The watermelon peperomia (Peperomia argyreia) is easy to care for, even if you don’t consider yourself a plant expert. This sweet little houseplant brightens any space with green and silver striped leaves coupled with vibrant red stems. Plus, it remains small even once it reaches maturity, so it’s a great addition to any desk or a small shelf.
Watermelon Peperomia Care – Key Takeaways:
|Common Name:||Watermelon Peperomia|
|Scientific Name:||Peperomia argyreia|
|Native Range:||South America (primarily Brazil)|
|Soil:||Well-draining potting mix, ideally a mix for succulents and cacti|
|Light:||Bright, indirect light – ideally for a minimum of 5 hours daily; can tolerate lower light conditions but might lose its vibrant colors.|
|Watering:||Allow the top 1-2 inches of soil to dry out before watering again; avoid overwatering. Every 1-3 weeks in summer and 3-5 weeks in winter.|
|Temperature:||Ideal range is between 60-80°F (17-27°C); does not tolerate temperatures below 50°F (10°C)|
|Fertilizing:||Feed with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength once a month during the growing season (spring and summer)|
|Pruning:||Prune to maintain desired size and shape; can also propagate from leaf cuttings|
|Pests:||Common watermelon peperomia pests include spider mites, mealybugs, and fungus gnats; they can be managed with regular cleaning, appropriate watering, and the use of insecticidal soaps or neem oil if needed|
|Toxicity:||Non-toxic to pets and humans; however, it’s always best to keep plants out of reach from pets and small children.|
How to Grow Watermelon Peperomia Indoors at Home
What to do Before Planting
These plants like at least a few hours of indirect light, but most importantly, they don’t receive any bright, direct sunlight. You don’t want the sun’s rays hitting the plant’s leaves.
Once you’ve found a suitable spot, pick out a pot that is the same size as the container your plant came in. These plants like being a bit rootbound, so don’t increase the size of your pot.
What’s the Best Soil Mix?
Watermelon peperomia plants prefer a well-draining soil mix that can hold water and nutrients.
To make a potting soil that your watermelon peperomia will love, mix the following:
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part compost
- 1 part peat moss or coco coir
Alternatively, you can look for a pre-mixed potting mix labeled as well-draining. I like the special pre-mixed potting mix from Bloomscape.
How to Plant Watermelon Peperomia
The watermelon peperomia is easy to plant if you know a few details.
We’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; these plants like being a bit rootbound. That means you shouldn’t choose a much bigger pot than your plant.
Once you’ve found a proper container, fill the bottom third with a well-draining potting mix, such as that described above. Place your plant into the pot, and top with potting mix.
Water your plant with room temperature water and place it in a suitable location.
In nature, these plants reside in the understory, and their light requirements reflect this. They prefer at least five hours of light daily, yet they cannot withstand bright, direct light.
One of the best places for them is near any window covered with a curtain or shade that filters the light. You can also place your plant in the interior of a room as long as it receives some light.
Temperature and Humidity Preferences
Watermelon peperomia temperature ranges are optimal between 60-80ºF, although they can handle brief periods below that range. They don’t do well with hot or cold drafts, so keep them away from exterior doors and interior vents.
They don’t do well in dry air and prefer humidity above 50%. Spritz the plant with water every few days to raise the humidity levels in a dry house. Or you can place a tray filled with pebbles and water under the base of your plant’s pot.
How to Care for Watermelon Peperomia at Home
Watering Watermelon Peperomia
With fleshy leaves that hold in moisture, these plants are more susceptible to overwatering than underwatering, but they can suffer from problems due to either. You want to prevent the soil from completely drying, but also allow the soil to dry out in between waterings.
A good rule of thumb is to let the top inch or two of soil near the base of the plant dry out before watering. Various factors impact how long this will take, but you can expect to water every 1-3 weeks in the summer and every 3-5 weeks in the winter.
When you’re determining when to water, consider the following factors.
- Light – The more light a plant receives, the faster its soil will dry.
- Temperature – Higher temperatures increase transpiration, so you’ll need to water more frequently.
- Humidity – The higher the humidity, the less you’ll need to water.
- Growth – Plants slow their growth in winter and therefore use less water.
Fertilizing Watermelon Peperomia
These plants don’t have advanced nutrient needs, but they will benefit from a regular dose of houseplant fertilizer suitable for watermelon peperomia plants.
Dilute a standard indoor houseplant fertilizer to half of the recommended strength. Use this mixture to fertilize your plant every few months in late spring through early fall. You don’t need to fertilize during the winter.
Pruning Watermelon Peperomia
There’s no need to prune these little plants, but you can trim them whenever you feel like their growth is getting a little out of control. Use a sharp, clean pair of shears to cut the plant’s stems.
Propagating Watermelon Peperomia
The two easiest ways to propagate watermelon peperomia at home are by division and by leaf or stem cuttings.
Propagate by Division
- Obtain a mature plant. You’ll need a plant that has at least a few clusters of leaves and established roots.
- Remove the soil. Carefully remove the entire plant from its container. Shake off the soil so you expose the roots.
- Separate the roots. Once you have a good view, separate the roots with a sharp knife or pair of shears. You want each piece to have at least one leaf as well as a root.
- Replant. Plant each of your divisions into an individual pot. Water in and care for as you would adult plants.
Propagate from a Stem Cutting
- Take a cutting. Obtain a leaf cutting complete with at least one inch of the leaf’s red petiole (leaf stem).
- Place in water. Place the cutting in a container and add water so the base of the petiole is covered. The leaf shouldn’t be touching the water.
- Wait. Change the water weekly and wait for roots to appear.
- Pot. Once you see roots, you can plant the cutting in a pot filled with well-draining potting soil.
Propagate from a Leaf Cutting
- Obtain a cutting. Unlike many other plants, these cuttings don’t need a leaf node for successful propagation. Make a clean cut perpendicular to the leaf’s stripes to obtain a cutting.
- Place in soil. Place the cutting in soil, cut side down. Only the very tip of the cutting should be under the soil.
- Cover and mist. Place a plastic bag or container over your cutting and mist with water to increase the humidity.
- Wait. Your cutting should develop roots within a few weeks. During this time, keep the humidity high, but avoid wet soil.
Repotting Watermelon Peperomia
Since these plants like being a bit rootbound, only repot them when they are way too big for their current container.
Common Problems and How to Treat Them
If your plant is losing its leaves, this is likely due to one of two reasons.
The first reason is that you are overeating your plant. If the soil is constantly damp, decrease the frequency of your waterings.
Remember to allow the top one to inches of soil to dry out before watering. When you check for moisture, check near the middle of the pot, as the sides dry out quicker.
Another possible reason for leaf drop is cold temperatures. If your plant is in an area with air temperatures below 60ºF, move it to a warmer area.
Cold water can also shock your plant and cause it to lose leaves. Water your plant with room temperature water.
If your watermelon peperomia’s leaves or stems are soft and mushy to the touch, they are rotting. The number one cause of root rot is overwatering.
Even if you aren’t watering very often, your plant may be suffering due to poor soil or an improperly draining container. Make sure you are using well-draining potting soil and a container with drainage holes.
If your plant is rotting, you may be able to revive it. Cut away any rotting tissue, repot your plant in fresh soil, and decrease the amount you water.
Guess what? Yellowing leaves and drooping watermelon peperomia leaves are another sign that you are overwatering your plant or using a pot and/or potting soil without proper drainage.
Follow the advice listed above to fix this problem.
About Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia)
No, this plant isn’t related to the sweet, juicy melon it’s named after. Rather, it’s a member of the Piperaceae family, the same family that peppercorn plants belong to.
The watermelon peperomia is part of the Peperomia genus known as radiator plants. Its species is argyreia.
Origins and History
Watermelon peperomia plants are native to the understory of tropical forests located in northern South America. They often grow on rotting wood or other materials located on the forest floor.
It’s unknown when these plants made it to other parts of the world, but they are currently enjoyed as houseplants by people around the globe.
Watermelon Peperomia Care FAQs:
Are Watermelon Peperomia Plants Easy to Grow at Home?
Yes, these plants are easy to grow at home, as long as you provide the right conditions. They’re a great choice for people new to caring for plants as well as for those who have lots of other plants at home.
How Long Will Watermelon Peperomia Typically Live?
Watermelon peperomia plants can easily live for over five years with the proper care.
Are Watermelon Peperomia Toxic to Humans and/or Pets?
No. The watermelon peperomia is non-toxic to both humans and pets.
How Big Will Watermelon Peperomia Grow Indoors?
These plants max out at about a foot tall and wide, so they won’t take up much space in your home.
How Fast Will Watermelon Peperomia Grow Indoors?
Peperomia plants grow quite quickly and can reach their maximum size in a few years.
As an easy-to-care-for plant with gorgeous foliage, the watermelon peperomia makes a great addition to any home. Give it well-draining soil, a bit of sun, and warm temperatures to keep it happy.
For more, learn all about the many uses and benefits of Watermelon Peperomias.