How to care for tropical Peperomias

Peperomia prostrata Pepperspot
Peperomia prostrata "Pepperspot"

The Peperomias are related to the black pepper (Piper nigrum). The genus Peperomia belongs to the pepper family (Piperaceae).

The area of distribution of these plants includes tropical to subtropical regions in Africa, Central America and South America. There are said to be more than 1500 Peperomia species, of some of which variegated cultivated forms are available.

Peperomias are adapted to a variety of habitats. There are also succulent species that populate dry regions. Some grow as epiphytes, that is, sitting on trees. Or their shoots climb up tree trunks.

For indoor cultivation, the tropical or subtropical species and their varieties are often offered. Some of them can manage with lower light.

Peperomia scandens Variegata
The wild type of Peperomia scandens “Variegata” is native to tropical regions.

How to care for Peperomias

For optimal care of peperomias, it is important to know the needs of each species. This is because these pepper plants are adapted to different habitats.

Approximately, the requirements of species from subtropical and tropical regions can be distinguished from those of dry areas.

Peperomia argyreia
Peperomia argyreia

Tropical and subtropical peperomias

It is mostly species from this group that are offered in garden centers.

Peperomia caperata
Peperomia caperata

Lighting & Temperature

These plants are suitable for bright to partial sun locations with morning sun, evening sun and winter sun. However, they can also handle partial shade.

Varieties with green-white or green-yellow leaves should be placed in bright to partial sun to allow the leaves to turn intense colors. They do not die in partial shade, however, but may turn green.

Tropical peperomias like it warm year-round and should not be exposed to temperatures below 59 °F (15°C) for long periods in winter.

Peperomia albovittata Rana Verde
Peperomia albovittata “Rana Verde”

Soil & Watering

Well suited for tropical peperomia species are peat-free mixes for houseplants, cacti, herbs or vegetables. They are permeable, airy and less prone to waterlogging than standard potting soil. Which, however, can also be used.

More important than the soil is the watering behavior. Because, despite their tropical origin, these peperomias do not tolerate waterlogging. Therefore, the root ball should be allowed to moderately dry out between waterings.

Short-term dryness is better tolerated by the large-leaved species than by the small-leaved. However, this should not be a permanent situation.


Tropical peperomias can be fed from spring to fall. Either every 4th to 8th week with liquid fertilizer or in spring and summer with slow release fertilizer like sticks, granules or pellets.

Since almost all substrates have been pre-fertilized, fertilizing may not be necessary the first year after repotting or purchasing the plants.

Peperomia obtusifolia leaf cutting
Leaf cutting of Peperomia obtusifolia

How to propagate Peperomias

Peperomias can be propagated with cuttings. Shoots, leaves and, in the case of the larger species, parts of leaves can be used. Shoots root faster than leaves.

Peperomia polybotrya cutting
Leaf cutting of Peperomia polybotrya