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With over 1,500 species to choose from, Peperomia plants are among the most diverse ornamental houseplants you can get your hands on. From the dazzling, tri-colored Metallica Peperomia to the aptly named Watermelon Peperomia, there’s a species for everyone.
Peperomias are easy to grow, maintain, and propagate. As long as you give them enough water, sunlight, and the occasional fertilizer, they’re sure to live long, happy lives.
In this article, I’ll discuss everything you need to know about Peperomias and Peperomia propagation, including how to propagate them with stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, and division.
I’ll also show you how to effectively transplant newly-propagated Peperomias.
Let’s dive right in!
- Botanical name: Peperomia
- Plant type: Perennial
- Common name: Radiator Plant, Baby Rubber Plant, Shining Bush Plant, Pepper Elder, Emerald Ripper Pepper
- Mature size: 6 to 12 inches
- Sun exposure: Medium to bright
- Soil type: Well-draining soil
- Soil pH: 5.0 to 6.0
- Water requirements: Moist
As one of the easiest houseplants to take care of, Peperomia is often the first indoor plant choice for beginners and busy plant parents.
It doesn’t need a whole lot of care to thrive; in fact, a bit of “loving neglect” will do it wonders!
There are over 1,500 species of Peperomia. Some are long and pointy, with crawling leaves and thick foliage, while others are small, colorful, and densely packed.
It doesn’t produce the prettiest flowers but its foliage is to die for: oval-shaped and fleshy, sometimes with attractively colored veins or spots.
Peperomia grows in all subtropical and tropical regions of the world.
It’s found in huge concentrations in Central and South America, but you’ll also find it in parts of Southern Asia, Africa, and even Oceania.
Some grow on other plants (epiphytes), while others grow in or on rock crevices (lithophytes) or areas with little to no water (xerophytes).
Currently, there’s no universally accepted method of categorizing this species of plants.
To keep it simple, scientists and researchers call Peperomias “radiator plants” because many of them thrive in bright and dry environments, like on top of a radiator or near a vent.
Peperomia plants can be propagated through seeds, cuttings, and division in both soil and water.
The easiest and most common method of Peperomia propagation is through stem cutting; i.e., the process of growing roots from a stem.
Here’s how to propagate cuttings in soil:
Fill a four to six-inch plant pot with well-draining potting soil and add in just enough water to keep it moist.
Don’t use regular garden soil as it may contain harmful pathogens that’ll prevent the growth of the cutting. Use fresh, sterilized potting soil.
Once you’ve added the soil, push a finger into the soil to make a small hole—this is where you’ll place the Peperomia once it’s ready to plant.
Select a healthy Peperomia parent to take the cuttings from; one with plenty of new growth.
The parent should be large enough to take multiple cuttings without harming it.
Newer growth is easier to root than older stems or woody stems, so search for a young stem with a healthy node.
Using a sterilized precision knife or a hand pruner, snip a stem from the base of the Peperomia.
The cutting doesn’t need to be too long—three to four inches at most—and should contain at least one node and two leaves.
Place the cutting on a flat surface.
Then, using a sterilized blade, make a clean, partial slice through the middle of the node. This will increase the chance of roots emerging from the sliced spot.
You can also place the clipped end into rooting powder to accelerate the plant’s growth.
Insert the cutting 1/2 inch deep into the soil and pat the soil around it to keep the cutting in place.
Next, cover the plant and cut a clear plastic bag. The bag will trap humidity and create a greenhouse effect, keeping the air around the cutting sufficiently warm and moist.
Prop the bag up with a chopstick or tongue depressor to prevent it from touching the plant. Poke a few holes in the bag with a toothpick so the cutting gets proper fresh air.
Once sealed, place the plot in a spot with bright, indirect sunlight and consistent temperature.
Remember: Peperomia is sensitive to direct sunlight. When exposed for extended periods of time, it’ll get sunburned and die.
For the next four to six weeks, closely monitor the cutting. Water the plant every few days to keep the soil moist.
Once new growth has sprouted, remove the dome but don’t transplant it straight away. Wait until the plant is well-rooted and has grown several new leaves before transplanting it.
Peperomias are semi-succulent plants, so they root extremely well in water.
Though propagating Peperomias are just as effective in soil, propagating cuttings in water allows you to immediately catch potential problems before they wither away the plant.
You’ll be able to see through the glass how well the roots are developing so you can transfer the cuttings into the soil once they’re ready.
Here’s how to propagate stem cuttings in water:
Fill in a small glass jar or cup with regular tap water. You can also use tubes or little bottles that are specifically designed to accommodate plant cuttings.
Search for a Peperomia with at least four leaves and snip off the two lowest leaves with a sterilized blade or hand pruner. Cut the stem about a quarter-inch below the node.
This step is optional but again recommended. Before submerging the cutting in water, coat the end of the stem in rooting powder to accelerate the growth process.
Place the stem in clean water, ensuring the leaves aren’t submerged.
Let the plant grow in bright, indirect light for four to six weeks, occasionally refilling the water whenever it gets low.
Once the cuttings develop roots, you can transplant them into a proper pot with well-draining soil.
Propagating Peperomia through leaf cuttings is much like propagating Peperomia through stem cuttings, though it only works in soil and not in water.
It also doesn’t work on Baby Rubber Plants and similar variegated Peperomia plants, as it can cause the plant to lose its color variegation.
Use this method on solid, non-variegated varieties like Trailing Jade and Raindrop.
Here’s how to propagate through leaf cuttings:
Sniff off a single leaf from the base of the parent Peperomia plant.
You can use the whole leaf, cut it in half width-wise and use one of the leaves, or use both halves to propagate two Peperomias.
Use a small but sharp precision knife to cut the leaf to prevent damaging the vein.
Unlike stem cuttings, leaf cuttings take longer to propagate. So to increase the chance of successful propagation, dip the edge of the leaf in the rooting hormone.
Place the leaf vein-side down in well-draining soil.
Water the soil and gently press it around the cuttings.
Once done, insert the pot into a clear plastic bag and poke a few holes to help the plant hold in the moisture.
Place the pot in bright, indirect sunlight, with a consistently warm temperature of 60° to 70° Fahrenheit.
If you’re propagating in winter or live in a cool area, place the pot on top of a heating pad to keep the soil warm.
For the next four to six weeks, regularly check on the state of the leaf cutting.
Water the leaf every three to four days, making sure it’s moist but not too moist.
After watering, let the cutting breathe for an hour to not only encourage good air circulation but also discourage fungal diseases. Replace the plastic bag after the hour is up.
Once the plantlet shows signs of rooting, you can safely transplant it into a new pot.
The division propagation method is ideal for Peperomias that have become too large and congested. Here’s how to do it:
Gently take the Peperomia out of its pot.
With both hands on either side of the plant, gently press your thumb into the center and tug it apart. Make sure each division has at least two leaves above the soil.
If that doesn’t work, cut the roots with a clean, sterilized knife down the center of the plant.
Place the divided plant in a pot with well-draining soil and keep it moist.
Like the other methods above, position the pot in a brightly lit area with indirect sunlight.
Water regularly for the next few weeks, making sure the plant doesn’t dry out.
Propagating Peperomia through seeds is less efficient than the methods above, but it’s still a viable way of growing new Peperomia at home. Here’s how to do it:
To propagate Peperomia with seeds, you need to make sure the seeds you’re using are high quality.
Purchase your Peperomia seeds from a reputable source to ensure the highest chance of success.
Fill a two to three-inch deep seed container with high-quality potting soil. If you don’t have a seed container or tray, you can use yogurt cups, paper cups, or even milk cartons.
The potting soil must be fresh and sterile so the seedlings grow healthy and disease-free.
Don’t use old potting soil or soil from your garden, as they may contain bacteria or contaminants.
Plant two Peperomia seeds per pot. If both seeds germinate, snip one off and let the other grow.
Moisten the newly planted seeds with a bit of water and cover the pots with a clear plastic bag.
The plastic bag will keep the area moist and humid, speeding up the germination process.
For the upcoming three to six weeks, water the seeds with a misting bottle several times a day. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Feed the seedlings with liquid fertilizer every now and again to speed up their growth process.
When germination occurs, transplant the seedlings into a container with a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5.
Place the pots in bright, indirect light and regularly rotate the pots to keep the seedlings from leaning into the light. Seedlings need at least 15 hours of sunlight a day.
The Peperomia is ready to transplant when its roots are at least one to two inches long.
You’ll know it’s ready to transplant when the plant doesn’t easily come out of the soil when you gently tug on it.
In a six to seven-inch pot, pour a layer of well-drained potting soil until the pot is about 2/3 full with soil. Pat the soil with your bare hand to remove any air pockets.
With a dibber, a hand trowel, or just your fingers, make a hole in the soil. This is where you’ll put your newly-propagated Peperomia.
Remove the Peperomia from its old container and gently untangle the roots with your fingers, making sure not to dislodge all the soil.
If you’ve propagated the plant in water, you don’t have to loosen the soil; leave it as is and directly place it in the new pot.
Put the Peperomia right in the center of the pot (inside the hole you’ve created), and pour in more potting soil around the plant. Make sure the plant can stand upright by itself.
Once you’ve properly transplanted the Peperomia, water the plant to help the roots and soil settle.
You’ll need to give your plant extra water for the next few days until it gets used to its new home. Water the plant until the water starts to flow through the drainage hole. This will help the plant settle.
Like the cuttings and seedlings, the pot must be placed in bright, indirect light. It needs to receive at least 15 hours of light a day to grow healthy.
And that’s it! You’ve successfully transplanted your newly-propagated Peperomia.
You don’t need to fertilize your Peperomia during and after propagation, with one exception: if you’re propagating Peperomia with seeds. Even then, you only need a tiny amount of liquid fertilizer.
That said, Peperomia plants benefit from regular fertilizer during their growing season in the spring and summer months.
Add fertilizer once or twice a year during its active growth period to it can fully reap its benefits.
Use regular houseplant fertilizer but dilute it to half the recommended strength.
The best time to propagate Peperomia plants is in spring and summer when they’re actively growing.
If you propagate the plants outside their growing season, the cutting/seed will take longer to root.
Peperomias thrive in hot and humid conditions. Try to maintain a balance of between 65°F to 80°F to keep it growing year-round.
Peperomias don’t tolerate temperatures between 50° to 55° F, so when winter comes, fire up your indoor heating to provide them with an artificial source of heat.
Select varieties of Peperomia happily grow in water, like the Peperomia obtusifolia (Baby Rubberplant).
However, most Peperomia tends to rot in water if left for longer than six weeks.
To prevent disease and insect infestation, transfer the Peperomia plant into the soil as soon as the first six weeks pass.
If you live in an area without much natural light, you can substitute it with artificial light. This makes them great plants for perking up offices, bedrooms, bathrooms, and even garages.
Peperomia plants can be propagated in three methods: through cuttings (stem and leaf cuttings), division, and seeds.
Propagating Peperomias through cutting is the easiest and most sure-fire way for the plant to develop a new root system.
Division is equally as effective, but it takes a bit more effort than the former.
Propagation through seeds is the slowest and most time-consuming method of propagation, but it’s still a viable way to multiply your Peperomias without taking from the parent plant.