Peperomia (Pepper) (Piperaceae)
Most peppers appear as a short bush of thick fleshy leaves, indicating that they can store water and will withstand periods of dryness. Many of them produce several thin, erect flowers, like mouse-tails, which stand some 6 to S in. above the leaves and add considerable interest to the form of the plant. The flowers are whitish-cream in colour and are occasionally branched at the tip. Peperomias prefer moist soil, but must be allowed to dry out between waterings. In winter, keep them as dry as possible without causing damage to the roots. When water is necessary it should be tepid. The green- and grey-leaved varieties prefer shaded conditions, while the variegated-leaved varieties need more light, but not sunlight. All must have warmth in winter.
Peperomia caperata (little fantasy, emerald ripple) origin: Brazil. Produces a dense mass of small, heart-shaped leaves 1 to 1-1/2 in. long. They are irregularly corrugated, and are coloured dark green and purple in the “valleys” of the corrugations, and bright emerald-green on the “hills”. The leafstalks are pink, and the overall effect is of a rich velvet. An intermediate plant, which produces whitish-cream flowers.
P. glabella variegata (vanilla ice plant) origin: Central America. Grows as a bush, with pinkish, trailing stems that may be 6 to 8 in. long. The leaves are green with a cream margin. Requires warmth and humidity, and is not as easy to grow as the green-leaved variety.
P. hederaefolia (crinkled metal plant, ivy peperomia) origin: Brazil. Similar in leaf and habit to P. caperata. The heart-shaped leaves are crinkled and some 2 in. long and wide. They are pale grey in colour, and dark olive-green main veins form the “valleys” of the corrugations. Prefers shade and humidity.
P. magnoliaefolia (desert privet) origin: West Indies. Avariety producing side shoots. The oval leaves are mid-green with an irregular cream margin. They are about 2 in. long and 1-1/2| in. wide. An easy plant, which will tolerate varying conditions.
P.m. Green Gold, origin: West Indies. Identical to P. magnoliaefolia, except that the leaf has irregular patches of dark and light green on a yellowish-cream, almost golden, background.
P. sandersii (water-melon peperomia, rugby football plant) origin: Brazil. Forms a dense bush of leaves that are-almost round but taper to a point at the end. The mature leaves are fleshy, and are about 3 in. long and 2 in. wide. They are silver in colour, with a dark green band along the main vein. An intermediate plant that requires more attention than most. Keep evenly moist with tepid water, and allow almost to dry out between each watering. Keep warm and fairly dry in winter, but never allow to dry out completely. Cold and/orwill cause the leaves to turn black and rot off.