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Peperomia caperata – How to Grow Emerald Ripple Peperomia

If you’re a houseplant enthusiast looking for your next addition, one plant that should certainly be on your bucket list as a beginner or expert is the iconic Peperomia caperata

The plant is a mound-forming evergreen perennial that features lush green corrugated heart-shaped leaves and narrow spikes of whitish-green flowers in summer.

This popular perky houseplant is prized for its notable ripple foliage and it has numerous beautiful cultivars available, offering growers many stunning varieties to choose from. Here is your extensive guide to growing and caring for this exciting houseplant. 

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Peperomia Caperata commonly known as Emerald Ripple Peperomia

Family:

Piperaceae

Genus

Peperomia

Species:

P. caperata

Common Names:

Emerald Ripple Peperomia, radiator plant

Location:

Indoor

Type: 

Herbaceous perennial plant

Growth:

8 to 10 inches tall and wide

Sun Requirements:

Bright indirect light

Foliage Color:

Green

Flower Color:

Whitish-green

Flowering:

Summer to early fall

Hardiness Zones:

USDA 10 to 12

Maintenance Level:

Low

Poisonous for Pets:

Non-toxic to cats and dogs

Introducing Peperomia caperata

This easy-going semi-succulent species is perfect for terrariums but it can impress in many different scenarios within your living spaces. In temperate regions, it must be grown indoors where it can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. 

A truly colorful addition, the plant can feature leaves with red, cream or grey hues with flower spikes sporting reddish-purple stems. All these stunning features are neatly wrapped up in a compact growth habit, making this plant a truly excellent choice for anyone looking for their next best houseplant. 

Forming a part of the family Piperaceae, this species is native to Brazil where it occurs as a common ground cover plant in tropical rainforests of the area.

Botanically labelled Peperomia caperata, common names now include Emerald Ripple Peperomia and radiator plant. Due to extensive cross-breeding over the years, it is very likely that no two plants of this species will look identical.


Emerald Ripple Peperomia Plant Features

The plant naturally thrives in warmer conditions with healthy humidity levels but when grown indoors, it can tolerate slightly wider growing conditions. USDA hardiness zones are 10 to 12 for proper growth. 

In cultivation, it usually grows to a neat 8 to 10 inches tall and wide and it is considered a slow-growing species generally. Being non-toxic to us or our beloved pets, this plant can be safely poisoned almost anywhere in the house as long as conditions are as optimal as possible. 

Emerald ripple peperomia can make for a stunning feature in small spaces and some cultivars make for excellent hanging plants as well. Feel free to use this undemanding houseplant as you wish to elevate your indoor spaces with a lush and vibrant presence.


Popular Peperomia caperata Cultivars

Peperomia caperata ‘Luna Red’ 

As its name suggests, this variety features gorgeous deep-red to burgundy foliage and stems with a compact growth habit. It grows to about 0.5 to 0.7 ft. tall and wide.


The foliage is also deeply corrugated and grows in rosettes of heart-shaped leaves with long stems. 

Peperomia caperata ‘Luna Red’ features gorgeous deep-red to burgundy foliage and stems with a compact growth habit

Source: candide.com

Peperomia caperata ‘Ripple Red’ 

Known as the red ripple peperomia, this variety also features heart-shaped burgundy red leaves but with a little more dark green in its foliage than the Luna Red variety.


The leaves have eye-catching metallic hues that further highlight this plant’s exotic nature and presence indoors. This cultivar grows up to 8 inches tall and wide. 

Peperomia caperata ‘Ripple Red’ features heart-shaped burgundy red leaves but with a little more dark green in its foliage than the Luna Red variety

Source: houseplants.studleys.com

Peperomia caperata ‘Rosso’ 

This variety is quite different from the rest as it features more lance-shaped, only slightly grooved leaves.

 

The lanceolate leaves have lush deep-green upper sides and maroon to burgundy undersides with red stems.


It also produces yellowish-green flower spikes atop short red stems in late summer. This variety grows to an average of 6 inches tall and 4 to 5 inches wide. 


See our in-depth guide on how to grow Peperomia caperata ‘Rosso’ for more details. 

Peperomia caperata ‘Rosso’ produces yellowish-green flower spikes atop short red stems in late summer.

Peperomia caperata ‘Luna Red’ 

Peperomia caperata ‘Luna Red’ features gorgeous deep-red to burgundy foliage and stems with a compact growth habit

Source: candide.com

As its name suggests, this variety features gorgeous deep-red to burgundy foliage and stems with a compact growth habit. It grows to about 0.5 to 0.7 ft. tall and wide.

The foliage is also deeply corrugated and grows in rosettes of heart-shaped leaves with long stems. 

Peperomia caperata ‘Ripple Red’ 

Peperomia caperata ‘Ripple Red’ features heart-shaped burgundy red leaves but with a little more dark green in its foliage than the Luna Red variety

Source: houseplants.studleys.com

Known as the red ripple peperomia, this variety also features heart-shaped burgundy red leaves but with a little more dark green in its foliage than the Luna Red variety.

The leaves have eye-catching metallic hues that further highlight this plant’s exotic nature and presence indoors. This cultivar grows up to 8 inches tall and wide. 

Peperomia caperata ‘Rosso’ 

Peperomia caperata ‘Rosso’ produces yellowish-green flower spikes atop short red stems in late summer.

This variety is quite different from the rest as it features more lance-shaped, only slightly grooved leaves. The lanceolate leaves have lush deep-green upper sides and maroon to burgundy undersides with red stems.

It also produces yellowish-green flower spikes atop short red stems in late summer. This variety grows to an average of 6 inches tall and 4 to 5 inches wide. 

See our in-depth guide on how to grow Peperomia caperata ‘Rosso’ for more details. 

It is good to note that all these varieties require pretty much the same growing conditions and care so by following this guide, you will be able to adequately look after any one of these stunning cultivars.

Other less common examples of variegated peperomia cultivars include ‘Pink Lady’ and ‘Teresa’.


How to Grow the Peperomia Caperata

This species is one of the easiest to propagate using stem cuttings. If you are wary of using cuttings, purchasing young and healthy nursery plants is always a great idea as these plants are far easier and quicker to establish. 

How to Grow the Peperomia Caperata

Peperomia caperata Propagation from Stem Cuttings

  • It is best to propagate this plant in spring once the temperatures have started to rise.
  • Using a sharp and sterilized pair of scissors or secateurs, take healthy stem cuttings that each have at least 3 pairs of leaves on them. 
  • Prepare well-draining containers filled with a quality potting mix. 
  • Dip the cut end of your cuttings into some rooting hormone then using your finger, make a small hole in the surface of the potting mix. 
  • Gently insert the cuttings into the hole in the mix then gently firm the soil around the cuttings. 
  • Water well after planting and place the new plants in a warm location with plenty of bright, indirect light. 
  • Water as needed to keep the soil slightly moist but never soggy as the cuttings establish new roots. 
  • Once the cuttings have developed healthy roots and have grown taller, you can look at transplanting them into larger containers as needed to stimulate further growth. 
  • These plants do enjoy being snug in their pots so try to avoid using containers that are too large for your plants. 

Check out our guide on how to take plant cuttings along with a list of the easiest plants to get cuttings from.


Ideal Conditions for Planting Peperomia caperata

As mentioned, this plant will perform far better when grown indoors in most of our endemic conditions. Being from tropical rainforests, it won’t respond well to low temperatures but will greatly appreciate relatively high humidity. 

Planting Peperomia Caperata

Here are the ideal growing conditions you can aim to emulate in your home for the emerald ripple peperomia.

Indoor Lighting Requirements 

This houseplant needs plenty of bright indirect light. In its natural environment, the sun is mostly blocked out by the tall surrounding trees so direct light should be avoided as much as possible. 

Position your peperomia in a north or east-facing window for the best results. Insufficient lighting can stop the growth of this already slow-growing species so if you notice your plant becoming leggy and stretching to find light, move it to a brighter location. 

Best Soil for Growth

Soil should be well-draining and aerated for the best results as this plant is susceptible to root and stem rot if left to sit in soggy soil. A good start would be to use equal parts peat moss with perlite or coarse sand. Alternatively, a good, well-balanced potting mix with some perlite will also work great. 

Ideal Temperature & Humidity

These plants love humidity. Positioning them in the kitchen, bathroom or terrarium can quickly help in providing healthy amounts of humidity. You can also mist frequently or place your plant near other indoor plants for a natural boost. 

The radiator plant needs temperatures at a minimum of 59°F as it does not enjoy low temperatures. Ideal temperatures are 60 to 80°F year-round for the best growth. Try to also avoid any cold drafts as this can damage foliage. 


Peperomia caperata Care Guide

When dealing with most tropical houseplants, it's always a good idea to look at the natural growing conditions to give us a good understanding of the care needed. 

Peperomia Caperata Care Guide

Pruning Emerald Ripple Peperomia

When it comes to your pruning routine, you don’t have to be overly delicate as this plant can tolerate regular pruning. Prune in spring to summer as needed along the stems to encourage new growth and to maintain the bushy compact appearance. 

Are you frequently hearing the terms pruning and trimming? Here is our guide on the difference between pruning vs trimming including when you need to do them.

Fertilizing Radiator Plant

It is important to note that overfeeding these plants will cause more damage than underfeeding them. During the active growing seasons, fertilize your plant with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer about once every 4 to 6 weeks. 

Recommended Watering Routine

This is something you will need to pay careful attention to as under or over watering Peperomia caperata can cause unwanted problems down the line. The goal should be to keep the soil slightly moist but never soggy. 

On average, this could mean watering about every 7 to 10 days depending on the conditions. Be sure to only water after the top half of the soil dries. 

As this semi-succulent species can store decent amounts of water once established, overwatering should be avoided at all costs. 

Repotting Needs

As these plants do enjoy being snug in smaller pots, you won’t need to repot too frequently. Generally, they will need to be repotted every 2 to 3 years when the soil has become too compact and loses its draining capabilities. 

Repot into a similar-sized pot or a container that is a little bigger. Be sure to remove as much of the old soil from the roots as possible and don’t overly compact the new soil when replanting in the new container.


Peperomia caperata Pests & Diseases to Look Out For

Though quite resistant to pests and diseases when grown in good conditions, this plant can still be affected by some unwanted issues, especially during its early development. 

Signs of Overwatering

Overwatering can quickly ruin the appearance of your plant. The leaves will begin wilting and yellowing and the stalks will also start rotting. Be sure to avoid having waterlogged soil as much as possible. 

If you notice signs that there is too much water trapped in the soil, allow it to completely dry out before continuing with your usual watering routine. 

Mealybugs/Gnats/Mites

The larvae of fungus gnats can cause damage to your plant if left untreated. They look like small black flies that occur mostly in the soil. To get rid of gnats, reduce your watering and add a top layer of fresh sand to drown them out. 

Mealybugs and mites are common invaders of houseplants. They appear as small white to red clumps on the lower surfaces of leaves, stems and roots. They can be hard to detect so be sure to pay close attention to your foliage, especially in the warmer months. 

To treat these small pests, apply a quality insecticidal soap or spray and repeat treatment until all signs of infestation are cleared. Alternatively, a quality neem oil can also be effective.

For more tips on dealing with Mealybugs, see our complete guide here

Ringspot

As this plant loves humidity, this means it's also unfortunately susceptible to ringspots. This virus attacks the leaves leaving round marks on healthy foliage. Be sure to prune away and remove any damaged leaves as needed to prevent spread. 

Affected leaves should be thrown out off-site as there is still not a 100% effective treatment for this virus. 

Leaf Drop

If you notice your peperomia is starting to drop its leaves more frequently than usual, this should be a good sign that there is an unhealthy build-up of salts in the soil from the water being used.

You will also notice white crusty deposits forming on the surface of the soil in the container. To reduce the salt content in the soil, try pouring plenty of room temperature filtered or distilled water into the soil a couple of times per week. 

Always allow excess water to completely drain out and remember to empty your draining tray if needed. 


Peperomia caperata Frequently Asked Questions

Peperomia Caperata also known as Radiator plant

Why is Peperomia called the radiator plant?

This is because they love warm drafts so positioning them near a vent or a radiator will make for the perfect environment for these perky houseplants. Cold drafts should be avoided.

Does Peperomia caperata clean the air?

Yes, the foliage is said to purify the air by reducing the levels of formaldehyde indoors by up to 47%.

Can you divide Peperomia caperata?

While stem cuttings are still the easiest way to propagate this plant, they can also be propagated using plant division. Cleanly divide a healthy plant into 2 or 3 clumps and replant into a fresh potting mix. 

Should I water Peperomia caperata from the top or bottom?

Watering from the bottom can help the water distribute itself evenly throughout the soil. If you water from the bottom, make sure the water at least reaches the root level. 

If watering from the top, be sure to try to avoid wetting the foliage as best you can by watering onto the surface soil between the leaves and stems. 

Interested in growing other peperomias? Be sure to check out our extensive guides below for more helpful information about growing these fantastic houseplants:


Perk Up Your Houseplant Collection with the Ever-Popular Peperomia caperata

Considering all the fantastic houseplant characteristics this species offers, it’s very easy to see why the emerald ripple peperomia has garnered such a beloved reputation globally.

Prized more for its unique foliage than its flowers, this plant can easily impress year-round regardless of your home’s décor or existing greenery. 

Being so accessible to all growers regardless of skill and with so many beautiful cultivars to choose from, Peperomia caperata is certainly an easy pick for anyone looking for their next houseplant.

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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