Overwatering is a common issue for the Peperomia houseplant. It can be discouraging to have a beautiful Peperomia that is droopy and discolored.
Droopy leaves, mushy stems, and moldy soil are signs that your Peperomia is overwatered. Removing the damaged bits and drying out the soil will resolve the issues. Watering when the top of the soil is dry should prevent further issues.
In this article, we will address the signs that you are overwatering your Peperomia, and what to do about it.
Overwatering Vs. Underwatering: How to Tell the Difference
Watering your plant well is the cornerstone to success as a plant parent. It is easier to overwater your Peperomia plant, rather than give it too little water. But, that does not mean underwatering is impossible.
Underwatering a house plant means that you are giving the plant too little water to survive. Signs your Peperomia is not getting enough water include dry soil and droopy leaves.
The most obvious way to tell if your Peperomia is not getting enough water is to test the soil.
If it is dry to the touch, dry, and crackled, then there is a good chance you have gone too long without water.
The leaves will also clue you in by appearing wilted, drooping, and dropping. If your Peperomia looks like this it is time to water!
Overwatering your Peperomia plant is much more common. It is easy to not let your Peperomia dry out enough between each watering.
This can overwhelm your plant, not allow it to absorb the nutrients it needs and causes rotting issues.
Signs of Overwatered Peperomia
There are several indicators that you are giving your Peperomia too much water. Let’s dive into each one so that we can better understand what overwatering looks like.
Brown Spots on Leaves
Brown spots on your leaves can be intimidating! But, it is not usually something to be afraid of. Brown spots on leaves are one of the most common signs of overwatering.
The inability to dry out constricts the amount of oxygen your plant takes in. Many times that will lead to disease.
Brown spots are often a sign of disease. Ringspot is a common viral disease for Peperomias caused by overwatering. Brown spots, or rings, appear on the leaves.
Oedema can also cause brown spots to appear. This is a physiological condition where the roots take in more water than the leaves can process. The water builds up until the membranes burst, creating brown spots on the leaves. (Source: Utah State University Extension)
If you find brown spots on your leaves, remove those leaves. This will allow the nutrients to flow to the healthy leaves. Giving your plant time to dry out and watering less should get your plant back to thriving in no time!
Root Rot happens when the soil becomes waterlogged and mold develops. This rots the roots (obviously) which will kill your Peperomia if not treated.
You can identify Root Rot in Peperomia by discolored or wilted leaves, and brown, mushy roots.
Many plant owners immediately throw out a plant with Root Rot, but if you catch it quickly there are ways to salvage your Peperomia.
You will get the best results if you purchase new potting soil and a clean pot for your Peperomia.
Remove the Peperomia from the pot and clear away the infected soil. This will expose the roots of your plant and you can easily identify the rotten ones.
They will be brown and mushy. Clear those, and wash the healthy roots to reduce the change of reinfection. Allow the roots to dry out a bit, and then repot in fresh soil and the new pot.
Mold Growing on the Soil
Overwatering can also lead to mold growing in the soil. White dots (the mold) will appear on the top of the soil. While this type of mold isn’t immediately harmful, it is important to get it removed.
Sometimes it’s as easy as removing the top layer of soil and throwing the mold out. You can also remove the mold by lightly spraying the soil with a diluted hydrogen peroxide mixture. If you notice that the mold is deeper, then repotting is your best move.
Once you remove the mold set your Peperomia in indirect light for a day or two to allow the soil to dry out. This should reset your plant, and as long as you don’t overwater again the mold should be gone for good!
Plant Looks Shriveled and Mushy
You can also identify overwatering your Peperomia by mushy stems and shriveled appearance. Healthy stems should be firm to the touch, so if a stem mushes between your fingers something is wrong.
Mushy stems are often a sign of a fungal infection. Sometimes, it is as simple as Root Rot (although a pretty advanced case if it has spread to the stems). Remove the infected stems and take the same Root Rot measures as mentioned above. (Source: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach)
If your Peperomia looks shriveled it is a sign that your roots have rotted from overwatering. The plant may show leaves turning black symptoms at a later stage. Remove the diseased parts of the plant, and allow the plant time to dry out.
The Leaves are Turning Yellow
In general, yellow leaves can point to a variety of issues in a houseplant. In Peperomia, it is almost only a sign of overwatering. This article goes into more detail about peperomia leaves turning yellow and solutions.
Part of watering your plant in the best way possible is ensuring that the soil has proper drainage. Overwatering combined with poor soil drainage is a perfect storm for your Peperomia.
Water should flow well through the soil and come out of the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot. If you notice that the water does not get to the bottom your soil may be too dense.
Adding some large rocks, recycled plastic or broken bits of another pot can help the water flow with ease.
Always remove sitting water that flows through the drainage holes. This will help reduce the chance of the plant trying to absorb more than it is capable of.
The Leaves are Limp and Droopy
Limp and droopy leaves are another sign of overwatering. They might even be the first thing that you notice! Unlike yellow leaves, this doesn’t mean that a disease has already taken root (pun intended).
You may notice that your leaves are limp and droopy, but don’t yet see other warning signs (such as mold or mushy stems).
This is a good thing! Allow your Peperomia plant to dry out (using indirect sunlight for a day or two can be very helpful) and reduce water.
Once your plant dries out a bit you should see an improvement in your Peperomia’s leaves. Keep an eye on the whole plant as it dries to make sure that you didn’t miss any other signs of infection.
But, if you notice your leaves changing right away there is a good chance you can revive your plant quickly. Well done!
The Leaves are Curling
Peperomia leaves Curling is often a sign of damaged roots from overwatering. The way to address this is to take the steps mentioned above.
It is important to remove any diseased parts of the plant. Curled leaves that look otherwise healthy should return to normal once the soil is dry. Allow your Peperomia time to dry out, and water less often.
Once you balance the water intake for your Peperomia your leaves should perk back up. If the majority of leaves have returned to normal but a few are still curly go ahead and remove the curled leaves.
How to Save an Overwatered Peperomia
You have identified that your Peperomia plant is getting too much water. Now what? There are several steps that you need to take to revive your Peperomia plant.
But don’t worry, while it takes a bit of time and effort, none are too complex. Your plant should be back to prime health in no time!
Step One: Identify How Waterlogged Your Peperomia Is.
Using the information above, figure out how bad the problem is. Based on which symptoms your Peperomia is presenting you should be able to tell how much work you’ll need to put in.
If the leaves are droopy or curled, but the stems, soil, and roots all look healthy there will be less to do. But, if the stems are mushy, there is Root Rot and a lot of the plant looks ill then you will need to put in more work.
Based on what you find you will then need to gather your tools and get to work. The following steps are for a pretty severe case of overwatering.
If your plant is not in that place follow along until the steps line up with your plant’s needs. For example: If your soil drains well and your roots look healthy there is no need to replace the soil.
Step Two: Clear Away Damaged Leaves.
Once you know how bad the problem is for you, assess your plant for damaged leaves. Remove any leaves with brown spots, that are yellow, or are droopy where other leaves are not.
It is important to first get rid of the damaged leaves so that the plant doesn’t continue to send them nutrients.
When a Peperomia gets too much water it becomes more and more difficult for the roots to send nutrients up. Clearing away damaged leaves creates less work for your Peperomia as it heals.
To remove damaged leaves pinch the leaf with your fingers. You can also use scissors. Trim off the damaged leaves as close to the main stem as possible. This will make it easier for your Peperomia to grow new leaves.
Step Three: Assess the Soil
Now that you have taken care of damaged leaves, move down to the soil. If there is any mold growing on top of the soil, remove it.
Next, look at the bottom of the pot. You may be able to examine the roots through the drainage holes.
If not, remove the Peperomia from its pot to examine the drainage and root health.
If roots are rotten clean completely and repot with fresh soil. If the roots look okay add extra drainage to the bottom of the pot before repotting. Large rocks, recycled plastic bottles, or broken terra cotta pots work great.
This will help the water flow through the soil well to prevent overwatering issues in the future.
Step Four: Remove Damaged Roots.
If, during the assessment of your soil you find damaged roots it is important to remove them.
Use your hands to knock away the damaged soil and gently remove brown, rotten roots. Clean the healthy roots, allow them to dry, and repot in the new pot with fresh soil.
You can also disinfect the old soil by washing it with a diluted bleach and water solution (one-part bleach to five parts water).
Hydrogen peroxide and water can also kill the fungus, or you can purchase a fungicide. While you can clean the soil to reuse it, you will yield better results if you plant your Peperomia in fresh potting soil.
Step Five: Allow the Peperomia to Dry.
Next, move your Peperomia to a shady (but not dark) location to dry out. This will give your soil and roots time to dry out without shocking the plant with direct sunlight.
This process can take many days. The exact time frame will vary from plant to plant. You will know when it’s time to water again when the first 1-2 inches (2.54-5.08 cm) of soil is dry.
It is important to give your plant adequate time to dry out from overwatering so that you do not create a cycle. You can bring a plant back from overwatering, but it is important to learn from your mistakes.
Give your Peperomia a bit longer than you think you need to make sure it has recovered before watering again.
Step Six: Adjust Your Watering Habits.
These steps will be critical in helping you revive an overwatered Peperomia plant. But, this step is the most important one to ensure better watering habits moving forward.
Peperomia plants need time to dry between watering. A good time frame is roughly every week to a week and a half, but it will depend on your location and the season. They need less water in the cooler months.
Rather than watering on a calendar schedule, it is best to take cues from your Peperomia. Water your plant when the top 1-2 inches (2.54-5.08 cm) are dry to the touch.
You can get a water level marker, or insert your finger into the soil to your first knuckle. If it comes out dry it’s time to water! If there is any sign of moisture in that soil, check again another day.
Listen to your plant and you should find a schedule that will help your plant thrive! Keep in mind, that schedule may adjust throughout the year.
Your Peperomia will need more water during the summer than it will during autumn and winter.
What is the Right Way to Water a Peperomia Plant?
Do I Top or Bottom Water?
Bottom watering allows your Peperomia to absorb water well. To do this you set the pot in water for the plant to absorb into the roots and soil.
When you see the top of the soil get moist then remove the pot from the standing water. If any water drains back out remove it to reduce the risk of waterlogging your Peperomia.
What’s the Best Watering Frequency?
Your plant will tell you when it needs water. Rather than scheduling a specific day of the week, water your Peperomia when the top 1-2 inches (2.54-5.08 cm) are dry.
This is roughly as deep as inserting your finger to your first knuckle. You can also purchase a moisture meter. It will read the moisture levels of the soil and let you know when it is time to water again.
For those who need a calendar reminder to remember, try checking your Peperomia once a week. But keep in mind it might not be ready every week. If there is any moisture give it a few more days and try again.
Are There Other Factors to Consider?
The amount of water your Peperomia needs will change with the seasons. When the weather is hot your Peperomia plant will dry out more quickly.
In the winter, your Peperomia will need less water. This means that instead of checking your plant once a week you can stretch it to checking every two to three weeks. (Source: K-State Research and Extension)
Do not water unless the top part of the soil is dry. It might feel like too long between each watering, but your Peperomia will thank you.
It does better with getting too little water than with too much. (Although the key is to not go into either extreme).
The time of day that you water your plant can alter things, as well. Watering mid-afternoon is not as effective because some of the water will evaporate.
Watering in the morning is your best bet to ensure that your Peperomia gets the most out of each watering.
What Type of Water Should I Use?
Filtered, room temperature, water is the best water for any houseplant. Tap water has added minerals that are harder for the plant to process. Peperomia is no different.
If you use water that is straight from the fridge you risk shocking the plants. Room temperature water creates fewer variables for the Peperomia to have to take in. It allows it to focus on absorbing nutrients and thriving in its environment.
Watering Mistakes, At A Glance
|Common Mistakes||How to Avoid|
|Inconsistent Watering||Check your plant regularly and water when the top two inches (5.08cm) of soil are dry.|
|Watering too Much||Only water your Peperomia when the soil tells you it’s ready.|
|Wet Soil from Overwatering||Once the top glistens remove the water from the bottom and do not water again until it has properly dried out.|
|Watering the Leaves and Not the Roots||Bottom watering ensures that the roots get watered without affecting the leaves.|
|Watering During the Heat of the Day||Water early in the morning to avoid unnecessary evaporation.|
Frequently Asked Questions.
How Do I Save Peperomia From Root Rot?
You can save your Peperomia from root rot by being proactive. Examine the roots and remove damaged ones. Clean the soil, use a fungicide, and allow the plant to dry out.
Then repot your Peperomia with fresh potting soil and a new, clean pot. If you reduce how often you water your plant should recover. Be patient. Your Peperomia didn’t get root rot immediately, and it will also take a bit of time to recover.
Why is My Peperomia Drooping?
Peperomias often droop because they are getting too much water. Assess your plant for damage and disease. Remove damaged leaves, clean your plant, and allow it some time to dry out in a shaded area.
Should I Mist My Peperomia?
Misting can be a great way to ensure the health of your Peperomia. This creates an indoor atmosphere that better matches the outdoor air.
Misting is especially important during the winter months. Indoor heating systems dry out the air, so your Peperomia would appreciate the extra love.
Creating a misting schedule will help your Peperomia thrive. You can mist as little as once a week or as often as once a day.
If you are the type of plant owner that prefers to water and then leave your plant, never fear! Placing your Peperomia in a room with a humidifier will get you similar results.