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Plant Profile - Peperomia

Plant Profile - Peperomia

Peperomia obtusifolia, also called Marble Peperomia, originates from the Caribbean. It is a popular low-maintenance house plant. Marble Peperomia gets its name from its variegated leaves, with different shades of greens and creams all mixed together in a marble pattern. This plant tolerates a moderate level of neglect, making it the perfect house plant for beginners or for your desk at work. 

Climate

Peperomia is tropical, so it will not tolerate temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people like to plant them as annuals outside, but most people prefer keeping them indoors year round. They also like the air on the humid side. If your house is dry, you can set its pot on top of a saucer full of pebbles. Add water to the pebbles as needed to increase the humidity immediately around the plant. Don’t let the pot sit in standing water though (very few house plants want to sit in standing water). 

Sun

These guys like filtered light. You can set them in a sunny window (not too close to the glass), or an east facing window to get the less intense morning light. They will also do fine with ~14 hours of artificial light (like in an office). If your plant isn’t getting enough light, it will start to drop leaves and lose color. Do not mistake these symptoms for lack of fertilizer. The problem is almost always light, not fertilizer.

Soil

Peperomia likes well drained soil. A good house plant soil or even a chunky orchid soil is great for this plant. These plants tend to grow as epiphytes or in dense understory in nature, so they do not need a lot of nutrients. If the potting mix you usually use seems too dense for this plant, use a handful of peat moss to lighten it up.

Water

They don’t really look like it, but Peperomia is basically a succulent. It has thick leaves with a waxy coating. It is good at keeping water. It doesn’t need or want a lot. It likes dry down cycles. But remember it does like just a touch of humidity in the air. If you use saucers under your potted plants to protect your furniture or windowsill, make sure the bottom of the pot isn’t sitting in a puddle of water after you water. Let it drain all the way. Dump out any standing water a few minutes after you irrigate. This will prevent your plant from drowning in overly saturated soil. 

Fertilizer

This plant doesn’t need it! These plants are very slow growing. In fact, this plant likes to be a little root bound. The potting media has all the nutrients this plant will need for a long while. Eventually (think several years) it will run out of nutrients. Instead of fertilizing it, wait until roots start to peak out the drainage holes, then re-plant it into a pot about an inch bigger than its previous pot. Fresh potting media means fresh nutrients for this low feeder. Dropping leaves is almost never a sign of poor nutrition in this plant. If your plant is turning yellow, dropping leaves, or losing color, it is way more likely to be from irrigation or light problems.

Pests

This plant gets very few pests, especially when indoors. Don’t over water it to avoid fungus gnats growing in the soil and you will be good to go.

Other Care

This plant is so slow growing that it will actually collect dust. A few times a year, take a damp paper towel and wipe its leaves clean. Too much dust on its leaves will prevent it from taking up enough light. 

One other note: this plant is sometimes called a baby rubber plant, but it isn’t in the same genus as a true rubber plant. While rubber plants (the ficus genus) have sap that can cause irritation of mucus membranes and the gastrointestinal tract, Peperomia is not toxic to pets or kids. Even still, try not to let them eat it, it isn’t a food crop. 

Marble Peperomia is one species in a very large genus of Peperomia. All have similar care needs, but sometimes very different looking foliage. If you’re wanting a variety of house plants but don’t want to commit to different care regimens, consider a collection of Peperomia for your home or office.