Peperomia: Small and Versatile


Houseplant for the month of April 2016: The eye-catching leaves mean that Peperomias are not just interesting as a solo plant, but also look great as a group of different varieties.

Peperomia is a genus which is a member of the Piperaceae family and is related to pepper. Hence the name: Peperomia means 'resembles peppers’. It’s a large group of plants comprising more than 1500 species, which mainly come from the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. They are often herbaceous plants, shrubs or climbers with fairly unspectacular flowers, which are usually spikes which resemble a tail. Peperomia is particularly about the decorative leaf shapes, colours and markings. The plants have semi-succulent properties, which means that they are able to store moisture in their fleshy stems or leaves to fall back on in times of need. However, they are significantly less good at storing moisture than true succulents and cactuses.

As a houseplant you need to do virtually nothing for it; ‘loving neglect’ is the best policy. That makes Perpermia very suitable as an entry level plant for people whose fingers are not particularly green. It has a range of illustrious nicknames: you can find it described as creeping buttons, dwarf pepper, crocodile tears, watermelon plant or rat’s ear.

Care tips

Peperomias are 'easy care' and require little looking after.

  • Choose a spot which is preferably light but not in full sun. Here too the rule is: “The more variegated the leaf, the lighter the plant’s position must be'. 
  • In spring and summer Peperomia can be placed both indoors and outdoors, provided that the temperature remains above 12-15°C. 
  • Avoid big fluctuations in temperature and draughts. 
  • The fleshy leaf means that the plant does not need a lot of water - once a week is sufficient. Avoid standing water. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely, and do not water on the leaves, but onto the soil. 
  • Plant food once every 4 weeks is recommended to keep the plants looking good for a long time. 
  • Peperomia can be pruned in early spring. Remove the ends of shoots so that new shoots form and the plant looks fuller.


Peperomia is viewed as an agent of luck in Brazil. It is given there as a reassuring gift that says: “Everything will be all right.” The name is derived from the Greek ‘peperi’ meaning 'pepper' and ‘homoios’, which means 'resembling’. Source: FCH

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