Peperomia leaves turning black can be a sign of something serious. As such, it is important not to let this slide without paying attention to it.
While peperomia plants are easy plants to care for, their fragile root system and certain preferences make them prone so some problems.
As such, if you see your peperomia’s leaves turn black it is important to prioritize fixing whatever issue is causing it since it can be fatal for the plant.
Why are my peperomia leaves turning black? Overwatering is often the main cause of black leaves in peperomia plants. This is a very serious issue as it can mean the presence of root rot damage.
As such, immediately investigate and figure out the actual cause.
Other potential causes of black leaves on peperomia include improper soil, poor drainage, excess fertilizer, leaf spot disease and lack of light.
Why are Your Peperomia Leaves Turning Black?
There are many reasons for peperomia leaves turning black. However, some require more priority than others.
While you should not panic when you see these black leaves forming, it is important not to dismiss them either as something that the plant can get over on its own.
Instead, it is important to address the cause of the problem.
This means spending some time to figure out what is actually happening.
In some cases, timing will be important.
So, it is important not to leave the problem for another day.
The key here is to narrow down this issue to the main cause so you can treat it.
Below, I’ll go through the different potential causes for black leaves on peperomia plants. And for each, I’ll discuss the ideal solution for it.
Peperomia plants have thick, fleshy leaves. And you’ll be able to feel the firmness of the leaves when the plant is properly hydrated.
Because of their ability to store moisture in their leaves, they don’t need a lot of watering.
In fact, they go can without watering for a while.
They are to a certain degree drought tolerant.
While this makes the plant low maintenance and easy to care for, it does come with a downside.
Its low water requirement along with its ability to store water in its leaves means it is prone to overwatering.
This makes it easier to overwater the plant especially compared to other houseplants.
So, avoid watering it too often.
Additionally, the plant has a small, fragile root system.
This means the roots are easily overwhelmed by excess water.
As a result, then you water a peperomia plant too often or leave the soil wet and muddy, it can cause peperomia root rot.
If this happens, you’ll see its leaves start turning black.
To fix peperomia leaves turning black due to overwatering and root rot, avoid watering the plant too often.
The most important thing here is to know when to water it.
In most cases, peperomia only need watering once every 7 to 14 days. However, the timing does change depending on how hot the summers in your area get and how cold the winters become.
So, a better way to know when to water is to check the soil.
Wait at least until the top 2 inches of soil has dried before adding more water.
I prefer to be more conservative because of the peperomias susceptibility to overwatering. Also, I did lose a couple of peperomia plants early on to overwatering because I watered them like my other houseplants.
So, I like to wait until the soil is dry halfway down between waterings.
To check, you can either stick your finger into the soil and feel whether that depth is dry or moist. Only water when soil is completely dry at the depth you’re looking for.
You can also use a wooden chopstick and insert it into the pot.
The wet portion of the wood will indicate until where the soil is still moist.
Of course, you can also get a moisture meter instead.
By waiting for the top few inches to dry between waterings, you’re able to avoid black leaves on your peperomia plant.
Lack of Drainage
Insufficient drainage, poor drainage or no drainage are all problems. And they all lead to one thing, overwatering.
As such, this is very much related to watering issues.
Poor drainage has different causes. But they all end up with the same thing. The soil becomes wet since the excess moisture has no way of escaping or dripping out.
Thus, the soil becomes wet and mucky causing the roots of your peperomia to drown from too much water.
As a result, you end up with peperomia leaves turning black.
In most cases, insufficient drainage is caused by a pot with no holes or too few holes.
When this happens, the excess water will build up at the bottom of the pot. This will keep the soil wet.
And the more you water, the more moisture accumulates which keeps drowns the roots with more moisture.
Eventually, this leads to root rot and your peperomia developing black leaves.
However, it can also happen if you keep a saucer or catch tray at the bottom of your pot. As the excess water pools here, it will keep the soil wet from below as well.
The simplest way to fix or avoid poor drainage is to ensure that you use a pot with drainage holes at the bottom.
Some pots come with these holes.
And while they may not look at pretty as the containers with no holes, they serve an important purpose.
The holes allow any excess moisture that drains or drips from the soil to escape from the pot. This keeps the soil from being waterlogged or overwatered.
So, if you notice your peperomia leaves turning black and you’re sure that you are not overwatering the plant, check to make sure that the pot you’re using has drainage holes at the bottom.
If not, it is a good idea to move the plant to another container with holes.
Another option is to drill holes at the bottom of the pot to allow excess moisture to easily escape.
If you take the latter approach, make sure not to drill overly big holes that the soil will spill out as well.
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Incorrect Potting Mix
Before I move on from the topic of watering problems, I’d like to discuss one more.
This has to do with using the proper potting mix.
Note that I’m spending a bit more time with watering issues which consists of:
- Pot drainage
- Soil drainage
Because these 3 are essential.
By that I mean they are the most important causes that require the most attention when you see peperomia leaves turning black.
That’s because they can all lead to root rot.
And because peperomia have a small root system, it does not take much of overwhelm its roots.
When too many roots have rotted, the plant cannot be saved.
Therefore, these 3 causes require more attention. And they are time sensitive as well.
In any case, going back to soil drainage.
Here, the most important thing is to make sure that the soil you use has sufficient drainage.
Avoid heavy soils or anything that is known to retain moisture.
While that may be good for some plants, it can be fatal for peperomias. Again, this has to do with its being prone to overwatering and root rot.
These kinds of soils increase the risk of waterlogging which results in overwatering as well.
Make sure to use well-draining soil for your peperomia.
Again, you can tell if there is a drainage problem if the soil stays wet or there are puddle of water on the surface of the soil despite proper watering frequency.
Once you checked to make sure that there holes under the pot, the next thing to consider is the kind of soil the plant is in.
If the soil is holding too much water, it could very well be why your peperomia leaves are turning black.
In this case, repot the plant and change the soil.
You can simply use standard potting mix then add perlite.
Avoid using regular potting soil on its own without a drainage component.
In the soil mix recipe above, the perlite provides drainage and helps keep the soil light. You can use a 1 to 1 ration of potting mix to perlite.
Another option is:
- 1 part potting mix
- 1 part coconut coir
Too Much Fertilizer
Another cause of peperomia leaves turning black is excess fertilizer.
Here, giving the plant too much fertilizer or doing it too often is usually the problem. Although, a more hidden problem is very high concentration as well.
The key is not to feed the plant more food than it needs.
Again, this has to do with its small root system. These can only take so much. And the more fertilizer you apply means that the more salt builds up in the soil.
These excess salts can eventually damage the roots leading to black leaves on peperomias.
To feed your peperomia, use a general purpose fertilizer. Apply once a month during the warmer months of spring and summer.
This is when the plant is actively growing.
Stop feeding by early to mid fall. Then start again once the warm weather comes back around next spring. Skip the winter season.
I also like to dilute it to half strength each time I apply. This works well to avoid too much concentration.
Since the plant grows in a pot, over concentration can easily happen.
Similarly, never fertilize the plant when the soil is dry. It needs to be moist.
On the other hand, if you notice that the plant is already overfed or suffering from too much fertilizer, you have a few options.
You’ll be able to see this if there is a white or yellow crust that starts to form on the soil.
This is the excess salt.
In this case, you can either repot the plant in fresh soil to give it a fresh start and recover immediately. Or you can flush the soil by running water through the soil for a few minutes to drain the excess salts with the liquid.
If you choose the latter, allow the soil to drain completely after.
Another downside of the fleshy leaves of peperomia is that pests like these.
Common houseplant pests like aphids, mealybugs, thrips and scale all like to suck on the juices of the plant.
When they do, you’ll see small brown or black dots.
But these pests will cause more damage when they grow in number and become infestations. This is when you see your peperomia leaves turning black.
The discoloration is caused by the damage from these pests.
The lack of nutrients and moisture also cause the leaves to turn black.
Unfortunately, there is no 100% way to prevent pests from attacking any houseplant.
However, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of these bugs.
One is to keep the plant healthy.
Weak, sick or stressed plant become more prone to pest attacks.
Cleaning the plant to avoid dust also reduces the possibility of insects. However, since peperomia have lots of leaves, it is easier to clean them by giving them a shower instead of wiping the leaves one by one.
On the other hand, in case your peperomia already has pests, then it is important to isolate it then treat immediately.
Pests easily move or infect other plants.
So, it is important to quarantine or isolate any pest infested plant so the bugs don’t spread to your other houseplants.
Once you’ve done that, you can treat the pests with insecticidal soap spray or neem oil spray.
Leaf Spot Disease
In case you notice black spots on leaves of your peperomia, it likely means it is infected with a disease.
In this case, it is usually a kind of leaf spot infection that is happening.
Note that there are many kinds of leaf spot diseases. With black spots on peperomia leaves you’re looking at either
- Phyllosticta leaf spot
- Cercospora leaf spot
- Rhizoctonia leaf spot
Each of them look differently and will have varying symptoms. But all have black spots present in your peperomia’s leaves.
Leaf spot infections are caused by excess moisture.
In most cases, it is due to wetting the leaves when watering the plant.
When the leaves stay wet and don’t dry in a short period of time, the damp environment increases the risk of fungal development.
The first thing to do in this case is to allow the plant to dry.
Infections have a harder time spreading and growing in dry environments. You also want to prune the affected leaves to keep the problem from spreading.
With the Cercospora leaf spot, you will also need to apply fungicide to eliminate the fungal problem.
To avoid leaf spot diseases in the future, it is a good idea to avoid watering the leaves and overwatering the plant.
Excess moisture makes the environment conducive for the fungi to develop.