How to Care for Watermelon Peperomia?
With attractive leaves that are variegated just like the skin of a watermelon, the Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia) can be grown indoors and out as groundcover or grouped together with other plants for an eye-catching display.
If you’re a beginner, you’ll find that caring for this plant simply comes down to following a few basic rules like making sure the plant has enough light, it’s not overwatered, and the temperature is within the range acceptable for peperomias.
If you’ve set your eyes on this peperomia variety, the plant care guide I’ve put together below will help you keep it growing healthy.
Size & Growth
With green fleshy leaves attached to burgundy red soft stems, the Watermelon Peperomia has a bushy appearance. Some varieties will stay at 6 inches, others will grow twice as tall.
Regardless of variety, it’s a small-growing plant that will look best when displayed on a table or furniture or grouped together with other plants that grow to similar sizes.
While it has fleshy leaves similar to those of succulents, the Watermelon Peperomia has no desire for direct sun exposure, so it should be kept out of direct sunlight.
That said, it shouldn’t be kept in low light either. A spot a few feet back from an east, west or south-facing window should do the trick.
Outdoors, it will do fine in semi-shade or under dappled light. Direct sun will damage the fleshy leaves of the plant.
Peperomias don’t have high water demands and don’t tolerate overwatering. To avoid overwatering, allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions.
Always check the soil of your peperomia before watering. If the top of the soil feels dry to the touch, it means you can go ahead and give the plant a thorough watering.
Excess water should drain out of the pot and using the right type of soil will help out with that, preventing the roots from sitting in water for too long.
Keep up the normal watering routine from spring to fall. In winter, cut back a bit on watering. During this time, the plant will stop developing and its water requirements will decrease accordingly.
The other extreme — underwatering — should also be avoided. Although peperomias are more forgiving of underwatering than overwatering, it shouldn’t go weeks on end without watering.
Because its fleshy stems and leaves retain water, your peperomia will probably be fine for a couple of weeks without water, but left longer without watering, the plant will start to decline.
Don’t use regular houseplant soil for your peperomias. This soil is too heavy, prone to compaction and retains too much water. Instead, use a mix of peat and perlite (2:1), which will offer aeration and drainage, but also retain just the right amount of moisture.
Of course, you need to make sure that the pot in which you plant your peperomia has holes at the bottom to allow water to trickle out.
Temperature & Humidity
Like most tropical plants, the temperature range preferred by the Watermelon peperomia is between 65-75ºF (18-24ºC). This range can be maintained in our homes in all seasons, so this makes the peperomia an excellent houseplant.
It follows then that if you keep your peperomias outdoors, you need to watch out for temperature changes. If temperatures are starting to go down, the plant should be moved indoors. Peperomias should not be exposed to temperatures lower than 50 F (10 C).
Peperomias do well in average humidity and increasing humidity will only be required if the air in your home is dry. You can mist the plant daily or every other day, or group it together with other plants to increase humidity.
Regular feeding will sustain the plant’s healthy growth and result in beautiful and vibrant foliage. Use a diluted liquid fertilizer every two weeks or just monthly starting from spring until the beginning of fall.
Peperomias are not heavy feeders, so go ahead and dilute the fertilizer to avoid overfertilizing your plant, which can open the way for other problems like root burn and foliage damage.
Potting & Repotting
Because they don’t grow tall and they’re happy staying a bit pot-bound, you will be fine repotting every 3 years or so. When you do repot your peperomia, however, make sure you do so in early spring.
To freshen up the soil, I recommend changing the top soil every spring with a nutritious new layer.
As for the pot, you can keep your peperomia in plastic or terracotta pots, either will work fine as long as they have draining holes.
Plastic pots retain moisture for longer, while terracotta pots absorb moisture better, so depending on whether you’re too generous or not with watering, you can pick one or the other.
How to Propagate Watermelon Peperomia?
Watermelon peperomia can be propagated by leaf cuttings. This is the easiest and quickest way. Harvest a leaf cutting with the stalk attached. The cutting should stand at least at one inch.
Use rooting hormone on the cut end to stimulate faster root development and place the cutting in moist potting. Keep the cutting out of direct sunlight and in a warm location. You should also keep the soil moist.
You can root in water as well, which gives you a clear view of how the roots are developing. You should see some root development in 2-6 weeks. If you go with the water rooting method, make sure to change the water every 2-3 days to keep it fresh.
Watermelon peperomias look their best when grouped together with other plants that have similar care requirements, or when multiple peperomias are grouped together. This will also improve humidity around the plant, helping it thrive when humidity levels indoors are lower.
They’re a quintessentially beginner-friendly plant, so don’t worry about not having enough experience growing houseplants. The peperomia isn’t fussy and you don’t need to go out of your way to care for it.
It needs good lighting, regular watering, and enough warmth. Watch out for these and you’ll be enjoying an eye-catching display of foliage.