Brown Spots on Peperomia (Causes and How to Fix It)


Brown spots on inddor peperomia leaves.

Nobody wants to see brown spots appear on their lovely green Peperomia plant. Brown spots may be your Peperomia plant’s way of telling you that it’s unhappy with something in its environment. They could also be a sign of a pest or disease.

You may be worried about your beloved plant but have no fear. Once you figure out the cause of the brown spots, you can take steps to bring it back to health.

Brown spots on Peperomia leaves can be due to environmental stress, insect infestation, diseases, or nutrient deficiencies. Methods to restore Peperomia include changing the growing conditions, combating pests, and diseases. Adjusting watering frequency is also important.

Read on to learn how to identify the cause of the brown spots, and how to fix the problem.

How to Identify Peperomia Brown Spots

Peperomia brown spots can take many different forms. You may notice tiny brown spots on the leaves, or perhaps the browning takes up most of the plant’s leaves.

Sometimes, brown spots are mushy. Other times, the leaves appear brown and crispy. The brown spots may also appear raised or inflamed.

Brown spots can appear anywhere on the Peperomia plant, but the most common location is the leaves.

It’s a good idea to check the top and underside of your plant’s leaves regularly to look for signs of browning.

What Causes Brown Spots on Peperomia Leaves?

Many things can cause brown spots to appear on your Peperomia plant’s leaves.

Since there are so many potential causes, it’s important to determine the cause of the browning before you try and treat it.

With the right information, you’ll be well on your way to bringing your Peperomia plant back to health.

Overwatering

One common cause of browning is overwatering, which can cause Oedema. Oedema is a physiological disorder that occurs when a plant takes in more water than it can get rid of.

The water pressure inside the plant becomes too high, which causes some cells on the leaf to rupture, creating brown spots.

How to Fix Peperomia Overwatering

Prevent overwatering by making sure that the container can drain properly. If your plant is too wet, repot it in new soil.

You should also hold off on watering. Peperomias should be watered when the top one to two inches of soil are dry.

A good rule of thumb is once every seven to 10 days, but it’s a good idea to go based on the dryness of the soil rather than the number of days since the last watering.

Using Tap Water Causes Brown Spots

Peperomias come from water-abundant tropical and subtropical areas, which means that they can afford to be selective about water quality.

As a result, they’re sensitive to chlorine or fluoride that’s often found in tap water.

Exposure to chlorine and fluoride can cause the Peperomia to develop brown spots.

How To Fix Problems With Using Tap Water

If you want to continue using tap water, there are things you can do to make it safe for the plant.

Allowing a container of tap water to sit for 24 hours before watering will allow the chlorine and fluoride to evaporate.

Alternatively, You can use rainwater or distilled water to water the plant.

Underwatering

Brown spots on a plant can also be a result of underwatering. This is likely if the brown spots are concentrated around the leaf tips, and if the plant is also drooping.

Another way to determine whether the plant is underwatered is by checking the dryness of the soil.

If the soil below the top one to two inches of the potting mix is dry, it’s likely that your Peperomia doesn’t have enough water.

How To Fix Underwatering

To fix this, first water your plant thoroughly, until the water drips through the drainage holes at the bottom of the planter.

To prevent under watering in the future, monitor your plant carefully to determine its watering needs.

Make sure to let the top one to two inches of soil dry out between waterings, but don’t let it dry out beyond that.

Self-watering systems are another good way to make sure that your plant is getting only the water that it needs.

Pest Infestation

There’s a chance that the brown spots on your Peperomia are a result of a pest infestation. A common pest that leaves brown spots is red spider mites.

You will find red spider mites leave webs all over the plant. In addition to the sticky webs, one telltale sign of red spider mites is leaves with small brown dots, which are caused by the spiders chewing the leaves.

How To Deal With A Pest Infestation

To get rid of red spider mites, you can wash the webs off every week and wait for the mites to die off. There are also chemical sprays available to get rid of the mites.

If your plant is turning brown because of a pest infestation, there are steps that you can take to get rid of the pest and save your plant.

Red spider mites are a common pest found on Peperomia plants that are known to cause brown spots.

Here are some ways to get rid of red spider mites:
  • Go the organic route and spray water on the leaves every week. You can do this with a spray bottle, or put the whole plant in the shower and hose it down.
  • If the infestation is minor, you can wipe down the plant with a moist cloth.
  • You can also purchase a mite called Phytoseiulus persimilis, a species that feeds on red spider mites.
  • For a chemical solution in the case of a more serious infestation, you can use products with fatty acids or surfactants to get rid of the mites.

Peperomia Diseases

Brown spots can be a sign that your Peperomia is diseased. There are other symptoms to look out for.

Once you determine the type of disease, you can figure out how to treat it.

Fungal diseases that cause brown spots include Cercospora leaf spot, Phyllosticta leaf spot and Rhizoctonia leaf spot.

A virus known to cause browning on Peperomia plants is the Peperomia ringspot virus.

Fungal DiseasesSymptoms
Cercospora leaf spotRaised brown or black spots on the bottom of the leaves
Phyllosticta leaf spotBlack or dark brown rings that are usually spread across the whole leaf
Rhizoctonia leaf spotMushy dark brown or black spots that can be found anywhere on the plant

As a general overview, here are the steps for treating a fungal infection in a Peperomia plant:

  1. Remove the infected leaves using sterile scissors.
  2. Discard the infected leaves.
  3. Keep the plant’s foliage as dry as possible.
  4. Spray the undersides of the plant’s leaves with neem oil.
  5. If the plant has been severely infected, you’ll need to remove and destroy the entire plant.

How to treat diseases

If your plant is experiencing a fungal disease, you will need to remove and discard the infected leaves as quickly as possible.

Spray the undersides of the leaves with neem oil and keep the plant as dry as possible.

If your plant has a viral infection, there is unfortunately no way to treat it chemically.

You will have to destroy and dispose of the whole plant to keep the disease from spreading to other plants.

Source: University of Illinois Extension

Peperomia Exposed to Excess light/scorching

Since Peperomias come from tropical and subtropical forests, they are used to being under a canopy of dispersed light. Because of this, they tend to prefer bright, indirect sunlight.

However, excessive light can result in scorching, which can cause the tips of your plant’s leaves to turn brown.

This sunburnt effect often happens if your plant is in an area with lots of direct sunlight, such as a south-facing window.

How To Fix Excess Light Problem

Move your plant away to a window that gets indirect light. Any non-south facing window will do.

If you are unable to move your Peperomia away from a direct light source, you can DIY a screen by placing a tissue over top of the plant.

Temperature

Brown edges on the leaves of any houseplant are a common sign of a temperature problem.

There’s a chance that the house is too hot or your plant is placed close to a radiator, which can cause the plant’s leaves to turn brown due to temperature stress.

On the flip side, cool temperatures can also cause browning leaves. If a plant is placed on a windowsill or near a cold draft, it may develop brown chill spots.

How To Fix Temperature Issues

The first step is to determine whether your plant is too hot or too cold. The ideal temperature for a Peperomia plant is 65 to 80 °F, or 18 to 27 °C.

Make sure that your plant is not exposed to blowing air from a furnace, and keep it away from cool drafts.

Humidity

Like high temperatures, dry conditions can also cause plants’ leaves to dry out and turn brown.

While most Peperomia varieties don’t require very high levels of humidity, there is still a chance that your plant is too dry.

A good rule of thumb to determine how much humidity your Peperomia variety requires is to look at the thickness of the leaves.

The thicker the leaves, the lower the humidity requirements.

Fixing Humidity Issues

If you suspect that your Peperomia plant is too dry, you can place it on a pebble tray to increase the humidity.

You can also use a humidifier and can mist the area around the plant to increase the humidity in the air.

Fertilizer Problems

Peperomia plants do not require very much fertilizing. If you fertilize too frequently, you may cause certain nutrients to build up to the point of becoming toxic. This can cause many problems, including browning.

Peperomia plants do well with a 10-10-10 balanced fertilizer, with an equal balance of nitrate, phosphate and potash.

Peperomia plants should be fertilized three times a year. When you apply fertilizer, less is more. Follow the dilution recommendations on the fertilizer package.

When determining your fertilizing schedule, it’s important to only fertilize during your plants’ growing season.

Like many plants, Peperomia plants’ growth slows during the winter. As a result, they should only be fed in the spring, summer and fall.

How To Fix Fertilizer Problems

Because Peperomia plants have such light fertilizing needs, you only need to fertilize them once a month.

Use a water-soluble fertilizer, and make sure to only fertilize during the growing season.

Another way to help prevent overfertilization is to use an organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizers release small amounts of nutrients over an extended period of time. This helps prevent fertilizer burn.

How you treat brown spots on Peperomia

The best way to treat brown spots on your Peperomia plant depends on the cause of the spots.

If your Peperomia is experiencing environmental stressors like temperature issues, over or underwatering or humidity, all you need to do is change these conditions.

If your plant is experiencing a fungal infection, your first step is to diagnose the type of fungus.

Here are the most common fungal infections found in Peperomia plants, and the steps to treating each one.

Common Fungal Diseases

Fungal DiseasesSymptoms
Cercospora leaf spotRaised brown or black spots on the bottom of the leaves
Phyllosticta leaf spotBlack or dark brown rings that are usually spread across the whole leaf
Rhizoctonia leaf spotMushy dark brown or black spots that can be found anywhere on the plant

As a general overview, here are the steps for treating a fungal infection in a Peperomia plant:

  1. Remove the infected leaves using sterile scissors.
  2. Discard the infected leaves.
  3. Keep the plant’s foliage as dry as possible.
  4. Spray the undersides of the plant’s leaves with neem oil.
  5. If the plant has been severely infected, you’ll need to remove and destroy the entire plant.

Your plant may also be dealing with a virus. A common virus that results in brown spots on Peperomia plants is the Peperomia ring spot virus.

Symptoms of this include brown lesions, light or dark rings, distorted leaves and stunted growth.

Unfortunately, no chemicals can treat a viral disease. If your plant has Peperomia ring spot virus, you’ll need to destroy the infected Peperomia so that the virus doesn’t spread to other plants.

If your plant has experienced a pest infestation and you have already cleared the pests, your next step is to treat the infected plant.

You will need to remove the foliage that has been the worst affected, as this will help the rest of the plant resume normal growth.

It’s also important to prevent future infestations. Red spider mites thrive in warm, dry conditions.

If you notice that your Peperomia plant is particularly vulnerable to red spider mites, it’s a good idea to move it to a more cold and humid environment.

You May Also Enjoy: Why Is My Peperomia Turning Yellow? (7 Causes And Solutions)

How To Prevent Brown Spots On Peperomia Leaves

Now you know the causes of brown spots on peperomia. So it will be easy for you to determine the preventive measure. Here are the preventive measure to combat brown spots on peperomia.

Provide Sufficient Indirect Light

Peperomia plants are happiest when they’re exposed to lots of bright, indirect sunlight. Too little light, and their leaves can start turning brown.

Too much direct sunlight and the leaves can get sunburnt, turning — you guessed it — brown.

Give your Peperomia plant the sunlight it needs by placing it next to a non-south facing window, in a spot that gets lots of bright light.

Prepare For Hot Days And Cold Days

As you know, Peperomia plants can be sensitive to temperature. The ideal temperature range for a Peperomia is 65 to 80 °F, or 18 to 27 °C.

On cold days, shield your plant from cold drafts by moving it away from windows and doors leading to the outside.

You can use heaters to warm up the whole room, but be careful not to put your Peperomia directly in the gust of warm air coming from the heater —  this can cause it to dry out.

Hot days can also be an issue for Peperomia plants, but it isn’t as much of a concern if they are indoors.

Regular Inspection For Pests

Pests can be sneaky, and oftentimes we don’t notice that they’re there until it’s too late. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly inspect your Peperomia for pests.

It’s far easier to treat pests if you catch them early. Let them linger for too long, and you’ll have a whole colony on your hands.

Even worse, they can spread to your other plants, leading to a full-on infestation.

When you inspect your plants,  carefully insect the underside of the leaves because most insects hide there.

Keep your eyes peeled for tiny pests and any small irregularities.

Some pests are invisible to the naked eye, so you instead have to look out for signs that they were there.

Signs of the red spider mite, a common pest found on Peperomia plants, include small brown spots and webs that appear around the plant’s foliage.

Cut Off Infected Leaves As Soon As Possible

If you notice that your Peperomia plant’s leaves have turned brown, your best bet is to cut off the infected leaves.

If the leaves are diseased, cutting them off will ensure that the illness can’t spread.

Just make sure to cut the leaves off using sterile scissors, and discard the infected leaves once you’ve removed them.

Cutting off the infected leaves also helps the plant to recover faster. Instead of spending its energy healing the brown leaves, it can direct all of its energy to bring itself back to health.

Watering Regularly

Peperomia plants are happiest when they have a regular watering schedule. As is the case with many plants, irregular watering schedules can create water stress, which can cause all sorts of issues, including browning.

Peperomia plants should be watered when the top one to two inches of soil are dry.

Usually, this amounts to once every seven to 10 days. However, this varies depending on the time of year, size of the plant, and type of Peperomia.

It’s a good idea to monitor your plant’s water intake and figure out the watering schedule depending on its needs.

Using Healthy Soil Mix

Soil can carry all sorts of pathogens, which can cause disease. That’s why it’s so important to always plant in sterile soil.

As tempting as it is to save resources and repot into an old plant’s soil, this can make your plant sick.

So when you go to repot your Peperomia plant, make sure to do it in brand new soil.

Using Filtered Water

Peperomia plants are sensitive to chlorine and fluoride, which is often found in tap water. Overexposure to these chemicals can cause your plant to develop brown spots.

But don’t worry — you can still use tap water! Just leave the tap water in an uncovered container for at least 24 hours before watering your Peperomia plant. This will cause the chlorine and fluoride to evaporate from the water.

You can also use filtered water for a faster turnaround time. Lastly, if you have a rain barrel or another way of collecting rain water, go ahead and water your Peperomia plant with that.

Avoid Overwatering

Overwatering can cause lots of problems. Peperomia plants don’t require a whole lot of water, so it’s important to do it sparingly.

To make sure that your plant isn’t getting too much water, it’s important that your pot has proper drainage so that the excess water can flow away from the roots.

Your planter should have drainage holes at the bottom, and the water should be able to freely flow into a drainage pan below the pot.

It’s also important that the soil has enough air space to let water flow through. If your plant’s soil is too tightly compacted, the water will not be able to get through the soil and out of the pot.

Look for potting mixes with Perlite or Vermiculite, which will increase the aeration of the soil.

When you do go to water your plant, make sure to maintain a regular watering schedule.

If you’re finding it difficult to remember to water your Peperomia regularly, a self-watering system is a good work-around.

Are brown leaves a sign of overwatering?

There are all sorts of issues that can cause your Peperomia plant to develop brown spots, and overwatering is just one of them.

Overwatering can cause root rot which will prevent the plant from taking in enough nutrients.

A plant with root rot also becomes vulnerable to diseases and pests. Also, overwatering can cause brown patches on leaves.

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

Recent Content