The Watermelon Peperomia (scientific name – “Peperomia Argyreia”) is aptly nicknamed so because of it’s distinctive watermelon-like markings on the foliage and red stems. I bought mine in December 2019 – and named it “Crimson” for its gorgeously, rich coloured stems. I bought Crimson as a rescue plant. He had really long and leggy stems, clearly reaching for the little light that he could find. I was determined to give him a better home, and a better chance for survival.
Bright, indirect light is the best for peperomias. In my experience, peperomias are not forgiving if they are given any less than that. In lower light, peperomias will produce much less new growth, and if they do produce new growth, leaves would be small and stunted, with long, and leggy stems, as they try to reach towards the light. Due to their leaves being a bit thicker and succulent, they will also tolerate certain amounts of direct sun – so long as it’s not scorching, otherwise they’ll burn!
Not the sight of a happy peperomia, mostly because of lighting issues! Leggy stems, damaged and sparse leaves. But just a few days after I got Crimson home, he started producing new growth!
Here’s a closer look at that new growth. Aren’t the baby leaves just adorable?!
As the months went by, Crimson became more and more full!
The new growth is getting bigger and filling in the middle. They are also not as tall as the older leaves as they do not need to grow too long to reach the light!
Leaves are even bigger and Crimson is getting fuller and looking healthier as the months go by.
Crimson looked the very best he ever did. Spring was kind to him. He lost some of the older leaves, which were really long, which therefore made him look more compact and neat.
But then. The unthinkable happened…Before we go into it, let’s talk a little bit about:
Watering: Once more, from my experience (and not a very good one, I’m afraid), peperomias need to dry out COMPLETELY before being watered. The leaves are thick and succulent, and manage to retain water for a long time. Peperomia leaves tend to start drooping when the plant is thirsty, which is a great sign for you to know when to water them. Peperomias also have really thin roots, and they will just IMMEDIATELY rot if the soil is even a little more soggy than they like. And this has, unfortunately, almost been Crimson’s downfall.
One fine day, I noticed all of Crimson’s leaves were drooping so badly, some of them were touching the surface of the table he was on. “Hmm, I watered him like 4 days ago,” I thought to myself. “He can’t be thirsty already, can he?”
Yep. He definitely wasn’t thirsty. I checked the soil and it was still wet. And I immediately realised what happened. I left Crimson in a nursery pot and then I placed that nursery pot in a cover pot – which had no drainage holes. Now most my plants are potted this way, and what I normally do is, once I water that plants, I make sure to empty the cover pot from any excess water that is sitting in it. If you don’t do this, the bottom of the soil will get soggy with the excess water and the roots will eventually rot. NEVER LEAVE EXCESS WATER IN THE PLATES OR COVER POTS, FRIENDS! Heartbreak will ensue!
So anyway, Crimson’s leaves were drooping, because they weren’t getting any water anymore, but not because the soil was dry, but because all the roots rotted.
Shock and horror. I had to chop Crimson up in a last attempt to save him.
I decided that I want to give Crimson one more chance before I throw him out. So I decided to cut up the leaves and propagate them.
Propagation – This plant can be propagated in multiple ways, luckily. You can cut anywhere in the stem that’s not rotting. You can then let it callous over for a day or so, and put it in water, or soil. Then place in a bright area, and wait. Within a few weeks, it will produce roots, and eventually new growth. Personally, I always had higher success rates with water propagation than with soil. You can also cut the leaves themselves in half and place them into moist soil – they will eventually root and produce new growth!
My peperomia cuttings started producing new roots! Fun observation – they produced roots faster and in higher quantity when placed in a nontransparent vessel than when the leaves that were placed in a transparent vessel!
The cuttings started forming little baby leaves in water!
I was happy with the amount of roots and new growth I saw on the cuttings so decided it’s high time I transferred them to soil. I divided them into groups of 3-4 leaves, in small pots, so there isn’t too much soil-to-root ratio.
When transferring water propagations to soil, ideally you have substantial roots, which around about 1-2 inches long. Make sure to put them in a soil mixture that’s well-draining, and immediately water then once transferred to soil. The roots would be used to a wet-environment, since they would have been water propagated, so they will take some time to adjust to their new environment.
Looks like there’s hope for Crimson yet! Wish him luck!
Some extra information:
Repotting – Crimson has very fragile roots, so I would definitely not suggest touching them when you repot plants like him. Just move him to a pot that’s 1 size bigger, try to slowly remove a little bit of the old soil, but don’t untangle/touch the roots as he won’t like it. Do not put him in too much of a larger pot. If there is too much soil, it will retain excess moisture, and roots will rot.
Humidity – I find that most indoor plants will definitely appreciate not being in rooms where there’s AC or heaters – therefore the air becomes too dry. However, when it comes to low humidity levels, I find peperomias are quite forgiving and won’t mind too much if humidity is lower than 50%.
Did you find this article useful? Let me know in the comments!