Propagating peperomia

Easy propagation is one of the many reasons that peperomia are among my favourite plants

With most peperomia, as long as you have a leaf and a bit of stem, it’s relatively easy.

1 | Take a cutting

Generally starting out with a healthy leaf and stem will make success more likely – though I’ve had some luck with a couple of battered and sad looking leaves. Where the damage is superficial, and you’re pruning your plant anyway, you might as well give it a go, right?

To take the cutting, grab a clean pair of clippers and chop off a leaf with a decent bit of stem. It is possible to propagate from a very short stem, though more fiddly.

More stem also means that if you lose the end to root rot, you’ve got can trim the black bit off and start again with the same cutting.

2 | Keep stem in water or high humidity

I usually start with water rooting, either:

Pop in a jar of water – keep the end of the stem submerged and refresh the water every week or two. Eventually you’ll start to see teeny tiny roots emerging from the cut end.

Plastic tub method – as learned from Sally Williams, a peperomia expert on Jane Perrone’s brilliant podcast On The Ledge. Take the cutting and pop in a small clean plastic tub – old hummus pots are ideal for this – with a few drops of water, and put in a bright spot. The humidity encourages root growth, which you’ll see in a few weeks. Best of all, you can put more than one cutting in a tub, and stack them – a brilliant space saver!

3 | Transfer to damp soil

When the water roots are a decent length – when they’re a centimetres long or so (or less if I’m being impatient!), it’s time to transfer them to soil.

I use a well-draining mix with lots of perlite, and usually plant into terracotta pots to help the soil dry out quickly again. Pop them in root first, with the leaf resting on the pot edge.

After that I keep the soil reasonably damp – much more than I would do with mature peperomia – just to help with the transition from water to soil.

An easy way to do that is to use a misting bottle to spray the soil’s surface (not the leaves themselves).

4 | Grow on

Eventually you’ll notice the cuttings have taken root in the soil – give them a wiggle and you’ll feel resistance. Then they start to put out new leaves.

From here you can treat them like adult peperomia – giving them plenty of bright indirect light, and watering about once a week, letting the soil dry out in between.

I’ve had good success propagating peperomia under my IKEA grow lights, has accelerated growth when they’re small.

Other methods

I’ve seen people try cut leaves in damp soil – especially for watermelon peperomia. Personally I’ve never quite been able to make it work, and have ended up losing leaves to rot. I find the ‘whole leaf’ methods much more reliable, and in water it’s easier to monitor for root rot and other issues.

And finally

There are some exceptions – which shouldn’t be surprising given how broad a family peperomia is. The trailing and vining types in particular, like pepperomia prostrata (‘String of Turtles’) and pepperomia pepperspot can be more tricky and tempermental.

But for the most common peperomia all you need to grow a new plant is one leaf or stem, and a bit of patience.

That makes it a great type to collect at low cost through plant swaps, or to share new plants you’ve grown with friends and family.

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