Peperomia Polybotrya Care (Coin Plant)

Peperomia Polybotrya

The Peperomia Polybotrya is a lovely compact houseplant that’s easy to care for. Because of the unique shape of its leaves it has been called coin leaf peperomia, raindrop peperomia and coin plant.

You may also have heard it referred to the Chinese money plant. Although, the actual Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides) a completely different and unrelated species. The two have similar looking foliage which causes the confusion.

Another common misconception about the coin leaf peperomia is that it is a succulent. Again, that has something to do with its leaves. If you look closely, the plant has thick leaves similar to those of succulents. This allows them to store water. And thus, able to withstand longer periods between watering.

However, they are not succulents. Instead, they have succulent-like characteristics such at its leaves. So, to some degree they do behave (in some mannerisms) like succulents. But, again, they are different from that group.

With those things cleared up, it is time to move on to the plant itself.

The Peperomia Polybotrya is grown for its foliage, which are dark green and heart-shaped that somewhat look like large raindrops. They are likewise short with narrow stems. Even upon maturity, don’t expect them to grow beyond 12 inches tall.

The also grow flowers which are mostly known for their sweet fragrance. But, since the flowers don’t last long, they aren’t the main focus of the plant. And, when they die out, you want to remove them to allow the plant to focus its resources on growing foliage.

Hailing from South America, including Peru and Colombia, this peperomia species is used to tropical conditions. Thus, you want to provide it with a similar environment.

As far as display goes, you can grow it indoors as well as outside. See the section on temperature and humidity below for the latter. They likewise look their best in containers that let them show off their beautiful foliage.

Peperomia Polybotrya Plant Care

Peperomia Polybotrya Light

The Peperomia Polybotrya thrives in conditions where it is given bright, indirect light. As with other peperomia varieties, you want to be extra careful not to leave is somewhere it will be exposed to long hours of direct sunlight. This will cause it to get leaf burn.

As such, it is a good idea to avoid mid-afternoon sun as well as hot windows during the summertime.

Similarly, this compact plant doesn’t tolerated low light all that well. While it can withstand slightly less light, long-term low light conditions will make it leggy.

The best places to put your Peperomia Polybotrya are either an east or west facing window, with the former be the most ideal.

  • East facing windows have the benefits of getting hours of morning sun, which is gentle. Thus, you can put the plant near the windowsill without fear or harsh direct sunlight.
  • West facing windows receive intense sunlight during noon and mid afternoons. So keeping at least 3 feet from the window or using sheer curtains to filter the sunlight is a good idea.
  • South facing windows the most light. But, you need to be just as careful with them as you would a west facing window.

 

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Peperomia Polybotrya Temperature & Humidity

Since the Peperomia Polybotrya is native to tropical environments, it does best when provided with warm, humid conditions. Like most plants, giving your raindrop peperomia an environment that mimics that which it is used to is best.

In this case, you want to keep temperature between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth. More importantly, you don’t want to allow the temperature to drop below 50 degrees because the plant is not frost hardy.

Thus, it is a good idea to check its surroundings conditions once fall arrives. Evening temperatures get much cooler then so you want to see how low they go. And, during the winter time, you want to make sure it stays in a cozy enough spot.

Additionally, winds, drafts and blowing air are no-no’s for this plant. So, it is a good idea to check for potential drafts that come from open windows, doors, heaters and air conditioners.

Because of its preferences for warm climate, you’ll only be able to grow it outdoors if you live in USDA zones 10 to 12. Although zone 10 seems to have the most ideal conditions for it.

Otherwise, it is best to grown the plant in a container indoors, which is what most of its owners do. This way, you can still bring it outside into the patio, deck or even garden during he summertime. Just make sure to take it back inside once fall temperatures start dropping.

Besides staying warm, your Peperomia Polybotrya also appreciates humid conditions. The good news is, it will be just fine with regular home humidity. The only time you may need to take action is during the winter when the air gets dry.

This is one reason why you’ll see many gardeners mist their raindrop peperomia. Misting helps increase humidity. The water also helps clean dirt and dust which like to stick to the plant’s thick, succulent-like leaves. As s side benefit, spraying also helps keep spider mites away.

That said, be sure not to over mist your plants. Leaving too much moisture on the leaves can make it susceptible to fungal disease and pests.

peperomia polybotrya

source: wikimedia common

 

Watering Peperomia Polybotrya

As mentioned above, the Peperomia Polybotrya has thick, fleshy leaves that make it look like a succulent. This characteristic allows it to store water. As such, it doesn’t need too frequent watering. And, can go longer between waterings.

This makes it an easy plant for beginners because it tolerates not getting water every once in a while. This feature also makes it ideal for busy plant owners who may forget once in a while.

In contrast, the most important thing to remember with your Peperomia Polybotrya is not to overwater it. Allowing it to sit in water makes it susceptible to root rot, which can kill your plant.

As such, the best frequency for watering your peperomia raindrop will vary depending on where you live, where you place the plant, what season it is, how much sunlight it is getting, the kind of soil you place it in and many other factors.

Because it is impossible to generalize, the best way to gauge if it time to water is to stick your finger into the soil. If the top 1-2 inches feels dry, it is time to water your plant. However, if it still feels moist, then wait a little longer before testing again.

 

Soil

Peperomia Polybotrya have small root systems. Thus, they don’t need a lot of soil nor water. In fact, too much soil causes the plant to sit in water for long periods of time. That’s because a high soil to plant ratio in the pot means a lot of wetness when you water.

This also means that the moisture will take quite a while to dry up. As a result, your raindrop peperomia is left with wet feet. This puts it at risk of root rot. I’ll talk more about the pots and containers below in the repotting section.

For now, the most important thing to remember with soil for your Peperomia Polybotrya is it should be well-draining. This ensures that there isn’t too much moisture at any given time.

And, the easiest way to do so is to use African violet soil, which is readily available in nurseries and garden centers. If you want to create your own potting mix, you can go with half to half ratio of perlite and peat moss.

  • The perlite will provide the substrate with excellent draining ability.
  • The peat moss will help it retain water enough so that your plant is able to absorb it along with nutrients.

 

Fertilizing

When it comes to fertilizer, use a balanced or general purpose houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength once every month during its growing season (March to September). You can use liquid formulation or pellet form depending on what you prefer.

Make sure to apply it directly on the soil and not to the leaves. This same concept applies when watering your plant.

In the cooler months of fall and winter, you don’t need to feed your Peperomia Polybotrya.

 

Pruning Peperomia Polybotrya

Peperomia Polybotrya are relatively small plants. And, they are slow growers as well. Thus, you don’t need to groom them as much as some other peperomia varieties.

That said, you do still want to trim back old, dead, dying, diseased or discolored leaves. This not only makes your plant look good it also helps it grow healthier as you get rid of the parts that are deteriorating. And, allow it to grow fresh new ones in it their places.

 

Propagation

 

The Peperomia Polybotrya is very easy to propagate. And, you can do so via leaf or stem cuttings depending on what you prefer. Both work very well.

But as with all kinds of propagation, you want to do start with more than just one leaf or one stem. That’s because propagation is part art and science. And, there are no sure things. So, propagating more than one is the best way to ensure you end up with at least one new healthy growing plant.

How to Propagate Peperomia Polybotrya from Stem Cuttings

  • Choose stems that are healthy and have at least a few leaves on them.
  • You want to make the cut so that the stem is at least 4 inches long. You can go a little bit longer as well. The goal is to have enough stem to let it stand in water. And, later be planted into soil upright.
  • Make the cut. Then leave the stems to dry and callous.
  • Once the stem end has calloused, dip that end into rooting hormone powder. This increases success rate as well as speeds up the rooting process.
  • Place the stem cuttings in a glass or jar of water. This step is optional because you can propagate them directly into soil. But, I’ve found that rooting them in water increases the odds of rooting. It also takes less time to root.
  • After a few weeks you should start seeing the roots. The advantage of growing them in water is you can see the roots form as they grow.
  • Next, you can move them into a container with potting mix.
  • Place a plastic bag over the plant to increase humidity. Then, leave the plant in a warm spot that receives bright, indirect light.
  • Water as needed when the soil starts to dry.

How to Propagate Peperomia Polybotrya from Leaf Cuttings

  • With leaf cuttings, you want to choose a few healthy leaves.
  • Cut them in halves and place into a pot with soil.
  • Place the pot in warm location with bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Water regularly to keep the soil moist. But, don’t let it get soggy.
  • After a few weeks, you’ll start seeing new leaflets start growing.
  • As they grow, keep monitoring them until the point where you see they start to crowd one another. That’s your cue that it is time to separate them into their own pots.

The best time to propagate your coin leaf peperomia is during early spring which allows it to immediately start its growing season.

 

Peperomia Polybotrya Transplanting & Repotting

If the Peperomia Polybotrya plant you get is already mature, then you won’t need to worry about repotting it. Because the plant has a small root system and is a slow grower, repotting will be unnecessary for many, many years.

That said, once you see its roots start peeking out of the holes of your plant, it is time to move it to a slightly larger pot. This means going up 2 inches. Doing so ensures that you don’t overwhelm it with soil.

While soil isn’t a bad thing, too much of it can become problematic for your coin leaf peperomia when the soil is watered. Because there is a lot of soil compared to plant, the surroundings will stay wet for long periods of time. Thus causing your plant to sit in water which it hates.

Additionally, when it comes time to transplant your Peperomia Polybotrya, you want to be more careful that other houseplants. That’s because smaller roots are more delicate. And, tugging or pulling can easily damage them.

 

Pests and Diseases

Another one of the reasons the raindrop peperomia is easy to care for is that it doesn’t experience pests or diseases. As long as you provide it with proper care, you may never need to worry about these problems.

That said, there are times it may be susceptible to pests. Two of the most common ones are mealybugs and spider mites.

Mealybugs appear like small pieces of cotton on the leaves of your plant. Always make sure to inspect both sides of leaves because some pests like to start on the underside making them easy to miss of you just look from above.

Red spider mites are red in color. This makes them more visible against the dark green foliage of your plant. Since they suck the sap from your plant, you’ll see yellow spots on the leaves. Similarly, they’ll leave small webbings.

If you happen to detect either, the first thing you want to do is separate the infested plant from other others. Then check all the others if any of them have been affected. This is because pests spread quickly from one plant to another.

Once you’ve separated all the affected plants, it is time to treat them. You can use insecticidal soap or neem oil to do so. And, to prevent them from happening in the future, make sure to keep lighting, watering and humidity is on point. Plus, regularly cleaning your plant, especially the leaves, helps.

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