The Peperomia Caperata is one of the most popular species in the genus because of its very unique look. This is why it is called the Ripple Peperomia.
Additionally, it can come in many different colors giving you the Emerald, Silver, Red Ripple Peperomias just to name a few. The plant is likewise small making it adorable to look at and easy to care for.
Altogether, it is one of the very unique houseplants that people like having around.
The most stunning feature of the plant are its small, heart-shaped leaves.
While growing only about 1.5 inches long, these feature very thick, deep corrugations that result in ridges which follow its dark green veins. Its color, appearance and texture contrasts the lighter green background color of the leaf.
Of course, if you touch the leaves, you’ll notice they’re firm and thick as well. It uses these foliage to store water. But the plant is not a true succulent. Instead, it has succulent-like features.
Thanks to its stunning looks, growers have regularly produced all sorts of cultivars of the plant.
This is why you may see a Peperomia Caperata that looks very similar but has different colors or small modifications. These include green, reddish, bronze and other colored foliage to name a few.
The most popular cultivar is the Emerald ripple peperomia which features lovely green foliage.
But, if you want livelier, more unique hues consider these:
- Peperomia Caperata Variegata – white and green patterned leaves
- Peperomia Caperata Burgundy – more maroon/red colors combined with green
- Peperomia Caperata Rosso – a very popular cultivar with very different looking leaves
- Peperomia Caperata Frost – with a frost-like layer over the leaves
- Red Ripple Peperomia – red corrugations that make the leaves look purple due to the mix of green and red
- Peperomia Caperata Luna Red – an award winning cultivar that looks dark purple
This is just a short-list. And there are many others.
Again, this stems from the plant’s beauty and popularity making growers try to create different looks.
Peperomia Caperata Plant Care
The Peperomia caperata does well in different lighting conditions which makes it easy to care for both indoors and outdoors. The key is knowing where to place it for optimum growth and foliage color.
Low, moderate and bright light all work provided that it is not direct sun or very intense light. This works both for natural light and artificial lighting.
That said, the plant thrives with bright light which is which makes a spot near an east facing window ideal. It actually appreciates morning sun (ideally before 10:30 a.m.). Just avoid the sun when the rays are strong.
Likewise, a north facing window is a good choice because it does not get harsh sun.
If you want to keep the plant in west or south directions, keep it away from the sun between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. as the direct exposure moves from the south to the west during these times.
You can keep the plant a few feet away from the window, filter the light with sheer curtains or a shade cloth.
Similarly, the plant enjoys artificial lighting. So, if you don’t get a lot of natural light, you can use grow lights. Fluorescent lights work just as well although it will need 12 hours of exposure compared to the 4 to 6 hours a day from sunlight.
Outdoors, the plant grows best in partial shade.
Since the Peperomia caperata hails from the tropical rainforests of Brazil, it is used to warm climates. It can tolerate hot weather going into the 90s without any problem. But, it will prefer more moderate conditions because it is used to getting a lot of shade from the leaves and branches of larger plants in the jungle.
Thus, its ideal temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Outdoors, it does well all year round in USDA Hardiness Zones 11 and 12 because it likes sunshine and will only tolerate mild winters.
This means that if you live anywhere colder, it is important to bring the plant back indoors before the weather drops below 50 degrees. It has difficult in conditions lower than this.
Indoors, the same is true. Therefore, watch out for cold drafts, vents, air conditioners. The plant also does not like sudden temperature fluctuations. So, keep it away from heaters, fireplaces and similar appliances.
In its native habitat, the Peperomia caperata is used to very high humidity. The regular rainfall experienced in rainforests keep humidity above 80% and 90%.
Fortunately, the plant has thick fleshy leaves will allows it to store moisture. This makes up for the humidity to a certain degree.
As a result, the Caperata is not that difficult to care for indoors at home. Ideally, try to keep humidity at 40% or higher. But it will tolerate a little lower than that.
You can likewise mist it or use a humidifier. But I do suggest treading with caution when you do because the plant is very susceptible to excess moisture (as you’ll see in the next section).
Therefore, if it does not need a boost in humidity, and is doing well, it is better to leave it alone.
I’ve seen the plant happily grow in some of the low humidity cities. So, unless you live in the desert like Nevada or Arizona where humidity in some areas hover under 30%, it’s not likely the plant will need extra help.
The key here is to watch its leaves and how it responds.
How Often to Water Peperomia Caperata
In the previous section, I mentioned the Peperomia caperata’s issue with water. And this is the #1 thing you want to watch out for, especially if you’re not used to dealing with species in this genus.
Basically, watering peperomias are similar to succulents in that you want to be careful with overwatering.
Too much water will easily cause problems including yellow leaves, wilting and ultimately root rot. Unfortunately, I’ve had quite a few experiences with peperomia root rot when I started because I was watering the plants like regular houseplants.
Please don’t do that. It has a very harsh lesson to learn and I’ll never forget it.
It is likewise important to keep in mind that the weather in your area affects how often you’ll need to water the plant. The amount of sunlight it gets, temperature, time of year and humidity all affect this.
So, avoid using a fixed schedule. Instead, adjust as needed.
In the summer, the plant will need (and want) more water. Come winter, it is important to scale back. But in either case, it is best to stay on the drier (and safer) side.
That’s because the plant’s fleshy leaves store moisture which allows it to tolerate less water. That said, avoid letting it go completely dry for extended periods.
A simple rule of thumb is to wait until the top 2 inches of soil is completely dry before watering. Although I like to wait a bit longer (until the soil is dry halfway down).
This ensure that you won’t end up watering too frequently. At the same time, the roots will be far from getting dehydrated.
Finally, avoid getting the leaves wet since this can lead to fungal problems if the moisture does not dry quickly enough.
Peperomia Caperata Potting Soil
A well-draining mix is the best The best soil for the Peperomia caperata. That’s because of a few things.
- It is an epiphyte – therefore its roots are used to drying quickly due to exposure to airflow (in its native habitat).
- Succulent-like leaves – note that the Peperomia caperata is not a true succulent. Instead, you can call it semi-succulent or succulent-like because it has features similar to that plant type. In this case, the thick foliage which store water. But because it has water stores, giving it more water too often increases its risk of getting too much. As such, you’ll notice scab-like bumps in the leaves when the plant is overwatered. That’s because they’re stretching beyond what they should normally be.
- Small root system – finally, the plant has a small, delicate root system. When you propagate or repot, you’ll see they’re much smaller and fragile than those of other houseplants. My daughter always calls them “white hair” because they look like well-brushed white hair.
So, in addition to not watering too often, you want to avoid soils that retain moisture. This prevents waterlogging.
Instead, go for fast draining soil. You can use perlite, pumice, sand and even orchid bark to increase drainage and improve aeration.
That said, here are a few combinations that work well.
- Peat moss and perlite or pumice
- Potting soil and perlite
- Succulent soil and perlite
- Potting soil and orchid bark
- Coco coir and succulent mix
I’ve met a couple of growers who say that they use African Violet mix as well. Although I haven’t tested it myself so I cannot tell you if this works on its own or needs any other ingredient with it.
Once you get past watering, the other aspects of Peperomia caperata care are quite straightforward. This includes fertilizer.
Like always, feeding is optional. But it is essential if you want a healthy, well-growing plant with lovely foliage and colors. Thus, I highly suggest not skipping this.
If you don’t like using chemical fertilizer, you can use compost, manure or worm castings to top off the potting mix every spring.
Most growers will use organic fertilizer (balanced or a succulent product both work). Apply half strength once a month during the plant’s growing season. Then stop around spring and hold off in winter.
The Peperomia caperata is a short plant that grows to about 8 or so inches tall and a similar width. If you let it get thick and full, the leaves will eventually grow out of the pot to the sides.
Some people like this look while others prefer a neater appearance. But, that’s all about preference, so you get to choose.
Since the plant does not get too messy (no long vines) and the leaves are amazingly beautiful, you don’t need to prune it often.
The plant also grows quite compact and in a somewhat globular pattern above the pot.
How to Propagate Peperomia Caperata
There are many ways to propagate Peperomia caperata. And they work quite well. But the new plants grow at varying speeds and have propagation has varying rates of success depending on the method you used.
So of all the Peperomia caperata propagation methods available, the ones that yield the fastest results and best success rates are:
- Stem cuttings (or tip cuttings)
- Leaf cuttings
In that order.
Division is the quickest since you already have a new plant after separating the parent plant. Stem cuttings come in second because roots and leaves will grow at a much faster rate than leaf cuttings.
Finally leaf cuttings offer excellent success rates and the rooting and leaf growth are likewise fast. But it takes a little longer than stem cuttings because you only start with the leaf.
On the upside, you can propagate more new plants from leaves compared to stems without taking too much off the parent plant.
That said, division is best done when you repot. Although technically you can do it anytime.
Propagating Peperomia Caperata Using Stem Cuttings
- Take a healthy stem cutting. Try to get something long enough (3 or so inches) that you can easily stick into a jar of water or into potting mix. Since peperomias are small plants some stems can get very short which makes propagating in soil or water a hassle since you need to get the stem to reach the medium.
- Next, decide if you want to propagate in water or soil. Both methods have similar yields although propagating in water is more popular since you can monitor the root development.
- If you propagate in water make sure that a good portion of stem is submerged in water. Also change the water every few days before it gets murky.
- If you propagate in soil, also make sure the stem is in the soil deep enough. You can use a 1:1 ratio of peat and perlite for the mix.
- Place the cutting in a warm spot with bright, indirect light. Ideally somewhere humid.
- It will take about a month before the roots will get long enough. Although with water, you’ll see some very small white specks within a few days or a week.
- If you propagate in water, at some point you’ll need to move the cutting into soil. You can do so once the roots are 2 inches or longer. You can wait a little longer as well since they’re delicate. The plant can stay in water past 6 months so there’s no hurry here.
Propagating Peperomia Caperata Using Leaf Cuttings
Leaf cutting is very popular. But I tend to favor stem cuttings because leaf cuttings sometimes don’t root. Also, it takes a little longer for the roots (and later the shoots and stems) to grow.
But many people like doing this because it is so much easier to take leaves than stems. Plus, you can grow many leaf propagations in one pot at the same time (more than stems due to spacing).
- Take a few leaves from the mother plant. You want to take the stalks along with the leaves and not just the leaves.
- Get quite a few leaves since not all will always root or propagate properly.
- Once you have the leaves, plant them into a soil mix (1:1 peat to perlite). Make sure to get the stalk into to soil. Then press the leaf on the soil a bit.
- You can arrange the leaves in any way you want on the soil as long as you leave some space between them to grow. Once they get bigger, you’ll take them out and plant them all separately or group a few together in a pot for a more bushy looking plant.
How to Repot or Transplant Peperomia Caperata
The Peperomia caperata only needs infrequent repotting.
It won’t grow into a big plant. And neither is it a fast growing plant. Plus, it enjoys being slightly root bound.
Note that slightly root bound is different from being cramped in a tight pot. You want to avoid the latter since it will stress the plant and affect its growth.
Check the bottom of the container about once a year to see if roots are coming out of the holes. Once they do, get ready to repot once spring come around. That’s the best time to do it since the plant is strongest them and ready to grow.
Again, you don’t need to hurry since it can stay happily root bound for a bit.
When transferring the Peperomia caperata, choose a pot one size larger. I like plastic pots but you can use terracotta or other materials. The important thing is that the pot is not overly large and it has drainage holes at the bottom.
Change the soil as well. Ideally, you want to replace the top soil once a year since it will usually take between 2 to 3 years before you need to repot.
And unless there’s an emergency (usually moisture related), try not to unpot the plant because it does not like it.
Finally, take your time and be careful when repotting since the plant’s delicate root system is fragile and can easily damaged.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
No. The plant is safe and non-toxic. Therefore, you can keep it at home since it does not pose any risk of poison even if kids or pets accidentally ingest part of it.
Problems & Troubleshooting
Leaf burn can present itself in many different ways. And depending on how the burn looks its cause will vary.
The first kind is from too much direct sunlight or intense lighting. This can be caused if you leave the plant under mid-day or summer sun.
If so, move it elsewhere so the sun’s rays don’t touch the plant.
Similarly, grow lights can cause it. Overly intense grow lights or keeping the plant too close to these lights will burn its leaves because the bulbs emit heat.
Again, move the plant away.
The second kind of burn is a chemical burn that starts from within. This is caused by too much fertilizer (and the buildup of fertilizer salts in the soil). If you feed the plant a lot, don’t dilute the dose or apply when the soil is dry, this can happen.
Avoid doing these things. And in the meantime, flush the soil.
Dull Looking Leaves with Fading Colors
Light plays a very important role in growth and leaf color when it comes to peperomia plants. And the Caperata is no exception.
It enjoys medium to bright, indirect light. So you want to keep it in a bright room which will allow it to keep its deep green color.
If this starts fading or looks dull, move it to a brighter spot.
Leaf loss and dropping is never a good sign. It means something is wrong and the plant is struggling.
In the case of the Peperomia caperata it could mean a few things.
- The most dangerous is root rot. If you have wet, soggy soil and the plant is wilting and looks sick, quickly check the roots. If they are black or mushy, prune them off and repot the plant in fresh, dry soil to help the plant recover. Also cut back on water.
- If it is not overwatering, check the temperature. The plant will lose its leaves if things get too chilly or it cannot take the low temperature anymore. Thus move it somewhere warmer.
- Too much fertilizer. The problem with chemical fertilizer is they leave salt residue which will build up over time. When too much has accumulated they can damage the roots which will eventually affect the leaves. Therefore, flush the soil to get rid of excess salts.
Unfortunately, pests are always going to be part of houseplant care. So, you do want to watch out for any of these small bugs in case they come around.
The Peperomia caperata will usually be pest free. But, there’s no such thing as a guarantee when it comes to pests and plants.
Therefore, be on the lookout for the most common pest issues which include mealybugs, scale, whiteflies and spider mites.
Root rot is easily the biggest thing to watch out for. I’ve lost a few peperomia from it early on.
Thus, avoid overwatering since this will suffocate the roots as water cuts off their oxygen supply.