Peperomia Clusiifolia Care: How to Grow & Care for Tricolor Peperomia

Peperomia Clusiifolia

Peperomia clusiifolia goes by a few names. These include Tricolor Peperomia and Jellie Plant.

The former is because of the three distinctively beautiful colors its leaves have. Combined, they make the plant look stunning.

Jellie plant refers to the jelly-like appearance of its foliage. The pink color makes is one of the reasons for this.

In any case, its lovely appearance and compact size is what makes it a great houseplant. Of course, it is also very easy to care for as long as you don’t overwater it.

The plant traces its origins from Central and South America. It is an epiphyte and many people consider it a succulent as well. Although the latter needs a bit of qualification as its leaves are succulent-like.

These features make more prone to overwatering which is why the most important thing to be careful with is watering.

 

Peperomia Clusiifolia Plant Care

Light Requirements

Peperomia clusiifolia can grow between bright and medium light. This gives you a few options on where you can plant it in your garden. But, be aware that too much direct sun exposure will burn its leaves.

As such, when grown indoors, it is best to keep them in bright indirect light. They also do well in medium light so you can distance them from the window if you’re not sure.

If possible, allow them to soak in the morning sun from an east facing window. This will allow them to produce vibrant colored leaves.

Similarly, they can also tolerate low light. However, you may notice that its leaves won’t have as bright colors.

Because it is a variegated plant, the non-green sections don’t absorb or process sunlight for photosynthesis. Thus, they thrive on bright conditions to allow the green sections to get ample exposure.

Avoid dark or very dim locations. Basically, if you can’t read the text of a newspaper easily in that area, then it is too dark.

Dark areas will slow down the plant’s growth and cause it to produce smaller and fewer leaves. Plus, the plant will become leggy as it stretches out towards the light source.

A better option to dark areas would be to use grow lights. These need to run longer though. Often between 12 to 15 hours a day to produce the same effects the sun gives.

 

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Temperature

Since the Peperomia clusiifolia is a tropical plant hailing from Central and South America, it is used to moderate to warm weather.

Thus, it is a good idea to mimic these conditions in your garden or home.

The good news is, most homes have the prefect conditions. This is why majority of houseplants are tropical in nature. It allows them to easily adapt to the environment.

Ideal temperature for your Peperomia clusiifolia is between 65 and 80 degrees. It will likewise tolerate levels up to around 95 degrees and as low as 50 degrees.

However, be very wary about going under 50 degrees as the plant is not frost hardy. Nor can it live through freezing temperatures.

Even cold drafts from air conditioners and open doors or windows is enough to cause the plant to droop.

On the other hand, it is better able to tolerate very hot conditions although avoid this if you can too for optimum growth.

This means that it is only well-suited for the garden or kept outdoors all year long in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 12.

 

Humidity

Peperomia clusiifolia enjoy high humidity. This is borne from the fact that they are native to tropical forests where the humidity runs from 60% all the way to over 90%.

That said, they do quite well in average room humidity. So, as long as you keep things between 40% and 50%, it will be happy.

You do want to avoid keeping in in dry places or areas where hot air is being blown. This includes heaters and radiators.

Similarly, air conditioners are bad spots for it. For one, the fluctuation from moderate room temperature to cold bothers the plant. Plus, air conditioning also dries the air.

If you’re not sure what the humidity in your area is or a particular room in your home, I highly recommend getting a digital hygrometer. It basically looks like a digital alarm clock but tells you the humidity.

This lets you know what the moisture in the air is in any room of your home. And, if you’re doing enough to increase it as needed.

Here are a few options you can go with. I’ll begin with the ones I prefer first.

  • Use a water tray. Set the plant on top of stones or pebbles in a water tray. Make sure the pebbles clear the water so the pot does not get wet. As the water evaporates it increases humidity around the plant.
  • Group plants together. If you have many plants you can grow the pots side by side. As they transpire, moisture in the air increases.
  • Use a humidifier. If you want better control or need to push humidity by quite a bit, the natural means above may not be able to do that. Thus, a humidifier is your best bet.
  • Move it to a more humid room. Bathrooms and kitchens tend to be the most humid places in the home.
  • Mist the plant. This is the simplest. But also the most time consuming since you need to do this at least 2 or 3 times a week. And, if you do it to one plant, the other tropical plants will likely need misting as well.

peperomia clusiifolia

source: wikimedia commons

 

How Often to Water Peperomia Clusiifolia

 

Your Peperomia clusiifolia does not need or likes lots of water. Instead, just water it enough to keep it happy.

Overwatering is something is it very susceptible to. And, if you see soil get soggy or muddy, it is a sign that you’re watering too much or too often.

In this case, allow the liquid to drain and adjust your watering schedule.

Ideally, you want at least the top 2 inches of soil to be dry before watering again. The goal is to keep the soil slightly moist during its growing season (spring and summer). And, a bit dry during winter.

Also, avoid watering over the plant. Instead, pour directly onto the soil or point the hose to the soil. This prevents the leaves from getting wet which increases the risk of leaf infections and disease.

Alternatively, you can also water from below. This reduces the possibility of overwatering as soil stops absorbing water once it is saturated.

To do this, place a saucer with water under the pot. The soil will then start absorbing water through the drainage holes. After a while, the soil will stop absorbing any more liquid.

This is a sign that it has gotten enough water.

The process takes a lot longer than using a hose or watering from above. But, it keeps your plant safe from overwatering.

 

Soil for Peperomia Clusiifolia

Peperomia clusiifolia enjoys rich, well-draining soil. You can achieve this in many different ways. The key is to have light, airy soil that’s rich in organic matter and able to drain excess moisture well.

One easy way is to use:

  • 2 parts peat
  • 1 part perlite or sand

You can also use regular potting soil with perlite or pumice. Or, combing houseplant potting soil with a cactus mix and perlite.

You want to avoid heavy soil by all means as it retains too much water. This puts the roots in water for long periods of time, which can lead to root rot.

Similarly, it is essential to use pots with drainage holes so the excess moisture have a way to exit the container.

Finally, avoid pots that are to big for the plant. The more soil there is relative to the roots, the more water it will hold. Thus, increasing the risk of overwatering as well.

 

Fertilizer

Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer. Make sure to dilute to half strength. Doing so will avoid overfertilizing which is harmful to the plant.

You don’t need to feed the plant during the colder months.

Do note that you don’t need to use fertilizer. the Peperomia clusiifolia will grow naturally even without it. However, it won’t grow as quickly nor will it be able to produce as lovely foliage.

Another option is to use compost instead. This is an all-natural way to go. You can apply a fresh layer of compost every summer to help the plant get enough sustenance.

Doing so eliminates the risk of fertilizer salts that can accumulate in the soil over time.

 

Pruning

In addition to being an epiphyte, the Peperomia clusiifolia also has succulent-like leaves. These allow it to hold water. Both these features are make the plant more prone to overwatering.

As such, you want to avoid that.

In any case, these oval-shaped leaves will grow to about 6 or 7 inches. And, over time, as more grow, the plant becomes bushier.

This makes it look beautiful.

Because it is a fairly small plant it does not need regular pruning. In fact, you likely won’t need to trim it for long periods of time.

But, as some point, it may get to dense or grow out of shape. That’s where pruning comes it.

The plant is very amenable to pruning. As such, you can trim it aggressively. Although, I prefer to do it slowly so you have better control over its aesthetics.

In addition to cosmetics, pruning also lets you remove damaged, diseases or discolored leaves. in part, this makes the plant look prettier. But, doing so also helps keep it healthy and reduces the risk of disease.

Since the plant does not grow past 12 inches tall, you don’t have to worry about its size. As such, pruning really comes in for limiting is width, looks and fluffiness.

Finally, besides looks and health, there’s one other reason why growers prune this plant. It is to encourage it to grow.

As mentioned, it looks best when bushy. But, the plant may not always look like that. In other cases, it can get leggy or spindly depending on its living conditions.

Pruning is a great way to fix this as it allows the plant to “refresh” these stems and grow them all over again.

Also, when you pinch the top stems, it produces a more dense growth.

 

Peperomia Clusiifolia Propagation

Stem cutting is the best (and easiest) way to propagate your Peperomia clusiifolia at home. It is simple and doesn’t require a lot of time before it starts to bear dividends.

Plus, by propagating though stem cutting, you’re able to produce exact clones of your current plant. This way you know how it will look unlike new seedlings.

That said, other effective ways I’ve been able to propagate Peperomia clusiifolia include division and leaf cutting.

I’ll explain each below.

 

Propagating Peperomia Clusiifolia Through Stem Cuttings

This makes use a stems to start new plants.

Here’s how to do it.

  • Take a stem cutting. You want a healthy stem with at least 2 or 3 leaves.
  • Remove the lower leaves that will go under the soil.
  • Allow the stem cutting to dry. Then, dip in rooting hormone powder.
  • As the stem cutting dries, prepare a small pot and fill partially with fresh potting mix.
  • Then place the stem cutting into the soil and pack the soil in.
  • Water the soil to keep it moist.

In about 3 to 4 weeks, it should begin to root. From there, you’ll start seeing it start growing.

 

Propagating Peperomia Clusiifolia Through Leaf Cuttings

This makes use of leaves instead of stems. It is a good option if your plant does not have a lot of stems.

Here’s how to do it.

  • Take a leaf or a few leaves depending on how many you want to grow. Make sure to get a bit of stem along with each leaf, about 1-2 inches of stem is enough.
  • Allow the leaves to dry. This can take between a few hours to overnight.
  • Dip the leaves in rooting hormone to help speed up the process of rooting.
  • Place the leaf cuttings in a container with soil. You can place one leaf per small plastic container or use a bigger container and space the leaves apart. Either way works.
  • Water the soil until moist. Avoid too much water.
  • Cover the leaves and soil with plastic bag/s. This will increase humidity to encourage the initial growth process.
  • Leave it in a warm spot with bright, indirect light.
  • Remove the bag every few days to allow some frsh air to get in. This prevents rotting.

Because the leaves take longer to root it will take about 1 to 2 months before you see the plants grow.

As they get bigger, you can transfer each of them to their individual containers.

 

Propagating Peperomia Clusiifolia Through Division

Division is the fastest way to propagate your Peperomia clusiifolia. But, it also requires more care and takes more work, at least initially.

Here’s how to do it.

  • Prepare a space, preferably right outside your house. You can also do it inside but place newspaper on the floor since the soil will get all over the place.
  • Have a new pot ready and fresh potting mix for both plants.
  • Since you’ll be essentially repotting the mother plant, the best time to do this is during spring or early summer.
  • Once ready, carefully take the plant out of its container.
  • Pick a healthy looking stem and trace it down to the root ball. Then find where the roots extend underneath.
  • You can pick one or more sections depending on how big your plant is. Don’t over divide leaving a teeny-weeny mother plant which will negatively affect it.
  • When you’ve chosen the section/s, use a sterile knife to cut through the soil to separate each section from the parent plant.
  • Ready each of the pots by filling them near halfway with potting mix.
  • Then place each plant (the mother plant and each section) into their own containers.
  • Backfill each with soil.
  • Water the soil to keep it moist.

Now you have 2 or more “already grown” plants. Thus, you don’t need to wait for it to grow roots or shoots.

 

How to Repot Peperomia Clusiifolia

Be ready to repot your Peperomia clusiifolia every 2 or 3 years. The exact time will depend on how fast the plant grows. This in turn, depends on how much sunlight, fertilizer, water it gets along with the right growing conditions (temperature, humidity, soil, etc.)

As such, it can take years before you need to repot if that’s the case.

Additionally, it does not mind being root bound.

But, once you see it outgrowing its container, it is a sign that it is time to repot. Leaving it in an overly tight pot will result in stress. Which in turn makes it prone to pests and diseases.

To repot your Peperomia clusiifolia,

  • The best time to repot is during the spring or early summer.
  • Start by preparing a pot that’s slightly bigger than the current one. Go up at most 2 inches in diameter, nothing more. This prevents the risk of overwatering later on.
  • Also have some potting soil on hand. You can use the recipes above in the Soil Section.
  • Carefully take the root ball out of the current pot.
  • Remove any excess dirt and soil. Also, check the roots while separating them if they’re tangled together.
  • Fill the new pot about 40% of the way with potting mix.
  • Place the root ball in the new container and fill the extra spaces with potting soil.
  • Pat down the soil but be careful not to make it too compact. You want small air pockets to allow air and water to easily penetrate the soil to the roots.

 

Toxicity

Peperomia plants are not toxic. As such, they are safe around young kids and pets.

However, you still want to watch them so they don’t eat any parts of the plant. One of my dogs is notorious for doing this.

And, she ends up vomiting a few hours later.

Thus, while not poisonous, the leaves and stems are not made for consumption. They can be choking hazards and will make pets and young kids throw up later.

 

Pests

Peperomia clusiifolia don’t experience a lot of pests or diseases. They are fairly resilient to them.

However you may still find yourself dealing with fungus gnats, mealybugs or mites. These can com from other plants or just attack the plant for one reason or another.

So, it is a good idea to regular inspect the plant to be able to quickly treat it.

With diseases, root rot is your biggest enemy.

Unfortunately, this is primarily man-made as a result of overwatering. Wetting the leaves can also lead to lead disease. Again, another man-made problem.

This can be confounded because the plant enjoys high humidity.

So, it is a good idea to be wary of when you water as well as how you water the plant.

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