The Peperomia orba is better known as the Teardrop peperomia. Others call it the peperomia teardrop. Either way works depending on who you take to.
The plant gets this name from its teardrop-shaped leaves.
In any case, this is a beautiful foliage houseplant that’s fairly compact in size. It only grows to about 6 inches or so in height but expands more to the sides. As such, as it gets bushier, it can look more “fluffy” and reach between 6 and 12 inches in width.
From experience, this is when the plant looks its best.
This shape allows its beautiful green oval-shaped foliage to shine the most as they layer over one another.
It is worth noting that the peperomia orba is native to Central and South America. This makes it a tropical plant. And thus, its preferences leans towards the bright, warm and humid conditions.
This is one reason why it is easy to care for. Additionally, it is low maintenance as well.
Finally, unlike many philodendrons which are hard to find, this one is very common in garden centers.
Peperomia Orba Plant Care
The Peperomia orba does best when placed in medium to bright light. But, it is important to keep it away from direct sunlight. Instead, it prefers indirect, filtered or dappled sun.
Leaving it under the direct rays of the sun for more than 2 hours a day will likely cause its leaves to burn and change color.
As such, if it does receive some direct sun, it will only be able to tolerate 2 or 3 hours of morning sun. It cannot take the same exposure from the afternoon sunlight nor the hotter summer sun.
That’s because it originates from tropical forest regions where it sits under the tropical canopies. Thus, it is not used to receiving the brunt of the sun’s rays. Instead, the larger plants and trees block out parts of the sun.
That said, sufficient light is very important for the plant to maintain its oval-shaped foliage’s lovely green color.
This means if you place it is less than ideal lighting, you’ll want to monitor it at least initially to see if the light is enough. If not, you’ll see the vibrant green leaves begin to become duller in color.
This is a sign to move it somewhere brighter.
When it comes to window positioning, an east and northeast facing window does best. You can also try an northern window but monitor it closely the farther up north you are since there’s less light in that part of the country compared to the southern side especially during the colder months.
If you do keep the plant in a west or south facing window, it is best to keep it a few feet from the window itself. Or, use drapes or sheer curtains to block out some of the sunlight.
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As mentioned, your Peperomia orba is native to tropical regions. As such, it prefers moderate to warm conditions. And, it can also tolerate hotter climates if needed
But, it cannot do the same with colder conditions. The plant cannot survived through frost or freezing temperatures. It is hardy to zones 10 and 11.
As such, this is the most important thing to remember when it comes to temperature.
Indoors, the ideal climate condition is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Although, if needed, it can take temperatures as low as 50 degrees and as high as 90 degrees on the extreme ends without sustaining any damage.
However, you’ll notice that the further you go from the optimum 65 to 75 degree range, the less optimal its growth will be. You’ll see this in the rate of growth and the vibrancy of its leaves.
Avoid keeping the plant anywhere below 50 degrees. And, keep it away from drafts including that of air conditioning as well as open doors and windows where the cold breezes can cause fluctuations.
Similarly, your Teardrop Peperomia is very specific about the humidity it prefers. Again, this stems from its native tropical habitat.
As such, it is best to keep humidity between 50% and 60%. It will likewise do well in higher levels all the way up to 90%.
On the other end, it can tolerate average room humidity between 40% and 50%. But, it is a good idea to avoid dry conditions.
If you live in a dry region like the desert, this is something worth looking out for. The same is true if you experience hot, dry summers or cold winters. Both conditions give the plant trouble.
Also keep the plant away from fireplaces, heaters, radiators or air conditioners. All of these tend to dry out the air.
You may want to pick up a digital hygrometer if you notice that air moisture changes quite a bit where you live. This inexpensive device instantly tells you what the humidity is in any room of your home you bring it to.
If you find humidity is a bit low to what the plant prefers, you can do one of the following and see which ones work best and choose from those strategies.
- Group it with other plants
- Place it on a water tray
- Move it to the bathroom or other more humid room
- Mist it a few times a week
- Get a humidifier
All of these will increase humidity around the plant.
How Often to Water Peperomia Orba
source: wikimedia commons
Your Peperomia orba has succulent-like leaves. Others will refer to this characteristic as semi-succulent.
To be clear, this makes it different from actual succulent plants. But, it does has a similar feature to them.
The more important thing to take away from this is that its gorgeous teardrop-shaped leaves are able to hold and store some water.
This has 2 implications.
- It can tolerate dry periods better than non-succulent-like plants.
- It is also more susceptible to overwatering.
The first implication makes it more forgiving in case you forget to water or you’re often busy. It also allows you to water less frequently compared to other houseplants.
The second implication increases its risk of water issues. Thus, it means that when you do water, be aware not to overwater it, especially because it enjoys high humidity which in itself is moisture as well.
It also means that it is a good idea to wait until at least the top 2 inches of the soil dries out completely. You don’t have to be precise and can wait a little longer.
I’ve found that as long as you water when the soil is dry from the top 2 inches all the way until about 50% of the soil, you’ll be fine.
Thus, it is better to err on the side of waiting a little longer due to your Teardrop Peperomia’s susceptibility to overwatering.
When you do water, it is best to do so deeply. This means soaking the root ball then allowing it to completely dry by letting any excess moisture drain right after.
Soil for Peperomia Orba
Teardrop Peperomia grow best in, loose, well-draining soil. On the other hand, soil that retains too much moisture puts it at risk of overwatering as this can cause it to sit in water for long periods of time.
And, because of its succulent-like leaves and love for high humidity, this increases its risk of experiencing root rot.
As such, it is very important to use the right soil from the beginning. This will prevent soil from getting soggy, muddy or wet as it will quickly drain excess moisture.
Thus, you do have a few options for your Peperomia orba’s soil.
If you prefer something that comes right out of the box you can buy from the garden center, I suggest going with an orchid mix.
On the other hand, if you already have regular potting mix at home, add perlite or sand to increase drainage. This way you can use what you already have then decide later if you want to switch or not once your potting mix is finished. This way, you don’t waste money.
Lastly, if prefer making your own mix, you can go with a combination of:
- 2 parts peat moss
- 1 part perlite or sand
All of these do the same thing. But, they just use different media to get the similar features in the soil the plant needs.
When it comes to plant food, give you Peperomia orba a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer once a month during its growing season (spring and summer). Make sure to dilute the formulation to half strength to avoid overfertilizing, which like overwatering harms the plant.
You don’t need to feed it during the winter when the plant takes a breather from growing.
An important note about fertilizer is to be careful with giving it too much.
Your teardrop peperomia is a slow grower. As such, it does not need a ton of nutrients unlike faster growers which will devour all the sustenance you give it.
Also, since fertilizer does leave salt and mineral residue which can accumulate in the soil, it is a good idea to flush the soil every 6 months or so to avoid root burn.
Peperomia orba is a low maintenance plant. As its leaves grow, the plant becomes bushier which makes it look even better.
It will not grow tall, reaching about 6 inches or a little more in height only. However, it will spread out a bit more if you let it keep growing on its own without trimming.
This can reach a spread of between 6 to 12 inches.
Since it is a slow grower, this process takes between 5 to 10 years to happen, most of which happening in the latter half of that range.
Thus, you don’t need to prune it much.
The only trimming it will need is for shaping the plant as well as removing any leggy stems, wilting or discoloration.
Peperomia Orba Propagation
One of the best things about the Peperomia orba is that it is easy to propagate. As such, you can grow more of the plant at home without ever buying any.
The best time to propagate your teardrop peperomia is during spring. And, you can do so via leaf or stem cuttings.
Stem cuttings tend to grow faster. Thus, if you are not the patient type, I suggest going for this.
But both methods work really well.
Here’s how to do each.
How to Propagate Peperomia Orba from Stem Cuttings
Stem cuttings take a stem and grow a new plant from it. With stem cuttings you can propagate in water or soil.
- Begin by taking a 2 to 4 inch stem cutting. You want to choose a healthy stem with at least 2 or 3 leaves on it.
- Remove the bottom leaves and only keep the top ones.
- Dip the cut end of the stem cutting into rooting hormone
- Prepare a small container and fill it with fresh, well-draining potting soil
- Then plant the stem cutting into the soil
- Water the soil and keep the soil moist.
- Place the pot in a warm, bright indirectly lit location.
- It will take around 3 or so weeks before the cutting starts to root.
- Move the cutting as it grows.
- If you started with many cuttings, you can split them up and move each new growth to their own pot.
How to Propagate Peperomia Orba fron Leaf Cuttings
Leaf cuttings make use of leaves. This is a good method to use if you plant does not have a lot of stems. Or, if you’re just starting out and want to test growing many to learn how propagation works.
Unfortunately, taking many stems is not always possible depending on how bushy your teardrop peperomia is.
Anyways, here’s how to propagate peperomia orba from leaf cuttings.
- Take a few leaves. Make the cuts at the end of the petioles right at where it junctions with the stem.
- Dip the leaves in rooting hormone.
- Place the leaves on a container with well-draining potting mix.
- You can cut the larger leaves into halves as well.
- Water the soil and keep it moist through the process.
- This method takes longer than stem cuttings. So, you need to be more patient. It will take between 4 to 6 weeks to start seeing growth.
How to Repot Peperomia Orba
Like pruning, repotting is not much of an issue. The combination of its slow growth, small size and fondness for being pot bound means you only need to repot every 3 to 5 years.
For the most part it is on the latter half of that range.
This reduces the maintenance work on your part. Plus, you have an easy to care for plant that is beautiful to look at.
The only time you need to repot is when your teardrop peperomia plant outgrows its container. You’ll easily see this as its roots are coming out of the holes at the bottom of the pot.
When this happens, move the plant to a pot that is 1 inch larger in diameter to its current one. And, refresh the soil with well-draining potting mix as well.
Peperomia orba are not toxic to kids or pets. But, I still don’t suggest them consuming any part of the plant as they’re not likely to chew it properly.
As a result, the stems and leaves an become choking hazards or cause them to vomit later on.
Thus, even if the plant is not poisonous, it can still make them feel unwell temporarily.
Pests and Diseases
When healthy, your Teardrop Peperomia is not overly susceptible to pests and diseases. Nevertheless, like other houseplants, they can experience pest attacks. Meanwhile, diseases are more preventable since many of them are caused from overwatering.
When it comes to pests, mealybugs fungus gnats, spider mites, scale and thrips can all attack the plant.
But, as long as you keep it healthy and give it the things it needs (those listed above), the odds of ever experiencing a pest infestation are very low.
Nevertheless, it is a good idea to inspect your plant’s leaves regularly. This allows you to spot any problems early. And, the earlier your treat it, the less they can spread and less the damage they can cause.
On the other hand, fungal infection, leaf spot and root rot are all diseases to watch out for.
These are all caused directly or indirectly by too much moisture. As such, it is a good idea to avoid overwatering or watering too frequently.
The plant is able to tolerate a bit of soil dryness thanks to its semi-succulent nature.