Peperomia Orba Care – How to Grow Teardrop Peperomia

The Peperomia Orba is also known as the Teardrop Peperomia. It gets this name because of its teardrop shaped-leaves, which are green in color and succulent-like.

Note that the plant is not a true succulent. Instead, it features thick, fleshy leaves that store water to help it get through dry periods. Thus it takes some features of succulents (but not all their features).

Therefore, you want to treat the plant like a peperomia and not care for it like a succulent as you’ll see below.

Note that the Peperomia Orba (Teardrop Peperomia) is a different plant from the Peperomia Pixie Lime. Often people will just interchange the names which can make you think they are one in the same plant.

But, the Peperomia Orba and the Peperomia Pixie are different, with the latter being a cultivar of the Peperomia Orba. Although the two look similar.

The biggest difference is that the Peperomia Pixie Lime has lighter (green) colored leaves that make them look a little green-yellow.

But their care is just about the same.

This give you an option of what hue you prefer more.

That said, the Peperomia Orba is smaller than other peperomias coming out to be around half as big as those plants. But it grows quite fast with bright light which lets you enjoy lots of foliage.

Besides leaves, the plant will also produce flowers although they look different from blooms you’re accustomed to. Instead of blossoms, you get thin, long spikes which my daughter calls “antennas”.

Yes, those are its flowers.

Some like them, others don’t. Similarly, some growers will keep them because it is a sign the plant is healthy and happy. But has no real function since it is not very pretty nor does it have any fragrance.

For foliage purists, these are cut off since extra energy spent by the plant for flowers is energy that could be used for larger, more beautiful, colorful leaves.

Peperomia Orba Plant Care

Teardrop Peperomia Light Requirements

The Peperomia Orba does well in various lighting conditions, including low, medium and bright light. This makes it easy to care for indoors as a houseplant.

But of the different lighting conditions, it thrives most under natural light that is bright and indirect. Note that you don’t necessarily need to keep it right beside a window.

The important thing is that it is in a bright setting. That means the room is bright from sun coming from a window and you can see everything in the room without having to turn on lamps or lights.

That said, avoid direct sun or any kind of strong, harsh light (including grow lights). This will damage the leaves and even cause sunburn.

Lighting is fairly easy because the plant adapts quite well. Its small size also means it is easy to move and position in different spots when experimenting.

Here’s a quick guide to help you pick out a spot:

East facing window – the plant is happiest here. You can put it near the window without any risk of direct sun because morning sun is gentle and the plant easily tolerates it. In fact, the plant grows faster with that light (without risk of burns).

  • West facing window – almost the same as an east facing window. But the stronger light comes in the afternoon around after lunch. So, you’ll want to give it a little protection or distance a bit away since afternoon sun is more intense than morning. That said, I’ve had peperomia near the west windows of my house without any problem. But always monitor first then adjust if needed.
  • North facing window – lowest light of the four directions. But it is enough to keep the plant happy because the Teardrop Peperomia’s tolerance. However, check how much light comes in during winter. This varies depending on where you live. In some locations, the light may not be sufficient. So, watch out for leggy stems and adjust as needed.
  • South facing window – this direction gets the most light. Usually, from about 10:00 a.m. until past 4:00 p.m. with the middle part being the most intense. Therefore, keep the plant at least 3 feet or more away from the window. The goal is far enough so the rays of the sun don’t hit the plant.
  • Middle of the room or away from the window – how far you can place the plant away from windows depends on how bright the room is. The brighter the room, the more freedom you get to place it anywhere without affecting its health or growth. This can easily be as far as 10 to 15 feet. My simple guideline is, as long as you can read a book (or magazine) in that spot without turning on any lamp or light, the plant gets sufficient light. Keep in mind that more light equals faster growth. So, it may not grow as quickly as somewhere with more illumination. However, it will be healthy and have beautiful colors nevertheless.
  • Room with little window access – you have to take your cue from the plant. The leaves will turn darker green to compensate if there’s too little light. Growth will slow (or stop) and stems will get leggy too. If this happens, the plant wants more light. Again, the rule is if you can read a book the natural light is likely enough. If you’re not sure, turn on the fluorescent lights. This is more than enough to keep the plant healthy. But if it only relies on fluorescent lighting, it will need 12 hours or exposure compared to 4 to 6 hours of sunlight daily.

Hopefully, this covers the different options at least in a general way.

 

Teardrop Peperomia Temperature

The Peperomia Orba enjoys temperature between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit the most. But it will tolerate a wider range without any harm.

As long as you keep it between somewhere between 55 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it will be happy. Stress begins once you get to the extreme climate conditions.

Heat is not an overly huge problem since the plant comes from Central and South America where the prevailing climate is hot and humid.

So, it will tolerate 100 degree weather without any issue. I’ve seen it sitting outside under the sun during the peak of summer in many Southeast Asian countries whenever I visit. They have no problem.

But you want to try to keep the plant in its “sweet spot” as much as possible because it is not a fan of fluctuation temperatures. Also, keep in mind that in Asia, they water the plant daily to every other day on average.

They can get away with that because there’s tons of sunlight there and very hot weather. Unfortunately, it is not a safe thing to do in North America. (I’ll explain in the watering section below)

On the flip side, watch out for the cold.

In its native habitat, the Teardrop Peperomia does not get snow. It lives in tropical forests. Thus, it cannot tolerate cold conditions below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Humidity

The ideal humidity for the Peperomia Orba is between 50% to 80%. This is what it likes most.

Unfortunately, these levels can be difficult to achieve on a consistent basis if you don’t get tropical or subtropical climate.

Luckily, the plant is very tolerant of lower humidity (down to 30%). Again, try to keep things closer to 40% even if it can tolerate less than that.

The reason is that you get more margin for error with water (which is the plant’s sore point). The lower the humidity, more water the plant will need which can cause a host of other issues.

In general, you don’t need to mist the plant (and I don’t recommend it either). Although you may have to if air is really dry where you live.

So far, the only places I’ve seen where the plant may need some help with humidity are in desert climate locales, think parts of Arizona and Nevada. Other low humidity areas including Utah and New Mexico pose no issues (at least from what I’ve seen with plants grown by friends).

The reason the Teardrop Peperomia can get away with this despite being accustomed to humid tropical forests is that it has succulent-like leaves. These thick foliage hold water to keep the plant happy even when air is dry.

 

How Often to Water Peperomia Orba

How much and how often you water the Peperomia Orba will depend on the time of year.

During summer when the weather is hot and the soil dries faster, you’ll likely water about once a week. Come winter, as the weather gets cold and it takes much longer for soil to dry, the frequency will drop to about once every 2 to 3 weeks.

The key is to avoid overwatering.

Part of this has to do with the plant’s succulent-like leaves. The other, with the plant’s small, delicate root system.

As such, it is better at tolerating dry periods than wet ones. The latter can easily lead to root rot.

Thus, the best way to water the plant is to soak the entire root ball. Do this by adding water until the soil is completely drenched. This will let moisture reach the roots quickly.

Stop once the liquid begins to drip from the holes under the pot.

Then immediate let the plant drain completely. You want to wait until the soil feels moist with no water or sogginess before returning it to its original display.

The first part of watering lets the roots absorb the moisture they need. The second part ensures that the plant does not stand in water afterwards.

Finally, the best time to water is to wait for the soil to dry between 50% and 75% of the way down. You don’t want to let it dry out completely (dehydration). Nor do you want to water too early (overwatering).

 

Peperomia Orba Potting Soil

To further reduce the risk of overwatering, the best soil for the Teardrop Peperomia is well-draining soil that is light and chunky. The former will get rid of excess moisture while the latter will allow the roots to breathe fresh oxygen.

Contrary to what many people think, it is not the water that kills your plant. Instead, it is water blocking the access to oxygen that actually does.

Plants need a balance of water and oxygen. When you overwater and the plant stands in water, the roots are drowning in moisture. Thus, the liquid blocks all the air pockets where the oxygen can pass to get the roots. (Think of you not being able to breathe underwater, it is the same thing).

If the plant goes too long without oxygen, which its roots need, they rot. This results in black, smelly, mushy roots (instead of the firm, white, healthy ones).

When roots rot, they don’t function. And your plant can’t absorb water or nutrients from the soil anymore. After a while, it will die of malnutrition.

To avoid this, use a well-draining soil with good aeration.

The simplest options here is to mix:

  • Peat moss with perlite or coarse sand
  • Potting soil with perlite or coarse sand

I put two options there so you can go with peat or potting soil depending on which one you already have at home.

 

Fertilizer

Teardrop Peperomia need fertilizer to grow well. But it is not a heavy feeder.

And the worst thing you can do is to overfeed it.

Why?

Because chemical fertilizers are made from salt. Manufacturers use salt to store the nutrients so the plant can absorb it through water.

Unfortunately, plants hate salt (at least a lot of it). It is very harmful to them and can burn their roots once it builds up in the soil.

Therefore, by upping the dose of the fertilizer, you’re essentially increasing the amount of salt you’re giving the plant.

It can take a little at a time. But like people you’ll start experiencing side effects if you consume tons of salt regularly.

As such, with fertilizer, too much is always a bad thing.

That said, feeding the Peperomia Orba is quite straightforward. Dilute a complete balanced fertilizer by half strength. Apply once a month during spring and summer. No need to fertilize in winter.

You can also use organic options if you don’t want to deal with salt residue. Fish emulsion (fish fertilizer), compost, worm castings and the like work quite well.

If you do use fish fertilizer, take it to the balcony or patio to apply in the beginning. If you do it in an enclosed room, your room will smell like fish right after. Take it from me, although you get used to it so it becomes okay when you get lazy.

 

Teardrop Peperomia Pruning

The Teardrdop Peperomia is a fairly short plant that will look more bushy over time. Therefore, you can expect it to grow to about 6 inches in height and about 6 to 12 inches wide.

Pruning will let you shape it the way you want by strategically trimming a few stems every so often. This does not harm the plant sot there’s no need to be afraid.

And you can prune any time as well.

However, try to avoid heavy pruning where you cut a large chunk of plant. Only save those if the plant is not doing well or everything is wilting and you want to cut the stems to replant each of them into separate pots to give the plant another chance.

In general, you’ll only need to prune the longer stems since they’ll go over the sides of the pot. Another one is to take the taller ones all if you want to keep the plant short and stout (bushy).

It is all about your preference here.

 

How to Propagate Peperomia Orba

Propagating the Teardrop Peperomia is something every owner should do. This lets you grow more of the beautiful plant either to keep or share with friends and loved ones.

Its unique looks make it a great housewarming gift as well.

Fortunately, it is very easy to propagate the Peperomia Orba. And you have a many options.

However, the best ways I’ve found in terms of speed, success rate and rate of growth after are:

  • Stem cuttings
  • Leaf cuttings

In that order.

Propagating Peperomia Orba Using Stem Cuttings

This is my go to method. And it will let you propagate the stem cuttings in water or in soil, depending on what you like. Both have their pros and cons.

I like soil propagation because I’m lazy a lot of the time. Soil propagation eliminates the need for transferring the cutting from water to soil (which has a risk of failure as well, albeit low).

Also, I’ve found the soil propagation is faster for me.

That said, water propagation is the more popular method because you can monitor the roots as they develop in real-time.

In any case, here’s how to do them.

  • Cut off a stem. You want a healthy stem with at least 2 or more leaves. Try to cut a reasonably long enough (not too long) stem to make it easy for it to reach the water or be planted into soil. The stem will need to be mostly buried in soil or submerged under water later.
  • If you want to propagate in soil, allow the cutting to dry and callous then apply rooting hormone. This will increase its success rate.
  • Then plant the cutting into soil with most of the stem buried in soil.
  • Use moist soil and make sure the pot has drainage. You don’t want wet, soggy soil or puddles of moisture anywhere.
  • Use a 50:50 mix of peat and perlite for good soil drainage.
  • Place the cutting in a moderate to warm spot with bright, indirect light.
  • I like to cover the pot with a plastic bag to increase humidity. This speeds up the rooting process and I’ve observed in increases the success rate as well.
  • Remove the plastic bag every few days to let the plant get some fresh air. Then cover again.
  • In about 4 or so weeks, the plant will have grown roots.
  • Tug the cutting lightly and it should resist your pull to prove the roots have taken hold of the soil.
  • You can remove the plastic bag then.
  • Keep caring for it like you would the parent plant. You’ll then need to repot when the new plant outgrows in current container.
  • If you want to propagate in water, do the same stems to cut the stem off the parent.
  • Immediately place the cutting into water. I like a glass jar so you can see what’s happening.
  • You can also let the cutting dry and callous first. But I’ve found that success rates are much higher if you immediately put the cutting into water after you cut it off.
  • Change the water every week. Once in two weeks if you forget. The closer you are to one week, the higher the success rates as well (at least that’s what my experiments yield).
  • Keep the plant in the same conditions as the soil propagation.
  • Now you wait. The goal is to wait until the roots grow to 2 inches or longer. This usually takes about 4 or so weeks.
  • Once it reaches 2 to 4 inches (anywhere in between works), you can pot it up in soil.
  • You can likewise leave the plant in water if you want to let it keep growing there. It will happily stay over 6 months there. Although try to avoid overly long periods. A friend has kept hers in water for over 2 years now. And, while it is healthy, she’s had to prune quite a few rotted roots (which started happening around a year and almost a half in).

 

Propagating Peperomia Orba from Leaf Cuttings

  • Leaf propagation is another very successful way of propagating the Teardrop Peperomia. But, it does not always work as well as stem cutting.
  • And it also takes a bit longer before you see roots. The same is true with shoots later on and leaves.
  • But you can grow more plants since there are many leaves to one stem.
  • Start by taking a few healthy leaves with their petioles on.
  • Place rooting hormone on the leaf cuttings. You can use liquid, powder or paste form. They’re all the same.
  • Stick the petioles into the soil including a bit of the leaf. This way it stands up.
  • You’ll want space the leaves out enough in the pot. You can likewise use a tray and fill it with the same potting mix mentioned above.
  • Place the cuttings under bright, indirect light. Keep the soil moist (avoid soggy and overwatering).
  • If you need more humidity (which helps with growth), cover the tray or top of the pot with plastic wrap. Poke some holes (small ones not big ones or else it beats the purpose of the plastic) to allow fresh air in. Also, keep the plastic up so it does not touch the leaves.
  • Remove plastic for a few minutes at a time every few days for fresh air. This will prevent rotting.

 

How to Repot or Transplant Peperomia Orba

Repotting is only needed about every 3 to 5 years because the plant is small and not exactly a fast grower. Plus, it enjoys being slightly root bound.

Therefore, there’s no real hurry.

However, I prefer to watch what the plant is telling me instead of relying on figures.

Thus, once a year I check the bottom to see if roots are peeking out of the pot. It takes less than 5 seconds.

Once roots come out of the holes at the bottom of the pot, it means get ready to repot.

Spring is the best time to repot.

Make sure to use a container that’s one size bigger than the current one. That’s all it needs. Also, replace the soil with fresh one.

 

Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs

No, the Peperomia Orba is not toxic. This gives you the freedom to display the plant anywhere you want in your home without the risk of danger to your kids or pets in case they consumer the leaves or stems.

 

Teardrop Peperomia Problems & Troubleshooting

Yellow Leaves

If your Teardrop Peperomia has yellow leaves it is time to check to see what’s wrong.

Unfortunately, this cause is not straightforward. So you need to do some investigating.

  • Start by checking light – too much direct light, exposure to strong light (midday or summer) or grow lights being too close to the plant can all cause this. This is the simplest issue to address. Just move the plant away from the strong light source. Then prune the yellow leaves.
  • Cold – low temperatures can likewise cause yellow leaves. If your plant stays in conditions that regular goes blow 50 degrees Fahrenheit, move it somewhere warmer. Watch out for open windows, air conditioners, sudden fluctuations (with whatever cause) and nighttime drops in temperature. These are sneaky things that can get the plant.
  • Overwatering – this is the most obvious and by far the most dangerous because it can quickly cause your plant to deteriorate. Plants need oxygen as much as they need water. When roots are left in standing water they can’t get fresh air. This causes the roots, then the leaves to be deficient. If left too long, the leaves will turn yellow (chemical reaction to lack of oxygen) then the roots will rot. Therefore, cut back on water.

 

Drooping & Wilting

Likewise, wilting has many causes.

  • Not enough water – plants are mostly made up of water (up to 95%). So, when it lacks water, it will wilt since water acts like a filler to keep the stems up. Before you add moisture, check the soil. It should be dry.
  • Too much water – if the soil is not dry, then overwatering may actually be the cause. Wet, soggy soil means that the roots are drowning in water. This will eventually weaken and make the plant sick since unhealthy roots (that don’t get enough oxygen) will cause the plant to have problems as well. Cut back on water and make sure you’re using well-draining soil.
  • Not enough nutrients – if you’re not feeding the plant (chemically or organically), then this can happen. Even if you’re feeding it and it does not get enough nutrients or is missing certain minerals, this can happen as well. Use a complete balanced fertilizer so the plant gets enough essential nutrients.

 

Pests

Teardrop peperomia don’t attract a lot of pests. But they can get invaded by them.

The most common include mites, mealybugs and thrips. Fungus gnats make also arrive especially if there’s a good amount of excess moisture.

To get rid of them, use neem oil, horticultural oil, insecticidal soap or even dormant oil and spray. Either of them works.

I prefer to just shower the plant to spray off the bugs with water. It is faster and cheaper as well. As long as you get both the bugs and their eggs, they’ll go away.

 

Diseases

Unfortunately, root rot is still the biggest issue with the Peperomia Orba. This is a serious issue you want to avoid because it can destroy the plant.

Overwatering and letting the soil stay wet and mucky is what leads to this problem. Therefore, keep the plant dry and only water after the top half of soil dries out.

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