Peperomia Metallica Plant Care – How to Grow Red Tree Peperomia

The Peperomia metallica is sometimes called the Red Tree or Red Tree Peperomia because of its reddish leaves and its growth habit.

That said, it is small plant and is nowhere near being the size of even a dwarf tree. Instead, it will only grow to about 8 inches tall and around the same width.

This makes it perfect for keeping in a pot indoors.

It is worth noting that the plant has a popular variant that’s called the Peperomia Columbiana. Its full name is the Peperomia metallica Columbiana.

The Peperomia metallica is best known for its very dark colored leaves which feature a very deep green on the front and red undersides.

Its dark green hue looks somewhat black-purple or metal-like from afar, which is where the plant gets its name.

If you look closely, you’ll also notice that the teardrop, cupped-shaped leaves are thick like those of succulents as they store water. These also have a leathery feel to them.

Its looks, easy care and good adaptability to home environments make it something collectors love.

Peperomia Metallica Plant Care

Light Requirements

The most unique thing about the Peperomia metallica is its very dark green and bright red colored leaves.

This also gives you a clue on what kind of light it needs.

Plants with dark colored leaves as well as very deep green foliage are better off with low to medium light. They can tolerate bright light but keep it to a minimum (or moderate at most) since the brighter the light, the slower they will grow.

More importantly, they cannot take direct sunlight or strong light.

This makes them perfect for indoor care including your home and office. Some people keep it in a terrarium due to its small size. You also don’t have to worry too much about keeping it near a window.

That said, if you want to keep it under bright light, something gentle like an east facing window will work. Use some kind of filter or place it under indirect light.

Outdoors, it needs partial shade or full shade.

You can likewise use artificial lighting to keep the plant happy. Here it will need at least 12 hours of exposure.



The Peperomia metallica is native to South America where it is used to tropical weather. This means that it is used to warm climate conditions all year round without extended periods of cold.

Since it lives under the shade of larger plants, it gets to stay somewhat cooler.

Thus, its preferred temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it does not have a problem being left in 90 to 95 degree weather as well. The key is to keep it away from direct sunlight and strong light.

As you would guess, the cold is its weakness. And it cannot tolerate conditions under 50 degrees for prolonged periods of time.

It is hardy to USDA Zones 10 and 11 which do not experience snow or freezing conditions. These include the southern coastal states.

Here are some simple guidelines that will help:

  • Avoid temperature fluctuations, both up and down
  • Move the plant away from any vent that blows cold or hot air
  • Avoid air conditioners, heaters, fireplaces and other temperature modifying appliances
  • Keep the plant away from drafts and breezes like open windows or doors
  • Bring it indoors once the weather gets cold (nearing 50 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Watch out for drops in nighttime temperatures which are very sneaky since you don’t notice them (this happens during certain periods of the year)



Humidity is something the Peperomia metallica is very fond of. It enjoys high humidity (75% to 85%) if you can give it that. Thankfully, its thick, succulent-like leaves allow it to tolerate moderate levels.

The latter allows the plant to live in average home humidity (30% to 50%) without any problem. Although if possible try to keep things above 35% or 40% to keep the plant happy.

The lower you go, the more risk of dryness.

That said, I haven’t seen a Peperomia metallica struggle even in low humidity states. However, I would be more cautious if you live somewhere with a desert climate like Arizona or Nevada where humidity can stay under 30%.

In these locations, the plant will likely need some help. And you can mist it, group it with other plants or use a humidifier.

However, if you do spray the plant or add moisture to the air, do so gradually (and not aggressively). Like other peperomias it is prone to overwatering. And, excess moisture not only can cause root rot but also attract fungus gnats.

Thus, observe the plant and see how it is responding to the natural humidity in your home. If it needs help, then apply gradually. Otherwise, if it looks healthy and is growing, it is getting sufficient moisture in the air.


How Often to Water Peperomia Metallica

Wait until the soil is 50% dry before watering again. You can likewise hold off until it gets to 75% dry before doing so. Anything between that range will do.

It leaves the plant with enough water to avoid dehydration while making sure that you don’t overwater the plant.

Overwatering is the Peperomia metallica’s #1 weakness.

It has shallow roots and not a whole lot of them. Therefore, it is easy for too much water to overwhelm its root system.

Once water clogs all the air pockets, the plant’s oxygen supply will get cut off. Unfortunately, it needs a balance of both oxygen and water to survive.

Without enough fresh air, the roots will rot.

For this reason, you don’t want to be too eager to water the plant. If you like watering your houseplants regularly try to hold off until at least the top 2 inches of soil is dry before watering. This gives you enough leeway from overwatering.

On the other hand, avoid letting the soil completely dry out as well, especially for extended periods of time. While the plant’s succulent-like leaves can help it tolerate dryness this is only temporary as their stores will run out.

As such, some Peperomia metallica owners feel the leaves of the plant to tell when to water. If they have enough moisture, the leaves will feel firm. But these will soften up and become more limp when they’ve used up the stores and lack water.


Peperomia Metallica Potting Soil

Potting soil serves your Peperomia metallica in 3 ways:

  • Moisture – the plant needs moisture especially during the warm months. And it needs the soil to hold some water it to stay hydrated.
  • Good drainage – just as importantly, the soil needs to drain excess moisture. Otherwise, the plant’s small root system will drown in water and not get enough oxygen. So, you want well-draining soil to prevent the plant from standing in water, which can lead to root rot.
  • Nutrients – the plant needs nutrients to stay healthy and produce its lovely colors. All plants need this, the Peperomia metallica included. If it becomes deficient in certain nutrients then you’ll see color changes in its leaves.

The easiest way to achieve well-draining soil that keeps the plant happy is to use either:

  • 2 parts peat with 1 part perlite
  • 2 parts potting mix with 1 part perlite

Some people like using 50% splits of each which works as well. Remember, the potting soil recipes are always good starting points. Then adjust from there because your home’s living environment will always be different from any other houseplant owners.

The amount of sun, temperature at different times, humidity, water you give it, kind of pot you use, how long the growing seasons are (depending on where you live) and many other factors all affect how quickly or slowly soil will dry.

Therefore, make minor adjustments as you go based on what the plant is telling you.

For added nutrients, I like to add a layer of worm compost as well to top dress. This reduces the amount of fertilizer you need to use.

Finally, avoid using regular potting soil (on its own) you find in store shelves. These tend to hold too much moisture which is why you need to add perlite to increase drainage. Besides perlite you can use pumice or coarse sand as well.

Similarly, avoid soils that get compacted. These will prevent moisture from penetrating to through. It will also block off any air pockets making it hard for oxygen to circulate to the roots.

If you do use ingredients that compact over time, change the soil once a year to keep it fresh. This will prevent compacting.



There are a few things to consider with fertilizer.

  • The plant needs it. Although feeding is optional, fertilizer helps the plant grow faster, produce more foliage and maintain its healthy color.
  • Avoid overfeeding. Chemical fertilizers (those found in shelves) deliver nutrients in the form of salt. This is the most efficient way for the plant to absorb the nutrients. But plants hate salt and it will harm them in large amounts. Therefore, you need to balance the two otherwise, you are supplementing more at the cost of causing root (and later leaf) damage, which defeats the entire purpose of fertilizing in the first place.
  • Only feed when the plant is growing. In tropical countries, growers can feed their plants all year round because these get sunlight and keep growing through the warm (non-snowy) winters. But with more moderate weather (and freezing winters), the plant will become inactive during the cold season. Therefore, most houseplants need feeding only during spring and summer (plus a bit of fall).

With these in mind, feed your Peperomia metallica once a month during spring and summer using a balanced (N-P-K of 10-10-10) water soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength. If you added compost or other soil amendments to your potting mix, you can further dilute to quarter strength.

Avoid fertilizing on dry soil to prevent too much salt concentration.

If you want to cut back on feeding frequency, you can use a slow release fertilizer.

Or, to avoid chemicals, go with something organic like fish emulsion (fish fertilizer). But when starting out, apply outside your home or room, preferably in open air. This way your room won’t smell like fish.

That said, the fish smell goes away once the fertilizer dries.



The Peperomia metallica is a small plant that usually gets to around 8 inches tall and around 6 to 8 inches wide (depending on how bushy you let it get).

It has a fairly compact growth habit with the leaves staying clumped together and centered. Thus, you’ve got small leaves overlapping over one another in a beautiful way.

Because of this there’s not a lot of pruning needed besides shaping the plant.

Here, you can keep it short and stocky so it looks bushier. Or, trim off the sides and let it look taller than it actually is.

The plant can tolerate pruning quite well so, you don’t have to be afraid to trim. It likewise does not mind when you prune so any time of the year works.

However, because it looks best when full, you don’t want to over trim it and leave it too sparse.


How to Propagate Peperomia Metallica

There are many ways to propagate the Peperomia metallica. And the 2 best methods are via:

  • Stem cuttings
  • Leaf cuttings

You can also take a leaf, cut it in half and propagate that as well.

Which method you use will depend on your preference and how long you’re willing to wait.

Stem cuttings root faster. They will also grow new shoots faster and leaves as well. On the other hand, leaf cuttings take longer. But, you can grow more at a time especially with a plant like the Peperomia metallica which is loaded with leaves (and has multiple leaves per stem).

Propagating Peperomia Metallica Using Stem Cuttings

You can use stem or stem tip cuttings to propagate your Peperomia metallica. Here, the trick to make things easier is to pick a long enough stem that you can easily work with.

This will make it easier to plant it in soil as well as let the stem submerge in water.

  • Begin by choosing a healthy stem with at least a few leaves. You can take a tip cutting or go to the base and look for a stem.
  • If you want to propagate in water, make sure the stem is long enough to submerge a good portion in water. Also, remove any leaves that end up in the water otherwise they will rot. Replace the water once a week to prevent murkiness (and pathogens from developing). This also increases the success rates based on my experiments.
  • If you want to propagate in soil, let the cutting dry first then apply rooting hormone on the cut end. Plant the cutting into soil that’s 50% potting mix and 50% perlite (any well-draining mix will work too). Keep the soil moist but not wet or soggy. Again, remove any leaves that get buried in the soil.
  • Place the cutting in bright, indirect light with moderate to warm temperature.
  • With the soil propagation, you also want to cover the pot with a plastic bag to increase humidity. This speeds up the initially growth process (first 4 to 8 weeks or so) and improves success rates. But make sure to remove the bag every few days to let the plant breathe. Doing this also “resets” the humidity to prevent too much moisture which can lead to rotting.
  • It will take about 4 weeks for the cuttings to root.
  • With the water propagation, you can see the roots as they grow. And when they get longer than 2 inches in length, you can move the cutting to potting soil.
  • The soil propagation will only need to be moved/repotted once it outgrows its current container.

Propagating Peperomia Metallica Using Leaf Cuttings

  • Leaf cuttings is another good propagation method for the Peperomia metallica. You can grow many new plants with one pot or tray because the plant has tons of leaves.
  • And you can likewise cut each leaf in half and use both halves to create individual plants as well if you wish.
  • Start by taking a few leaf cuttings. Cut the leaf off where it meets the stem. This way, you have a bit of the leaf stalk along, although these are very short.
  • Allow the leaf cuttings to rest a bit while you prepare a pot or tray and fill it with potting mix.
  • Next, plant the leaf cuttings. You can dip the ends of the leaves into rooting hormone to speed up the process.
  • Water the soil and keep it moist.
  • Keep the leaf cuttings under bright, indirect sun in a moderate to warm spot.
  • While this takes longer than stem cuttings, the leaves will eventually grow. You can then move them out to their own individual pots or have two or three in a pot to make it bushier.


How to Repot or Transplant Peperomia Metallica

Repotting is not going to be a regular task due to the small size of the plant. It won’t get too big either so you don’t have to worry about going up more than one pot size at a time.

It will usually take about 2 to 3 years before you repot, often longer since the plant enjoys being slightly root bound. Therefore, you can leave it there a little longer.

That said it is a good idea to refresh the soil once a year.

You can repot the plant then and just change the soil while keeping the plant in the same container. Or if you don’t want to unpot, you can just replace the top soil with fresh potting mix.


Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs

No, the plant is non-toxic. Therefore, it is safe to keep anywhere in the home include the top of your desk, any counter or shelf.

While the leaves and stems are not supposed to be eaten, they don’t pose any poison risk to kids or pets if accidentally ingested.


Problems & Troubleshooting


Spider mites and mealybugs are the most common pests to look out for when caring for your Peperomia metallica. If there’s excess moisture, you’ll also be at higher risk of fungus gnats.

Unfortunately, keeping the plant healthy and its leaves clean are the only ways to prevent pests from coming around. And, there’s no guarantee as well.

Therefore, the best thing you can do is to regularly inspect the plant in order to spot pests early and treat them before they turn into infestations. The latter is much harder to eradicate

When I see pests, I just isolate the plant and give it a shower.

With smaller plants like the Peperomia metallica, the sink works quite well as long as your faucet has enough clearance. If not, you can use a garden hose or a shower head.

Spraying the plant with a gentle stream is enough to wash away the bugs. But cover all areas to get any eggs as well. Otherwise, new bugs will keep coming up in the following days.



Wet leaves and overwatering are the two things to avoid. They both can cause problems with the former producing leaf infections and the latter root rot.

Root rot is by far the biggest risk problem for Peperomia metallica, because like other plants in its genus, it is easily susceptible to it when regularly overwatered.

Therefore, be mindful of when you water and always wait until the soil dries out a bit before adding more.

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