What is Peperomia?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 06 January 2019
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Peperomia is a large genus of flowering epiphytic plants native to the global tropics and subtropics. Several species are cultivated ornamentally and make suitable houseplants. These plants are usually grown for their lush and sometimes colorful foliage, although a few produce distinctive and visually interesting flowers. Nurseries may carry Peperomia plants or seeds and it is also possible to propagate them with cuttings taken from mature plants.

Members of this genus, comprising over 1,000 known species, tend to be very compact in size. They are adapted for the filtered light found under the forest canopy in tropical and subtropical regions, and like other epiphytic plants, they grow in the canopy itself, rather than on the ground. The foliage varies, depending on the species, but tends to be fleshy. It can be ridged, smooth, variegated, or hairy, and flowers are produced in small spikes nestled into the foliage.

Once flowering is over, the foliage dies back and the plant stores energy in its tubers. After a period of dormancy, it will become active again and will start putting out new leaves and shoots. Peperomia is a perennial and should return year after year, unless conditions are poor and the plant fails to survive its dormant period. Thriving plants can be divided during dormancy and repotted. Divisions can also be traded or given away; gardening websites sometimes have an area for people to post information about wanted and available plants, allowing people to meet up with each other to exchange.


People interested in growing these plants will need a warm, humid area of the house with filtered to indirect light. A growth medium designed for epiphytic plants is recommended, as these plants need very light, well-drained soil conditions in order to thrive. When watering, it is important to avoid wetting the crown of the Peperomia plant, as it can be subject to rot, and the roots should not be allowed to sit in standing water or wet soil, as they will also rot if they are kept wet.

As ornamental houseplants, Peperomia species can be a colorful and visually interesting addition to the house, with a number of different species to choose from. They can also be grown in terrariums, greenhouses, atriums, and other spaces where conditions are humid and warm. People living in tropical and subtropical regions can cultivate these plants outdoors, selecting an area of the garden with conditions similar to those found in their native habitat.



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