The Peperomia graveolens is also known as the Ruby Glow Peperomia or Ruby Peperomia. If at first impression you thought is was a succulent, you’re not a alone because I was completely fooled the first time I saw it.
In fact I had to double check the label in the store to make sure they didn’t mislabel it.
That said, the plant is a peperomia. Although many will classify it as a succulent because of its thick, fleshy leaves which store water.
The Peperomia graveolens is a beautiful plant that comes from the tropical forests of Ecuador. It features amazing succulent-like foliage that are colored green on the top surface and burgundy at the bottom.
The leaves also open outwards to make it look like a an opened flower.
The plant itself is fairly small reaching only about 10 or so inches tall. But, it will open up and spread out to between 1 to 2 feet wide.
Peperomia Graveolens Plant Care
Peperomia graveolens need bright light to grow at its best. But, you need to keep it away from direct sunlight which will scorch is gorgeous leaves.
Thus, it is best to place it somewhere it receives bright, indirect, filtered or dappled light. The important thing is that there’s something that’s partially blocking out the sun so the plant does not take the full brunt of its rays for long hours at a time.
it can likewise do well somewhere in a spot with a little less light.
Indoors, this makes an east and north facing window the best options.
Outdoors, because there are no walls or ceilings to block the light, you’ll need to be more conservative. Keeping it in a bright, filtered spot works just as well. And, it will likewise have no problems with partial sun or partial shade.
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When it comes to temperature, your Peperomia graveolens thrives in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is a tropical plant and enjoys moderate to warm weather.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the cold. It can only tolerate conditions up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus, you want to avoid leaving it anywhere colder than that.
The plant is not cold hardy. And, it won’t survive frost or freezing winters.
This makes it only good for growing outdoors if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 and above. Below that, it is better off as a houseplant. Or, if you keep it in a container, you’ll be able to take it outdoors during the summer and bring it back inside before the temperature drops to 60 degrees in the fall.
Because has evolved to thrive in the tropical forest environment, your Peperomia graveolens enjoys humid conditions. Its ideal levels range from 50% to 75%.
Unfortunately, there are not what you often see in most homes, although some homes will get to the 50s.
While they are not high maintenance plants nor are they too difficult to grow, Peperomia graveolens are particularly picky about humidity.
The good this is they won’t fuss too much as long as you stay in the mid to high 40s, which some homes have.
However, if you live in a dry climate, this can be a problem. Similarly, very hot summers and cold winders tend to dry out the air as well.
Because seasons affect humidity significantly, I highly recommend getting a digital hygrometer if you have a few houseplants that are particular about humidity.
This will let you instantly know what the humidity is in any room of your home. And, it will show you how much humidity fluctuates throughout the year, especially if you live somewhere with four seasons.
This will allow you to make any adjustments quickly.
How Often to Water Peperomia Graveolens
If you look at a Peperomia graveolens, the one thing you’ll instantly notice is that it looks more like a succulent than it does a peperomia.
That’s because it has succulent-like leaves that store water. This is also what allows it to tolerate average to slightly lower humidity despite being accustomed to very humid conditions.
The same is true with water.
Its ability to store water makes it able to withstand dry periods.
However, this characteristic also makes it more susceptible to overwatering.
As such, you want to treat watering with a bit more caution, leaning towards the drier side of things rather than the wet.
During its growing period (spring and summer) the plant needs moist (not soggy) soil. Sunlight, water and fertilizer will help it grow optimally during this time. As such, you shouldn’t skimp on them.
But, be careful with all 3 as too much of any is harmful.
Too much sun, burns its leaves. Too much water promotes disease and infection. Too much fertilizer will damage the roots because of the salt residue.
To avoid overwatering, it is a good idea to let the top soil dry out a few inches before watering. This will keep the plant well-hydrated while eliminating the risk of too much water.
You can do so by sticking your finger and feeling for moisture in the soil or using a moisture meter each time before you water.
You do want to watch out for leaf discoloration and if the plant loses its leaves. This is a sign you’re giving it too much water.
On the other hand, if it dries out, starts to wilt or its fleshy leaves start flattening out, it means you’re underwatering the plant.
Water and humidity (which is also moisture related) are the trickiest parts of caring for the plant. So, it is a learning curve worth figuring out early on.
Soil for Peperomia Graveolens
Soil plays a supporting role to water. That’s because the kind of soil you plant your Peperomia graveolens in affects how much water its surrounding environment retains or drains.
Because of its susceptibility to overwatering, you want soil that is well-draining.
This will remove excess moisture and drain it out. By doing so, it makes your job with watering easier.
However, the opposite is true if you get soil that retains a lot of water. This may be good for other plants that need more moisture. But, it can put your Peperomia graveolens at risk of root rot even if you water correctly.
Thus, the right kind of soil is very important.
I like using a combination of 2 parts peat to 1 part perlite. This works really well in that it holds just enough water to hydrate the plant. But, drains the excess so the mix does not hold more moisture that it should for longer than it should.
Note that this is not the only potting mix that works. The key is it needs to be well draining.
Peperomia graveolens are light feeders. And, you actually don’t need to feed them if you don’t want to because they’ll still grow well without it.
That said, I do like feeding the plant. But, I do tend to keep it light.
Once a month feeding during its growing season (spring and summer) is all it needs. I like to use a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength.
I stop feeding it once summer ends and wait until next spring to start over.
Like feeding, your Peperomia graveolens is fairly low maintenance in this department.
It does not need frequent pruning or trimming.
For one, it does not grow overly big or broad. And, I find that it looks pretty with a bit more foliage than when it is sparse.
However, I do find that trimming it once or twice a year helps keep it neat and tidy. It also lets you shape the plant as it can sometimes expand a bit over the sides of the container.
Note that as the plant gets longer and thicker, it can become messy and unruly. This is a good opportunity to prune it back a bit.
On the other hand, if you feel it is quite sparse, pitching it will help it produce more growth. Over time, this helps it become bushy.
Peperomia Graveolens Propagation
If you own a Peperomia graveolens, I highly suggest you propagate it to grow more. This way, if something happens to the plant you have a backup. You can also give this beautiful plant as a gift.
When it comes to propagation, stem cutting is the way to go.
It is easy and it has a very good success rate. Note that not all the stems you propagate will grow into plants. So, it is a good idea to try a few if you’re just starting out.
Also, propagation via stem cutting produces clones of the parent plant. This means you get the same look and patterns. That’s not the case when you start from seed or pick another plant up from the garden center.
To propagate Peperomia graveolens through stem cutting:
- Find a stem or stems that are healthy. You’re looking for stems with at least 2 to 3 leaves on it.
- Use a sterile cutting tool to cut a 3 to 4 inch tip.
- Allow the cuttings to dry on a paper tower.
- Then, dip the cut ends into rooting hormone.
- While the stem cuttings are drying, prepare a small pot and fill it with fresh, well draining potting mix. You can use the recipe in the Soil Section above.
- Plant the stem cutting with the cut end down into the soil.
- Next, water the soil until moist.
Starting in soil takes around 3 to 4 weeks for the cuttings to root. From there, take care of it following the guide above.
In the next few months, you should start seeing shoots and leaves begin to grow. Also, repot as needed.
Young plants will need to be repotted more often than mature ones because they’re growing quite quickly.
How to Repot Peperomia Graveolens
Your Peperomia graveolens does not mind being pot bound. And, they are not fond of being moved.
Thus, it is a good idea to wait until the last possible minute to move them. This means when the roots are coming out of the holes in bottom of the container.
The best time to repot is during the spring or early summer at the latest.
So, if you notice the roots coming out somewhere in say September, you can wait until the spring before repotting.
I’ve noticed that unnecessary repotting or doing it too frequently actually upsets the plant and affects its growth.
When you do repot, only go on an inch in size (diameter). There’ not need to jump several inches up in size as this puts the plant at more risk of overwatering.
Also take this as an opportunity to change the soil. Fresh potting mix is lighter, more airy and allows for better drainage.
The plant is non-toxic. This makes is safe to keep around kids and pets who may be curious or mischievous enough to chew on or ingest parts of the plant.
If they do, there’s no risk of poison or toxins. However, you do still want to observe since stems can get stuck in their digestive tract or throat.
Peperomia graveolens are not prone to pests or diseases. And, when well taken care of, you likely won’t experience any of these problems throughout the lifespan of the plant.
That said, you always want to be on the lookout for whiteflies, mealybugs and spider mites. These are the more common critters that attack this plant.
And, in times of stress of when the climate or watering schedule suddenly changes they may take the opportunity to attack it.
I’ve found that in addition to proper care, cleaning the leaves once ever 2 weeks to a month depending on how busy you are helps a lot as well.
With disease, it is all about moisture.
Avoid too much water as it is the main culprit of root rot.
Similarly, getting the leaves wet is also a risk factor. If the plant gets enough sunlight and air circulation to quickly dry this, then it is not a problem.
But, moisture that does not dry for hours increases the risk of leaf spot and other fungal diseases.
As such, avoid watering the plant from above where the leaves get soaked. Also, be careful not to wet the leaves when misting.