Small indoor plants are always attractive but the maintenance could be discouraging for some plant-lovers. Peperomia caperata could be the answer for those who are looking for a small houseplant just like Lipstick Plant that is not too demanding. The plant is unique for the look of its dark green leaves. They have dark red veins indeed it has more to offer with many varieties. Now it is time to introduce Peperomia caperata and help you get to know the species closer.
1) General Information For Peperomia Caperata
Peperomia Caperata biologically belongs to Piperaceae family which is a flowering plant family comprised of over 3,600 species in 5 genera. Species of Piperaceae became popular as ornamental indoor plants all over the world while being Brazilian in origin. The specific genus is also the emerald ripple peperomia. Additionally, keep in mind that the genus also has varieties not looking exactly the same as each other. The color of the leaves differs between bright green to dark purple. For instance, the most common cultivar is ‘Emerald Ripple’ with a compact growing habit. ‘Variegata’ is also known for its white leaves with a splash of green ones. ‘Burgundy’, on the other hand, is catchy for the reddish-green color of its leaves. Peperomia caperata “Rosso” is another cultivar that has thinner, pointed leaves instead of the common regular rounder ones.
The name of the genus ‘Peperomia” comes from the combination of two Greek words, peperi meaning pepper while homoios meaning resembling. It makes sense when we consider the fact that: The look of the plant is very reminiscent of and related to Piper nigrum, which is the botanical name for black pepper. The specific name of the species ‘caperata’ refers to the plant’s wrinkled leaf texture.
When it comes to its general features, Peperomia Caperata is by a simple definition a tropical plant that loves high temperatures and high levels of humidity. Most plant-lovers prefer Peperomia for its’ low maintenance and moderate water needs. Another reason could be the practicality of its size: Peperomia Caperata only reaches around 20 cm tall and wide while its narrow spikes of white flowers grow about 5–8 cm long when the right conditions are provided in spring and summers. Also, they are not toxic to dogs and cats, so preferable for pet owners.
2) How to Care for Peperomia Caperata?
Growing conditions for a peperomia caperata are quite simple to provide. But keep in mind that some of the specific conditions make a major difference in the plant.
Since the plant belongs to tropical regions in origin, it is used to being blocked by huge trees in rainforests, thus indirect sunlight. Therefore the generally accepted recommendation for the owners is to place it around south or north-facing windows. Apart from sunlight, artificial lights are another option and work well for the plant to thrive. But never allow it to be exposed to any direct sunlight.
Peperomia does its best growing in springs and summers while growing much slower in winters. So it needs a moderate but consistent amount of watering during these seasons. In cold seasons, on the other hand, a lesser amount would work better. The best recommendation to underline is that: Never overwater. While watering the plant, it is also important to remember that: Allowing the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again will be beneficial. Also, water it from the bottom up to prevent the semi-succulent leaves from getting wet.
The plant loves high humidity levels since it is tropical in origin. Kitchens, bathrooms, and greenhouses are likely to provide the environment with the needed humidity level. This also explains why the species was commonly embraced by terrarium setups. Around 40-50% relative humidity is considered the ideal level. Use a humidity tray or room humidifier, if needed.
Peperomia caperata can not survive temperatures below 15 °C while doing their best between 18 and 25 °C. So it is important to protect the plant from cold weather conditions.
Perlite or sand in a light peat moss potting mix to aid drainage. Because Peperomia caperata requires a lot of air around its roots, it’s best to use loose soil. A light soil mixture that works for this plant can be made by mixing standard potting soil with a strong quantity of perlite. Overall, to keep your Peperomia happy, stay away from anything too compact.
Peperomia caperata is not a heavy feeder however it does need a certain amount of fertilizing. The ideal is to feed once a month, during the foliage is growing. Starting from spring through fall, by using a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer, diluted by half. During the winter, when growing is slow, it is better to stop feeding.
There are simply 3 methods to propagate Peperomias: Plant division, stem cuttings or tip cuttings, and lastly: leaf cuttings. It is possible to propagate Peperomia caperata using a single leaf, which is the most common method. Plant division is, on the other hand, is quite practical if you are unwilling to wait as long for a properly sized plant.
3) Keep in Mind: Common Problems for Peperomia Caperata
This plant is relatively disease and insect-free compared to most house plants. However, it can lead to some problems as a result of overwatering. It will be beneficial to watch out for root rot and other fungal problems.
Soggy stems and yellow leaves are among the symptoms lead by overwatering. Since the plant loves high levels of humidity, it may also be subject to a virus called ringspot.
Circular, damaged spots on the leaves indicate ringspot. Removing the leaves could be a short-term solution. Providing better air circulation works out well in the long run. It is not easy to treat this disease completely. You may have to throw out the entire plant in the end. So, you should be careful about it. Whiteflies, Spider mites, Scale, Mealybugs are also among the common houseplant pests and you need to watch out for them as well.