Peperomia is a beautiful, beloved houseplant. They are easy to grow and take care of, but some simple factors may be turning your peperomia’s leaves an unsightly color.
Your peperomia leaves may be turning yellow, black, brown, or white for a variety of reasons. Over-watering or heat stress can cause color changes and are easy to remedy. Diseases, pests, and genetic mutations may also be the cause of your peperomia’s leaves suddenly changing.
Keep reading to find out common causes for color changes on your peperomia leaves, and how to reverse or treat the problem.
One of the most common problems that arise with peperomia owners is over-watering. Many peperomia owners will over-water their plants, causing them to wilt or develop scab-like sores on their leaves.
Sometimes over-watering is not due to the owner watering too much, but rather a lack of drainage. It is important to keep your peperomia in a container that can drain well, allowing the plant to release unneeded water. When overwatered, a peperomia will wilt. Overwatering could also lead to whitish protrusions developing on the leaves.
To remedy this, it is best to keep to a watering schedule. Only water your peperomia when the soil is completely dry. Monitor the soil’s moisture levels by touching it directly with your fingers. If the soil feels dry to the touch, it is time to water.
In addition, be sure that the container in which you keep your peperomia has proper drainage. You may want to invest in a self-watering globe to help you maintain the right moisture levels.
Inconsistent Watering For Peperomia
If your peperomia is turning yellow or becoming discolored, it may be a cause of inconsistent watering. Just like the way overwatering can damage your plant, inconsistent watering can lead to stress on your peperomia.
Most houseplants like routine. When that routine is inconsistent, and their conditions change erratically, it can cause stress on your plant.
For example, if your plant has been consistently underwatered and is suddenly overwatered, the sudden change can create stress on your peperomia. The stress will then lead to the leaves of your plant yellowing. To avoid this, you will want to stick to a consistent watering schedule for your peperomia. It is recommended to water your peperomia every seven to ten days.
It’s a good idea to keep a watering schedule so you can remain consistent with your watering routine. Always be sure to check the soil moisture levels before watering to test if you are overwatering your peperomia.
Too Much Sunlight on Peperomia
Another reason that your peperomia’s leaves may be turning yellow could be due to too much sunlight. Peperomia likes bright and indirect light. However, too much light can cause their leaves to fade or turn yellow.
Luckily, this is really easy to remedy.
Peperomia is naturally found in tropical climates but sits closer to the forest floor. This means that they are generally shaded by the wider canopy above. They prefer indirect light to harsh, direct sunlight.
Excessive sunlight can even end up burning your peperomia leaves, causing harm to the plant as a whole. Sometimes, sunlight damage will appear as an even yellowing throughout the surface of the leaf. Other times, light damage will show up as burnt spots on the leaf.
To remedy color change due to too much sunlight, you will want to move your plant away from an intense light source. Place your plant in a spot that doesn’t get too much direct light.
If your peperomia is in a south-facing window, it will be getting too much light. Consider placing your plant in an east or west-facing window, or another space in the house that gets less light. You may want to move it away from a window entirely.
As the season changes, so can the lighting, and certain areas of your home may get more sunlight than it did previously. Be aware of these subtle changes. A spot where your peperomia once thrived could wind up having too much light later in the year.
Excess Soil Moisture
Another factor that could lead to your peperomia leaves yellowing is related to overwatering. Overwatering is the number one cause of peperomia leaves turning yellow. If the soil retains excess moisture, that overly moist soil could be another cause.
If you are giving your plant too much water at once, its soil could be retaining too much moisture. Plants absorb oxygen through their roots and need that oxygen to function. But when the soil contains excess moisture, plants can’t get their oxygen. Essentially, the plants drown.
The lack of oxygen getting to your plant’s stems, leaves, and roots can cause your plant to turn yellow. Eventually, excess soil moisture can kill your plant. Luckily, it’s easy to fix.
Excess soil moisture could easily occur if your plant is kept in a pot that has poor drainage. Be sure to examine your pot and choose one that will allow water to drain from the bottom. If excess water leaks from the pot and into the saucer below your pot, be sure to dump that out. Take note if this happens and be sure to water your plant less next time.
Peperomia does not need a great deal of water. You should only water your peperomia when the top 50-70% of the soil is dry.
Peperomia Root Rot
Excess soil moisture and overwatering can lead to root rot. Root rot frequently occurs in houseplants, and is often caused by poor drainage and overwatering. Sometimes it is caused by the plant’s own root system, which may not be functioning well.
If affected by root rot, your plant’s roots may turn mushy and brown. They will be fragile, easily falling off of the plant when touched. In addition, the leaves may wilt and become discolored. Your plant will look weak, perhaps wilted, with discolored leaves. Another symptom of root rot, your plants may begin to ooze sap.
Because the roots are below the soil, root rot can often grow undetected. Usually, it is not until the rot spreads to the plant’s upperparts that root rot is diagnosed. Unfortunately, because of this late detection, it can often be too late to save the plant.
While root rot is, in many cases, a lethal disease, it is possible to save the plant in some cases. If a plant is badly affected by root rot, you may also be able to propagate it into a new, young plant.
Root rot can spread easily to other plants, so be sure to keep the affected plant isolated. Common causes of root rot are overwatering and excessive soil moisture, but it is possible that your plant was contaminated by a neighboring, affected plant.
Infectious Leaf Spot Diseases
If you are noticing black or brown spots appearing on the leaves of your peperomia, this could signal an infectious leaf spot disease. If it is indeed a leaf spot disease, you will want to act right away.
The first step to remedy the situation, regardless of the disease, is to isolate the plant from others. Most leaf diseases can spread to other plants, and isolating the affected plant will help contain the disease. You will want to prune the affected areas with garden shares. Take as much of the impacted leaves away as possible.
Here are some of the most common leaf spot diseases and how to remedy the situation.
Cercospora Leaf Spot
Cercospora Leaf Spot is an infectious disease that is extremely common, appearing most often between July and October. Cercospora leaf spot is caused by a fungus known as Cercospora hydrangea. It often affects smooth, panicle, and bigleaf hydrangea, but is known to affect other plants as well.
The good news is that this disease is rarely fatal for the plant. However, it can lead to severe damage and lead to an overall weakening of the plant. If the disease is severe and defoliation is allowed to continue, it can wreak havoc on your peperomia.
Usually, leaf spots will appear first on the bottom of your plant before spreading upwards. They will most commonly pop up in small purple patches; as the disease progresses, they will grow in shape and become browner.
If your peperomia has been impacted by Cercospora leaf spot disease and has been infected for a long enough time, the leaves could begin to turn entirely yellow. In some cases, you will be able to see small spores in the center of the affected spots, indicating that your peperomia is indeed suffering from Cercospora leaf spot disease.
To treat Cercospora leaf spot disease, you will want to prune any affected leaves immediately. As a precaution, it is a good idea always to trim spotted leaves as soon as they appear.
The fungus can spread quickly from leaf to leaf, so it is essential to be as clean as possible when pruning. Be sure to isolate the affected plant from your other plants so as not to spread the disease.
You can also purchase fungicide to help manage the disease. Fungicides are usually most effective when applied at the first sign of leaf spot disease. When using a fungicide, look for ingredients like chlorothalonil, myclobutanil, or thiophanate-methyl. These ingredients work best to fight leaf spot disease.
It’s important to note that the fungicide will only help areas that are currently suffering from leaf spot disease. When new growths appear on your plant, they will be vulnerable to the disease. For this reason, you should apply the fungicide multiple times.
It is recommended to reapply the fungicide to your peperomia every 10 to 14 days for the best results.
Phyllosticta Leaf Spot
Another common leaf spot disease is Phyllosticta. The disease is named after the phyllosticta minima, an asexual fungus that can cause unsightly spots to appear on the leaves of your plants.
Phyllosticta Leaf Spot will cause lesions to appear on your peperomia’s leaves. The lesions will often be gray or tan with a darker rim. They will appear on the leaves, generally in circular or oval patterns. This particular leaf spot disease favors cool, wet conditions. If the room is cool and moist, the phyllosticta leaf spot will thrive.
Usually, phyllosticta leaf spot disease will appear on the lower leaves first. As the disease progresses, more spots may appear, making one large spot that completely changes the leaves’ color.
Phyllosticta leaf spots will sometimes cause small holes to appear in the leaves. If your discolored peperomia leaves have tiny, porous spots, this may be an indicator that your plant is suffering from phyllosticta leaf spot disease.
To help treat the spread of the phyllosticta leaf spot, you should isolate the plant. Immediately throw away any leaves that have fallen out or been affected by the phyllosticta leaf spot.
Be sure to prune the affected plant and clip away any leaves that have been damaged. If leaves or stems look damaged, it is a good idea to prune them away. Usually, trimming, clipping, and pruning should be enough to stop the spread of the phyllosticta leaf spot. It is not recommended to use fungicides to treat this specific leaf spot disease.
Rhizoctonia Leaf Spot
Peperomia plants are also susceptible to Rhizoctonia leaf spot disease. A pathogen that spread through the soil, Rhizoctonia, is a result of a fungus that spread thread like thread on many plants.
The fungus that is responsible for Rhizoctonia is also responsible for other diseases, including collar rot, root rot, and wire stem. Generally, the fungus will attack plants while they are young. The fungus is found in the soil and will spread easily to the young plant.
The pathogen can cause reddish-brown lesions or cankers to appear on the peperomia leaves. The leaf spot disease can also cause mushy, dark brown, and black spots to appear on the leaves.
Generally, the spots caused by Rhizoctonia will appear in irregular shapes. Sometimes the leaf spot will appear as concentric rings. They can appear anywhere on the plant.
This leaf spot disease prefers warmer climates and can spread to the whole plant.
Like with most leaf spot diseases, your first plan of action once you have identified Rhizoctonia should be to prune off any affected leaves. If a plant is severely affected, you may need to destroy it completely.
Peperomia Invasive Pests
Another reason your peperomia could be turning discolored could be due to invasive pests. Peperomia, like most house plants, are susceptible to pests. These pests could be turning your plant yellow.
Here are the most common pests that affect peperomia:
Spider mites are small bugs that bite into the leaves of your plant and drain it of its moisture and nutrient content. This drainage causes the leaves of the plant to turn yellow.
If your plant is beginning to become speckled with light-colored dots, this is a sign that spider mites could be the culprit. Spider mites also tend to leave holes in the leaves when they bite, so this is another indicator that your peperomia is suffering from spider mites.
To fix the spider mite infestation, first, wash your plant in cold water. Be sure to rinse it thoroughly. You will also want to prune off any badly affected or infested areas.
Once your plant has been pruned and rinsed, take a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and rub-down the plant. This should help kill off any remaining spider mites.
Aphids are tiny insects that like to bite into newly grown leaves. They often hide out on the underside of plants. Like spider mites, aphids drain the plant. They are attracted to plant sap, and when they drain the sap, the plant leaves turn yellow and become lifeless.
A sign that your peperomia has an active aphid infestation is if your plant is covered in sticky sap. After aphids feed, they leave behind a sticky sap called honeydew, leaving your plant covered in a sticky, gleaming syrup.
To rid your peperomia of aphids, you will want to follow the same procedure as with the spider mites. Prune your plant of any severely affected areas, and then rinse the plant in cool water.
After rinsing the plant, swab it down with rubbing alcohol to kill off any remaining insects.
Whiteflies are a small, white insect. They look similar to tiny moths. Like aphids, whiteflies secrete honeydew, which ultimately causes the plant leaves to turn yellow.
Neem oil works to eliminate whiteflies. Neem oil is a natural pesticide derived from a neem tree. Spray the plant all over to help eliminate your whitefly problem. Another way to combat whiteflies is by purchasing sticky traps. The flies will get stuck to the trap and will hopefully be deterred from attacking your peperomia.
Another insect that is prone to attacking peperomia is the mealybug. Mealybugs are small, pink insects that feed on the plant. They end up draining the plant of its moisture, causing it to be yellow.
Mealybugs appear in bunches of white, cotton-like material. If your plant seems to be covered in fluffy white spots, they may be mealy bugs. With a mealybug infestation, you will want to trim off any severely affected area. Then rinse the plant in cold water. Wash over with rubbing alcohol or neem oil to prevent any further infestation.
In most cases, remedying your peperomia’s coloration change will be an easy task. Good luck gardening!