The Peperomia Nivalis is a beautiful, small succulent that is perfect to grow as a houseplant.
Its thick, fleshy green leaves are the highlights of the plant as they’re arranged in a rosette-like manner making them very pretty to look at.
While it does not look like other peperomias, it is a member of the same Piperaceae family.
This is why peperomias are such an interesting genus. You get all sorts of different looks, colors, variegations and behaviors.
But all in all, they are quite easy to care for once you get the hang of it. Although some are a bit fussier than most.
The plant is epiphytic and is native to the forest floors of Peru. As such, it is tropical in nature. Therefore, it prefers warm and humid over cold or dry weather.
Thanks to its looks, it is very easy to keep the plant on tabletops and shelves. You can also leave it in a terrarium or hang it up in a basket.
Peperomia Nivalis Plant Care
The Peperomia Nivalis thrives in bright, indirect light. But it does well in medium and low light too. This makes it an easy plant to accommodate indoors.
The thing you want to look out for are the extremes.
- Too much intense light or direct sunlight – will damage its leaves.
- Too little light or kept in dark places – will slow down growth and affect its foliage development and quality as well.
Fortunately, it adapts quite well to different areas of the home without any issues. The key is to understand what kind of light comes from where. Here’s a quick guide.
- East facing window – keep the plant near the window. It can tolerate the gentle direct light of the morning sun so this is not a problem. Plus, the plant gets lot of bright light from this side of the house.
- West facing window – you can keep the plant near the window but away from the sun’s rays. A western exposure gets the afternoon sun (about 1:00 pm onwards). So, the rays will be intense. But in the morning it will get passive light.
- South facing window – gets the most light, which is too much for the plant. The south get gentle light in the morning. But the brunt will be from 10:30 a.m. to about 2:00 p.m. when the sun is very strong. So, keep the plant at away from its rays. Anything farther than 4 or so feet will work. And if the room is bright, it will have no problem being 10 to 12 feet from the southern window.
- North facing window – low light here which shouldn’t be a problem. But it will depend on where you live and how little light comes in from this direction during winter. The less light there is, the slower the plant will grow. So, you need to monitor to see how the plant responds.
- Middle of a room, Walls or Corners – no problem in a bright room. But in a room with little to no windows, it may not get enough light.
- Office – as long as there is fluorescent lighting it will be happy. But the plant will need more hours of light from it.
- Grow lights – these work just like fluorescent lights will. But, depending on which ones you get, they may produce a bit too much heat. So, be careful about that. If so, keep it farther away from the plant.
The Peperomia Nivalis likes warm weather which makes it perfect for indoor growing. That’s because its climate preference is very similar to ours.
As long as you keep temperature between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it will be very happy. This range also happens to be what we humans enjoy the most.
Therefore, if you keep it as a houseplant, there should be no issues with having to adapt to its needs.
That said, if your home gets really hot in the summer or cold in the winter, know that the plant is not a fan of temperature fluctuations.
Of the two, it will tolerate heat much better than the cold being that it is tropical in nature. Its thick succulent-like leaves also help since they store water.
This gives it the ability to tolerate temperature in the 90s without any problems.
However, the same is not true for cold environments. The plant will have issues when temperature drops to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. So, keep it away from this.
This also means that it should not be left outside if your region experiences cold winters. Take the plant indoors before things get cold as it cannot tolerate frost.
The plant is hardy to USDA zones 10 to 12 where there’s sun 365 days of the year and winters are mild. In these locales, it will be able to stay outside all the time.
In its natural habitat the plant is used to humidity of 90% and higher. Fortunately, it does is not overly fussy about lower humidity.
This allows it to adapt easily to indoor conditions, where most homes average between 30% and 50% at different times of the year.
Ideally, you want to keep humidity at 40% or higher. Although it can tolerate a little lower than that. But, the lower you get, the higher the risk of moisture issues.
In part, it is better able to tolerate low humidity because of this fleshy leaves and stems. This is why humidity is not a huge issue unless it is very dry in your area (below 30%).
If that’s the case, misting is a good option as long as you don’t wet the leaves too much. Doing so can lead to fungal problems somewhere down the road.
How Often to Water Peperomia Nivalis
Speaking on which, water is the most problematic thing when caring for your Peperomia Nivalis.
For one, peperomias are generally susceptible to overwatering and root rot. Even more so than philodendrons.
So, while the plant likes moist soil, I tend to keep it on the drier side.
I still remember losing a few peperomia back in the day when I started because I watered them much like other houseplants. I also remembered reading that they like moist soil.
Those were my biggest mistakes!
Now, I like to keep the plant dry. And I wait until the soil is 50% dry before watering.
For me, this keeps things balanced.
It prevents overwatering. But also ensures that the plant is still far from lacking in water.
You can use your finger or a moisture meter to test. But I like to just use a stick. You can use a skewer or a small stick (depending on how tall the pot is).
Push the stick down all the way until it reaches the bottom of the pot. Then take it out.
You’ll see the water mark on the stick which tells you until where the moisture is. If it is above 50%, wait a bit longer. Once it passes 50%, it is time to water.
Quick, simple, free and no mess.
Peperomia Nivalis Potting Soil
The best soil for Peperomia Nivalis is something light, airy, fertile and well-draining.
This combination ensures that the plant gets a good balance of air and water. In doing so, you’re able to prevent waterlogging and overwatering.
Often, when you buy the plant from the store you’ll get it in a little pot (about 4 inch one). Make sure to observe how well the soil is draining sine some nurseries will just use the same mix for many of their plants.
I’ve had two plants that I repotted earlier than needed because I noticed that the soil was holding more moisture than the plant wanted. And, you should do the same too if you notice this happening.
The simplest combination I’ve found is to mix peat with perlite (1:1 or 2:1 ratio will work).
If you already have potting soil at home, you can go with 50% potting soil and 50% orchid bark. Another options will be to use 50% potting soil and 50% perlite or pumice.
Above, I mentioned that it is important to check the soil you get from the nursery pot. Another thing to ask them is they’ve added fertilizer.
Often shops will include some kind of fertilizer. So, you won’t need to feed the plant during the first few months. How long will depend on what they used. Many go with 6 months although some use 3 months or even 1 month.
This will keep you from doubling the feeding dose which can harm the plant.
In general, the Peperomia Nivalis is a light feeder. Thus, it won’t need a lot of plant food. But you also do not want not to feed it since it will grow slowly and produce fewer leaves because of that.
A good feeding routine is to give it a balanced liquid fertilizer (20-20-20) during its growing season. Once a month is sufficient. Do not feed it during winter as it takes a breather.
The Peperomia Nivalis is a small plant that grows at a slow rate. Therefore, it is quite low maintenance when it comes to pruning.
It can grow to about 8 or so inches but rarely reach 12 inches. And this is part of its attraction.
The size of the plant makes it easy to keep on top of desks and counters. And, you can easily move it as needed.
I also like it when its leaves are compact and bunched up together. The bushier it gets the prettier it looks as long as the stems don’t get too long.
Pinching it back every now and then will help maintain this look. It will also make it look fuller over time.
How to Propagate Peperomia Nivalis
Spring and early summer is the ideal time to propagate the Peperomia Nivalis. This will allow the young plant to grow roots and produce a few tiny leaves before winter arrives.
You can use either stem or leaf cuttings since both propagate quite quickly and have high success rates. Of course there are other methods as well, but there’s really no reason to do anything more complicated, slower or with lower yields.
Propagating Peperomia Nivalis by Stem Cuttings
- Pick out a healthy stem. You an go with one or more depending on how many new plants you want to produce. But avoid leaving the parent plant too bare.
- Once you have the stems, you can either propagate the cuttings in water or soil. Both are simple and work just as well. So, it is really up to you.
- If you propagate in water, place the stem in a glass container with water. Ideally, it allows the stem to submerge into the water while keeping the leaves above the liquid.
- Change the soil every few days to keep it from getting murky.
- Place the stem under bright, indirect light in a warm, humid spot.
- In a few days to a week, you’ll see very small white roots start showing up. It will take a few more weeks for them to get bigger. And, you can keep the cutting in water for quite a while (over 6 months).
- That said, once the roots get to about 2 inches long or more, you can move it to a container with potting mix.
- If you propagate in soil, you can directly plant the stem cutting into the potting mix. Make sure the stem is into the soil.
- This will take about a month or so to develop. And, after that you can lightly tug on the cuttings to check. It should resist your tug which means roots have established in the soi.
Leaf cuttings are very similar to stem cuttings. But here, you’ll remove the stem and leave the petiole and leaf only. You can likewise propagate leaf cuttings in water or soil. Although it will take longer for the cutting to root and sprout new growth.
How to Repot or Transplant Peperomia Nivalis
Due to its size, its small root system and preference to be a bit root bound, the Peperomia Nivalis does not need to repot often.
It is also a slow grower. So, it takes about 3 years (give or take a little both ways) before you need to repot.
That said, I prefer just listening to what the plant is telling me. Once the roots come out of the bottom of the pot, you can wait a little bit (since it likes being root bound) before repotting.
Avoid leaving it in a tight pot for too long since this will eventually lead to stress and slow growth.
When you repotting go with a pot that is one size bigger. This will be more than sufficient since the plant will take a while to fill that one as well.
Also, replace the potting mix with peat and perlite.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
You can keep the plant anywhere since it is not poisonous to people or pets. While it is not ideal for kids, cats or dogs to chew on the leaves, it poses no danger or harm because there are no toxic substances there.
Problems & Troubleshooting
The Peperomia Nivalis is not prone to pests or diseases. But as with any plant, you can never guarantee they won’t. As such, it is important too be on the lookout for bugs. You can do so by regularly inspecting the plant.
Mealybugs, whiteflies and spider mites are the most common problems. When you see any of them, just take the plant to the sink and give the plant a shower to wash out the insects.
Due to the size of the plant, it is easier to get rid of the pests this way.
Make sure to dry it down after the shower.
Root rot is the biggest nemesis of the Peperomia Nivalis. It does not take well to overwatering and waterlogged soil. And its does not take much to overwhelm the plant this way because of its small and delicate root system.
So, make sure to avoid giving it too much water.