Sheehan / Anastasiia Tretiak

Types of Peperomia

There are hundreds of different varieties of Peperomia plants, many of which make exceptional houseplants. Some of the most popular varietals include:

  • P. obtusifolia (Baby Rubber Plant): An upright variety with thick, dark green waxy leaves that resembles a rubber plant.
  • P. verticillata 'Belly Button': An eye-catching varietal with a compact form and tiny leaves, somewhat reminiscent of the baby tears plant
  • P. metallica var. Colombiana: A dazzling, tri-colored plant with foliage of bronze, silver, and red
  • P. nitida (cupid Peperomia): A varietal that's ideal for hanging baskets, complete with heart-shaped leaves edged in cream
  • P. perciliata: A trailing varietal that has a tight growth habit and produces oval-shaped foliage and red stems
  • P. caperata 'Suzanne': A unique plant with deeply ridged foliage and silver accents
  • P. argyreia (Watermelon Peperomia): A showy plant with round leaves that are striped with dark green and light green, resembling small watermelons.
  • P. tetraphylla (Peperomia Hope): A trailing variety with small, round green leaves that are thick and succulent-like.
  • P. rotundifolia (Trailing Jade Plant): A bushy, trailing Peperomia with small, thin green leaves.
  • P. pellucida: A varietal with waxy, thin, heart-shaped green leaves with deep veining.
  • P. albovittata: A bushy, mounding Peperomia with light green leaves with dark green veining and red stems.
  • P. nivalis (Taco Leaf Peperomia): A low-lying varietal with pointed oval leaves that resemble taco shells.
  • P. graveolens: A Peperomia variety with thick, cupped oval leaves that are green on top and red on the bottom.
Suzanne Peperomia leaves.
Shannon Ross/Getty Images 


Lightly prune Peperomia plants in the early spring to correct any leggy, sparse growth. Pinching back the stems will help maximize the plant's lush appearance by encouraging more branching. Remove the end of each stem and the first set of leaves; you can pinch them off with your fingers or snip them off with hand pruners.

Propagating Peperomia Plants

Peperomia plants can be propagated at any time, although springtime is when its growth is more active and likely the best time. If you're already planning to prune your plants in the spring, you can take a stem's extra leggy growth and easily propagate from that stem cutting. Here's how:

  1. First, you'll need sterile pruning snips or scissors, a small pot, potting soil or orchid mix, plastic wrap, and a brightly lit location.
  2. Cut off a leaf including at least an inch of its stem from the mother plant.
  3. Place the cutting in a small container filled with potting soil, cut-end down. Place it in a bright spot with a lot of indirect light. Cover with plastic wrap to create a mini-greenhouse environment to help it retain moisture.
  4. Water consistently and never let the soil dry out. Roots will form within a few weeks; then, you can transplant your cutting into a larger container once it outgrows its original one.

How to Grow Peperomia From Seed

To grow Peperomia from seed, you'll need a soilless seed starting mix, sufficient water, and a warm, bright sunny spot to germinate peperomia seeds. Keep the soil consistently moist until germination occurs. Transplant the young seedlings into a container, and place the plant in a bright spot with indirect sun.

Potting and Repotting Peperomia Plants

Peperomia plants can live for years in a relatively small container. They enjoy a somewhat root-bound existence, and this, combined with their slow growth rate, means you can leave them alone until you see roots coming out of the drainage holes. When necessary, re-pot your Peperomia into another container that is only a couple of inches bigger than its former home. Use an acidic potting mix or orchid bark.

Peperomia Blooms

Peperomia rarely flower when kept as houseplants, but they occasionally do. Their unscented blooms appear as spindly spikes of brown and greenish-white. They don't look like flowers; you might even think they're offshoots, detracting from the look of the plant. You can cut them at the base of the shoot or leave them to fall off once the flower withers naturally.

Common Pests

Peperomia plants are subject to common pests that can affect most houseplants: mealybugs, spider mites, and whiteflies. Insecticidal soap is the easiest treatment for these pests.

Common Problems With Peperomia

Peperomia is a low-maintenance plant that doesn't need much water. Once you've identified a bright but not direct sun location—and you remember to check the soil every once in a while—this slow-grower is not usually fussy. However, here are some signs that your plant might need some additional care.

Leaves Curling or Yellowing

In most cases, when Peperomia leaves turn yellow or start curling, it means it's getting too much water. Remove the yellowed leaves.

Deformed Leaves

Ring spot may be diagnosed when you see deformed leaves. Pull off the deformed leaves, and see if the plant grows back healthy. If not, it's best to toss the whole plant. The disease is spread by seemingly healthy plants that are actually infected.

Leaves Falling Off

Peperomia leaves may fall off because of a lack of light, underwatering, or overwatering. Ensure your plant is getting plenty of indirect light and allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings and then water thoroughly. Also always make sure your Peperomia has adequate drainage so it doesn’t get waterlogged and develop root rot.

  • Is Peperomia a good indoor plant?

    Peperomia make ideal houseplants since they enjoy warm temperatures and do well with indirect light. They are broadly considered low-maintenance and easy to grow indoors.

  • How do you take care of Peperomia?

    Peperomia plants enjoy plenty of indirect light, warm temperatures, medium to high humidity, and soil that is airy and well-draining.

  • How long can Peperomia live?

    Peperomia plants can live for many years in a small pot—never needing much care or attention, only requiring a little water here and there and some indirect light.

  • Do Peperomia plants clean the air?

    Peperomia are considered clean-air plants and are effective at removing common household toxins from the air.

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Foliage Plants for Improving Indoor Air Quality. NASA.

  2. Peperomia obtusifolia. Missouri Botanical Garden.

  3. Peperomia Diseases. University of Illinois Extension.