When I first saw the watermelon peperomia’s stunning leaves, I knew I had to have one of these plants. But after I brought one of these beautiful plants home, I learned there was more to it than its delicate red stems and striped green leaves. Here are some surprising facts about watermelon peperomia that I’ve discovered since nurturing one of these cute plants.
1. They Have Semi-Succulent Leaves
These plants have thick, fleshy, succulent-like leaves. However, people debate whether or not they’re true succulents. Regardless, their water-filled leaves allow them to survive short periods of drought. So don’t worry if the soil dries out a bit!
2. Try the Taco Test
If you ask people how to water these plants, they’ll probably mention the “taco test.” When I first heard about it, I had no idea what people were talking about.
Well, it turns out that folding the leaves in half like a taco shell is a good way to see if you need to water the plants. If you can easily fold the leaves, go ahead and water. But if the plants are rigid enough to resist folding, wait to water.
3. The Flowers Stink
While most people buy these plants for their beautiful leaves, they also produce flowers. The flowers are light yellow or off-white and grow in long, thin spikes.
The flowers can be surprising, but their smell really shocked me. Some people say they smell like a dirty litter box, and others say they resemble dog vomit, but everyone agrees the fragrance isn’t pleasant. Fortunately, you can easily snip off the flowers to eliminate the smell.
4. Easily Sunburn
While watermelon peperomia plants like lots of bright light, they’re sensitive to direct light. Placing them in an area where they receive bright, direct light can lead to burnt and discolored leaves.
5. Prone to Root Rot
Root rot is one of the biggest problems people face with watermelon peperomia plants. While the fungal disease can occur at any time, it’s much more likely to appear in moist soil. And that means overwatering is commonly associated with root rot.
Since it’s easy to water your plant to death, avoid watering until you’re sure it needs it. Remember to utilize the taco test I mentioned above!
6. Easy to Propagate
If you happen to overwater your plant and cause its decline, consider propagating a new plant to care for. Fortunately, you can easily form a new plant from a leaf cutting.
Use a sharp knife to cut a red petiole near the soil surface, then trim it so it is about half an inch long. Place the end of the petiole in a pot filled with a peat-based soil mix, water well, and cover it with a plastic bag to trap moisture. The cutting should form roots within a month.
7. Loose Soil Mix Is Key
Just because your plant arrives in a tightly packed peat-based potting mix, it doesn’t mean this is the best soil for your plant! Since watermelon peperomia plants have semi-succulent leaves and are prone to root rot, they will perform better in a chunky and well-draining soil mix.
A standard orchid potting mix works well for these plants. You can also grab a standard houseplant potting mix and add some pine park and perlite for extra drainage.
8. Pests Can Still Attack
Although these plants aren’t as susceptible to pests as other houseplants, they aren’t immune. Sap-sucking watermelon peperomia pests like aphids, thrips, and spider mites can take over the leaves and remove the plant’s juices.
Check new houseplants for pests before adding them to your home, and look for pests when you water. If you notice little pests, remove them with a soapy rag or spray them with neem oil.
9. Perfect for Pets
Watermelon peperomia plants are non-toxic to dogs and cats, so they’re a great addition to pet-filled homes. Of course, you shouldn’t encourage your pets to munch on the leaves, but you don’t have to worry if they do.
10. Related to Other Popular Houseplants
Watermelon peperomia (Peperomia argyreia) is in the Peperomia genus, which means it is closely related to other popular Peperomia houseplants! Some other plants in this genus include the emerald ripple peperomia (Peperomia caperata), ivy peperomia (Peperomia griseoargentea), and baby rubber plant (Peperomia obtusifolia).
Although these plants are in the same genus, they have different growth habits and appearances. Some grow as epiphytes in tropical forests, while others have thick, succulent leaves and grow in the soil at high altitudes.
Now that you know some lesser-known facts about watermelon peperomia, you’re ready to care for one of these plants. Provide it with bright light, use a well-draining potting mix, and avoid overwatering.