Peperomia Peppermill

The Peperomia Peppermill is one of those rare, uncommon and sometimes hard to find plant within the peperomia genus. Although, unlike philodendrons or monsteras you don’t have to worry about high price tags because it is very affordable. The key is finding them or someone who’s willing to trade them with you.

This puts it in the same group as other less common peperomia including:

  • Peperomia Luna Red
  • Peperomia Midnight Wave
  • Peperomia Caperata Quito
  • Peperomia Caperata Abricos
  • Variegated Watermelon Peperomia

If you look at these varieties, you’ll see how amazing they look because of their different looks, colors and variegations.

If you know my penchant for uncommon plants, you already know that I had to have the Peperomia Peppermill the moment I saw it.

This is a small plant so expect to get it in a 2 inch or 4 inch pot as most if you buy or trade for it.

Its most beautiful features are its round fleshy leaves that features a brown chocolate-life variegation against the olive green-like foliage color. If you’re a fan of the watermelon peperomia, you’ll like the Peppermill Peperomia.

Of course, there’s also the thin red stems that stand out if you let them grow. Although I do prefer the plant full and bushy so the stems are more hidden when you have more leaves.

Like other peperomia, it can flower. But I just usually prune the blooms because they’re not that great. And they cause the plant to shift some energy away from leaf production.

The best part of the Peperomia Peppermill is that it not only looks amazing but is very easy to care for once you know what to watch out for.

Peperomia Peppermill Plant Care

Light Requirements

The Peperomia Peppermill is a small but beautiful plant with very distinct foliage colors. This makes it look different from other peperomia plants.

The most interesting thing I’ve found about it is that its leaf color changes dramatically depending on the kind of light you give it.

Its natural leaf color of the Peperomia Peppermill is green (somewhat olive green) with brown patterns. This makes it a darker color peperomia with les bright, vibrant looking hues. Some will argue that the colors are duller than other green peperomia. But I would not go that far.

But if you give it a good amount of bright light, its leaves will turn pinkish red. On the other hand, the less light there is, the more green the foliage become.

Therefore, you can adjust the colors depending on what you like.

That said, like all plants, it needs to collect sunlight for photosynthesis. Therefore, its natural green leaves (with brown patterns) are healthier for the plant.

The good news is the Peperomia Peppermill does well under a wide range of lighting conditions. It does not mind low, moderate or bright light provided that it is either indirect, filtered or dappled.

It cannot tolerate strong light or direct sunlight for long periods at a time on a consistently basis. This will affect its leaf colors and even scorch them with enough exposure.

As such, a north, east or west exposure work well. You do need to distance it a bit or protect it from a south facing window.

If you don’t get a lot of natural light in your home, you can likewise use artificial light. The plant will be perfectly happy with this. Although it will need 10 to 12 hours exposure compared to the 4 to 6 hours of sunlight.

Outdoors, it does best in partial shade.

 

Temperature

The Peperomia Peppermill is native to South America. Therefore, it is accustomed to warm, humid temperatures.

Because the plant is found in the tropical forest regions living under the larger trees, it prefers (and has gotten used to) certain climate conditions. These include:

  • Moderate to warm weather, ideally between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Lots of heat during different times of the year and when the sun moves, giving it the ability to tolerate temperatures in the high 90s without harm.
  • No snow or frost. Thus, it cannot tolerate temperatures under 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Coverage from the sun’s rays thanks to the larger plants. This is why it cannot withstand long exposure to direct sun.

Mimicking these conditions will let the plant thrive.

Fortunately, this environment makes the Peperomia Peppermill well suited to most homes. That’s because it is similar to what we humans like to live in.

That said, you do want to want to be wary of a few things that can bother the plant indoors.

  • Sudden or dramatic temperature fluctuations. The plant does not like this and will react negatively.
  • Significant drops in nighttime temperature compared to day time
  • Air conditioners, vents or drafts that can product cold breezes.
  • Heaters, radiators and fireplaces.

 

Humidity

Like temperature, the Peperomia Peppermill is used to humid environments. Ideally, it prefers humidity between 50% and 80%.

But thanks to its fleshy, succulent-like leaves, it can tolerate lower humidity without any problems. This makes it easy to care for.

I’ve found that the plant is not fussy at all despite its preference and considering where it is native to (the humid forests of South America).

Similarly, I’ve been fortunate enough to talk to a few other Peperomia Peppermill owners and they all seem to agree in that the plant can tolerate just about any moderate humidity home (30% to 50% humidity).

Therefore, the only time you really need to monitor the plant is if you live in dry regions like the desert (parts of Nevada and Arizona come to mind) or if your summers get very hot and dry.

Beyond that, the plant’s ability to store moisture in its leaves allow it to withstand most home humidity.

 

How Often to Water Peperomia Peppermill

The Peperomia Peppermill enjoys moist soil especially during the summer. But you want to be careful when watering the plant because it is better of with little water.

I can tell you first hand that with peperomia, water is the one thing to watch out for (particularly giving it too much water).

That’s because they are quite prone to overwatering.

I still remember losing a few of my peperomias early on when I tried watering them like my other houseplants.

There are a few reasons for this.

  • The plant is just naturally predisposed to overwatering (and root rot)
  • It has a small, non-extensive root system that easily gets overwhelmed by excess moisture
  • Its succulent-like leaves already hold moisture. This makes it easier to overwater it.

Of course, there’s also the small size of the plant.

Therefore, the best way to water the plant is wait until the soil is 50% to 75% dry before adding more moisture. Since the Peperomia Peppermill is drought tolerant, it won’t mind.

And to appease the plant’s roots desire for water, the best way to water is to use the “soak and drain” method.

This means drenching the root ball with water so the roots easily get access to the liquid. To do this, keep adding water to the soil until it starts to drop from under the pot. Then stop.

After that, make sure to allow excess moisture to drain completely. so the roots (which have just gotten their drink) don’t end up standing in water.

This way you end up with moist soil that’s not wet or soggy.

Finally, to prevent the drained liquid from pooling in the bottom of the pot (which the soil will eventually suck back up), make sure the container you use has drainage holes.

 

Peperomia Peppermill Potting Soil

Due to the Peperomia Peppermill’s susceptibility to too much water, the best soil for the plant is rich, well-draining and airy.

This will allow excess moisture to drain away to prevent the roots suffocating in water.

Contrary to what many people think, it is not actually water that kills most houseplants. Instead, it is their roots sitting in water (and therefore being deprived of oxygen) that kills them.

A good analogy of this is when you hold your breath and go underwater. After a while because you’re surrounded by water, you can’t breathe in oxygen. If you don’t come back up for air, you’ll suffocate.

This is what happens to plants in water. And without oxygen, they’ll start to rot.

Therefore, good draining and aeriation is very important.

Fortunately, achieving this kind of soil is easy. And you don’t need many ingredients. Here are couple of potting mixes for Peperomia Peppermill plants that work really well.

  • 50% potting mix with 50% perlite or coarse sand
  • 50% peat and 50% perlite

You can likewise adjust these 1:1 ratios and move them up to 2:1 if you wish. The key is to observe what the plant is telling you and make minor adjustments based on that.

 

Fertilizer

The Peperomia Peppermill does not necessarily need fertilizer. But you want to feed it.

That’s because if you don’t supplement with plant food, it will grow slower, be smaller, produce fewer, smaller leaves and have paler colors.

In short, you don’t get the best out the plant.

Thankfully, feeding the Peperomia Peppermill is easy and straightforward. The key is not to overthik it or overcomplicate it.

It is not a big feeder. So, you don’t want to give it too much fertilizer either.

Again, this is because of its small, fragile roots. Since commercial fertilizers use salt to transport nutrients, giving the plant more nutrients also harms the plant. (They don’t like salt and too much salt will damage their roots).

Feed your Peperomia Peppermill once a month with a complete balanced fertilizer. I like to use a liquid formulation but you go with other types as well. Don’t forget to dilute the dose by 50% to reduce the salt concentration.

Also, never apply fertilizer when the soil is dry. Water it first if this is the case.

The plant only needs feeding during spring and summer. Don’t feed it during winter.

 

Pruning

The Peperomia Peppermill is a small plant that also grows slowly. In all likelihood, the pot you’ll get from the store will be 2 inches or at most 4 inches. But often, it will be the former than the latter.

The other thing about the plant is it looks its best when you let it get full or bushy.

It generally retains a compact form although when more sparse, the stems will look longer and more spread out.

That said, you can prune the plant depending on the look you’re going for. In most cases, this will be removing the excess or longer stems that look like outliers.

You can also pinch it back to encourage more growth.

 

How to Propagate Peperomia Peppermill

The most popular ways to propagate your Peperomia Peppermill is through stem or leaf cutting.

Both methods yield very high success rates and are the fastest ways to grow a new plant. Of course, there are other methods as well. But these are the most efficient based on my experiments.

Here’s how to do each of them.

Peperomia Peppermill Stem Propagation

Although leaf propagation is generally the more popular method growing new peperomia, I tend to be more biased towards stem propagation.

That’s because starting new plants from stem cuttings allows them to root faster and produce shoots and leaves sooner as well.

I guess it just comes down to my lack of patience.

In any case, here’s how to do it.

  • Take a stem cutting. The Peppermill Peperomia does not have a wide or extensive stem structure. So, it usually is one stem to one leaf. And you do want to be gentle with it because the stems are small and thin.
  • Once you get a healthy stem cutting with at least one leaf, it is now time to propagate.
  • You can propagate the stem cutting in water or in soil. There isn’t a big difference when it comes to results here. But, most home growers prefer water propagation since you can monitor the roots as they grow.
  • With water propagation, place the cutting in a glass container with water. I’ve found you want to place the cutting soon after you cut it for higher success rates. Remove any leaf that ends up submerged in water. Replace the water once a week so it stays clear.
  • With soil propagation, allow the cutting to dry for a few hours. While it is drying prepare a pot with well-draining soil. Then, dip the cut end into rooting hormone and place the stem into the soil.
  • Place the cutting in a bright spot with no direct sun.
  • It will take about 4 weeks before the cuttings will root.
  • If you propagated the cutting in water, you can pot it up once the roots get longer than 2 inches.

Peperomia Peppermill Leaf Propagation

Leaf cuttings are similar to stem cuttings except that you’ll be using leaves instead of taking the entire stem.

Start by taking one or more leaves. You want to take a bit of the stalk with it and not just the leaves since the plant’s foliage are small. This will let you bury the stalk into the soil.

Dip the leaf cutting in rooting hormone.

Place the leaf cutting int well-draining potting mix. Make sure the stalk is buried in the soil and lay the leaf on the soil.

Keep the soil moist but not wet or soggy.

You can cover the pot with a plastic bag with small holes to increase humidity. But make sure to remove the bag every so often to let fresh air in.

Leaf cuttings will take longer to root. But in about 4 to 8 weeks they eventually will grow roots that grab hold of the soil.

 

How to Repot or Transplant Peperomia Peppermill

As mentioned, the Peperomia Peppermill is a small plant. It also has a small root system that won’t go too deep or spread out too wide.

Therefore, you’ll often see it in small containers.

If you let it grow out, it will usually end up happy in a 5 inch pot eventually.

That said, don’t jump sized or move it to a larger container unless it needs repotting. This puts it at risk of root rot.

Instead, allow it to happily live in its small pot until roots start peeking out from under the holes. When this happens, you don’t have to hurry either.

That’s because it the plant likes being slightly root bound.

The best time to repot is during spring. Although you can do it early summer as well.

When moving go up only one pot size and make sure to replace the potting mix.

 

Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs

The Peperomia Peppermill is non-toxic to cats, dogs or humans. This makes it safe to keep anywhere in the home without risk of toxic side effects of accident ingestion.

 

Problems & Troubleshooting

Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves are usually a bad sign. The most common of which means the plant is getting too much water.

Therefore, try to wait until the soil is 50% dry before adding more water.

Also make sure to use well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes at the bottom.

 

Drooping & Wilting

Wilting is caused by too much or too little water.

But the two causes will produce very different results.

Lack of water is usually what causes wilting because plants mostly consist of water (up to 95% for some). So, when they lack water, there’s less volume to fill up their stems. As a result, they wilt.

With the Peperomia Peppermill this is an easy fix. Water the plant and it will quickly recover.

However, with too much water, things are more serious.

Usually a wilted plant caused by overwatering is a sick, unhealthy plant. So, you’ll see discolored leaves and in some cases dropping leaves as well.

Check the soil to make sure the cause is overwatering. If the soil is wet or soggy, then reduce your watering frequency. You can also repot to fresh dry soil to help the plant start recovery.

 

Pests and Diseases

The Peperomia Peppermill is not prone to pests or diseases. However, you still need to watch out for these because they can happen at any time.

Mealybugs, whiteflies, mites and fungus gnats can happen. When they do, you want to treat them immediately because they quickly grow in population.

Diseases are more preventable because they are often caused by excess moisture.

But they can affect both soil and foliage. Therefore, you want to be wary to wetting the leaves too much or overwatering the soil.

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