How To Propagate Peperomia | A Simple Guide

The Peperomia genus contains over 1,000 species of tropical, succulent plants. Many of these species are kept as houseplants. You may even have a Peperomia in your collection without realizing it. “Radiator plant” and “baby rubber plant” are just a couple of common names Peperomia may be sold under.

Peperomia plants boast ornamental, fleshy foliage that can store a surprising amount of moisture. This characteristic makes Peperomia well-suited to mild drought conditions (including the ones we create by forgetting to water for a day or so!). It also means that these houseplants are incredibly easy to propagate from cuttings.

In this article, I’ll teach you how to propagate Peperomia from leaf and stem cuttings. I’ll also offer some expert tips for caring for your Peperomia plants after propagation.

Propagating Peperomia Plants

There are many ways to propagate plants. When it comes to Peperomia, rooting leaf or stem cuttings is by far the easiest approach. 

One of the best things about propagating from cuttings is that the new plants are perfect clones of the parent. So any unique traits of the parent plant — e.g., coloring, variegation, etc. — will likely be passed on to the propagated cuttings. 

Keep in mind that you should only propagate from healthy, mature Peperomia plants. The sole exception to this rule is if you have a failing Peperomia that is likely to die. You may be able to take cuttings from healthy parts of the plant and “rescue” it via propagation.

Propagation can be stressful for even the healthiest plants. Do not remove more than one-third of the parent plant at a time for cuttings. 

Tools and Equipment Required

I know of many people who propagate their plants by simply winging them. For the best results, however, it’s important to use the right tools for the job. 

Using the proper tools won’t just make propagation easier on you. It will also protect your Peperomia from infectious disease and undue stress.

Here’s what I recommend using to take Peperomia leaf or stem cuttings:

  • Sanitized and sharpened shears: A set of pruning shears is the most important tool in your propagation arsenal. These shears should be freshly sanitized to remove any fungal spores or diseases that may have been picked up from other plants. I also recommend sharpening the blades to reduce damage to the stems as you cut.
  • Rooting hormone powder: Rooting powder contains a natural acid that encourages root development in most plants. It is technically optional but is worth using any time you propagate from cuttings.
  • Plastic bag or bottle: Peperomia loves humidity. If you live in a dry climate with low levels of humidity, use a clean plastic bag or bottle to create a mini DIY greenhouse. After placing your cutting in its container, punch a few holes in the plastic and cover the cutting to keep in moisture.

When it comes to containers, you have a couple of options depending on which propagation method you choose. For water propagation, you will need a clear glass jar and distilled water. 

If you opt to root Peperomia cuttings in soil, I recommend using a standard pot that is a couple of inches in diameter. You will also need an appropriate potting mix.

3 Methods of Propagating Peperomia

Once you have a mature Peperomia plant and all of the necessary supplies to hand, you’re ready to propagate! Note that you can combine propagation with routine pruning. This is a great way to source Peperomia cuttings without sacrificing the size and shape of the parent plant.

There are three main methods of vegetative propagation that can be used on Peperomia. The first two involve rooting a stem cutting in water or potting soil. The last involves propagating from a single leaf. 

Regardless of your chosen method, the secret to successful propagation is the presence of nodes. Nodes are sections of plant tissue that produce new growth — for example, all leaves on a mature Peperomia grow from stem nodes. Only cuttings that contain healthy nodes will develop roots of their own.

1. Propagating Stem Cuttings in Water

I really like propagating stem cuttings in water but not because it’s more effective than other methods. Instead, I enjoy propagating in this way because you can see the roots grow day by day. It’s best to prepare your workspace, including the containers you plan to use, before taking cuttings. You don’t want the stem or leaf cuttings to dry out during the process. If you plan to propagate your Peperomia from a section of the stem, you need to start with a high-quality cutting. Here’s how to prepare the cutting:

  1. Select a strong, healthy stem on the parent plant that can be removed without affecting the overall structure. Make sure the stem has obvious signs of new growth so that you know it’s the best possible candidate for your cutting.
  2. Cut a section of stem at least 4 inches long that contains 3 or more leaves. It is important to use a clean and sharp knife or pair of scissors. This will avoid any risk of contamination or infection of the tender stem. Now, select a point to cut just beneath a leaf node. The leaf node is where new roots will develop, so it’s a good idea to have a node at the base of your cutting.
  3. Once you have successfully removed the stem cutting, carefully remove the bottom leaves to expose as many leaf nodes as you can. This will increase the number of sites new roots can sprout from. Just be sure to leave at least 2 leaves at the top of the cutting intact, so the plant can photosynthesize and continue to grow and develop roots.
  4. (Optional) Apply rooting hormone powder to the bottom 1 to 2 inches.
  5. For water propagation, you’ll want to use a container made of clear glass, making sure it’s 100% clean. A standard mason jar will work just great. Just stand your cutting in the water and place it on a bright window sill, out of direct sunlight.
  6. Roots should emerge in 2 to 6 weeks. Transplant cuttings to potting soil when the roots are over 1 inch long.

While Peperomia is not as sensitive to tap water as some other houseplants, I still recommend using distilled bottled water if possible. Alternatively, you can use filtered tap water that has been left out for 24 hours. This allows some of the chemicals found in tap water to evaporate. Remember to change the water out every few days to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. Don’t be afraid to add more water between changes if the level drops below the cutting’s bottom leaf nodes. 

2. Propagation in Soil

Rooting Peperomia cuttings in the soil are incredibly straightforward. I recommend this method if you want a way to propagate your plant as efficiently as possible.

Prepare a small container by filling it with orchid bark or lightweight potting soil. Ensure the container has adequate drainage before moving forward.

Plant your Peperomia cutting so that the bottom 2 nodes are submerged in soil. Water in the cutting to settle the soil, adding more to the container as needed.

Once your cuttings are safely nestled in their pots, you can leave them be for several weeks. Keep the soil moist but never damp and ensure the cuttings receive plenty of sunlight in the interim. You can start monitoring for new growth after about 3 weeks.

Because your cuttings are already planted in soil, there’s no need to transplant them as soon as roots emerge. Peperomia prefer to be slightly rootbound, so you can leave the cuttings in their propagation containers until they outgrow them.

3. Leaf Cutting Propagation

You can successfully propagate Peperomia from a single leaf. Keep in mind, however, that the leaf must have a healthy node for new roots to develop.

Select a leaf from anywhere on your Peperomia plant. Lower leaves can usually be removed without affecting the overall appearance of the parent plant. 

Cut the chosen leaf off so that at least 1 inch of its petiole (stem) is still attached. If the leaf is a larger size, I recommend cutting off the tip. Reducing the leaf size in this way will redirect energy to root development and reduce the risk of rot.

Once your leaf cutting is prepared, place it in a container filled with potting soil or orchid bark mix. Anchor the petiole in the soil. Keep the leaf itself above the soil to prevent rot — you can use a toothpick or similar object to elevate the leaf if needed.

From here, you can treat your Peperomia leaf just as you would a stem cutting in soil. Provide consistent moisture and sunlight and monitor for root development after a few weeks.

Though it’s technically possible to root a Peperomia leaf in just water, I don’t recommend it. It’s very hard to keep the petiole submerged while keeping the actual leaf above water.

Caring for Peperomia After Propagation

Despite being one of the easiest plants to propagate, peperomia will still need care and attention to make sure the newly developing plant survives. It requires bright light, warmth, and humidity. Meeting these needs is vital to the success of your Peperomia cuttings. The right care and environment are also crucial for the parent plant to make a full recovery after propagation.

Whether you’re new to growing Peperomia or just need a refresher on their maintenance needs, here’s my guide on how to care for these houseplants:

Light

Your Peperomia needs moderate or bright light to thrive. According to the University of Minnesota, a Peperomia that receives too light sun exposure may lose its variegation or suffer from leaves curling.

The best spot for a Peperomia is somewhere like a south- or east-facing window that gets plenty of light during the day. Position your Peperomia container away from direct rays of the sun that can scorch the leaves.

Peperomia do super well in sunrooms and enclosed porches during the warmer months. During the wintertime, you may want to supplement the limited daylight with a grow lamp.

Temperature & Humidity

Most Peperomia plants thrive in average household temperatures between 65 and 75°F. These plants cannot survive freezing temperatures, so Peperomia kept outdoors in the summertime must be moved indoors well before frost.

While the temperature needs of Peperomia are easy to meet, their love of humidity is a bit trickier. In the summer, you may be able to keep your plant outdoors so it can soak up the natural humidity.

Indoors is a different story. I recommend setting up a portable humidifier or pebble tray near your Peperomia plants to increase the ambient humidity. 

Some gardeners swear by misting their plants but it’s not my preferred solution. Damp foliage is more likely to foster fungal infections. In my experience, misting also isn’t as effective as increasing the actual humidity in the air.

Soil

Peperomia often grow as epiphytes in the wild. Epiphytes are plants that grow on trees and other plants instead of in the soil. Air plants and orchids are the most famous examples of epiphytes.

Rest assured, Peperomia houseplants grow fine in soil. You just have to use a potting mix that mimics the light and airy growing conditions these plants prefer. 

I personally find that orchid bark is the best store-bought potting mix for Peperomia plants. But you can also use all-purpose potting soil that has been amended with a lightweight material like peat moss or coconut coir.

If possible, I strongly suggest planting Peperomia cuttings in the same potting mix you’ve used for the parent plant.

Watering 

The succulent leaves of Peperomia are designed to hold onto moisture when water is scarce. 

Your Peperomia will grow best if you allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings. I recommend testing the top 1 or 2 inches of soil with a finger.

Peperomia plants should never be left in soggy soil or standing water. These conditions are almost guaranteed to lead to root rot and similar issues. All containers used for Peperomia plants and cuttings should contain ample drainage holes.

Fertilizing

Peperomia plants are incredibly self-sufficient and don’t require much if any, fertilizer. The right potting mix will provide all of the nutrition your Peperomia needs to survive.

If your Peperomia appears to be lagging or shows signs of a nutrient deficiency, you can apply a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength. Use a balanced fertilizer unless you are treating a confirmed deficiency.

FAQ How To Propagate Peperomia

Citation

University of Minnesota – Cultivate Peperomia, the House Plant of the Year

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.