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Peperomia spp - Rats Tail Plants 


The Plant: Originating from tropical and subtropical America, the Peperomias are a large group of around 1000 species with a variety of growth habits. Some are annuals whilst others are evergreen perennials, some are epiphytic preferring to grow on trees.

The Peperomias are mainly grown for their attractive foliage. They have a wide variation in leaf-shape, colour and size; the small, creamy flower spikes, occasionally produced, are somewhat insignificant. There is considerable confusion over the names of some varieties of Peperomia but I will list some of those popularly grown as houseplants.

Peperomia argyreia (P. sandersii)
A neat clump-forming plant with shield-shaped foliage of dark green and silver blades and red stalks.

Peperomia caperata
The Emerald Ripple Pepper
The heart-shaped foliage is deep green with an almost quilted effect. Various leaf colorations and shapes may be found. Small cream-coloured flowers produced occasionally. Forms a neat ‘cushion’ if planted in a shallow container.

Rats tail plant -Peperomia prostrata - A good trailing plant.

Peperomia clusiifolia variegata
A more upright growth habit with long leathery foliage, (leaves up to 7 cm long), and with significant cream and red leaf margins.

Peperomia fraseri
This Peperomia has heart-shaped leaves arranged around upright stems and bears scented white flower spikes.

Peperomia glabella
Bright green, shiny oval leaves and a rambling growth habit make this plant suitable for hanging containers or growing in with a variety of other houseplants. The ‘flowers’ resemble long green antennae.


Peperomia hederifolia (P. griseoargentea)
The deep corrugations on these heart-shaped leaves give a quilted appearance, the underside of the foliage is pale green and the stems are reddish-pink.

Peperomia magnoliaefolia variegata (P. obtusifolia)
A robust looking plant with thick rubbery leaves, 5 – 10cm in length, borne on thick stubby stalks. A somewhat straggly growth habit. There is a plain green variety but the variegated form is generally more popular.

Peperomia nummulariifolia (P. rotundifloia)
Round, penny-sized bright green foliage with a trailing growth habit.

Peperomia verticillata
Leaves grow in whorls of either four or six along stems which may reach up to 30cm in height. The foliage is covered with fine hairs.

Its Needs: Strong light but no direct sun is required. Some Peperomia spp. Can cope with partial shade for short periods. Warmth essential, with minimal variations in temperature between night and daytime. Extra humidity may be needed in summer by mist-spraying. A good enriched peat-based compost potting mix is ideal and should afford good drainage as Peperomias do not like to become water-logged.

Care: A monthly feed of liquid fertiliser can be applied during the summer months. Mist-spray if the season is particularly hot and dry. Maintaining a fairly constant temperature is important for plant growth. Remove old tired foliage carefully, and pinch out excessive new growth to maintain a neat appearance. Do not be too hasty to pot on. New plants can be propagated from leaf cuttings.

Good for: With such a wide variety of Peperomias to choose from, and differing growth habits, there should be one to suit almost anybody who appreciates plants grown for their foliage. Easy to maintain houseplants.


 

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