Watermelon peperomia (Peperomia argyreia) is a small, but beautiful houseplant that’s known for its stunning foliage. In fact, it is nicknamed as such because the color and patterns on its leaves resemble that of the skin of a watermelon.
These succulent-like oval shaped leaves, which are oversized in comparison to the plant’s stature, are its main attraction. And, while the plant does produce flowers during the summer, nobody ever bothers about them because they’re overshadowed by the foliage.
Watermelon peperomia are most commonly grown in pots. Because of their small size, you can place them on tables, countertops or shelves. Similarly, many people group them together with other small plants to make the group more noticeable.
The plant is native to South America. And so, it is used to conditions that are very similar to that in most homes. This, in addition to its small size, great looks and easy to care for, making it a good choice for beginners.
Watermelon Peperomia Plant Care
Watermelon Peperomia Light
One of the most important requirements for growing watermelon peperomia is to give it enough sunlight. It needs medium to bright light to grow properly. However, make sure to keep it away from direct sunlight. otherwise, you’ll see its beautiful foliage patterns start fading. Similarly, even too much bright, indirect sunlight can also cause its beautiful veins to start disappearing.
That’s because the watermelon peperomia is used to dappled light. In its natural habitat, its short stature keeps it under the shaded canopies of larger trees.
On the other hand, placing it somewhere there’s low light or darkness will make its leaves turn solid green. Either way, the watermelon peperomia will lose its most attractive feature, which you don’t want to happen.
Thus, the ideal location for this plant is an east facing window. If you decide to place it in a west or south facing position make sure that you keep it as least a few feet away from the window. Or, put something like a curtain or drapes over the window to block some of the light.
Should you decide to bring it outside, pick a shaded area that gets indirect sunlight. If you have a bunch of trees in your garden, you can likewise place it under their shade.
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Watermelon Peperomia Temperature & Humidity
The second of the three most important factor in caring for watermelon peperomia is keeping it in the proper temperature range. The plant is native to South America. Thus, it is used to tropical conditions, which is why it is primarily grown as a houseplant here in the U.S.
Most, but not all, houseplants are tropical in nature. That’s because the temperature and humidity of tropical regions are very similar to that of homes.
Indoors, your watermelon peperomia thrives when the thermostat is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It is likewise able to tolerate temperatures slightly outside this range, but more favorably on the warmer side.
What you don’t want to do is allow the temperature to drop under 50 degrees. Once this happens, your plant will start showing signs of distress beginning with its leaves. These changes are signs to immediately adjust one of three things (which will be the most common culprits):
- Temperature and/or humidity
If you noticed, temperature is grouped together with humidity. This is arbitrary because you can group it with watering as well since it deals with moisture.
The important thing to note is that your watermelon peperomia likes humid conditions, especially during its growing season. If you find that your home doesn’t have enough humidity, you can place the plant over a pebble tray.
Make sure that the pot doesn’t touch the water at any time. Because of the holes underneath the pot, doing so will keep the water wet. This will result in root rot.
The tray of water with the pebbles will help increase the humidity around the plant as the water evaporates. The best part about this method is that it is “hands free” after you’ve set it up. And, it doesn’t cost a thing.
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Watermelon Peperomia Watering
No overwatering is the third and final main commandment of caring for watermelon peperomia. Peperomia argyreia are not big drinkers. Thus, they do best with a little water on a regular basis.
As such, the key here is not to overwater them because it will cause root rot. Similarly, not watering them enough will cause its leaves to wilt. However, in most cases, houseplant owners tend to give their plants too much water believing that it will help keep them hydrated or allow them to grow faster. This is likewise the case with fertilizer.
But, in reality, the opposite is true. In fact, too much water or too much fertilizer are both very detrimental because they damage the roots. This makes it harder to remedy than leaf damage. In part because you can’t see the roots, by the time you see the problems reach the stem, considerable damage has been done.
So, the best way to keep your watermelon peperomia well hydrated without overdoing it is to regularly check the soil. To do so,
- Stick your index finger into the soil
- Go down 2 inches deep. This will be more or less up to the knuckle closes to your palm.
- If the soil in that depth is still moist, then wait one or two more days depending on how wet it is. If the soil down there is almost dry, it is time to water again.
- In case you see your plant’s leaves begin to droop, it is a sure sign that it is thirsty. So, immediately water it using the method described below.
Also, you don’t just want to water in any random fashion. You want to do it thoroughly on the soil. This means:
Don’t water over the plant where you get all the leaves wet.
Instead, water directly onto the soil, you can turn the pot so you can water different sides of the soil as you go.
The goal of watering is to keep pouring until the water begins to drip from the holes at the bottom of the pot. Once this happens, stop watering.
The final, but very important step, is to let all the excess water drain. This sounds ironic given that you just poured so much water into the container. But, it is important to do because allowing the excess to drain prevents your plant from sitting in too much water for too long. If this happens, its roots will rot.
Once you’ve gotten the “big 3” requirements above right, the rest (from here on down) are more straightforward.
Watermelon peperomia enjoy moist soil. But they don’t like sitting on too much water or soggy soil. Thus, it is key to have well-draining soil.
For this reason choosing a high quality potting mix is key. You can likewise use a combination of peat moss and perlite work very well.
- Peat moss is great at absorbing moisture. This allows the plant to slowly absorb the liquid from its. Thus, this component of the combination helps with water retention. Additionally, peat moss is light allowing air to easily circulate through the substrate.
- Perlite allows excess moisture to easily drain, without overdoing it. What makes it a great planting medium is that it is able to hold a little moisture and likewise catch nutrients. By allowing excess water to drain freely, it prevents your soil from retaining too much water.
Fertilizing Watermelon Peperomia
As with water, you don’t want to overfeed your houseplant. To avoid doing so, one of the most important things to know is that your plant grows in 2 phases during the year.
- During the spring and summer, it experiences its growing season. During this time, it is actively growing. As such, it needs more water and fertilizer, just as a growing kid needs more sustenance.
- During the fall and winter, growth slows down considerably. And, the plant goes into dormancy. Thus, don’t expect your peperomia to grow much during these months. Similarly, because it is “resting”, it doesn’t need as much water or feeding. So, giving it too much or even the same amount that you do during the spring and summer could end up leaving it waterlogged or result it fertilizer burn (from too much feeding). Both are very bad scenarios.
As you can see, like water, too much fertilizer is much, much worse that lack of fertilizer. If you don’t feed the plant enough, it slows growth. But, if you feed too much the excess fertilizer salts can collect in the roots, which can damage them.
To avoid this, use a balanced or general purpose liquid fertilizer diluted to half or a third strength once a month during its growing season. If you don’t dilute the fertilizer, you’ll likewise overfeed it by giving too high a concentration.
Come wintertime, you can scale back to once every 3 months or completely stop feeding, at least until spring comes back.
Watermelon Peperomia Pruning
You won’t need to prune your watermelon peperomia much because it doesn’t grow all over the place like vines do. But, you will want to pinch off discolored, dead, dying or diseased leaves. These don’t look very appealing. Thus, removing them makes your plant look better.
Just as importantly, pruning them also prevent the plant from expending valuable energy and resources in trying to revive or recover these degrading parts. Instead, once you trim them off, new, fresh growth begins. This way, the plant’s resources are put to better use.
During the summer, you may likewise see the watermelon peperomia bloom. Unfortunately, its flowers aren’t special. And, the peperomia is better known for its beautiful leaves.
As such, it’s a good idea to cut back the flowers as well. This likewise allows the plant to focus more on leaf growth rather than its flowers.
Watermelon Peperomia Propagation
The easiest way to propagate watermelon peperomia is via leaf cuttings. To do so,
- Remove a few leaves from your plant. The exact number will depend on how many new plants you want to produce.
- Cut the leaves in half and dip in rooting hormone to speed up its rooting process.
- Pres the half leaves onto the soil.
- After a while you’ll start seeing the new plants root.
Similarly, you can likewise propagate watermelon peperomia from stem cuttings.
- Instead of taking a leaf, choose a stem with at least a few leaves on it.
- Cut off the stem
- Place the stem cutting in a glass or jar filled with fresh water.
- Soon, you’ll see roots start to grow
While either way works, growing this peperomia variety via leaf cutting is easier since you don’t need to move the plant to a pot later on. Plus, allowing the roots to grow in soil makes them stronger than in water.
Watermelon Peperomia Transplanting & Repotting
Repotting is another thing you won’t have to worry too much with watermelon peperomias. In most cases, you’ll only need to repot once every 3 years. That’s considerably longer than most houseplants.
One of the reasons for this is that they like being slightly root bound. That is, they don’t mind growing in a slightly smaller pot. As an analogy, think of the watermelon peperomia as someone who likes to wear skinny jeans instead of regular fit ones.
But, once you see the roots starting to peek out through the holes in the pot, it is time to move it to a larger container.
Following the concept that it likes being pot bound, pick a container that’s just slightly bigger than it (2 inches, at most 4 inches bigger). This allows it to stay “cozy”.
The best time to repot is in the spring when it is growing or about to start its growth phase for the year. This gives it the ability to overcome the shock of being transplanted better.
Because you’ll be repotting your plant less frequently, it is a good idea to replace the top soil with fresh potting mix yearly during the spring as well.
Watermelon peperomia are not toxic to humans or animals. This is good news as you don’t have to worry about them getting poisoned by the leaves or stem. However, as with ingesting non-food items, these plant parts can be choking hazards or get stuck in their digestive tract.
Pests and Diseases
Watermelon peperomia are fairly resistant to pest and disease. This makes them easier to care for since you don’t need to keep trying to solve new problems that keep popping up.
That said, the key to keeping insects, pests and disease away is a healthy plant. This brings us back to the “big 3” again: light, temperature & humidity, and watering.
When healthy, it is resilient to these problems. But, when it doesn’t get the ideal conditions, the plant gets weak. In this weakened state, it becomes susceptible to spider mites, mealybugs and whiteflies.
So, proper care is vital to avoid problems later on.