Peperomia are popular houseplants because they are very easy to care for. But there might come a time when you notice your peperomia leaves curling.
When this happens, it is important not to take it for granted as the plant is trying to tell you something.
Why are your peperomia leaves curling? The most common cause of peperomia leaves curling is dehydration. As a response, peperomia leaves curl to reduce the amount of water lost through transpiration.
However, there are other reasons that either directly or indirectly cause leaf curl including overwatering, low humidity, root rot, excess heat and too much fertilizer.
Reasons for Peperomia Leaves Curling
Peperomia leaves curling is often a sign that it is not happy with something or there is something not right. Unfortunately, it will only go so far to give you some clues based on its symptoms.
The rest, it leaves to you to diagnose the problem and find a solution.
Therefore, to make thing easier, I’ve listed down all the possible causes of curling peperomia leaves, what causes them and how you can fix each one.
Underwatering is the Most Common Reason for Peperomia Leaves Curling
Most peperomia varieties have thick, succulent like leaves. This allows them to tolerate drought. And it also reduces their need for water.
In most cases, you only need to water your peperomia plant every 1 to 2 weeks. Although the schedule will change as due to the seasons.
And this is when problems can happen.
Also, if you have a very busy lifestyle due to work, family and taking care of the kids, it is easy to miss a few watering sessions.
The thing is, while peperomia can tolerate going without water for a while, there comes a point where it gets dehydrated. If this lasts too long, its leaves will begin to curl inward.
It does this as a defense mechanism.
By curling up, it reduces the surface area of its leaves. In doing so, it decreases the amount of water that escapes into the air via transpiration.
In slowing down this process, it is able to conserve a much moisture as it possibly can to try and survive.
How to Identify an Underwatered Peperomia
The easiest way to diagnose underwatering is to check the soil. The surface will be dry. And when you stick your finger into the soil, you’ll notice that it very dry.
In fact, even if you push your finger down deeper into the soil, it is likely to be bone dry.
In addition to curling leaves, your peperomia will also give you some hints. It will usually have brown, crispy leaf tips and edges. The plant will sag and wilt as well.
How to Fix an Underwatered Peperomia
Fortunately, it is fairly easy to fix an underwatered peperomia plant. Add water!
There are a few ways you can go about this.
A simple way is to add water to the soil. You can use a hose or watering can. The goal is to keep adding water until moisture starts dripping from under the drainage holes, then stop.
Make sure to let the soil drain completely right after. This will take a while, so just leave it in the sink or somewhere it can drip.
By saturating the soil, you’re able to let the plant’s roots rehydrate.
Another option is to water from below.
You can do this by filling a container that’s larger than the pot to about a quarter full. Then place the pot into the container with water. Then, leave it there for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how big the pot is.
The soil will slowly absorb the moisture from below to hydrate the roots. This process takes longer than the first. But you’re letting the plant absorb at its own pace.
After the 15 to 30 minutes are done, take the pot out of the water container and let it drain for another 15 to 30 minutes.
Lack of Humidity
Peperomia are tropical plants that are used to warm, humid conditions. Ideally, they prefer humidity of at least 40%.
Once humidity drops to the low 30s or less and stays there, the plant can being to struggle.
And to conserve as much moisture as it can, its leaves will curl.
Low humidity is actually one of the easier things to diagnose. All you need is a hygrometer. I like to keep a hygrometer near my plants to make it easy to tell what the humidity is at any given time.
As far as the plant goes, the symptoms are very similar to underwatering. They include brown, crispy leaf tips and edges as well as drooping.
This means that it is important for you to differentiate between the two. And the simplest way to do this is to check the soil.
Very dry soil means it needs watering. On the other hand, if the soil feels moist, check room humidity. If you have a hygrometer, you’ll easily be able to tell.
If low humidity is indeed the problem, you have a few options you can choose from to increase air moisture around the plant.
The simplest is to get a plant humidifier. You can likewise mist your peperomia although you do need to repeat this every few days.
A more hands-off option is to place the plant on a pebble tray. Or you can group it with other plants.
- How to Care for Peperomia Golden Gate at Home
- Owl Eye Peperomia Care Guide – Light, Watering, Soil & Propagation
- How to Propagate Peperomia
- How to Propagate Watermelon Peperomia
- Why are My Peperomia Leaves Drooping, Limp or Soft
- Peperomia Dolabriformis Care Guide – How to Grow Prayer Peperomia
Overwatering Can Also Cause Peperomia Leaves to Curl
Besides lack of water, overwatering can likewise cause leaf curling in peperomia.
Unfortunately, this is a more serious problem. And if the plant is curling its leaves due to too much water, it can be a sign of root rot.
The reason is that leaf curl due to overwatering is a later-stage symptom.
When your peperomia plant is overwatered, the roots will sit in water for long periods of time. If this keeps happening or the roots stay wet for extended periods, it can result in root rot.
Root rot is just what it sounds like, the roots begin to rot.
When this happens, the damage prevents them from absorbing water or nutrients from the soil. As a result, your peperomia becomes dehydrated and nutrient deficient.
So, while the soil is wet and soggy from too much water, none or little of the water is actually absorbed by the plant. This results in dehydration causing peperomia leaves to curl.
Sadly, over time, as this gets worse, the plant will deteriorate and die because it cannot get any sustenance.
How to identify and Fix an Overwatered Peperomia
Often, yellow leaves and wet soil are the easiest ways to diagnose overwatering. In some cases, the surface of the soil will look wet and soggy. Or if you stick your finger in to the soil, it will feel wet and mucky.
Overwatering can be caused by a few things and you should check each one to see what you need to fix.
- Watering too frequently
- Heavy soil that is retaining too much water
- The pot has no drainage
It could be one or all three causing the overwatering problem. Therefore, it is important to check each one and fix the issue if needed.
Tap water is generally okay for peperomia. And is most cases it won’t cause any issues.
However, some municipalities add more chemicals to the tap than others.
Cities add fluoride, chlorine, calcium carbonate and other salts into the water to make it safe for humans to drink. Unfortunately, some of these minerals, if larger amounts, negatively affect certain plants.
While peperomia are usually not overly sensitive to water quality, too much fluoride or chlorine can harm the plant.
This can cause leaf curling as well as dry, brittle leaves with brown tips.
Thus, hard water is not ideal for peperomia plants. instead, it is better to use purified or filtered water. You can likewise use rainwater or allow the tap water to sit at room temperature at least overnight.
This will let the excess chemicals evaporate by morning making it safe to use for plants.
The ideal temperature for peperomia is between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It can likewise tolerate more heat if needed. And in most cases, it does not have any issue with temperatures over 90 degrees.
However, while the plant can tolerate the heat, it will also rapidly lose moisture as the weather gets hotter.
This means that if it does not get enough moisture, it will eventually lack water.
This brings us back to the dehydration problem. And the plant’s response is to curl its leaves to reduce the water loss as much as it can.
Since lack of moisture is the eventual cause of your peperomia leaves curling, the symptoms are similar to underwatering. You have brown leaf tips and edges as well as crispy, brittle leaves.
To fix this, there are two things you can do.
- Move the plant to somewhere cooler
- Water the plant more often if you keep it in a warmer location
Indoors, the first option is easier to do. Although if the climate in your area gets very hot during summer, there isn’t too many places you can move the plant to.
This is why plants in tropical regions like Southeast Asia and South America (where many peperomia are found) are usually watered every 1-3 days.
Peperomia leaves curling can likewise happen due to too much fertilizer. Again, this is a problematic issue since it happens later down the line.
The problem with too much fertilizer is that they contain soluble salts.
Salt is used as a transport mechanism for nutrients. Therefore, fertilizers contain these salts to make it easy for the plant to absorb nutrients.
The downside to this is that plants hate salt. And when these fertilizer salts accumulate in the soil, it becomes toxic to the plant.
So, the more fertilizer you add, the more of these salts accumulate in the soil.
The worse part is that too much salt buildup can eventually damage and rot the roots. When this happens, the roots will fail to function.
As a result, the plant is now unable to absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil, no matter how much water or fertilizer you add.
This in turn causes the plant to get dehydrated which makes the leaves curl.
If you see a white crust developing on the surface of the soil, it is a sign of fertilizer salt buildup.
Once this happens, it is important to check the roots for any damage. You’ll need to unpot the plant to do so.
- If there is root rot, prune the affected areas and repot the plant in fresh, potting mix. Also, adjust your feeding schedule.
- If there is no root rot, flush the soil to wash out the excess fertilizer salts.
Stress from Repotting or Transplanting
Transplant or repotting stress can occur sometimes because the plant experiences shock from the moving process.
This can likewise occur when you change the kind of soil it uses, lighting conditions or other aspects of its environment.
When transplant or repotting stress or shock occurs, it can cause peperomia leaf curling, dropping leaves, discoloration and growth stoppage among other things.
Unfortunately, when this happens, the best thing you can do is give it proper care and some time. It will take a while for the plant to recover, at times up to a several weeks.
The good news is that once it recovers, it will begin growing again and producing new leaves.
Peperomia are not known to be pest magnets. However, they are not immune to them either.
The most common pests that come and attack the plant include spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, scale and thrips. These are sap sucking insects.
As they feed on the plant and steal its sap, your peperomia loses moisture and nutrients.
Left untreated, the bugs will grow in number very rapidly. And as they do, the cause more damage and rob more moisture and nutrients.
This leaves your plant dehydrated and nutrient deficient. It is also why the plant’s leaves curl and turn yellow.
Sadly, there is no way to 100% prevent pests other than keeping your peperomia healthy and regularly cleaning its leaves.
So, in addition to that, it is important to inspect the plant regularly for pests and treat them immediately if you see any.
You can spray them off with a stream of water, use neem oil or insecticidal soap.
Peperomia Leaves Curling Frequently Asked Questions
Why Are My Peperomia Leaves Curling?
Peperomia leaves curling is a way for the plant to reduce transpiration. It does this in order to decrease the amount to water loss and to conserve as much moisture as it can.
How Do You Fix Curled Plant Leaves?
To fix curling leaves from lack of moisture, keep the plant away from very hot temperatures. Also, avoid letting the soil go bone dry by adjusting your watering schedule. If too much light or heat is the cause for water loss, move the plant to another location.
How Often Should You Water Peperomia?
Water your peperomia once every 1-2 weeks. In general, peperomia don’t need a lot of water as they have thick, succulent like leaves where they store moisture. This allows them to tolerate dry periods better than other houseplants.
How Do You Know If Peperomia Needs Water?
- Check the soil. Stick your finger into the soil. If the soil is very dry, then it means the plant needs more water.
- Feel the leaves. Dry, brittle and crispy leaf tips and edges are usually a sign of lack of water. The leaves will also turn brown.
How Do You Dry Out an Overwatered Plant?
The best way to dry out an overwatered plant is to stop watering. Make sure the plant’s pot has drainage holes. And that the soil you are using allows for sufficient drainage. You can also speed up the process by putting the plant is a well-lit location with good air circulation.
How Do You Revive Dying Peperomia?
Make sure that the plant is getting the proper care. Check for root rot. If there is root rot, repot the plant with fresh soil. If there is no root rot, check the source of the problem and treat this underlying issue.