Hi folks! I hope everyone is staying safe and enjoying their time at home during this time. Liven up your home by bringing a few plants indoors. This will brighten up your space and keep you busy and close to nature.
This month's plant is the Red Edge Peperomia. The succulent-like, shiny green leaves really set it apart from other indoor plants. If you’re a fan of succulents, this has a similar look but performs better indoors. The flowers are quite unusual too. They appear as long white narrow spikes and give the peperomia a unique look. All Peperomias are non-toxic for people and pets so make the perfect bedroom plant.
This month our local artist collaboration is a beautiful hand-painted pot from Brydie Perkins-Brakels (@brydie.art on instagram). She is a Brisbane-based artist that uses paint and bright colours to express her visions of still life. For our subscribers, once you have received your plant in its lovely pot, place your Peperomia in bright indirect light and monitor it over the coming days. It will spring back from the stress of being in transit in no time. If you see anything concerning, consult this article as I talk further about Pepromia’s common problems.The Red Edge Peperomia is just one of the many varieties of peperomia, which range in size, shape and colour. For any aspiring plant collectors out there, the Peperomias can be fun to start with as there are so many different and rare varieties, like the Watermelon Peperomia, Piccolo Banda, and Rosso.
To determine how much light your plant needs, first let's take a little botany lesson. Plants use chlorophyll in their leaves to turn absorbed light into energy through photosynthesis. The amount and type of chlorophyll determines the leaves colour. So, the darker green the leaves are, the better suited the plant is to capturing low intensity light. Still with me?
Basically, the Red Edge Peperomia’s dark green leaves means that it performs well in low light compared to its lighter-leaved varieties.
Place it anywhere indoors, out of direct sunlight or the leaves will burn. If you want to place it outside, a part shade position is perfect.
As an indoor plant, the Peperomia will need a water probably once a week and even less if it's in a dark spot with no air circulation. However a good rule of thumb is that each time before you water check if the soil is moist first. To get a good indication, insert a finger into the soil. If it's still moist leave it for a couple of days and then try again.
Try not to overwater your peperomia, as they store water in their fleshy leaves so are prone to rot if they have wet feet for long periods of time. This means that drainage is crucial. So remember to plant them into a pot that has a drainage hole and in a free-draining, aerated potting mix. You can open up your existing potting mix by adding fine composted bark chips (such as the bark chips used for orchid mixes) or adding perlite.
If the leaves start turning mushy and dark brown/black, this is a sign of rot. Place the pot outside under cover to dry out, or repot into a better mix.
Once your Peperomia has settled into its new home, you may start to think about fertiliser. Most plants like to have a rest over winter, so once it starts heating up again it will be time to fertilise. There are two options when it comes to fertiliser.
The first option, which I like to use, is a slow release granular fertiliser. One easy application can last anywhere from 6 to 12 months. The second option is a water soluble fertiliser, which may be applied every couple of weeks. Although it has to be applied more often, it is fast acting and shows results quicker. Check with your local nursery to see which suits you better and what’s available.
A big sign that your plant is hungry is that the leaves will lose their dark green colour and may start looking yellow and sick. But make sure all your other conditions are right (watering and amount of light) before fertilising. Keep in mind it is very easy to over fertilise Peperomias which is just as bad for the plant as it blocks the plant from absorbing certain nutrients.
The main pests you will see on the Peperomia are fungus gnats and sap-sucking bugs like mites and mealybugs.
Fungus gnats appear as little flies that come out of the soil. The larvae thrive in wet soil and eat the roots, so heavy infestations can cause damage to your plant. Let the plant dry out between waterings and add a layer of sand to the top of the pot to kill them.
Mites can be hard to spot as they are extremely small, but their damage can be seen by the fine webbing they leave on the foliage and stunted new growth. The opposite to fungus gnats, they love dry, warm soil. Regular watering is the solution to prevent them from having the perfect environment to lay their eggs. Give the leaves a wipe down with a damp cloth every once in a while to clean them. For large infestations use a miticide spray.
Mealybug live in white cotton-like clusters on the underside of leaves and the nooks and crannies of the plant. They like to hide and can be hard to spot, so keep a close eye on your Peperomia. Treat these infestations with an insecticidal soap/oil spray from your local nursery such as white oil. White oil doubles as a pest-killer and also as a leaf shine to keep the leaves clean and glossy. Spraying with white oil and wiping down the leaves every now and then is a good way to prevent the build up of dust and pests.
‘It looks like it's stretching!’
A common problem for indoor plant growers is that without enough light, the plants will send out quick, spindly growth to try and reach sunlight. Don’t mistake this for the plant being happy. If you see a big difference between the new growth and the old leaves the plant came with, it will need an increase in light conditions.
‘The leaves are dropping!’
Peperomias naturally drop older leaves sometimes as they put their energy into new growth. However if you’re finding that leaves are dropping at an alarming rate and all over the plant this could be due to one of two things. Either the soil is too wet and the roots have rotted or it’s under stress from disease or pests. Put a finger down into the soil to check whether it's wet or not, this will give you an indication as to which problem you have. To solve root rot, take the plant out of its pot and gently tap off the water-logged potting mix. Remove any brown, rotten, or mushy roots with a pair of sterilised secateurs. Then repot the plant in new free-draining media. Make sure the pot you plant into has drainage.
‘The leaves are discoloured!’
Okay so this could be a number of things. Fungal diseases cause dark spots on the leaves and is caused by overwatering. Remove all infected leaves with secateurs and repot the plant. Keep it apart from other plants to prevent the spread.
Too much sunlight causes sunburn patches and yellow leaves due to stress. Monitor light levels throughout the day to see whether this is the cause of the yellow leaves. Take the plant out of direct sunlight to fix this. If the light levels are correct and the soil isn’t waterlogged then it needs a bit of fertiliser to bring back the deep green colour.
I hope this care guide came in handy for some of you, and I wish you all the best of luck! If you have any questions or plant problems, feel free to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!