Peperomia Rosso (Peperomia Caperata) Plant Care

peperomia rosso

The peperomia rosso is one of the more unique looking peperomia varieties. Often, these plants have visible stems that keep the leaves up above the container. However, that’s very different with this plant.

Nonetheless, the rosso is an eye catcher. It has beautiful foliage that grow in deep red and green colors that are mesmerizing to look at. And, when displayed with other plants, it easily stands out because of its looks.

In addition to peperomia rosso, you’ll likely hear it referred to as the emerald ripple peperomia and radiator plant as well. It is likewise closely related to the peperomia caperata.

As far as looks go, this is a small plant. At most, you’ll see it get to between 8 to 10 inches tall. It will almost never reach a foot in height.

Its crowning feature are its leaves which form a rosette. These leaves have a heart shade and get to about 1 to 1.5 inches long. They are likewise colorful thanks to the green and red combinations.

During the spring and summertime, you’ll also see them grow small white flowers with reddish spikes. These are likewise small getting to between 2 to 3 inches long.

Due to its size, the rosso is best grown in small containers (4 to 6 inch pots). This lets you place them anywhere you want provided they receive the proper growing conditions mentioned below.

As with other peperomia varieties, the peperomia rosso is tropical in nature.

Peperomia Rosso Plant Care

Peperomia Rosso Light

The best lighting conditions for your peperomia rosso is bright, indirect light. It will tolerate low light conditions but you have to monitor it and make adjustments the farther away you put it from the light source. That’s because low light, or too low light, will stunt its growth. So, if you see its growth slow down, it is a sign to move it somewhere a little brighter.

That said, both the plant doesn’t like both extremes. Too dark/too little light or direct sunlight are both bad for the plant. It will not do well in dark corners. And the sun’s rays will burn its leaves.

If you live in an apartment or condominium where windows are scarce, you also have the option of fluorescent or grow lights. Both work just a swell for your rosso. And, it will happily grow properly under them.

As such, the best spots for this plant is hours of early morning or late afternoon sunlight. if you place it where it will be exposed to harsher sun (mid afternoon, noontime or hot summers), it is a good idea to keep them away from the window. Or, you can likewise use curtains or drapes to filter the sunlight.

It is likewise good to know that you don’t always need to place it near a window. In fact, it will do just fine in the middle of a room as long as the room gets bright light.

 

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Peperomia Rosso Temperature & Humidity

The rosso is also fairly specific with temperature. Ideally, you want to keep it somewhere the temperature stays between 60 and 80 degrees. Within this range, it will grow optimally.

However, it isn’t a fan or large fluctuations. So, you don’t want to have the temperature drop under 60 degrees one week then jump over 80 degrees the next.

Because of this preference, the plant does best in USDA zones 10 to 12 when grown outdoors. Because it is not frost hardy, it won’t survive winters where the temperature go below 50 degrees. So, in colder regions, they are best grown as houseplants with occasional visiting rights outdoors during the summertime.

Similarly, the peperomia rosso enjoys humid conditions. The good news is, both its temperature and humidity preferences are a perfect match with those of most homes, except for wintertime when the air becomes dry.

This means they easily adapt to common house conditions. However, you do want to monitor your plant to see if your home’s humidity is high enough for it. Temperature is often less of a problem.

The rosso’s ideal humidity is around 75%. Although it adapts well to slightly lower levels. If you find that your home isn’t humid enough, you can mist the plant regularly, set it over a pebble tray or put a humidifier near it.

peperomia rosso

source: wikimedia commons

 

Peperomia Rosso Watering

The rosso peperomia don’t need a lot of water. The best time to water your plant is to wait until the top 2 inches of soil is dry before watering again. To check this, just stick your index finger into the soil down until the last knuckle closest to your palm. If the soil is still moist, hold off watering.

And, when you do water your rosso, make sure to do so deeply (and on the soil not from above). This means pouring water directly on the soil not over the leaves. And, you keep pouring until the water starts dripping form the holes at the bottom of the pot. Then, stop.

After that, allow the excess moisture to keep dripping. This stem is time consuming but it is key to a healthy plant.

You want all the excess water to drain. This way, your rosso’s roots don’t sit it water for a long time, which will cause root rot. if you notice spots on its leaves or the leaves get limp/soft, scale back on watering.

Last but not least, it is important to understand the plant’s growth cycle. That is, it grows during spring and summer. Then “rests” in the fall and winter. As such, it will need more water when it is growing and much less at rest.

 

Soil

The peperomia rosso belongs to a set of peperomia varieties that are epiphytes. As such, they have smaller root systems compared to common houseplants.

Also, because they have thick, fleshy leaves, they’re often called succulents. But, they really are not. Instead, they do have succulent-like features. That is to store water in their leaves.

So why do all these matter?

These features affect what kind of soil it likes. Like other epiphytes, your rosso prefers loose, airy soil. This allows air to flow through it which epiphytes use to get some of their nutrients. Additionally, this also makes the soil well draining, so as not to let the plant get wet feet (which it hates).

This makes orchid mix or a succulent mix good options if you don’t want to go through the trouble of creating your own potting soil or substrate. Alternatively, if you want do it yourself, mixing a 1:1 ratio of peat moss and perlite works very well.

Similarly, you don’t want to supply your rosso with a large, wide or deep pot relative to the size of its roots. This puts a lot of soil around it. And, when wet, makes it sit in water for long periods of time because it takes longer to dry up.

In fact, you can actually grow your peperomia rosso as a dish plant.

 

Fertilizing

Like water, your peperomia rosso does not need a lot of fertilizer. All you need to make it happy is to apply general purpose houseplant fertilizer diluted to 50% once a month during its growing season (spring and summer). Then come fall and winter, you can scale back significantly or completely stop.

Also, it is worth noting that if you use a commercial potting mix as mentioned in the soil section above, you’ll want to know whether it comes with a starter dose or not.

Most potting mixes come with an initial dose that lasts for the first few months. Do read your product to make sure. Or, ask the salesperson in the nursery where you bought the potting soil.

This is important because if you repot or place fresh potting mix that has an initial dose, applying fertilizer will double the dosage. This will lead to fertilizer burn, which is very bad for your plant’s root.

Thus, knowing how much the dose is, lets you wait before having to apply fertilizer yourself. This saves you money as well.

Once a year it is also a good idea to allow water to run through your plant. You do this much like when you water deeply then allow all the excess moisture to drain. Doing so removes the excess salt buildup which is a result of fertilizer residue.

 

Peperomia Rosso Pruning

Peperomia rosso are fast growing plants that can get out of control as they grow. As such, pruning it regularly will allow you to limit its growth, shape it the way you want and keep it looking neat and tidy. Additionally, it also helps keep the plant healthy and make it look fuller, better looking.

It is also worth noting that you don’t need to be too careful or gentle with this plant. It won’t mind if you prune it heavily.

As always make sure to use sterile cutting tools when trimming. Since you’re wounding the plant, you don’t want to introduce bacterial infection from unsanitary blades.

 

Propagation

Peperomia rosso are easily propagated via leaf or stem cuttings. Either method works well so it all depends on which you prefer to use. Here’s how to do each method.

 

How to Propagate Peperomia Rosso from Stem Cuttings

  • Choose a stem that has 2 or more leaves.
  • Cut it off using a sterile knife or large scissors. You want to get a stem that’s about 4-6 inches long so that it will be able to “stand” in water and later in the soil.
  • Now you get to choose. Do you want to propagate the stem cutting directly into soil or via water first before moving it into a pot. The former skips having to root in water then move into a pot. The latter has a higher success rate and allows for faster rooting.
  • If you decide to grow it in water first, dip the stem end into the water. Then wait. After a while the roots will start to grow. A glass jar allows you to see exactly how much the roots have grown.
  • Once the roots have grown move it to a pot container soil.
  • If you decide to go directly into a potting soil, prepare a pot with drainage holes. Add some fresh potting mix. This is also the same steps you’ll be doing once the cutting has rooted in water.
  • Insert the stem cutting into the soil and pack it lightly so the stem stands upright.
  • Place somewhere warm that has bright, indirect sunlight.

 

How to Propagate Peperomia Rosso from Leaf Cuttings

  • Propagation through leaf cuttings is very similar to stem cuttings. Although, you’ll be using leaves instead of the entire stem. Here’s how to do it.
  • Cut off a few leaves. If you have experience, you can go with just one leaf and cut it in half. If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to use a few leaves because propagation doesn’t guarantee 100% success.
  • Place the leaves into a container with potting mix. You can also dip the small stem end of the leaf in rooting hormone which helps its success rate as well as speeds up rooting.
  • In a few weeks to a month, it will sprout new roots.

 

Peperomia Rosso Transplanting & Repotting

Because your rosso is a fast grower you will need to repot it about once a year or so. It is also worth noting that they prefer growing in slightly tighter pots. And, don’t mind being root bound.

While this sound like it helps you because it will buy you some time before having to move it, it really doesn’t. Why?

While staying rootbound does mean leaving it in a pot longer, it also means that it doesn’t like it when you move it to a much bigger pot. Thus, ideally, you move up in pot size slowly.

Jumping isn’t a good thing because of this. Plus, getting too big a pot or one that’s too deep means it will sit longer in wet conditions when you water. Both not good for the plant.

That said, the best time to repot your plant is during the spring. This allows it to start growing after being transplanted. Plus, it is better able to overcome the shock of moving during this period.

To repot your peperomia rosso,

  • Gently take it out of its current container. Do note that the more rootbound the plant, the harder it is to take out. So, take your time and don’t try to pound or jar it out. That will increase the shock it experiences.
  • Once out, dust off excess dirt or soil. Also, you’ll want to untangle the roots. Again, the more rootbound the plant, the more roots will be tangled and curling around.
  • Next, fill the new container with potting soil. Make sure that the new pot has drainage holes at the bottom.
  • Place the plant side by side against the new pot to help you gauge how much soil to put in before you insert the plant. Your goal is to allow the plant to stand at the same height out of the pot as it did the existing container.
  • Insert the plant in the new pot and fill the remaining space with potting soil.
  • Don’t pack the soil too tightly. You don’t want to make it too compact since your rosso is fond of light, loose, airy soil.
  • Water thoroughly.

 

Toxicity

Good news, the rosso is non-toxic to both humans and animals. So, there’s not risk of poison ingestion. However, it is never really good to let them eat any parts of plants because they can get stuck in their throat or esophagus.

Additionally, if there are bugs, pests, dirt or dust on the plant they’ll be eating those too.

 

Pests and Diseases

Peperomia rosso are susceptible to a few pests and diseases. But, like human beings, if they are kept healthy they’ll likely be pest and disease free. The key here is to give them the proper amount of light temperature, humidity and watering. The last one is very important.

Any unideal condition will weaken the plant because it will be under stress. And like humans, in this state, it becomes vulnerable to diseases and pests.

That said, the most common pests rosso peperomia experience are mealybugs, spider mites and whiteflies. Fungal disease can likewise affect leaves that are left wet. And, it is also susceptible to root rot if overwatered consistently.

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