Houseplants: Pepperomia (Pepperomia incana)

I hesitated about whether or not I should introduce you to this plant. Not because it’s hard to care for, or because it’s ugly or something. It’s actually quite a laid back houseplant, and I think it looks very nice. But I hesitated because it is so different than the other peperomias you’re more likely to find. (Unless you have cooler plant stores in town than I do, which in that case, I want to come visit.) And mine seems to be quite different in growth than any of the ones you’re more likely to see on an internet image search. But, in the end, I decided it was a plant worth highlighting. And if you do find it in a plant store near you, you should totally buy it.

peperomia incana, felted pepperface

The well-traveled pepperomia.

So, a little background on this guy. Similar to my spider plant, this isn’t necessarily the exact plant I started out with. Back in 2006, I was an intern at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. I spent 3 months working in the production greenhouses, and then 3 months working in the indoor display conservatory gardens. My favorite places to work were the Palm House, the Tropical Terrace, and the Cascade Garden. Partly because the plants there were so new and exciting to me, and partly because I really liked working under the gardener in charge of those areas. When it came time for me to head back home I packed a number plants with me. Mostly inside my suitcase. I did fly home with an agave on my lap, though. But, I digress. One of those plants squirelled away in my suitcase was this peperomia (you may see it called “Felted Pepperface”, but that just seems silly to me). It was much shorter and more compact back then.

pepperomia incana, felted pepperface

The leaves (and stem) of this pepperomia are fuzzy and a brighter green than many other varieties.

Since coming home, it’s grown and grown and grown. When it gets a little too tall and top heavy I snip a bit off the top, replant it, and it keeps growing some more. It may be getting time to do that again with the taller one here, but I”ll probably wait until spring.

pepperomia incana, felted pepperface

There are two main stems from this pepperomia. Soon, I’ll snip off the top of the tallest one and start a new plant. You can see the stake I’ve been using to support it – it’s obviously outgrown it.

I’m not sure if you can tell from the pictures, but I have this one growing on the floor of my bathroom. It doesn’t get really great light (especially in winter) which is probably why it is so elongated. (Also, I could try pinching it to see if that will promote lateral branching. Maybe I’ll try that with my next start.) But, because it is native to a tropical climate, I think it likes the extra little bit of humidity there. Also, fairly typical of all fuzzy-leaved plants, it doesn’t like to have wet leaves – so make sure to just water at the soil surface. Based on my own experience, it only needs to be watered once a week at most – less in the winter. I only water when the soil is dry to the touch about an inch down and it seems to do well with that.

2 Comments

  1. I love learning about different houseplants – I can’t wait to see what comes next. One of my favorite classes at USU had absolutely nothing to do with my major – it was an elective – and was all about indoor houseplants. I have no idea what the name of the class was, but I remember learning about and memorizing the scientific name of 100 plants. So . . . I don’t give my plants names, but there are a few that I still remember the scientific name for 😉

    • Heather

      January 25, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      That makes me so happy that you took the indoor plants class! I don’t know if it’s the same one I took, I can’t imagine that it would be too different, but it was one of my favorites, too. And good work on remembering the scientific names! 🙂

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