Peperomia leaves falling off is always alarming. And as plant owner, any plant that loses more than a few leaves at a time with the exception of trees during the fall is a big warning sign.
So, then you see peperomia leaves dropping, it is important to pay attention and start figuring out why this is happening.
Watering issues especially overwatering is the most common cause of peperomia leaves falling off. Just as important root rot from overwatering will lead to this worrisome issue.
Other causes including lack of humidity, insufficient light, temperature stress and overfertilizing.
As such, it is important to start with the more serious problems like overwatering and root rot then work your way through the others.
Peperomia Leaves Falling Off Causes & Solutions
There are many different reasons for peperomia leaves falling off. Some of them are part of the plant’s normal life cycle and aging process. Thus, there’s nothing to worry about or do.
Other causes are minor which means they are easy to fix.
But there are those that are associated with something more serious.
Thus, it is important to focus on narrowing down the actual cause. I also like to prioritize the potentially more serious issues first.
This way, in case that’s the cause, I’m able to treat it as soon as possible.
Lack of Light
Peperomia leaves falling off can happen due to insufficient light.
Like all plants, peperomia need light. And it thrives on good lighting which helps it grow faster and produce more leaves.
The plant relies on light to create its own food via photosynthesis.
As such, the more light there is the more sustenance it is able to create for itself provided that there is enough water, nutrients and air.
On the other hand, if there is little light or you keep the plant in a dim location, it won’t be able to produce enough food for its growth and development.
When this happens, the plant will start cutting back on growth and switch to survival mode.
Doing this allows it to conserve as much energy as it can. So, it focuses more on the necessities to survive rather than producing more leaves or developing its foliage.
After a while, you’ll see your peperomia leaves dropping as they won’t get sufficient sustenance to stay healthy. The leaves will wither, get weak and fall off.
How to Fix This?
Peperomia thrive in medium to bright indirect light indoors. As long as the light is filtered, dappled or diffused, it will do well.
As such, keep the plant in a well-lit location.
Outdoors, partial shade is ideal.
Keep the plant away from direct sunlight or full sun. While it enjoys good lighting, too much intensity and exposure will burn its leaves.
If your home does not get a lot of natural sunshine, you can use artificial lights to supplement the sun or on their own.
Keep in mind that grow lights emit heat as well.
Therefore, always distance the plant at least 8 to 12 inches away from the bulbs to avoid burnt foliage.
So, whether your peperomia is getting too much or too little light, fixing this problem is fairly easy, move the plant.
The key is to find an ideal spot where it will get sufficient light without too much intensity or exposure.
For me, overwatering is one of the more serious things you need to prioritize on when you notice your peperomia dropping leaves.
That’s because overwatering can lead to root rot which can be fatal for the plant.
Overwatering can cause peperomia leaves to fall off since it affects the overall health and function of the roots.
As with other plants, peperomia absorb water and nutrients though its roots.
When you overwater the plant, the soil will be filled with excess liquid. This pushes out all the oxygen from the gaps in the soil particles.
In doing so, the roots are deprived of air to breathe.
Roots need a balance of air and water to survive and stay healthy. So, without enough oxygen, the roots begin to suffocate.
This prevents them from functioning at 100%.
As a result, they are unable to absorb as much water or nutrients from soil like they normally do.
This results in leaves not getting enough moisture or nutrients.
And what happens is the leaves will get discolored and possibly curl or wilt.
If things persist and the roots eventually succumb to suffocation, they’ll die. After a while they start rotting.
Rotten roots are dead roots.
Therefore, they stop functioning. And there’s no way to revive or heal them.
Thus, the lack of water and nutrients now become more permanent. And as the leaves get more deficient in both, they’ll wither and fall off.
How to Fix This?
Peperomia leaves falling off caused by overwatering is something every plant owner needs to watch out for.
For one, peperomia are small plants with relatively tiny root systems.
Additionally, their roots are fragile. And you’ll easily notice this when you take the plant out of its pot and look closely at the root system.
This means the roots are easily overwhelmed by excess watering.
So, it is very important to avoid watering the plant too often. In fact, you do not want to water it like you do your other houseplants.
I made this mistake before when I was starting out.
And it cost me 3 lovely peperomia plants that succumbed to root rot.
Instead, wait until the top half of the soil has dried before adding more water. Peperomia have thick, fleshy leaves where they store moisture.
This allows them to tolerate periods of dryness.
As such, it is safer to stay on the dry side when it comes to this plant.
The simplest guideline I can give you is to always check the soil before adding water.
If the soil feels moist or wet, don’t water the plant yet.
Instead, allow at least the top half of the soil to dry between waterings.
In case there is root rot, your focus will shift from prevention to saving the plant.
Here, you’ll nee to unpot the plant, remove the rotten roots and repot your peperomia in fresh, dry, well-draining soil.
Make sure to use a pot with drainage holes at the bottom.
Don’t forget to treat the remaining healthy roots with fungicide first before repotting.
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Lack of Water
Underwatering can also lead to peperomia dropping leaves.
That said, this is much less common compared to overwatering.
That’s because peperomia can tolerate periods of dryness. And in most cases, plant owners tend to water more than less.
However, if you’re a busy person, travel out of town a lot or have lots of chores, it is easy to forget to water the plant.
If you do so for weeks or even months at a time, you may see peperomia leaves fall off.
Like other plants, peperomia need water and nutrients. Both of which is gets from the soil.
If the plant goes underwatered, the soil becomes very dry.
In most cases, the entire root ball will become very dry all the way down.
This deprives the plant of moisture as well as nutrients. That’s because there is no water in the soil for the roots to absorb.
Just as importantly, roots are able to absorb nutrients from the soil via water.
So, the lack of both water and nutrients will eventually cause the plant to get weak. The roots will get very dry and brittle as well.
If this is not addressed, the leaves will not get what they need to stay healthy.
And they will wither and fall off after a while.
How to Fix This?
Often, underwatering happens due to irregular watering.
This means that owners end up watering the plant whenever they remember or when they notice the plant while doing other chores at home.
Unfortunately, inconsistent watering will eventually give your peperomia problems as you’ll sometimes end up watering twice in a period of a few days or not watering at all for weeks at time.
In order to avoid underwatering, the goal is not to let the soil go bone dry.
While the plant can tolerate the soil going dry completely, do not leave it that way for long periods at a time.
The simplest way to check is to stick your finger or a wooden stick into the soil.
This will give you an idea of where the soil moisture is. You can likewise use a moisture meter if you don’t like getting your hands dirty.
Some growers will just lift up the pot.
A light pot means the soil is dry while a heavier pot means the soil is still wet or moist.
This lets them know when to water.
In case your peperomia is underwatered or dehydrated, here’s how to revive it.
Take the plant out of the pot. Then put it in a sink. Peperomias are not huge plants. So, they will fit into a sink. Although, you can use a basin as well.
Fill the basin or sink with water until about slightly less than halfway up the root ball.
Then let the plant soak in the moisture.
This will take a little while but not too long. Again, the larger the plant, the longer it will take.
In the case of peperomia plants, they’re fairly small.
Once the top 2 inches of soil feels moist, you can take the plant out of the water then drain the sink.
Place the root ball over a drain or something where you can just let it drip.
This step is very important as you want to let the soil completely drain before putting it back into its pot.
Peperomia are tropical plants. As such, in addition to thriving in moderate to warm climates, it also likes humid conditions.
Ideally, it prefers humidity to stay at around 40% to 50%.
It will likewise be happy with higher humidity as well.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the opposite.
When humidity is too low, you’ll see its leaves dry up and curl.
You’ll also see peperomia leaves falling off later on if the air continues to stay dry.
In most cases, this should not be a problem. However, if you live somewhere with very low humidity like the desert or similar to it, you may encounter these issues.
Areas like Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico can be prone to this. They are the 3 lowest states when it comes to humidity.
As such, if where you live tends to have humidity that consistently stays in the 20s or low 30s, it is a good idea to monitor your peperomia.
Similarly, areas with very hot, dry summers can also experience this.
You’ll also see the air get very dry during winters.
Don’t forget to be wary of radiators, heaters and air conditioners. These appliances are notorious for causing the air to dry up in rooms where they’re turned on.
And the low humidity will last about 20 or so minutes after you’ve turned them off.
Therefore, keep your peperomia out of rooms with vents, air conditioning, heaters and radiators.
How to Fix This?
The good news is that fixing low humidity is easy.
And there are many different things you can do. So, it is up to you to decide which one you want to use.
I want to stress that not everyone has to deal with low humidity.
If you live somewhere near a large body of water like a lake, beach or ocean, then humidity will often be on the higher side.
Similarly, tropical, subtropical and Mediterranean climates have good humidity as well.
If you’re not sure what the humidity is in your area, check your weather station.
In case it happens to be on the low side (less than 40%), I highly recommend getting a hygrometer. This will let you stay on top of the humidity when it starts moving based on the time of year.
I prefer the portable ones since you can move them from room to room.
To fix low humidity that’s causing your peperomia leaves to fall off, you can get a humidifier.
If you don’t want to spend money, you can mist the plant once every few days. But don’t wet the leaves as this can lead to fungal disease.
I prefer to use a humidity tray or pebble tray.
Both work the same way. And you can make them yourself with old items you’re not using anymore.
Humidity and pebble trays are low maintenance. As long as you fill the water in the tray when it gets depleted, you’re good to go.
Last but not least, if your peperomia is dropping leaves, it may not be a problem at all.
Sometimes, leaves falling off your peperomia plant is just part of natural aging.
Leaves have their own life cycles.
This is why you’ll see new leaves emerge and develop at different times. It is also why there are leaves of different sizes and shapes.
As leaves get older, they pass through that normal aging cycle of developing into their mature size then later on start to get older.
After a while, they will change color and drop off.
This is part of the plant’s natural aging cycle to give way for new leaves to emerge.
So, in this case, there is nothing to worry about.
That said, you should only see this once in a while. And only one or two leaves should drop at any given time.
If you see many leaves dropping at the same time. Or if the rate of leaves falling off increases along with the number of foliage being affected, then there’s something else happening.
Similarly, as the years go by, your peperomia will also get older.
Once it gets to a certain age, you’ll see it start to slow down in growth. It will also lose some leaves as it ages.
Again, this is part of the plat getting older just like any living thing does.