The Peperomia incana is a member of the Piperaceae family. And, it goes by many names including Felted Peperomia and Felted Pepperface to name a few.
The names from its fuzzy outer appearance that features small white hairs on its leaves. This makes it unique but also serves a purpose, which is to protect it from the sun.
As such, it thrives under direct sunlight which is something that most peperomia plants are not able to do. And, if left in this condition it foliage won’t get scorched.
Of course, its crowing glory are its lovely heart shaped leaves.
It is often grown as a houseplant on tabletops, shelves and counters because of its fairly compact size (6 to 12 inches tall).
Outdoors, many growers plant it as ground cover. Although, you do need to be aware that it is a slow grower.
Peperomia Incana Plant Care
The Peperomia incana is very versatile when it comes to light as it grows well in both direct sunlight and shade. Thus, unlike many other peperomia plants that you have to keep away from the sun’s rays, this one has no problem.
Similarly, it will grow in low light conditions making it easy to care for indoors.
However, you do need to be careful not to keep it somewhere too dim or dark. That’s because like other plants, it relies on photosynthesis, which in turn requires sunlight.
So, lack of light will affect its growth as well as ability to produce beautiful foliage.
As such, between the two, bright, direct sunlight allows it to grow optimally. This will allow it to produce its best color and vibrancy without the risk of sunburn or scorching its leaves.
What allows it to be able to tolerate this kind of sun exposure is its hairy exterior, which protects from it damage even under direct sun for long hours.
This makes the best spots to keep the plant indoors a south, west or east facing window. These offer different amount of sunlight at varying intensities. But, they all give it long hours of exposure that’s perfect for this sun-loving plant.
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Similarly, your Peperomia incana can tolerate a wide range of climate conditions.
Indoors, it will be happy as long as the temperature is kept between 45 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Although, it does favor the higher end of the range because of its tropical nature.
This characteristic also prevents it from being able to withstand conditions under 45 degrees.
The plant is not cold hardy. And, it cannot survives frost or freezing environments. Thus, you can only keep it outdoors all year long in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11.
Below that, it does best as a houseplant. And, if you do bring it outdoors during the colder months, you’ll need to take it back inside around fall before temperature drops under 45 degrees.
In addition to its wide tolerance for light and temperature, your Peperomia incana is happy with average household humidity. Thus, as long as you humidity stays between 40% and 50%, it will do well.
The only issue it may have is if you live somewhere dry. In this case humidity may drop to the 30s which may or may not slow down or affect its growth depending on how much sun it receives.
With bright, direct sunlight, low humidity is not going to be a big problem. But, in lower light conditions, it will need more humidity.
How Often to Water Peperomia Incana
Your Peperomia incana grows best in moist soil. But, avoid too much water that causes the soil to become muddy or soggy.
The plant is very susceptible to overwatering. Thus, it is important to wait for the soil to dry out at least the top 2 inches or more before watering again.
This prevents saturating the soil. It also keeps you from watering your plant too often.
It is also important to note that more sunlight means moisture will evaporate faster. On the other hand, less light means less frequent watering as well.
The same concept applies when during summer and winters. In summer the hot weather will mean shorter intervals between watering. However, moisture takes much longer to dry during the colder months.
Also, how you water is just as important as when you water.
And, the best way to do this is to water thoroughly then allow any excess moisture to drain completely. The former allows the entire root ball to get soaked so the moisture reaches the roots.
The latter ensures that no excess liquid pools or sits in the container which over time can damage the roots.
Too much water also prevents oxygen from reaching the roots, depriving them of this essential requirement.
Soil for Peperomia Incana
Ideal soil for your Peperomia incana is one that is well-draining. This allows excess moisture to drain so the plant’s roots don’t sit in water for long periods of time.
An easy way to achieve this is to use 2 parts peat combined with 1 part perlite or sand. You can likewise use regular potting mix combined with perlite or sand.
Your Peperomia incana also prefers soil with pH between 5.0 to 7.5. This will allow it to grow at its best.
Your Peperomia incana is not a heavy feeder. As such, you don’t need to feed it as often as other plants.
Use a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer once every 2 months diluted to half strength during the spring and summer. During this time, the plant is actively growing and will need enough sunlight, water and fertilizer to sustain its growth.
Thus, it is important to give it the proper nutrients to do so.
Come fall and winter, you don’t have to feed the plant. During the colder months, the plant takes a breather from growing.
Alternatively, you can use a slow release fertilizer. This is different from the liquid fertilizers which are fast acting. Also, their liquid form makes it easy for you to distribute it evenly.
In contrast, slow release fertilizer come in pellets so you do need to manually disperse them to make sure you they evenly cover the soil.
The advantage of slow release formulation is they release the fertilizer over a span of months. Thus, you only need to feed the plant 3 times a year. And, because the fertilizer is released in intervals, it reduces the risk of overfertilizing.
The Peperomia incana is a fairly small plant. It can grow as tall as 6 to 12 inches high. Although, it tends to expand as it gets denser. This allows it to reach between 12 and 15 inches in breadth.
Due to its compact nature, it does not require a lot of pruning.
But, you can do so to shape it and limit its size depending on where in your home it is displayed.
If you find that the plant is not as bushy as you want it to be, you can pinch the tips to encourage new growth.
On the other hand, do trim off any discolorations, damaged leaves and dead foliage. This don’t look good and leaving them there can cause problems later on as well.
Peperomia Incana Propagation
Peperomia incana can be propagated from stem or leaf cutting. Both methods are straightforward and not difficult to do. This makes them perfect for home growers who want to grow more plants without having t spend money and buy them from the nursery.
The difference between the two methods is the part of the plant you’ll be using the replant and grow. In the case of stem cuttings it is the stem, and leaf cuttings use foliage.
Here’s how to do each.
For Stem Cuttings:
- Begin by taking a healthy stem that’s between 2 to 4 inches long. You want one with at least 2 or 3 leaves on it.
- Cut the stem or stems (depending on how many you want to plant). Use a sterile pair or cutting tools like pruning shears. You can use rubbing alcohol to sterilize it.
- Leave the cuttings to dry and callous.
- Once they’ve dried, dip the cut end into rooting hormone. This step is optional. But I’ve found it improves success rates and speeds up the length of time it takes for roots to grow.
- Next, fill a small pot with fresh potting mix.
- Plant the stem cutting into the soil.
- Water the soil to get it moist but not soggy.
- Place the pot in a bright location that’s warm, ideally between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The cutting will take about 3 to 4 weeks to root. Thus, you do need some patience.
For Leaf Cuttings:
- Take a few leaves from the plant. How many will depend on how many new plants you want to grow. Also, make sure to have some allowance since not all cuttings successfully grow into plants.
- Cut the leaves at the point where their petioles connect with the stem. Again, use a sterile cutting tool or just gently pluck them off.
- Dip the leaves to rooting hormone.
- Prepare a container with fresh potting soil. Then plant the leaves in the soil so they stand upright. You can use a small stick or skewer to support it if it won’t stand.
- Water the soil and keep the pot under bright indirect light.
How to Repot Peperomia Incana
You only need to repot your Peperomia incana when it gets root bound. It does not take well to living in tight quarters. Thus, allowing it to stay in this condition causes it stress.
Unfortunately, stress is something you don’t want your plants to experience as it affects growth negatively, produces less than optimal foliage and flower and makes them more prone to pests and diseases.
So, once you see its roots start growing out of drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, it is a sign that it is time to move it to a bigger home.
To repot your Peperomia incana :
- Prepare a container that is 1 to 2 inches wider in diameter. Avoid going bigger than this as it increases the soil volume. And when the soil is watered, the plant ends up sitting in lots of moisture.
- Also have some fresh potting soil on hand. You can use the recipe above in the Soil Section.
- Once you have both ready, the next step is to find a space where you can repot. If you’re doing it indoors, I suggest covering the floor with newspaper since the dirt and soil can get messy.
- Carefully take the plant out of the container by sliding it out.
- Once you have the root ball out, remove excess dirt and soil. Also check the roots for any damage.
- Fill the new container about 40% of the way with fresh potting soil.
- Then insert the root ball into the new container.
- Fill the remaining space with potting mix to allow the plant to stand upright.
- Water the soil until moist but not soggy.
Don’t fertilizer the plant for the next 14 days as it will likely need this time to recover from the shock of being transplanted.
Peperomia incana are not toxic, but they are not meant to be ingested either. Thus, if your kids or pets accidently chew on them, you don’t have to worry about poisoning. But, do watch out for choking or throwing up since their stomachs may not take a liking for the leaves or stems.
Pests and Diseases
Peperomia incana are not pest magnets. But, they’re not overly resistant to them either. Thus, you do need to watch out for pests and take care of them before they spread and or become infestations.
The most common pest problem experienced by this plant are mealybugs, which look like very tiny, fluffy cotton creatures.
The problem is, they like to suck on the sap of plants. So, as they grow in number will greatly rob your plant of its nutrients since sap transports these nutrients through different parts of the plant.
The easiest way to get rid of them is to use insecticidal soap or neem oil. You can likewise wipe them away but I find it tedious if there are more than 2 or 3 of them.
In addition to mealybugs, aphids are another problem.
Because pests and diseases can happen, the best way to deal with this is prevention. Keeping the plant healthy by giving it the proper requirements it needs is the best way to do this.
Also, keeping it clean and avoiding too much water are likewise important.
From there, it is all about regular inspection to spot any problems early. It is so much easier to fix the issues when they’re just starting out.