The most common problem you’ll face with caring for peperomia is leaf drooping, which can be caused by several overlapping problems with your plant. But don’t be alarmed – with the right course of action, you can swiftly recover your peperomia and return it to its former glory.
Known for its succulent, tropical foliage, peperomia is a hardy plant that is easy to take care of and yields great results. But like any plant, there are some tell-tale signs it is suffering from stress.
The most common reason for Peperomia leaves to droop is a lack of water. They want their soil to be somewhat moist at all times. Additional factors include excessive watering, insufficient light, fertilizer issues, pests, or transplant stress. The most critical step in bringing your peperomia back to health is identifying the problem.
Today I am going to show you just how easy it is to revive your drooping peperomia, from diagnosing the problem to providing you with all the solutions you need.
Is It Normal for A Peperomia to Droop?
First, let’s consider what a healthy peperomia plant looks like. As they are native plants of the Caribbean, peperomia have vibrant, tropical appearances and grow strong, rigid, and full leaves.
For this reason alone, drooping is a major concern as it points to some sort of stress your plant is currently suffering from.
The most important thing is not to panic, as although there may be several causes for leaves drooping, there are also many easy solutions, available to you.
Reasons for Peperomia Leaves Drooping
The first course of action you must now make to help save your drooping peperomia is to diagnose the cause. Don’t worry, I am going to talk you through the main causes of the problem.
With each factor, I will describe both the appearance and symptoms, and suggest my expert advice on how to remedy the situation.
on the other hand, Underwatering can result in peperomia with drooping leaves. A lack of moisture for an extended period of time might deprive your plant of the hydration it needs to sustain strong and healthy leaves. Instead, thirsty leaves will become lifeless and droopy.
If your Peperomia’s droopy leaves are accompanied by any of the following symptoms, it is likely that the plant is suffering from underwatering:
- Lack of water will cause the brilliant green leaves of your Peperomia to crisp, fade, and curl inward as a result of a lack of water.
- Crumbling, bone-dry earth signals that your plant has absorbed all of the available moisture from its surroundings.
- Water causes soil to expand and take up additional space, which is known as the soil gap. In extremely dry conditions, the soil will decrease in size and begin to peel away from the pot’s sides.
- If your pot is abnormally light, this suggests that there is no water in the soil.
A very obvious test to see if your plant is underwatered is by examining its soil. Try and grab it with your fingers – if it is hard to grasp, brittle, and dry, then you need to increase your watering.
The most straightforward solution to underwatering is to increase your watering frequency. The general rule of thumb is to only water a plant when the top 2 inches of soil are dry. If soil is particularly hard, ensure the water can trickle through to reach the root network.
If your plant is too dry and you want to target the roots directly, you should try the soaking method. Place your peperomia container into a larger bucket of water and ‘soak’ for 10 minutes. After, take your plant out and allow it to drain.
Droopy, squishy, and mushy leaves are obvious signs that your plant is suffering from an excessive amount of water consumption. These additional indications might assist you in determining whether or not overwatering is the root of your plant’s difficulties.
- Damp dirt suggests that there is either too much moisture in the soil for your plant to absorb, or that the soil is too thick for the plant’s roots to effectively absorb water.
- If your plant is overwatered, it may drop its leaves, develop more slowly, or even stop growing entirely, resulting in stunted growth.
- Root rot manifests itself above ground in the form of yellowing and dropping leaves. You’ll discover that sections of the root have gone dark and wet underneath the surface of the soil.
How to repair a Peperomia plant that has droopy leaves due to overwatering
First, remove any dead, drooping, or mushy leaves from the plant. These leaves will not regenerate; removing them allows your plant to repair by releasing energy.
Then gently brush the soil away from the roots of your Peperomia plant by removing it from its pot. Remove any dark or mushy root segments and, if the damage is severe, treat the roots with root rot therapy.
Using a specialized potting mix from Peperomia, repot the plants. Your plant’s sensitive roots will be unable to thrive in conventional potting soil.
Remove a significant amount of the root system and repot in a smaller container, as Peperomias love to be slightly root-bound when they are grown in a container.
Loss of Turgor Pressure
Turgor is internal water pressure within a plant’s cells, which helps them keep rigid, upright, and strong. High turgor pressure is what helps peperomia plants to grow such big foliage, despite their thinner stems.
To maintain a healthy pressure, your plant needs access to water whenever it needs it. A loss of pressure means that the stem and plant cells can no longer support themselves, and can result in a wilted, drooping, and ‘deflated’ look.
You can revive your peperomia’s turgor pressure by increasing the amount of water it receives. This is not an overnight solution – you will need to keep a more watchful eye on how your plant responds to more water.
I would also advise that you move it into a more shaded area so that direct sunlight won’t evaporate water and dehydrate the plant.
Over-Temperature and Extreme Cold
Hot temperatures dehydrate leaves and remove moisture, resulting in a loss of turgor pressure and drooping. Leaves might also become scorched in the process.
Cold weather damages plant cells in leaves, removing their rigid-like structures and causing them to crumble and droop. However, you’ll be glad to know that temperature is one of the easiest problems to rectify and regulate for your peperomia.
Native to the Caribbean, peperomia plants enjoy average temperatures of between 60 – 80°F (16-27°C). This means they should be well-suited to many rooms in your home. The main culprit is if the plant is besides something which can change the temperatures quickly.
For example, beside a drafty window, vent or doorway can reduce temperatures. Similarly, if the plant is near fire, radiators, or a heating system, this can burn them.
As a tropical plant, humidity is an important consideration to give when caring for a peperomia. They thrive in warm, humid environments, and enjoy more moisture than your average indoor plant. Equally, they hate when their environment is too dry and leaves drooping may point to low humidity as the cause.
Aim for a room average humidity of between 40-50% to keep the plant in good spirits. You can increase the humidity of your peperomia by misting leaves.
I recommend misting every second day, as any more may overwater the plant. You can also use a humidifier to increase moisture levels in your room.
Other ways to improve humidity are by placing your peperomia near other indoor plants or placing it on a water-filled pebble tray.
Peperomia Drooping After Repotting
Although they are slow-growing, gardeners repot peperomia every two or so years to freshen soil and give the plant more room. If you’ve recently repotted your plant and leaves are drooping, you may have stressed the plant and damaged its already delicate root system.
Peperomia have particularly fragile roots, and can easily be injured when repotting. Damaged roots will not be able to absorb water quickly enough to support your plant.
You should also examine the soil and pot you’ve used. Peperomia enjoy a slightly acidic pH range of 6 – 6.6 and well-draining soil, and if your new pot doesn’t meet these basic requirements, it may stress the plant.
You should aim to repot in early spring, ahead of its main growing season. This way it can recover any damage from the process.
Before repotting, give your soil a light watering. As peperomia enjoy slightly acidic soils, you can adjust the pH of your soil by adding coffee grounds or peat moss.
Water is one of the key ingredients to life, and as a gardener, that’s how you show your plants your love. But did you know that ordinary tap water has the potential to damage them?
Quite often, tap water contains harsh chemicals such as fluoride, salt, and chlorine, which have the potential to build up toxins within your plant, burn and droop their leaves, and also kill helpful bacteria in your soil. (Source: Michigan State University)
Water is an important ingredient in plant care, and if it is toxic to your plant, then it will do more harm than good. An easy way to improve the quality of your water is to use filtered, distilled water.
How Much Light Is It Getting?
Light can play havoc with a plant’s health. Whilst we traditionally think lots of sunlight helps plants, it can also have the opposite effect.
Too much direct sunlight can wilt leaves and scorch your peperomia. Additionally, the sunlight may evaporate more water from the plant and its soil, further dehydrating it and causing additional problems such as underwatering. Too little light will prevent your plant from photosynthesizing, i.e. making food.
If your peperomia is not making enough food to support other parts, it will look droopy and sick.
Your peperomia will grow at its best in a bright space with indirect sunlight. If your plant has been severely damaged by the sun, consider placing it in a well-shaded area until it recovers. You can place burlap or a canvas material above your plant to act as a filter for further protection.
Is It Getting Enough Nutrients?
Simply put, your plant is not getting enough food – and drooping leaves are one of the first signs of this, as well as discoloration and stunted growth.
And although your peperomia is naturally a slow-growing plant, if it’s growing incredibly too slow and has weak ‘new growth’, you may need to kickstart your plant with a supplement.
One way to improve your plant’s nutrition is by using fertilizer. These can help reintroduce nutrients back into your potting soil, especially if your plant hasn’t been repotted in quite some time.
I advise using a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen and potassium, to give your peperomia a boost.
These nutrients in particular can help support a healthy root system, which is the first stepping stone to supporting new growth.
I recommend using liquid fertilizers, as they are easy to use, and diluting them with distilled water ensures your plant won’t be overfed.
Sap-sucking pests can cause your leaves to droop, as they take away vital nutrients and liquids from your peperomia. The main culprits are mealybugs, spider mites, and thrips. Caterpillars can also be a problem, leaving sizeable holes along the edges of leaves.
- Soft-bodied pests such as mealybugs and thrips can be dealt with by natural insecticides such as neem oil, which suffocates them, killing them on contact.
- For bigger pests such as caterpillars, you may pick these off by hand during the evening time, when they are most active. You can also use strong-smelling sprays such as pepper or chili to keep them off your plant.
- For spider mites, use a soapy water solution or running alcohol on the leaves of your plant. As these pests thrive under dry conditions, increase your watering frequency to keep them at bay.
Root rot is one of the most common and destructive conditions that can kill plants. Leaves become wilted, discolored, and dull, eventually drooping.
There are two principal causes of it – one being your plant is overwatered, the other a fungus.
- Overwatering your plant essentially suffocates its roots, denying it oxygen and essential nutrients. Roots begin to fail, decay, and die, eventually spreading their rot to other, healthier parts of the plant. In time, roots emit a foul smell.
- Fungus, such as phytophthora rot, is another cause of root failure. The fungus thrives in waterlogged soil and damp conditions. The peperomia’s roots will also become frayed, decay, and eventually die.
Unfortunately, both overwatering and phytophthora rot cause similar symptoms, and without a soil test, it can be hard to find which is the main culprit. However, the good news is that there are easy solutions for remedies both problems.
Reduce the amount of watering you give your plant. Remember, only water when the top 2 inches or so of soil is dry. You may wish to repot your plant in a new container, with a new mixture. When repotting, examine roots carefully and cut off any decay with a sterile knife.
You can massively reduce the presence of Phytophthora rot by improving soil drainage. However, because the fungus can live dormant in soil without a host, I highly recommend disposing of soil and repotting with a fresh mixture.
Has It Outgrown Its Container?
As plants grow, they require more water to maintain healthy turgor pressure. And although peperomia are slow-growing plants, and don’t necessarily mind being root-bound for long, it’s a good idea to match your container to the rate of growth of your plant.
If its leaves are drooping despite its size, this could be a sign it wants more room to grow more roots.
Repot your peperomia into a slightly larger container, ensuring new soil is well-draining and that the container has drainage holes at the bottom to allow access water escape.
I advise choosing a big terracotta or ceramic pot, as this material encourages better water drainage and aeration in soil – vital conditions for a peperomia to grow.
Lack of Roots Development
Roots are integral to a healthy plant. Healthy roots should be firm and white in appearance – anything else and there are major problems.
Overwatering, underwatering, and poor soil conditions can stunt the growth of new roots, and kill existing ones. Overwatering in particular will lead to rot and foul smells. Underwatering will create frail, weak, and tendril-like roots.
If you’re confident you’re watering your plant correctly, then perhaps the soil needs work – either by improving drainage, its pH value, or introducing new minerals and nutrients in the form of fertilizer.
Work on your watering frequency and find the right balance for your plant. If roots are rotted, repot your plant and cut off any affected areas with a sterile knife.
Double-check the condition of your soil. Peperomia roots enjoy a slightly acidic pH (6 – 6.6) and well-draining soil such as peat moss or perlite.
If roots are poor and frail, consider giving them a boost with a slow-release fertilizer. Two minerals to look out for are phosphorus and potassium, which help established roots to strengthen, whilst also promoting new growth from root nodes.
Fertilizer Application Mistake
Speaking of fertilizer, you must apply the correct fertilizer (and amount) to achieve the best results for your peperomia.
Peperomia plants are naturally slow-growing, and if you fertilize them too much, your soil will have too many minerals inside. This reduces the amount of water your plant can absorb, resulting in your peperomia leaves drooping.
Use a slow-release fertilizer to help your peperomia along at a steady rate during early spring and summer. I recommend only using a fertilizer once a month.
If you suspect your soil has too much fertilizer in it, then you have two options. Repot the plant immediately in a fresh mixture, or place the pot in your sink and thoroughly flush it with water.
With tropical leaves and a vibrant green appearance, peperomia plants can help beautify any room in an instance. But drooping leaves is one of the main signs your hardy plant has reached its limit, and you must act swiftly to salvage your plant.
Diagnosing the cause of drooping is pivotal. Follow my advice accordingly and you should be able to restore your peperomia to its former glory soon enough.