How to Revive a Dying Peperomia Plant

Why is my peperomia dying

Most often, the reason for a peperomia dying is because of overwatering. Peperomias have adapted to be resistant to drought and do not tolerate consistently damp soil. If the soil is too damp the leaves turn yellow and droop, which can indicate root rot.

Whilst overwatering is the most common reason for a dying peperomia plant, here is a table summarizing other reasons for dying peperomia…

Symptoms of a Dying Peperomia:Reasons Your Peperomia Plants Are Dying:
Peperomia Leaves Turning Yellow:The most likely reason is overwatering and potting soils that retain moisture for too long.
Peperomia Drooping:Drooping Leaves are usually caused by overwatering, however, drought stress from underwatering and low humidity can also cause drooping leaves.
Peperomia Leaves Curling:Curling Leaves are the most often caused by low humidity, with underwatering a significant contributing cause.
Peperomia Dropping its Leaves:Peperomia drop their leaves in temperatures colder than 60°F, (15°C).
Peperomia Leaves Turning Brown:Brown leaves are usually a result of a sudden temperature fluctuation or sunburn. Overwatering can cause leaves to turn brown and yellow. Underwatering and low humidity are also occasionally the cause depending on the severity.

Peperomia die back if they are living in conditions that are significantly contrary to their native tropical forest habitat.

To revive a dying peperomia it is imperative to recreate some of the conditions of their natural habitat with bright indirect light, warm temperatures above 60°F, planted in an orchid potting mix, and only water when the potting medium is mostly dry.

Keep reading to learn why the peperomia plant is dying and how to implement the solutions to revive your dying peperomia…

Peperomia Leaves Turning Yellow and Drooping (Overwatering)

  • Symptoms: Leaves can turn yellow with a drooping dying appearance, sometimes with corky swellings (called Oedema) on the underside of the leaves,
  • Causes: Overwatering, potting soils that retain moisture for too long, and poor drainage.

The most common reasons for peperomia dying are root rot due to watering too often or because their potting soil retains moisture too long for the peperomia’s roots to tolerate. Peperomia needs a well-draining potting that almost dries out completely, between each bout of watering.

If you are watering your peperomia more than once a week, then this is the reason your plant is dying.

Most of the common houseplant species of peperomia are epiphytes, which means they actually grow on other trees rather than in the soil in their tropical South American habitat.

(Peperomia occur naturally in South America, Asia, and Oceania but most houseplant varieties are from South America due to the regional characteristics of their color and interesting foliage).

This means that the peperomia are used to growing in conditions that have excellent drainage and good air flow around the roots.

Peperomia roots are actually capable of absorbing water from the humid air rather than drawing it up from the soil like most houseplants.

Normal potting soil is too compacted, which restricts oxygen around the roots (preventing root respiration) and holds onto moisture for too long after watering which promotes the conditions for root rot.

If the roots cannot respire due to compacted soil or start rotting due to excessively damp soil then the roots cannot draw up the moisture and nutrients that the peperomia need which causes them to turn yellow and droop, often with corky Oedema on the underside of the leaf.

Peperomia needs a growing medium that replicates the well-draining, porous, aerated growing conditions of its natural habitat with a pine bark-based potting medium rather than regular potting soil.

How to Revive a Yellowing, Drooping Peperomia Plant

  • The first step is to reduce how often you water your peperomia ensuring that the soil is allowed to dry somewhat before each bout of watering. As a general rule I personally water my peperomia plants around once a week in the Spring and Summer (during active growth) and once every 3 weeks in the Fall and Winter (whilst that plant is dormant), however watering frequency can vary according to climate.

To determine when a peperomia needs watering, I personally pick up my peperomia pot after I water it to assess the weight and lift it every few days to judge when it feels lighter as the potting medium dries out.

The sweet spot is waiting for the potting medium to almost dry before watering again. This style of watering achieves the optimal balance of moisture to prevent the peperomia leaves from drooping and turning yellow.

  • Ensure that the peperomia is planted in a potting mix that replicates the soil conditions of its native habitat. A pine bark-based potting medium for growing orchids works best in my experience as this creates the aerated structure that the peperomia’s roots need so that they can respire and supply the leaves with moisture and nutrients to keep them looking healthy. Discard the old potting soil as damp soil can harbor fungal pathogens.
  • Replant the peperomia in a terracotta or unglazed clay pot. Terracotta and clay pots are porous which allows the soil to dry out more evenly, creating favorable conditions for the peperomia. Avoid using ceramic or plastic pots if possible as they are impermeable and can retain moisture too long for the peperomia to tolerate.
  • Always plant peperomia in a pot that is proportional to its size. If the pot is too large then it can contain too much potting medium which takes longer to dry out after watering.
  • Ensure that the peperomia’s pot has a drainage hole in the base and empty any saucer or trays of excess water regularly to avoid water pooling around the base, which causes the potting medium to be constantly saturated.

Once you have adjusted the growing conditions of the peperomia should begin to revive in the following weeks. Prune back any yellow leaves that do not recover back to the base.

If you re-pot the peperomia, inspect the roots. If the roots are healthy then they should appear whitish or light brown, with a firm texture. If the roots are diseased they have a rotten appearance with a mushy texture and an unpleasant smell.

In this case, it is important to cut these roots back before repotting to prevent the disease from spreading.

Watch this helpful YouTube video for a clear visual guide on saving houseplants with root rot:

Peperomia Drooping and Curling Leaves Due to Drought Stress

  • Symptoms: Peperomia leaves and stems drooping with a curling appearance.
  • Causes: Drought stress can be due to underwatering, small pots that dry too quickly, high temperatures, low humidity, too much sun, and hydrophobic soil.

Whilst overwatering is the most common cause of a drooping peperomia plant, underwatering and low humidity can also cause leaves to droop and curl.

Sometimes people misinterpret the advice that ‘peperomia plants do not need much water’ to mean that they do not need a great quantity of water. However, they should always be watered thoroughly to the extent that excess water trickles from the drainage holes in the base.

The goal with watering should be to ensure that the peperomia’s potting medium is evenly moist.

If you water too lightly the water does not infiltrate properly the potting medium and reach the roots where it is required.

The water may also not reach the peperomia’s roots if it has been planted in peat moss. If peat moss dries out completely it can become hydrophobic which means it repels water off the surface without it infiltrating properly.

This causes water to run off the surface and down the side of the pot without reaching the roots.

Peperomia plants are native to warm tropical climates where they grow in relatively high humidity. When growing peperomia indoors, high humidity is more important during active growth in the Spring and Summer.

If the humidity is too low then this can sap moisture from the leaves more quickly than the roots can draw up water, causing the plant to droop and curl.

Anecdotally I have noticed some species of peperomia need more humidity than others and it was specifically low humidity rather than underwatering that caused the leaves to curl.

It is also important to be mindful for smaller peperomia plants planted in small pots that the small pots can dry out very quickly, particularly if the pot is located next to a source of indoor heating such as a radiator, and cause a drooping appearance.

How to Revive a Drooping Peperomia with Curling Leaves due to Drought Stress

  • Place the peperomia’s pot in a basin of lukewarm water for 10 minutes or so ensuring the root ball is submerged. This allows the water to absorb into the potting mix properly without being repelled off the surface.
  • After you have soaked the peperomia in a basin of water, the structure of the soil changes. The soil should be able to absorb water properly as long as it does not dry out completely, so it is not necessary to soak the plant in a basin every time you need to water the plant.
  • Peperomia prefer warmer temperatures (above 60°F, 15°C) but ideally locate it on the other side of the room from any sources of indoor heating. Whilst the peperomia can cope with the higher temperatures, it is likely to dry out the potting medium too quickly for the peperomia to tolerate.
  • Increase the humidity by misting the leaves. The humidity indoors is typically around 10% (depending on the climate) whereas peperomia prefer higher levels of humidity in Summer. Mist the leaves often to create a humid micro-climate which emulates the humid conditions of its native environment. This reduces the rate of water loss from the peperomia’s leaves which is very effective for reviving its drooping appearance.

An orchid potting mix is a great way to prevent the problem of hydrophobic soil as an orchid potting mix has a porous structure even when it has dried out completely.

I would not recommend repotting a drought-stressed drooping peperomia whilst it is still stressed and drooping, however, I would recommend repotting it in the Spring when it has recovered as this is when houseplants are at their most resilient to the shock of repotting.

Peperomia Drops its Leaves if The Temperature is Lower than 60°F

  • Symptoms. Leaves drop suddenly or perhaps droop and turn yellow before and they drop off.
  • Causes. Leaves drop if the temperature is below 60°F (16°C). Overwatering, underwatering and a lack of bright light are contributing factors.

Peperomia plants are native to warm climates and do not tolerate cold temperatures. Cold temperatures are by far the most common reason for the peperomia’s leaves to start dropping.

I have personally found that peperomia can even drop their leaves even if the exposure to cooler temperatures was brief such as an open window or door, air conditioning or low temperatures at night on a window sill.

It should be noted that peperomia plants prefer bright indirect light. If they are in too much shade the peperomia does not have enough energy to support all its leaves and it reacts by dropping some of them.

Stress from overwatering or underwatering typically initially causes the peperomia to droop or even turn yellow before falling off.

How to Revive a Peperomia that is Dropping Leaves

  • Locate the peperomia in a bright room, with lots of bright indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight as this can scorch the leaves. Bright light provides the peperomia with the energy it needs to grow new leaves and to sustain any leaves that are remaining.
  • Ensure that the room temperature stays above 60°F (16°C). In my experience, Peperomia can be particularly sensitive to even brief exposure to cold temperatures from open windows or a cold Winter night on a window sill.
  • Keep the peperomia away from air conditioning currents as this can both lower the humidity and the temperature to unfavorable levels which can result in dropping leaves.
  • Ensure that the top few inches of the soil dries between each bout of watering. This helps to achieve the optimal moisture balance for peperomia plants to avoid overwatering or underwatering. One of the best ways to do with with houseplants is to use a wooden skewer. Push the wooden skewer into the soil to the bottom of the pot and then assess if the skewer still feels damp or whether it’s dry to gauge how fast your soil is drying and then water accordingly.
A skewer can be a good way to determine whether the soil is dry.

The most important factor for reviving a peperomia that is dropping its leaves is to keep it in a warm room. Peperomia are tropical plants and most of the varieties that are cultivated as houseplants do not experience cold temperatures in their native environment.

If you recreate some of the conditions of the peperomia’s native environment with bright light, warm temperatures, and the right cycle of watering, then the peperomia should regrow its leaves in the Spring and Summer.

Peperomia Leaves Turning Brown

  • Symptoms: Leaves can turn brown at the edges or have a scorched brown appearance.
  • Causes: Brown edges are often caused by a particularly sharp drop in temperatures. Too much sunlight can scorch the leaves. Underwatering, low humidity, and overwatering can also be responsible for brown.

Whilst cold temperatures most often cause the peperomia to drop leaves, if the temperature decreases suddenly then the leaves may just turn brown rather than fall off.

Peperomia grow in hot, humid environments with a very consistent warm temperature range. Sudden fluctuations in temperature are most often responsible for brown leaves.

This can be caused by open windows or doors, draughty areas, or perhaps a cold winter night on a window sill.

Peperomia also live under a forest canopy in bright indirect light, shaded from the glare of harsh sunlight. Therefore their leaves are very sensitive to sunlight and can scorch brown if they are in the sun.

Underwatering and low humidity can cause an array of symptoms depending on the severity of the drought stress. One of the symptoms of dry soil or inconsistent watering can be brown leaves.

Overwatering and saturated soil can result in root rot which turns the leaves yellow and brown.

How to Revive a Dying Peperomia with Brown Leaves

  • The most important factor is to keep the peperomia in a consistently warm room and avoid draughts from open doors or windows (etc.) that can cause a sudden drop in temperature.
  • Move the peperomia to a room with bright light but ensure it is not on a sunny window sill. If any leaves are scorched brown they do not recover and the scorched sections cannot photosynthesize. However, if you place them in a bright room, the peperomia has the resources it needs to grow new leaves.
  • If the soil is very dry or the peperomia has been watered inconsistently then mist the leaves every day and give the soil a good soak. Schedule a rota for watering your houseplants to avoid leaving it too long between each bout of watering.

Once the peperomia’s leaves have turned brown, they do not turn green again. I recommend waiting until Spring to cut them back as this is the time of year when the peperomia is most resilient to pruning.

As long as you make adjustments to the peperomia’s environment so it is not stressed then wait until you see new growth in the Spring and prune any brown damaged leaves back.

If the soil has been overwatered and the peperomia’s leaves are turning yellow and brown then it can be tricky to save and it may be necessary to cut back the roots. In which case watch the YouTube video further up this article for how to save a houseplant with root rot.

Key Takeaways:

  • Peperomia with yellow, drooping leaves indicates the plant has root rot which is caused by overwatering and slow-draining soils.
  • Drooping peperomia leaves can be caused by drought stress due to underwatering and low humidity.
  • Curling peperomia leaves indicate that the humidity is too low. Peperomia are native to humid tropical climates. If the air indoors is too dry the leaves curl to conserve moisture.
  • Peperomia leaves turn brown due to a sudden fluctuation in temperature. Peperomia prefers consistently warm temperatures and can turn brown due to cold air from open doors, windows, or even air conditioning.
  • To revive a dying peperomia emulate the conditions of its native environment with bright indirect light, repot it in a well-draining, porous potting medium, only water when the soil is nearly dry, and keep it in a warm room with a temperature higher than 60°F, (15°C).

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