Peperomia Brown Spots (Causes and How to Fix It)

Peperomia brown spots are never a welcome sight for any houseplant owner. It means that something is not going right. And that your beloved plant is asking for help.

Luckily, whatever the cause is t is very fixable.

The key is to identify what the problem is so you can fix it and let your peperomia get healthy again.

Why does my peperomia have brown spots? Brown spots on peperomia leaves are usually caused by pests, diseases or stress.

There are other reason for this as well including excess light, overwatering and underwatering. This is why it is important to diagnose the cause, so you can apply the right solution.

What Causes Brown Spots on Peperomia Leaves?

There are a number of different causes to brown spots on peperomia leaves. This means that different things can result in this situation.

And for each, you’ll see a different kind of browning or pattern of brown spots.

Sometimes, the size of the patches is different. Other times, where the brown spots or browning occurs will vary as well.

This will give you some kind of hint of what’s happening.

However, it is still very important to narrow down the actual cause to make sure that you get the right culprit. Otherwise, you end up treating the plant with a different solution which won’t help fix it.

 

Overwatering

Peperomia brown spots is commonly caused by overwatering. And in addition to the brown spots, excess water can also cause whole leaves to turn brown as well.

Peperomia leaves turn brown because the plant is not able to absorb enough water.

This happens after the roots have rotted due to too much water in the soil.

For this reason, overwatering is the main cause of root rot.

This is why when peperomia plants are overwatered, you’ll usually see leaves turn yellow first. But after a while, if they continue to be overwatered, you also see brown leaves.

The reason is by the time the brown leaves appear it means root rot is already happening.

Thus, there are fewer roots to absorb moisture which leaves the plant underwatered even if you add a lot of water to the soil.

Additionally, peperomia brown spots happen due to overwatering as well.

This happens because the leaves will get bloated as they store more water then they normally can. As such, you’ll notice the leaves have edema, which is when the leaves look swollen due to storing more water than they should.

The problem here is that more water means more water pressure.

Once this water pressure becomes too high for the plant, its cells will start bursting. And these are what produce the brown spots on peperomia plants.

 

Solution

The main cause of overwatering is watering the plant too often.

In general, peperomia don’t need a lot of water. In fact, you should not water them as often as your other houseplants.

That’s because of 2 things:

  1. They store moisture in their leaves
  2. These plants have small, delicate root systems

Because of these reasons, peperomia are more prone to overwatering and root rot.

Therefore, it is important to water them after their soil has dried at least partially.

Never water the plant when the surface of the soil feels moist or is still wet.

Instead, wait until the soil it at least dry halfway before you add more water.

This usually comes out to about once every 10 days.

But it will change as the weather gets hotter or colder at different times of the year.

So, it is more reliable to check the soil and wait until the top 50% is dry before watering again. This will prevent you from watering the plant too frequently.

And in doing so, you avoid overwatering and the risk of root rot.

On the other hand, if your peperomia has brown spots or its leaves are already brown due to overwatering, stop watering.

If there’s excess water in the pot, pour it out as well.

Then allow the soil to dry first before adding more water.

If you want to go with a more aggressive treatment, you can repot the peperomia with fresh, dry soil so it can immediately get out of the overwatered state.

 

Underwatering

In addition to overwatering, underwatering is another reason for peperomia brown spots.

But this time, you’ll see the browning happen in the leaf tips and edges.

An underwatered peperomia will also look sad and droopy.

If you’ve own peperomia plants for a while and the species you own have fleshy leave, you’ll also notice the that leaves will become flat instead of firm.

This is one way I’ve seen growers tell if their peperomia needs water.

That said, I’ve never been able to do this reliably. Sometimes I guess right, but often I guess wrong.

So instead, I prefer to check the soil.

An underwatered peperomia with browning will always have very dry soil. And you’ll instantly notice this when you feel the soil or insert your finger into the top few inches of the soil.

Everything will feel dry.

In contrast, an overwatered peperomia will have wet, mucky or soggy soil.

 

Solution

Of course, the simplest way to fix an underwatered peperomia is to add water.

However, you always need to confirm that this is the case before you give it more moisture. The reason is that the plant is prone to overwatering.

Therefore, if you don’t double check or make sure, and it so happens that the plant is not underwatered, you could end up causing more problems than fixing it.

To check stick your finger into the soil.

If the top 2 inches or more of soil feels completely dry, then add water.

Since peperomia are small plants, you can also use a wooden chopstick and insert it all the way down the soil until it reaches the bottom of the pot.

When you take the wooden chopstick out, you’ll see until where the soil is still moist just by looking at the water line in the wood.

I like to wait until the top half of the soil is dry. But that’s only because I’m conservative since I did lose a couple of peperomia plants to overwatering and root rot when I was starting out.

So, I want to see the soil dry halfway down the chopstick before I add water.

If you have problems with watering, you can use a self-watering pot instead.

 

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Water Quality

As I’ve mentioned above, peperomia have small, fragile root systems.

Thus, they are easily damaged or overwhelmed. This is why overwatering and underwater are both no-no’s.

But another watering issue is the quality of the water you use.

In most cases, we all use tap water or the water from the garden spout to water our plants.

However, if you happen to live in a city where the tap water is highly mineralized, then you may notice peperomia brown spots develop.

Again, this is because the plant is sensitive due to the fragility of its roots.

So, if you happen to use hard water or tap water that’s high in fluoride, chlorine and other mineral salts, you’ll see the brown spots on peperomia leaves show up.

Note that this only happens when there’s excess of these minerals added.

But some cities or municipalities happen to add more than others. So, it can happen.

 

Solution

If you’ve checked other causes of peperomia brown spots and cannot find why the plant is presenting these symptoms consider tap water quality.

This is a sneaky one since you’d thing it won’t be a problem.

After all, everyone else is using their tap water or garden hose to water the plants, right?

But a lot depends on how sensitive a specific plant is and how high the minerals are in your city’s tap.

To fix this, you can use distilled water instead. Although, I don’t recommend this since it will become expensive after a while.

Instead, you can filter the tap water to remove the minerals. Another option is to collect rainwater if there is regular rain where you live.

The simplest solution is to collect tap water in a container and let it sit for at least overnight. This lets the excess minerals and salts evaporate before you water the plant.

 

Excess Light

Peperomia enjoys plenty of light. However, they cannot withstand too much light.

So, the question is, how much is too much for this plant?

Peperomias are native to tropical and subtropical forests. But because of their small stature, they live under the shade provided by the forest canopy due the very large trees.

This is why the plant is not used to lots of direct sunlight.

Instead, it does best in bright indirect or filtered light indoors and partial shade outdoors.

Thus, excess light can damage its leaves.

And when it is exposed to this, you’ll see peperomia brown spots appear. This is a result of scorching due to the excess light intensity.

When this happens, its leaves will turn brown.

And in more serious cases, you’ll see burn marks as well develop.

These are basically sunburn marks due to too much direct sunlight especially during the hottest times of the day and summertime.

Note that it isn’t only the sun that can cause this.

In addition to too much exposure to direct sunlight, brown spots on peperomia can also happen from artificial lights.

So, never keep the plant too close toe the bulbs since they do emit some heat.

 

Solution

If you notice peperomia leaves turn brown or brown spots developing, move the plant to somewhere with less intense light.

The simplest way to check is to see if the plant gets hit by the sun’s rays.

If it does between 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., move it a few inches or feet away to avoid the sun’s rays.

If you want to keep the plant near a window, place it near an east facing window.

Avoid positioning it very near the south facing window. Instead, keep it at least 3 feet so the sun’s rays don’t hit the plant.

If you want to leave the plant beside the south facing window, you can use sheer blinds or curtains to filter some of the light.

 

Pests

Peperomia brown spots can also be a sign of pest problems. This actually a common occurrence because the houseplant pests that like to attack this plant are sap sucking insects.

As such, they will bite into the leaves and cause brown spots on foliage.

What’s worse is that as the pests grow in number you’ll see these brown spots increase. And they will get bigger over time until you treat them.

One of the common pests that will cause brown spots on peperomia leaves is red spider mites. These look like tiny red dots with small legs.

They look like spiders in terms of shape. And they will weave small webs on the plant. This is the best way to identify them.

And when they chew on the leaves to suck the plant’s sap, you’ll see the damage in the form of brown spots on foliage.

 

Solution

The most important thing when it comes to pests is regular inspection.

That’s because they can happen anytime. And once they do, they will grow in number fairly quickly.

So, regular check ups will let you spot them early.

Once you do, it is important to isolate the infected plant and then begin treatment.

Pests easily travel or jump from one plant to another. So, they can get to your other nearby houseplants if you keep your indoor plants close to one another.

Early treatment also prevents them from developing into infestations where they can cause more damage and take much longer to eradicate.

To treat these bugs, I like to just spray them off with water.

This will dislodge them from the plant. But it is important to be very thorough because you need to get them all.

If you leave eggs, larvae or adults, they will grow and continue the cycle in just a few days.

Thus, it may need several sprayings with wither a garden hose, the sink faucet or a showerhead.

Make sure to let the plant drain and dry after you spray it.

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