Peperomia Ginny (botanical name Peperomia Clusiifolia Variegata) is an upright-growing plant that is easy to care for. This plant is sought-after for colorful leaves: a light green center, cream variegation, and pink leaf margins.
These three pastel colors give the plant its nickname, Tricolor Ginny. 🙂
Care-wise, it doesn’t require much. Peperomia Ginny tolerates most light conditions and does well in average room humidity. Because of its succulent-like qualities, it has lower water requirements than most tropical houseplants… but be sure to give it a deep watering once its topsoil is dry. Its ideal temperature range is 60 – 80 degrees F (16 – 27 degrees C).
What is the Peperomia Ginny?
The Peperomia Ginny comes from the Piperaceae (pepper) family. It originates from the tropical rainforests of South America, notably Venezuela and the West Indies.
It has many nicknames:
- Peperomia Jelly
- Peperomia Tricolor
- Ginny Peperomia
- Red Edge Peperomia (Variegated)
How to care for your Peperomia Ginny
Usually found in the understory of the rainforest near the rainforest floor, this Peperomia Ginny isn’t picky when it comes to light conditions. Because of its native environment, it has adapted to grow well in partial shade and low-light. Equally, it thrives in bright filtered or bright dappled light.
When it comes to light requirements, there’s only one rule to remember: keep it out of harsh, direct light.
While it easily tolerates shadier conditions, harsh direct light will scorch its leaves. In this case, its tricolor variegation will start to fade as its leaves turn pale and discolored. Obviously, this is not a good look for your usually-handsome Ginny!
What’s unique about the Peperomia Ginny is its ability to store water in its thick, jelly-like leaves and stems. This characteristic reduces its water requirements.
When watering, there are only a few things to keep in mind:
- Let the top 2 inches of soil dry before watering. If the topsoil is still slightly moist, it’s best to wait. Check back again in a day or two and see if your plant is ready to be watered.
- Using this method, you’ll notice your watering frequency approximately halving in winter, when your plant is dormant and water requirements drop.
- Use a long-spouted watering can, trying your best to avoid wetting your Peperomia Ginny’s leaves. Wet foliage is a growing medium for fungi and pathogens.
- When watering your Ginny, water deeply. Allow excess water to drain freely from the drainage holes. Then, remove any excess water from the plant’s saucer.
- Always use a planter with drainage holes! Having water pool at the bottom of a plant’s pot is not a good idea as it invites root rot, something that your Peperomia Ginny especially hates.
More good news. Your pantropical plant (found in tropical regions in both hemispheres) is not fussy when it comes to humidity. While they appreciate a weekly light misting, they are fine living in average room humidity. Humidity levels of 40% or more are ideal.
If you live in an especially dry region and would like to give your humidity levels a boost, try investing in a humidifier, or using a pebble tray to increase evaporation around your plant. Here’s how.
Once again, average room temperatures are acceptable for your plant. Peperomia Ginnys do well in temperatures of 60 – 80 degrees F (16 – 27 degrees C). While not optimal, they can tolerate temperature rises to 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) and dips to 50 degrees F (10 degrees C).
If you live in a colder climate, it is an excellent idea to let your plant grow indoors in cooler months.
Growth and Flowering
Your Peperomia Ginny is a compact plant. You can expect it to reach just 12 inches tall (30 cm) and 10 inches (25 cm) wide at maturity. They are also a very slow grower, so you need to be patient!
The good news is that its small size makes it perfect for apartment buildings.
While Peperomia Ginnys do occasionally produce flowers, these are very small and, in our opinion, insignificant compared with their showy foliage. In late spring or summer, flowers may bloom from bright green spikes, producing small and unscented blooms. You can remove the old flower spikes after the plant is done flowering. This allows the plant to refocus its energy on new growth.
In winter, your plant will go dormant. Don’t be surprised to see no new growth, and reduced water requirements.
Although it has thick, succulent-like leaves that can store water, the Peperomia Ginny is not considered a succulent. Some succulent potting mixes are too dry for your plant, so avoid these. Also, avoid clay soils that are too dense for your plant.
For plants that are prone to overwatering like Peperomia Ginny, the choice of potting mix is important.
To keep your plant healthy, choose a well-draining mix but one that can retain some moisture too. This is essential to keep your plant’s roots healthy. Ginny’s prefer nutrient-rich soil and slightly acidic (pH 6.0-6.5), although they can tolerate a range of soils.
Too much information? We’ll cut to the chase. A good potting soil option that ticks all the boxes can be made from mixing:
- 1 part Peat moss (this is slightly acidic); with
- 1 part Perlite, pumice, and orchid bark in roughly equal quantity.
Alternatively, you can purchase a ready-made commercial African Violet potting mix and add in perlite with a ratio of 2:1.
Being ever the low-maintenance plant, we find that your Peperomia Ginny does fine without fertilizing.
But for best growth, use a liquid fertilizer at half strength just twice a year: once at the start of spring and a second time at the beginning of summer. That’s all it needs!
Whatever you do, don’t fertilize your plant in winter, as your plant is dormant during this time. Excess fertilizing harms your plant and leads to mineral salt buildup. The too-high nitrogen content in overfertilized soils also attract pests like mealybugs.
There are a few reasons why your Peperomia Ginny doesn’t need to be repotted frequently.
- First, it is a slow grower so needs longer to establish in a pot;
- Also, its root system is also small and compact relative to the size of the plant
- Lastly, your Peperomia Ginny likes to be slightly pot-bound.
In most cases, repotting once every 2-4 years is sufficient. Just keep a look out for signs that your plant is severely root-bound. Signs include when you see roots peeking out from drainage holes, or circling above the soil’s surface.
When repotting, choose a pot that is 2-inches larger than the original.
Your Peperomia Ginny, like all Peperomias, is non-toxic to humans and animals. This includes household pets like cats and dogs. Just another reason to add this houseplant to your collection!
Again, being a slow grower, your plant doesn’t need to be pruned more than once a year. Here are our pruning tips to keep your plant looking its best:
- Prune your plant annually at the start of spring. Doing so helps your plant focus its energy on new, healthy stems and leaves during the upcoming growing season.
- Prune at a downward angle just above the node. Pruning in this manner allows water to run off any freshly-cut stems, which are prone to infection. It also reduces the risk of “die-back”.
- Remove any dead, wilted or damaged stems or leaves.
- Use clean garden shears to trim off any leggy growth. This gives your plant a bushy, neat look.
Luckily, your Peperomia Ginny is so easy to propagate, but may take up to 6 weeks to root in its new home. While stem cuttings are an option, the easiest, most straightforward way is through leaf cuttings. Spring is the best time for propagation.
- Identify a healthy leaf from your plant.
- Use clean garden shears to snip off the leaf petiole from the main stem. The petiole is the leaf joint that holds up the single leaf, and attaches to the main stem of the plant.
- Apply a rooting hormone to the cut end of the leaf-cutting to stimulate healthy root growth.
- Place the leaf cutting in potting soil (peat moss and perlite mix is fine), with the cut buried end under the soil and the leaf cutting standing upright. The leaf should be above the surface of the soil. If the leaf is too big and heavy, its fine to cut it in half.
- Place the pot in a warm, bright spot with indirect light. Please keep it away from any direct sunlight during propagation. It is especially vulnerable to bright sunlight during this time. Too much harsh light will kill the new plant.
- Place a clear plastic bag over the pot for the few weeks to protect it from direct light and increase humidity levels. However, ensure you remove the bag for at least 2 hours a day to give your plant fresh air, and remove it completely for a day every 5 days for a break. Also, poke holes in the plastic bag for air circulation.
- In about 6 weeks you should feel some resistance when you give your plant a very gentle tug. This means that the roots have started to develop.
- Now you can treat your plant as you would any other Peperomia Ginny. (You can remove the plastic bag!)
Another way to propagate your Peperomia Ginny is through division. When repotting your plant, why not take to opportunity to divide your plant into two? All you need to do is to form two individual root systems and repot in fresh potting mix.
Do however remember to find a pot that is appropriate for the size of the plant’s rootball. Too large pots are not a good idea, as these are prone to become overwatered. You may have to down-size your pot if you’ve reduced its rootball size by half!
Common Issues, Pests or Diseases
A healthy Peperomia Ginny is generally trouble-free. The plant is hardy and can tolerate some level of neglect. However, if issues do arise, the two most common problems are due to overwatering and too much sun. Likewise, when pests do strike, mealybugs, spider mites, and whiteflies are the most probable critters.
- Overwatering. Watering too frequently or using a too-dense soil mix are common problems. The proper care is detailed in the Water and Soil sections. If you have an overwatered plant on your hands, first, allow your plant to dry out completely. You may need to repot your plant and snip off any rotting roots in more severe cases. Our guide on saving an overwatered plant shows you how.
- Too much direct sun. Being a plant that lives in nature close to the rainforest floors, it is not used to getting direct sunlight. This is because the light is filtered through a canopy of trees before reaching lower levels. Harsh direct light can cause your plant’s leaves to scorch and become pale or discoloured.
- Mealybugs, spider mites, and whiteflies may occasionally attack plants. Pests can go from plant to plant, which is why it’s important to always inspect any new plant before introducing it to your home. Since these critters multiply quickly, the earlier you detect them, the better, so regularly inspect your plants for signs of infestation.
- You can check out our guides for mealybugs and spider mites for more details on identifying these pests.
- Luckily, an insecticidal soap spray is an easy option to quickly and effectively rid your plant of all three! If you prefer a homemade solution, neem oil also works wonders if you catch these pests early.
Here are the usual problems that may arise with a Peperomia Ginny and how to solve them.
Why are my Peperomia Ginny leaves yellowing?
Yellow leaves are most commonly a sign of an overwatered Peperomia Ginny. Allow the plant to completely dry out. During this time, check whether you are using well-draining soil and are only watering the plant when the topsoil is dry. If the topsoil is still moist, check back again in a few days.
Remember that your plant has water reserves in its stems and leaves, making it less thirsty than the average tropical houseplant.
In extreme cases of overwatering, you will notice that your plant is dying even after allowing it to dry out for several days. In this case, you will need to remove your plant from its pot and examine its roots. Any black, brown, soft and decaying, or foul-smelling roots are a sign of root rot (moisture-loving Pythium fungi feeding on roots).
Sterilise your garden shears with rubbing alcohol, and start snipping off damaged roots such that only firm and healthy white roots remain. It’s painful, we know, but do re-sterilise your shears with every snip to avoid contaminating healthy parts of the root. Then sterilise it again when you’re done, and carefully dispose of the damaged roots to prevent contamination with other plants.
Then, repot your plant in fresh potting soil.
Here are some tips on watering your plant correctly if you are a beginner.
Why is the soil moldy?
Moldy soil is another sign of overwatering. Repot your plant in fresh soil, sterilising the pot before adding the new mix. This is to prevent contamination.
Check the Water section for watering tips, and ensure you are using an appropriate, well-draining potting mix. It’s essential to not only remedy the problem but uncover the root cause to prevent a recurrence.
Why are my plant’s leaves wilting?
Wilting Peperomia Ginny leaves can be a sign of either overwatering or underwatering your plant. Check the soil’s moisture with your finger to determine which of the two is the problem.
Why are my Peperomia Ginny’s leaves pale?
Pale leaves in Peperomia Ginnys are commonly a sign of too much direct light. Remember that your plant does well in bright light, but this must be indirect. Direct sunlight is too intense for your plant’s foliage, which will scorch and lose its sought-after variegation!
To reduce the intensity of the light your plant receives, you can bring it further away from the window. Alternatively, use a shade cloth to translucent curtain to filter the light.
Why are the leaves deformed?
Deformed leaves on Peperomia plants may be caused by the cucumber mosaic virus, which appears when the plant is overwatered. Chlorotic and necrotic ring spots are a sign of infection, alongside stunted growth.
According to the University of Wisconsin, there is no cure for the mosaic virus. Infected plants must be removed and disposed of carefully to avoid contaminating other nearby houseplants.
Why is my Peperomia Ginny droopy?
Droopy leaves are a sign of underwatering. As the water reserves in the leaves deplete, leaves start to droop.
Check that you are: i) watering your plant when the topsoil is dry and that ii) you are watering deeply. This means watering until excess water escapes from the drainage holes. Giving your plant shallow sips is not enough!
If the situation doesn’t improve, check on your potting mix. A mix that doesn’t allow the water to retain sufficient moisture can be a reason for your underwatered plant. For this reason, avoid using succulent mixes.
A mix of peat moss and perlite in a 1:1 ratio is a good option; check out the Soil section for alternatives.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are Peperomias called radiator plants?
It’s a cute nickname. Peperomias are sometimes referred to as radiator plants because they like warm air and lots of sunlight. Of course, this is a generalization, but this is true of most plants in this genus of over 1,000 species. Part of the reason is that they are tropical plants native to warm climates such as Mexico, South America and the Caribbean.
Is the Peperomia Ginny a succulent?
Like many in the Hoya genus, the Peperomia Ginny has many succulent-like characteristics. They have fleshy stems and leaves that are adapted to store water. They also can endure lower humidity levels than many other tropical plants.
Despite this, most do not consider the Peperomia Ginny a succulent, as they still have higher water requirements than a typical succulent and aren’t as well adapted to tolerating very dry and arid conditions. That being said, we have to admit that the term “succulent” is not well defined with clear and specific criteria.
Instead of being a defined group (either you’re in or out), we tend to look at the term succulent as a sliding scale with many plants exhibiting some characteristics, but others tolerating more extreme conditions and having many more adaptations.
Similar Plants and Varieties
- Peperomia Columella, one of the rarest Peperomias, has unique, bloated small leaves that grow with a vining habit. Scroll down to see the photo below!
- Watermelon Peperomia has cute leaves that resemble uncut watermelons.
- Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata, the variegated version of the Baby Rubber Plant, this fast-grower boasts cup-like leaves.
- Peperomia Hope, our favourite lush vining Peperomia with succulent-like foliage.
- Peperomia Prostrata, also known as the String of Turtles, a lovely vining plant that has small round foliage resembling turtle shells!
- Peperomia Frost, a lovely compact tropical plant with heart-shaped foliage with a silvery sheen that gives it its name
- Pink Lady Peperomia has lovely pastel pink colouring on some of its leaves.
- Peperomia Obtusifolia – the Baby Rubber Plant is an upright growing plant with cupped-shaped, bright green leaves.
- Raindrop Peperomia – a small compact plant with beautiful raindrop-shaped leaves.
Being hardy and easy to care for, the Peperomia Ginny is a great starter plant for beginners. Its compact but colourful nature allows it to make a big impact in small spaces. Adhere to these growing tips, and your Peperomia Ginny will grow healthy:
- As long as you keep your plant away from direct light, it isn’t fussy about light conditions.
- Water when the topsoil is dry, and water thoroughly. Use a long-spouted watering can to avoid wetting the leaves. This plant stores water well in its stems and leaves, so it has lower water requirements than most houseplants.
- A potting mix of peat moss mixed with perlite, orchid bark, and grit is an excellent growing medium for your plant, allowing it to replenish its water reserves but also dry off quickly.
- Fertilizer is not an absolute necessity, but your plant can benefit from a twice-yearly application of liquid houseplant fertilizer at half-strength. Once at the start of spring, and once more at the beginning of summer.
- Flowers may appear occasionally, but these are very small and insignificant.
- Being a slow-grower, repotting is done infrequently. Once every 2-4 years is sufficient, keep looking for signs of your plant becoming root-bound.
- Your Peperomia Ginny is non-toxic to humans, dogs and cats.
- Prune annually at the start of spring to keep your plant looking its best. Trim off any leggy growth and remove damaged leaves or old flower spikes.
- Propagation is easily done by planting leaf cuttings in a potting mix.
- While your plant is generally pest and disease-resistant, the most common issues result from overwatering or too much direct sun, or from the usual houseplant pests that can be eradicated through insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.