Peperomia Incana

The Peperomia Incana is often called the Felted Peperomia because its green heart-shaped leaves are covered with a short layer of white hairs which give it a fuzzy texture.

The addition of these hairs give the plant an illusion of having silver-green foliage. But they are there for a reason. And that is to help protect the plant from hot and dry weather.

This allows the plant to tolerate warmer temperatures compared to other peperomias. And it is something it uses in its natural habitat, which are the neotropics.

These include regions of the Caribbean, Central and South America where sunshine dominates most of the year providing for long growing seasons and no prolonged cold periods.

There, the epiphytic Peperomia Incana lives in the rainforest as mostly as ground cover.

In addition to Felted Peperomia, it has also been called the Felted Pepperface, Amazon Fuzz and Fuzzy Pigface. I’m not really sure how some of the other terms like Pigface came about.

Peperomia Incana Plant Care

Light Requirements

The Peperomia Incana thrives in bright light conditions. And although it is often found as ground cover in the Neotropical rainforests, it does not mind direct sunlight.

In fact, its native habitat has made it accustomed to almost all lighting conditions, including full and direct sun. This makes it different from other peperomia plants that need to stay away from the sun’s rays otherwise their leaves will get scorched.

What’s its secret?

The fuzzy hairs on its leaves’ surface that give it a felted texture and look.

These protect it from both temperature and too much light. Therefore, it can tolerate more of both compared to other peperomia species.

In fact, the plant does best when it gets lots of light.

So, for best growth, giving it a good amount of light, be it direct or indirect light.

Similarly, its natural habitat has also allowed it to get accustomed to low light due to the larger plants and trees covering it in the forest.

However, while it will do well and survive in this condition, it won’t thrive as much as it would in medium and bright light. But it won’t look dull, weak or abnormal either.

This makes it a great houseplant no matter what location you put it.

That said, a south, east or west facing window are ideal.

Outdoors, you can also keep it in full sun, partial shade or light shade without any problems.

 

Temperature

As mentioned above, the Peperomia Incana is found in the Neotropics which includes regions of the Caribbean, Central and South America including Mexico, Brazil and Bolivia.

More importantly, it resides in the region’s rainforests which features both warm climate that’s wet, which has been proven to be very good for plant growth.

Finally, because there’s steady sun and rain, there are no long dry periods. Nor are there any cold periods.

As such, the plant is enjoys moderate to warm temperatures ranging from 45 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Within this range, its ideal level is on the middle to higher range (65 to 85 degrees).

Like other peperomias, it does not like the cold, although it can tolerate a little more of it due to its fuzzy leaves.

Outdoors, Felted peperoma enjoys USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11 where the weather is similar to its native habitat. On the other hand, keep it away from frost and freezing winters.

 

Humidity

Humidity care for the Felted Peperomia is very similar to light.

By that I mean the plant is used to humid environment given that there’s a lot of rainfall in the forests where it is often found.

But, it is able to tolerate moderate humidity (30% to 70%) and even low humidity (levels under 30%). How low will depend on its other living conditions.

For example with lots of sun or direct sunlight, it won’t mind too much what the humidity it. But the less sun it gets, the more you want to give it at least moderate humidity to keep it happy.

Similarly, how much water it gets will also affect the amount of humidity it will need. However, I do suggest being more wary with using water to help with humidity since the plant is sensitive to too much moisture as I’ll discuss in depth in the next section.

 

How Often to Water Peperomia Incana

While the Peperomia Incana is different from other similar species in its genus in some aspects water is not one of them.

The plant is prone to overwatering. Thus, light watering is best.

This comes out to about once every 7 days during the summer and around once every 14 to 16 days during the winter. However, how much sun, the temperature, humidity and other factors in your home can move these figures up or down a few days.

So, just use it as a starting guide and adjust according to your plant’s living condition.

Because the plant likes moist soil, especially during its growing season, its susceptibility to overwatering can make things challenging.

So, the best way it so water thoroughly so that the soil gets completely soaked and drenched in water. You’ll know when this happens once the moisture starts dripping from the bottom of the pot.

Doing this will allow water to penetrate to the roots giving them the water they want.

The key is to stop once the liquid starts dripping from under the pot’s drainage holes and let it completely drain.

The latter will prevent the plant from standing in water for extended periods, leaving the roots with just enough water to keep them happy (but not drowning in it).

This will prevent overwatering.

After this, allow the soil to almost completely dry (which takes a few days) before watering again. I like to wait until the soil is dry between 50% to 75% of the way down.

You can use your finger to test the soil. Usually this will let you check it down 2 or so knuckles deep (2 inches or a bit more in depth).

I like to use a wooden stick and push it down into the soil until it hits the pot’s bottom. Then check the water level in the stick. The section that’s wet tells you how much water is left.

I’ll only water is the wet part of the stick is under 50% of the total soil’s height.

This is very important since the Felted Peperomia needs just as much oxygen as much as it needs water. So, too much water will cause leaf discoloration, wilting and leaf drop as it blocks fresh air from getting to the roots. If not remedies, this will progress into root rot.

 

Peperomia Incana Potting Soil

To help prevent overwatering, using the right soil is important for the Peperomia Incana.

The plant needs well-draining soil that allows enough air to get to the roots.

This is why sandy loam is one of the most popular soils used for the plant. Sandy loam contains equal parts of silt, clay and sand. Together, the combination allows excess water to drain. This way, the mix does not hold on to too much water.

Make sure to use coarse sand which has larger particles. The reason is that larger pieces will increase drainage while smaller or finer pieces don’t drain as well.

Similarly, the Felted Peperomia likes soil pH between 5 and 7.5.

If you want to make your own mix at home with things you may already have, you can likewise use:

  • Potting mix
  • Orchid bark
  • Charcoal

It is likewise good to add a layer of worm compost as topdressing. This will give the plant extra nutrients so you can use less of chemical fertilizer.

 

Fertilizer

Speaking of which, apply a liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength once a month during its growing season. You can stop by early to mid or late fall. Don’t feed the plant in winter or once the cold sets in since it does most of its growing during the warm season.

The only exception is if where you live has a tropical climate with sun all year round. In this case, the plant may continue to grow past fall.

As long as the plant is growing, you can keep feeding it. But watch out for signs of overfertilizing as well as any legginess. If either happens, stop and wait until spring to start again.

With the former, flush the soil. If the plant gets leggy, trim off the leggy sections.

 

Pruning

The Peperomia Incana is a small plant much like its other peperomia brethren. It will grow to between 6 and 12 inches tall over time and will span as much as 12 to 15 inches from side to side.

However, how tall or bushy the plant gets depends on how much you prune it.

Generally, the Felted Peperomia does not need much pruning. But you can make minor trimmings any time of the year to shape its look.

On the other hand, if you want to make it fuller, pinching it back will help give you more leaves.

 

How to Propagate Peperomia Incana

Leaf and stem cuttings are the two most common ways of propagating the Peperomia Incana. They also yield the fastest growth rates and highest success rates of the many propagation methods you can use with this plant.

Thus, you can choose which one you prefer to us.

Propagating Peperomia Incana from Stem Cuttings

  • Take a stem cutting that’s at least 3 inches long. Although not necessary, try to get one with at least 2 leaves or more. This will increase success rates.
  • Once you have the healthy cutting, you can propagate it in water or in soil. Both work very well so this is really up to your preference.
  • With soil propagation, allow the cutting to dry and callous. Then dip in rooting hormone and plant into well-draining potting mix. Plant the stem into the soil so a good part of it is buried. Keep soil moist.
  • With water propagation, you can immediately place the cutting into water. You want a good section of the stem to be submerged into the water.
  • Keep the plant in bright indirect light. Avoid direct sun for now as it needs to get bigger and stronger before it can tolerate that.
  • It will also want a moderate to warm spot.
  • With the soil propagation, you can cover the pot with a plastic bag to increase humidity which helps speed up rooting and success rates. But make sure to remove the plastic every few days for at least a few minutes at a time to let fresh air in.
  • Don’t bag the water propagation since it already gets tons of moisture. Too much moisture can lead to rotting.
  • It will take about a month the roots to develop.
  • With the water propagation, you can see the roots develop. And when they get past 2 inches long, you can move the cutting into potting mix.
  • With the soil propagation, you don’t need to move the cutting until the new plant gets big enough to repot.

Propagating Peperomia Incana from Leaf Cuttings

Leaf cuttings are likewise a very effective way for Felt Peperomia propagation. However, they do take longer to root. Later on, it also takes more time to grow shoots and leaves as well.

But, the process is easier since you can easily use leaves instead of cutting off stems or stem tips. Also, since there are many leaves to a stem, you can propagate more plants at once.

Here’s how to do it.

Take a few leaf cuttings. I like having quite a few of them because I’ve noticed that some don’t turn out quite as planned. This way, you have others that will just in case. That said, I know some growers who are experts at doing this and they can ensure success even it they just take 1 to 3 leaf cuttings with all growing into new plants.

When getting leaf cuttings, take the petioles along with the leaves and cut at the junction where it meets the stem. You can also just use the leaf, or with larger leaves, half leaves. But I’ve noticed that the bigger that part of the plant (i.e. with petiole > just a leaf > half a leaf), success rates go up and more importantly, it will propagate faster.

Let the leaves dry on the side while you prepare the tray or pot with soil mix. Since you’re planting multiple leaves into the soil, you want to space them out enough.

Plant the cutting so the petiole is buried into the soil (along with a little bit of the lower part of the leaf is fine as well). Dip the petioles into rooting hormone to speed up the process.

You can arrange the leaves in different ways. One way is all facing away from the center with the center of the pot relative blank. The other way is to have them all face one side. The reason is both methods make it easier to get the leaves to receive light. In the former, they get balanced light as you rotate the pot. In the latter, the light only needs to come from one direction.

Place the cuttings in a warm spot with bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sun for now.

Also keep the soil moist

In about 4 to 8 weeks, they should have developed roots. Each cutting will grow at its own pace though.

 

How to Repot or Transplant Peperomia Incana

Repot the Felted Peperomia at most once a year. Although it typically takes at least 3 years (usually more) before you need to actually do so.

The plant is a slow grower and it won’t get too big. Thus, it does not need to be moved to a larger container often.

Just as importantly, you won’t ever need a big pot to keep it happy.

The only time you need to repot is when its roots start coming out of the bottom holes of the pot.

It is likewise a good idea to change the soil annually to keep it fresh. Although you can just replace the top soil instead of repotting it completely as well.

 

Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs

No, the Peperomia Incana is not toxic. It is safe even when its leaves or stems are ingested by humans or animals. However, since it is not mean to be consumed, you’ll still experience the usual gagging and uncomfortable side effects of eating something that’s not supposed to be eaten.

 

Problems & Troubleshooting

Leaf Loss

If your Felted Peperomia is losing leaves or dropping leaves, it is often a sign of some kind of issue.

The two most problematic ones are:

Overwatering – here leaf loss is a later symptom after the plant has wilted and had some foliage discoloration as well. Damaged leaves will turn leaves in color because they lack oxygen. And after a while, the plant gets weaker as well and wilts. Then leaves drop. Thus, check the soil first. If it is wet or mucky, then cut back on water. You may also want to unpot and see if there is root rot.

Too cold – the plant cannot tolerate cold conditions. Ideally, keep it away from anything colder than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The lower the temperature goes and the longer the plant stays in that position the more problems it will face including leaf loss. The solution is to move it to a warmer spot.

 

Pests

Mealybugs, aphids and mites like to attack the Peperomia Incana. The bugs will often hide in the junction between leaf and the petioles (axils) or in leaf nodes. You’ll also see them hiding behind the leaves or laying eggs there.

Pests like younger leaves, so I like to check the latest growths first since these are more enticing to them.

Once you see any pests, immediate treatment is needed. That’s because they grow in population quickly. And it is more difficult to deal with them once there are many (which lay more eggs as well).

You can use neem oil, insecticidal soap, dormant oil and other sprays. These are effective for most although some only focus on specific pests, so do read the label.

I like to just wash off the bugs with water. Since the plant is small, the sink or a light hosing works. It is important to be thorough sine you not only want to let the stream of water spray off the bugs but also remove all the eggs.

 

Diseases

As with other peperomia plants, root rot is the biggest concern here.

It can easily destroy your plant because it damages the roots. Without the roots functioning well, your plant cannot absorb water or nutrients. Therefore, it will eventually get weaker and weaker until it cannot survive anymore.

Therefore, avoid overwatering at all times.

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