The Peperomia family of plants has eye-catching foliage that makes them the perfect houseplants. The shiny leaves aren’t free of common houseplant blemishes like unsightly black or brown spots, however. Peperomia is susceptible to several diseases.
If a Peperomia has black, yellow, or brown spots, it could be because of improper watering, too little or too much sunlight, or diseases and pests. Changing how much light or water the plant receives and removing pests can save the plant if the damage isn’t severe.
If given the right conditions, Peperomia plants can thrive indoors. If you can try to correct the issues when a plant first contracts a disease or pest, you can save it before it’s too late. Let’s take a look at the causes of spots and other issues of Peperomia and how to solve them.
Why Do My Peperomia Have Spots?
There are several reasons why Peperomia develops spots on their leaves. The color of the spots can give you an idea of what is causing the problem, so it’s essential to know what problems are associated with each color so you can change how you’re caring for the plant as soon as you see the first signs of spots.
Prevention is the best way to protect your plants. Make sure your plant receives the appropriate amount of sunlight and water and is kept at the right temperature. There will be more information about this later in the article. Taking good care of your plant will minimize the possibility of diseases and pests.
Let’s take a look at the different colors of spots Peperomia can have and what to do to save your plant.
Peperomia Leaves Have Black Spots
Black spots are the result of a disease that has infected your Peperomia. Plant diseases can be transmitted from one plant to another, so you must separate the infected plant from other plants as soon as possible. If you do have to relocate a diseased plant, it’s a good idea to put some extra space between the other plants and inspect them closely each day so you can prevent or stop the spread of the disease.
Black spot fungus could be a culprit for the black spots. This fungus is common to roses, but it can infect any kind of plant with fleshy leaves, just like Peperomia does. The fungus develops in the spring if the temperature is around 60°F (15°C) and the soil has been wet for at least six hours. This fungus can infect plants both inside and outside, so if you have to quarantine a diseased plant, be sure to keep it away from all the others.
Key Facts About Black Spot Fungus
- The fungus develops in warm, wet conditions with poor air circulation.
- Spores are carried through wind and water and can be transmitted to other plants while you’re watering them.
- Prevention is the best way to keep your plants safe.
- The entire plant won’t die, but in severe cases, you’ll need to remove all of the leaves.
What to Do if Your Plant Has Black Spots
- Move the plant away from others. The fungus can move from leaf to leaf while you’re watering or if the leaves touch each other. Keep the infected plant far away from other plants. Black spots can be found on any kind of plant, not just Peperomia.
- Remove infected leaves. If the spots remain on the plants, they can release spores and infect the entire plant and cause it to die completely. Pick off the infected leaves and throw them away, making sure that they never come into contact with healthy plants.
- Use organic treatments. Neem oil, from the neem tree, and organic fungicides can be applied to the plants as a treatment or a prevention method. Using a mixture of baking soda, water, and horticultural oil can be applied to leaves to prevent the spread of the spots by changing the leaves’ pH balance.
Peperomia Leaves Have Brown Spots
Brown spots are typically caused by a viral disease but can also be a result of overwatering. Some plants can be saved depending on what problem they have, but other plants will have to be thrown out.
Oedema, which is also called edema, is a physiological disorder that is caused by overwatering. Plants can take in more water than they can release, which causes the cells within the leaves to burst and form blisters on the bottom of the leaves.
The blisters can be brown, white, or tan and have a cork-like texture. In severe cases, leaves can turn yellow and die, and the stems of the plant can become infected, too. Since the blisters form on the bottom of the leaves, the top of the leaves will have little indentions where the blisters are.
Oedema is more common in house plants and greenhouses since it’s easy to overwater them and keep the air moist. In cool, moist air, Peperomia can’t release water like it needs to. If the plant is constantly being watered and is kept in cool conditions, oedema is likely to form. It’s also more likely to appear during the winter since the air is cold, and it doesn’t have a chance to dry out.
Fortunately, Peperomia can recover from oedema. Allow the plant to dry out almost completely before you water it and move it to a drier area. Severely affected leaves will need to be removed, but the entire plant shouldn’t die because of it if the conditions are corrected. New growth won’t show signs of infection. So, you can cut off all the infected leaves, and eventually, your plant will look healthy again.
Ringspot is caused by a virus and can’t be recovered. Ringspot appears as round rings on the leaves and can sometimes appear as brown spots. The virus is caused by high humidity. Peperomia likes to be kept in humid conditions, so they are prone to contracting this disease and oedema.
If your plant is infected with ringspot, you can remove all the infected leaves, but it’s likely that the entire plant is infected and will have to be discarded. Keep it away from other plants so the infection can’t spread. If you have a lot of plants, it’s probably best to discard the infected plant.
Unfortunately, diseased plants can be sold in stores. Parent plants can get infected in the greenhouse and cuttings are taken from the plant before the disease is spotted. The cuttings are grown in separate pots and are then shipped out to stores. These plants will eventually reveal that they’re diseased, even if they don’t show signs right away. The plants can’t be saved and they will have to be thrown out.
Peperomia Leaves Have Yellow Spots
Yellow leaves can appear on Peperomia for several reasons, including:
- Too much sunlight: Peperomia needs bright indirect sunlight. If they receive too much direct light, even if it’s through a window, their leaves may turn yellow and die. In the wild, Peperomia is found on the floor of tropical forests, so direct sunlight isn’t natural to them. Brown spots may be found on yellow leaves, too.
- Too much water: Peperomia only needs light water at least every seven days. How often you need to water the plant will be determined by the variety of Peperomia, the amount of light it gets, and the type of soil you use. Always feel the soil before you give the plant more water. The soil should be dry about one or two inches deep before you water the plant again.
- Oedema: Odema is typically brown, but yellow leaves can accompany the brown blisters on affected leaves. Remember that too much water is the cause of oedema and yellow leaves.
Other Common Peperomia Problems
Spots aren’t the only issues with Peperomia. There are other diseases and pests that will wreak havoc on your plants and many of these symptoms are seen along with the colorful spots that were previously discussed.
Peperomia Have Curling Leaves
If your Peperomia plant has curling leaves, check the undersides for pests. Insects can live on the bottoms of leaves and cause the plant to curl up. If you do have pests, an organic pesticide is preferred like neem oil or an onion and garlic spray. Although not ideal, picking the insects by hand and killing them is also a good way to get rid of them. Be sure to move infested plants away from other nearby plants, so the bugs don’t move onto the others.
Another cause of curling leaves is calcium deficiency. If you keep your Peperomia in a soil with high acidity and tend to overwater the plant, this could cause issues with calcium absorption. There isn’t a lot of calcium in soils with high acidity levels and overwatering aids in making it difficult for the roots to soak up the water.
Too many nutrients can also cause Peperomia to not soak up calcium. There might be enough calcium in the soil, but too much phosphorus or nitrogen can make it seem like there isn’t enough calcium.
To make sure nutrients aren’t a problem for your plant, make sure you plant it in the appropriate soil and avoid using too much fertilizer. It’s best to give your plant fertilizer in the spring when it’s producing new growth, and it’s better to give too little than too much. Excessive fertilizer can kill the plant.
Giving your plant fertilizer is the same as taking your daily supplemental vitamins – not taking them won’t kill you. So, not giving your plant enough fertilizer won’t harm it unless it has a deficiency.
Peperomia can have several pests even if they’re kept indoors. Some of the most common pests include the following:
- Fungus gnats
- Slugs and snails
Mealybugs are probably the most common pest to Peperomia plants that are kept inside. They aren’t specific to Peperomia – if you find an infestation on one of your plants, you need to place the plant away from all the others. These bugs thrive in warm, moist habitats that are typically the kind of habitat Peperomia plants live in when indoors.
Mealybugs eat the juices that are in plants, which is why the leaves curl up during an infestation. These bugs can also carry other plant diseases, so they can be detrimental to your plants if they aren’t caught as soon as possible.
Thrips are another juice-sucking insect that can kill your plants. They not only infest plants, but they can crawl into computer monitors and furniture, making them an irritating pest to both humans and plants. If you notice them on your plant, it’s probably best to banish the plant outdoors until the bugs are removed from the plant.
The other pests listed like slugs, snails, aphids, and caterpillars won’t be much of an issue to Peperomia if they’re kept indoors because they’re typically outside. They snack on the leaves, which is a huge annoyance since the leaves are the main reason people keep Peperomia.
Peperomia Care Guide
Proper care is the best way to prevent your Peperomia from getting unsightly spots or other problems. Most spots are direct results of improper care, including water, sunlight, and soil quality. If you take good care of your Peperomia, you’re less likely to have problems that will kill your plants.
Finding the perfect pot size is crucial. If the pot is too small, it could stunt the roots and prevent the plant from growing. However, if the pot is too big, water won’t be able to drain out and will remain around the roots. This can cause root rot and will kill your plant. Choose a bigger pot than the root ball of your plant by just a few inches, so it will have room to grow.
When it’s time to transplant the Peperomia to a bigger pot, wait until the roots have completely filled the current pot the plant is in. Plants don’t like to be transplanted frequently, so allowing the roots to fill the pot will reduce the amount of stress the plant experiences.
Well-draining potting soil is sufficient for Peperomia. You can make your own mix of sand, peat moss, and perlite.
Overwatering can cause several problems for the Peperomia, so it’s crucial that whatever kind of soil you use will be able to drain well and not hold any water.
Bright indirect light is the best for Peperomia. As mentioned before, Peperomia is native to subtropical and tropical forests. They grow low on the ground underneath tall trees and don’t receive any direct sunlight.
Potted Peperomia might not be in the same environment as their native counterparts, but they should be treated as close to them as possible. Direct light will burn the leaves and cause brown spots or yellowing leaves.
Temperatures between 55°F (12°C) and 80°F (26°C) are ideal for Peperomia. Keep the plants away from drafts of cold air and hot windows. Temperatures that are too cold or too hot will cause the leaves to get spots or turn yellow and die.
Peperomia shouldn’t be overwatered. Water them at least every seven days or as needed. The top half of the pot should be completely dry before you water the plant again. If your plant begins to show signs of underwatering or overwatering, increase or decrease how often you water it as needed.
Peperomia prefers warm and humid conditions like the tropical regions they’re from. If you have excessively dry air in your house, a humidifier might benefit the plant. This isn’t necessary if the plant doesn’t show signs of needing extra moisture.
Keep in mind that excessive water is the cause of several problems for Peperomia plants. Roots can rot, nutrients can be rinsed out of the soil, and pests might find the wet conditions desirable. Your plant should never be kept in standing water.
If you do overwater your plant and it starts to show signs of stress, repotting the plant may be necessary. Remove the plant from the pot and knock off as much dirt as possible from its roots. Put the plant into dry soil and don’t water it right away.
Peperomia is easy to care for. They need minimal water, indirect sunlight, and well-draining soil in a pot not much bigger than the size of their root balls.
A Peperomia plant can get spots. Brown spots could mean it’s getting overwatered or has a viral disease. Black spots are most likely a fungal disease. If leaves are yellow, it could be due to too much light or water or a “side effect” of another problem.
Pests and curling leaves are another issue the Peperomia plant might have. Make sure the soil isn’t too saturated with water and remove pests as soon as you see them. Hand-picking each bug isn’t preferred, but it’s a sure way to make sure they’re all gone. Organic pesticides or natural remedies are the best options to use.