All you need to know about Peperomias by Ria Miles

 A relative of the pepper plant, these are some of the most versatile and varied plants around, grown for their ornamental foliage. With a fantastic range of leaf shapes and colours, they are our new obsession here at the nursery.

These gorgeous little plants hail mostly from the tropical rainforests of South and Central America and adapt very well to the conditions in our homes.

So what’s so great about Peperomias?

Peperomias are described as semi-succulent and can cope with short periods of “drought”. This makes them a great plant for the beginner plant parent. Peperomias are grown for their diverse foliage and their flowers probably wouldn’t be described as beautiful or flashy, but they are curious! The little spikes appear in summer or autumn and although demure, they are a great sign that your little plant is happy.

Peperomias are slow growers, stay compact and will never grow into a large plant, so are unlikely to out-grow their space and will only need re-potting every couple of years. The maximum height and spread is around 25cm, so a perfect plant to place on your desk or on a table top to enhance your living space with a bit of greenery. They also make great terrarium plants due to their compact size and love of humidity. Plus, not only can you rest assured that these plants are completely non- toxic to little humans and fur babies, they also purify the air in your home!

There are around 1000 species in the genus, with various growth habits, both trailing and upright. My personal favourite is Peperomia ‘Raindrop’, which has beautiful, glossy leaves in the shape of raindrops. Other species are excellent trailing plants, including P. angulata and P. rotundifolia ‘Hope’, the latter has unusual fleshy round leaves. The wrinkled peperomia, P. caperata has lovely textured leaves and the more well-known P. obtusifolia has fleshy, upright leaves; P. ‘Green and Gold’ is a lovely variegated cultivar.

Peperomias are adaptable to growing conditions and will grow in a windowless room under fluorescent lights, providing the lights are on for at least 14 hours. Ideally, they like bright, indirect light but will adapt to slightly lower light levels. Interestingly, some species of Peperomia have what is called an epidermal window on their leaves, e.g. P. ferreyrae. This adaptation to extreme, arid conditions allows the plant to photosynthesise while often semi-buried in the ground, without burning the leaves or drying out. These little plants are susceptible to cold temperatures though, so ensure the temperature never drops below 12°C.

We have a wide variety of Peperomia available to buy in the Glasshouse, so why not pop in next time you are visiting.