The raindrop peperomia is a plant that you can grow both indoors and outdoors. However, the plant truly shines when you grow it indoors, offering it a sufficient amount of “guarded” light and water. With the beautiful foliage and the ability to tolerate a wide array of climates and seasons, it’s a pretty easy-to-maintain plant.
If you’re considering introducing a raindrop peperomia to your home, you should know a lot more about the plant than just the fact that it’s quite low maintenance. Not all of them look the same. How they turn out in appearance depends a lot on the conditions they live and grow in.
With every indoor plant, there are certain basics that you need to be aware of. The following information is part of the fundamentals you should know about growing and taking care of a raindrop peperomia.
Raindrop Peperomia: A Brief Intro to the Plant
The raindrop peperomia is an easy-to-care for, fairly compact indoor plant with succulent, heart-shaped foliage. Scientifically, it’s known as the peperomia polybotrya. Within botanical gardens, raindrop peperomia doesn’t grow any bigger than one foot, which makes it quite an ideal house plant. The name peperomia is a Greek name, which means ‘resembling paper’. Polybotrya means ‘many’. The plant belongs to the Piperaceae family aka the pepper family.
Besides those names, the plant is also called coin plant or coin-leaf peperomia. Some even mistakenly refer to it as the ‘Chinese money plant’ since the two have similar looking leaves. It’s native to South America’s tropical regions, which include parts of Peru and Colombia.
Growth and Size
As mentioned before, the raindrop peperomia doesn’t grow taller than one foot. Though some may have a different appearance, they are usually quite similar in terms of their height. A few of them, however, could grow more than a foot – may be up to a couple of feet. The height range usually though is 8 to 12 inches. The limited height makes the plant ideal for balconies, containers, and compact indoor spaces.
The stems of the plant are pretty sturdy and you’ll find the leaves are fleshy and quite succulent – primarily due to the water they store to help them tide through the dryer periods. The plant’s leaves are heart-shaped, shiny, and pretty thick. The color is dark green with a glossy sheen and some pale green underneath.
Fragrance and Flowers
You’ll find it makes some interesting looking flowers that resemble the tail of a mouse. To some, these flowers may also look like a bushy spike. These certainly aren’t your regular looking flowers. Some peperomia species may have prominent flower spikes. These consistent of many individual flowers.
The flowers themselves offer a pretty sweet smell. And contrary to what the plant’s name might indicate, the flowers don’t smell like pepper. By the way, these flowers don’t tend to last very long – usually a few weeks. You’ll usually find them growing atop the stems.
Lighting For Your Raindrop Peperomia
The plant can grow both indoors and outdoors. But to optimally maintain the plant inside the house, ensure you place it close to a window in bright light. The window should be west or east-facing so that good light is guaranteed either during mornings or later in the afternoons.
There shouldn’t be any direct sunlight exposure as that could cause the leaves to dry out and even burn. When placed outdoors, it should be kept under the protection cover of a large tree or in some kind of shade.
If the plant doesn’t get the amount of light it needs, it could reach out for it. In other words, the plant could stretch towards any available light source. However, this isn’t a major issue as you can shift the plant’s location so that it could receive enough light. The stretched part of the plant may not retreat, but a little gentle pruning would take care of that.
Temperature For Your Raindrop Peperomia
The raindrop peperomia likes cool and humid conditions – the ideal temperature being 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 26 degrees Celsius). That said, it can put up with warmer temperatures as well during summers. Though the plant can tolerate some level of direct sun exposure, it’s advised you keep the plant in shade completely if the temperature in your area is constantly above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pruning the Peperomia
If the need to prune the raindrop peperomia arises, kindly note you do not need not be too gentle or too careful with the plant. The raindrop peperomia can tolerate pruning pretty well. Basically, what I’m saying is, do not hold back. Pruning is usually done to address the irregular shape and form of the plant, which could be due to growth and/or lack of a proper light source.
Most people like the peperomia to look like it’s supposed to be – compact and delicate. If your plant has grown out of proportion, you may have to prune it pretty aggressively to restore its ornamental looks. Besides cosmetic reasons, the pruning also helps get rid of dead leaves (if any) or any growth that exhibits signs of disease or damage.
Early detection of unhealthy foliage, getting rid of it, and ensuring it doesn’t reoccur would help keep the plant looking beautiful and healthy.
Watering A Raindrop Peperomia
During summer and spring, water the plant generously, and at regular intervals. However, make sure you do not overdo it. Between each watering session, the soil should be relatively dry. In other words, the soil must be dry one to two inches from the top.
Though watering the plant may sound simple, it actually is not that straightforward. In fact, quite a few gardening enthusiasts, particularly the ones who have just gotten introduced to the plant, get the timings wrong. If you water the plant more than required, you could end up killing the plant, like it’s the case with pretty much most indoor plants.
If you’re not sure how dry the soil should be before you could water the plant again, try inserting your finger into the soil. If your finger can push into the soil, it means the soil is fairly moist. If your finger cannot permeate the soil, it means it’s time for another watering session. As far as the number of days goes, the general rule of thumb is a week to 10 days.
The Underwatering and Overwatering Problem
Wilting can be a common occurrence with raindrop peperomias. The wilting issue usually arises either as a result of underwatering or overwatering.
Underwatering is typically more at fault. Overwatering, on the other hand, might seem contradictory. But the fact is that the leaves of a raindrop peperomia do not get enough water even when you overwater the plant.
Overwatering is a serious issue as it could cause root rot or kill the roots. And when the roots have given up the ghost, the plant will not be able to pull up the water from the bottom, which in the case of overwatering is found in abundance. If the overwatering has caused enough damage, it will be almost impossible to revive the plant.
An overwatered raindrop peperomia usually develops:
- Rotting stalks
- Yellowing or wilting leaves
- Waterlogged soil
- A relatively heavy pot
An under-watered plant would have wilted, dry, wrinkled leaves and the tips of the leaves could be crispy. The soil would be quite dry to the touch, usually dry to the bottom of the pot. Due to this dryness, the roots won’t have enough water to access and provide to the plant.
Since the plant’s leaves and stems are naturally capable of storing water, the plant can survive periods of droughts. However, do not take the plant’s water storing capacity for granted or push it too much.
Therefore, make sure you take up a very methodical approach when it comes to watering one.
Adding some balanced liquid fertilizer to the plant once every month during summer. In winters, you need not fertilize the plant. And the watering frequency and quantity should be reduced too.
Soil and Repotting
Generally, plants – let alone raindrop peperomia – don’t require repotting unless you started to care for the plant when it was very small and rooted in a fairly compact pot. In that case, you would have to shift it to a bigger, permanent pot. If not, then refrain from transplanting or repotting.
Compared to other indoor house plants, a raindrop peperomias roots are relatively weak, or they aren’t very deep and entrenched. When transplanting the plant, the weak root system of the plant could give in, causing damage to the plant in the process. This doesn’t mean repotting is not possible. You can certainly change pots, but you need to be extremely careful when doing so. If you are fairly new to indoor plants, it’s recommended you steer clear of the process and get someone more hands-on to do it for you.
Generally, it’s pretty okay to repot it once every 2 to 3 years. This helps ensure the potting mix doesn’t become too compact, which would decrease the drainage. The repotting could be done with a pot similar in size to the existing one, or you may move the plant to a pot that’s slightly on the bigger side if you think its grown a little.
When potting it for the very first time, make sure you use a potting mix or soil that has pretty good drainage. The potting mix by African Violet would be ideal. If you don’t get your hands on the African Violet mix, try a 50% perlite and 50% peat moss mixture.
If you are repotting the plant, use a combination of soils for the potting mix. Add half the fresh potting soil, and the other half should be the soil from the existing pot. And when removing the plant from its current pot, make sure there is no old soil stuck to the roots of the plant.
When placing the plant in the new pot, the new potting mix should envelope the roots gently. Make sure the compacting is not too firm. Once done, water the plant well so that the plant settles down nicely in its new abode.
Grooming and Upkeep
Raindrop peperomia don’t have any special grooming or maintenance requirements. Since the maximum growth is up to a foot, the rate of growth is pretty slow and relaxed. This doesn’t mean the plant doesn’t undergo biological changes during its slow-paced growth or when completely grown. For instance, the flowers continually grow and wither away. Getting rid of the faded flowers would not just make way for the newer flowers, but the plant will also look good without the wilted blooms.
If you don’t want to completely abandon the plant or want to do your bit to help the plant grow and look healthy, try misting the plant. There are quite a few benefits attached to this, which include:
- Recreation of the humid environment that the peperomia prefers
- Cleaner and dust-free leaves
- Reduced red spider mite infestation risks
Propagating the Raindrop Peperomia
If you’ve grown a fairly lush indoor plant garden, you should probably know what propagating a plant means. Most likely, you’ve propagated quite a few plants already. Besides helping you populate your indoor garden, propagating a plant also helps offer plants to friends and relatives without losing a plant or two from your garden.
Like the majority of indoor plants, a raindrop peperomia can be propagated too. The process, in fact, is pretty easy. However, make sure you do it during spring or early summer.
You can use either leaf cuttings or stem cuttings to propagate a peperomia. The method you opt for would depend on your preference. Kindly note, if the plant has leaves with different shades of green, use the stem(s) of the plant if you want the newly grown plant to have leaves in varying colors too.
Propagating a Raindrop Peperomia Using Leaf Cuttings
Before you start to cut the leaves for propagation, make sure you have the plant pots or propagation tray ready to use beforehand. Also, use an identical mix of perlite and potting compost. Make sure all equipment and the propagation tray being used are sterile (at least well-cleaned) since fungal diseases could prevent successful peperomia propagation.
- Start with cutting a healthy leaf. The leaf can have some stem attached or could be taken off the stem’s base. Use sterile pruning shears or sharp scissors.
- You may use the leaf in its entirety for propagation. However, for better and quicker results, it’s recommended you cut the leaf across its width in two.
- Subject the leaf’s cut edges to some rooting powder to encourage fresh root growth.
- Create a small conduit in the potting soil using a spoon or knife, which would help insert the cutting a centimeter or two deep into the potting soil.
- The cutting must be inserted making sure the leaf’s cut edge enters the soil first. Once inserted, firm the potting mix around the cutting. Water the potting soil thoroughly.
- Cover the cuttings with either a covered tray or some polyethylene bag. Remove the cover every few days for some hours to mitigate excessive humidity build-up, which could lead to a fungal disease.
- The cuttings should be kept in bright veiled light at room temperature.
- After a few days, possibly when you take the cover off for the very first time, new roots may have developed from the leaf’s cut edges. After some time, a fresh shoot and leaves would start developing.
- Once multiple leaves have developed, the new plant could be moved to a pot of its own.
- Do not repot the plant too early as raindrop peperomias can have shallow roots.
Propagating Raindrop Peperomia Using Stem Cuttings
The basic steps and tools for propagating a peperomia using its stem are pretty similar to propagating using the plant’s leaf cuttings.
- Cut a healthy stem of the peperomia. The stem should ideally have two to three leaves.
- Remove the leaves at the bottom of the stem so that a short segment of the stem is exposed.
- Put the cut end into some of that powder.
- Place the cutting into the potting media and firm the soil near its cutting.
- Water the potting soil thoroughly.
Plant the cut stem or leaf in a relatively small pot with some moist soil. Ensure the fresh cuttings receive a decent amount of shaded sunlight. And the soil should remain moist too. You can expect small leaflets to show up within a week or two.
These leaflets will grow pretty soon and become plants of their own. After multiple weeks, when the leaflets start to form a cluster, transfer them to separate containers.
Raindrop Peperomia: Pests and Diseases, and Safety
With minimal care and attention, the peperomia can last for several years. Perhaps, the only problem the plant could encounter is infestations courtesy mealy bugs and red spider mites. These small critters draw the sap out from the leaves, leaving behind small yellow spots. And in some time, the affected leaves completely lose their moistness and fall off.
These infestations could be kept under check with regular cleaning of your indoors. Also, wipe down the leaves with a wet soft cloth every now and again. Neem oil sprays can come in quite handy.
A raindrop peperomia is a safe, non-poisonous plant for both pets and humans. You or your pet is not contracting any disease by coming in contact with the sap or even by ingesting the leaves. The leaves may taste bad, but they are certainly not hazardous. Therefore, do not worry about your pets nibbling on the plant’s leaves accidentally or out of pure curiosity.
Things to Consider When Buying a Raindrop Peperomia
To make sure you take home the healthiest peperomia plant possible, there are a few things you need to be wary of when shopping for the plant.
Buy the Plant from the Right Shop
Buy the plant from a trusted or reputable garden or nursery shop. Peperomia plants are a tad temperature-sensitive. A shop that knows its trade would be aware of the same and, therefore, ensure proper transport and storage conditions for the plant.
Check for Leaf Damage
A raindrop peperomia may not show signs of damage during the initial stages of any mistreatment. However, the ones that have been subjected to improper living conditions are likely to give away clear signals. A damaged peperomia usually sport leaves that have yellow or black spots – akin to the leaves of an overwatered peperomia. When inspecting the leaves, do not forget to look at both sides.
Get Talking with the Seller
Talk to the staff in the store and learn how old the plant is and how long it has been in the shop. A reputable seller would usually be pretty forthcoming with their inputs. If the seller is not very keen on clearing your doubts, consider buying the plant from another seller.