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Care Tips for the Watermelon Peperomia

I am a plant enthusiast who has loved, nurtured, and attended my fair share of plant funerals Sharing my love for plants here.

Watermelon Peperomias are easy-to-care-for plants with green and silver striped leaves and bright red stems. Photo courtesy of Head Lee Nursery.

Watermelon Peperomias are easy-to-care-for plants with green and silver striped leaves and bright red stems. Photo courtesy of Head Lee Nursery.

The Watermelon Peperomia is an adorable perennial houseplant that brightens any space with its amazing silver and green striped leaves and bright red stems. It makes a great gift for the beginner house plant enthusiast as it is extremely easy to care for.

It is a slow-growing plant that is well-suited for small spaces and sure to be a showstopper.

What is better than having one Watermelon Peperomia? Having two. Maybe even three.

About Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia)

The Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia Argyreia), is not related to the sweet juicy melon it is named after. It is a member of the Piperaceae family, the same family as peppercorns that are used to produce black pepper for households worldwide.

It is also often referred to as a watermelon begonia, though it is not related to begonias.

Normally compact, they grow about 6 to 11 inches tall and make a good choice for indoor gardeners who place them in hanging baskets and containers. The plants also do well outdoors in warmer climates located in the USDA Hardiness Zones 10 through 12.

Watermelon peperomia can bloom in the summertime and look like little spikes instead of flowers. Photo courtesy of World of Flowering Plants

Watermelon peperomia can bloom in the summertime and look like little spikes instead of flowers. Photo courtesy of World of Flowering Plants

During summertime, the Watermelon Peperomia can grow flowers that appear to look like little spikes, rather than flowers.

It is native to tropical forests in northern South America and often grows on rotten wood and other material on the forest floor.

The story is, the Watermelon Peperomia received its common name from American horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey, who is referred to in the 1985 book Of Plants and People by Charles B Heiser.

How to Grow and Care for Watermelon Peperomia

The Watermelon Peperomia thrives in bright, indirect sunlight. However, too much light will fade the bright colors in the leaves. A window with eastern exposure provides excellent light. When growing outdoors, place the plant in a spot with filtered light or a lightly shaded area.

The plant also tends to become leggy if there is not enough light. A lack of natural or artificial lights causes the stems to stretch and they can lose their bushy appearance. To encourage compact growth, trim off the leggy stems and move to a brighter location. You may want to propagate the extra leaves.

Picking a Pot

The Watermelon Peperomia is well suited for planting in containers and hanging baskets. Drainage is critical, so be sure there is a drainage hole at the bottom of the container. Pick out a pot not much bigger than the one your plant came in as this plant likes to be somewhat rootbound.

Usually, a 4" to a 6" decorative container can work for more than a year before the next pot upsize.

Prepping the Soil

The Watermelon Peperomia will grow in any good quality commercial potting soil or homemade mixture, including compost, peat moss, or loam. In addition, a handful of perlite or sand promotes drainage.

To make a potting soil your plant will love, mix the following:

  • 1 part compost
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part peat moss or coco coir

Watering

Generally, it is recommended to use room temperature water to water your plants. To give your plants the best, rainwater or bottled spring water are your best options. Springwater contains all the essential minerals, while tap water may contain too much salt or other chemicals that can be dangerous to plants or at least stunt their growth. Your plants will be much happier and healthier with spring or rainwater.

Water the plant when the top of the soil becomes slightly dry. Let the pot drain completely, and never allow the plant to stand in water as the roots are prone to root rot.

Watermelon Peperomias like extra humidity. Photo courtesy of Balcony Garden.

Watermelon Peperomias like extra humidity. Photo courtesy of Balcony Garden.

Various factors impact how frequently you should water your Watermelon Peperomia. Check on your plant once a week. If the topsoil is still moist, drop watering frequency to every couple of weeks, but always remember to keep an eye on the soil.

Watermelon Peperomias enjoy extra humidity. If you live in a dry climate, you can mist regularly or place the pot in a pebble tray to boost the moisture.

Temperature

The Watermelon Peperomia prefers temperatures between 65-85 degrees and should not be allowed to get colder than 60 degrees in the evening. This plant will tolerate cooler weather but will drop its leaves when temperatures get below 50 degrees.

Also, they do not like hot or cold drafts, so keep them away from exterior doors, indoor vents, and open windows.

Fertilize your Watermelon Peperomia with a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer. Photo courtesy of Oxley Nursery.

Fertilize your Watermelon Peperomia with a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer. Photo courtesy of Oxley Nursery.

Fertilizing Your Watermelon Peperomia

When fertilizing your Watermelon Peperomia, use a balanced, liquid, or water-soluble fertilizer. Avoid granular fertilizers that have a tendency to be too strong and can scorch the plant.

According to World of Flowering Plants, the Watermelon Peperomia is a light feeder, and too many nutrients may cause excessive growth causing the plant to become spindly, instead of bushy and compact.

A good rule of thumb is to dilute a standard indoor houseplant fertilizer to half of the recommended strength and fertilize every few months.

Pruning

There really is no need to prune these beautiful plants, but you can trim them whenever you feel they are growing a little out of control. Sometimes, cutting back the stem in early spring will help promote the lush appearance by encouraging more branching.

Generally, spring and early summer is the best time to prune indoor plants because the warm weather and bright light aid in their fast recovery. When pruning, always use a sharp, clean pair of scissors to cut the plant’s stems.

Propagating

The Watermelon Peperomia is one of the easiest plants to propagate. There are several methods proven to be successful.

Two hanging glass plant terrariums add a great touch to a home propagation station. Photo courtesy of Kym L. Pasqualini.

Two hanging glass plant terrariums add a great touch to a home propagation station. Photo courtesy of Kym L. Pasqualini.

You may want to use hanging glass planters for propagating. They are a great replacement or addition to the countertop jar method.

First, you want to make sure it is a healthy, established plant and make sure it has no dreaded stowaways, like plant pests.

Peperomias can be easily propagated using stem cuttings. Simply cut a leaf with a stem and place it in water. Within 6-8 weeks you will begin to see little white roots appear. Once the roots have grown to about 2 inches long you can then plant them in soil.

Watermelon Peperomia leaves can easily be propagated directly in the soil. Photo courtesy of Adela B.

Watermelon Peperomia leaves can easily be propagated directly in the soil. Photo courtesy of Adela B.

You can also plant the stem directly into the dirt as shown in this YouTube video by Adela B. This may be the most effective way to propagate the Watermelon Peperomia.

Cut the leaves with stems, then trim the petiole (or stem) back to less than an inch long. Plant directly in loose, moist soil with leaves pointing straight up.

You can also cut a healthy leaf horizontally in half and insert the leaf segments into the soil (with the cut side inserted down in the soil).

Keep moist and watch them root! It usually takes 6-8 weeks to see any roots so be patient. It will be well worth the wait!

Lastly, but not less important, the Watermelon Peperomia is non-toxic to cats and dogs.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Kym L Pasqualini

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