What’s in a name? In the case of Peperomia argyreia, the name “watermelon plant” comes from its waxy, striped leaves. It is not related to watermelons, it is more closely related to chili peppers, but the waxy, stripy leaves make this plant look like it came off the vine. It is a very popular houseplant for many reasons. This plant is safe for cats and dogs to eat. So, what is a watermelon peperomia, really, and is it a good houseplant? Keep reading to find out more about this exotic-looking addition to your home.
History of Watermelon Peperomia
Peperomia argyreia is a small plant native to the tropical parts of South America, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela. It is usually found on decaying logs on the rainforest floor. “Peperomia” is both the genus of the plant and part of its common name. There are many Peperomia species, but “watermelon peperomia” needs no special punctuation. Its attractive foliage and relative ease of care make it ideal for someone who wants a small, decorative houseplant that doesn’t require a lot of upkeep.
But the best part is that your “watermelon” plant will not grow very tall. The plant naturally stays at a very manageable 8”–12.” Better still, it is non-toxic to cats and dogs, so it’s safe to have around the house. Minimal size and care requirements make it an ideal house plant. If you think you are ready for this imposter watermelon, read on.
How To Take Care of This Plant?
Are you intrigued by this pint-sized plant, yet? Here is how to take care of one in your own home. Despite the humidity requirements, the watermelon peperomia is a beginner-level houseplant that requires minimal care despite being tropical.
Water and humidity are the hardest aspects of Peperomia plant care. As tropical plants, they are very sensitive to both the amount of water they receive and general humidity. If you live in a dry area, misting is a must! Otherwise, only water your watermelon peperomia when the top layer of soil is dry. Water this plant less during autumn and winter.
Check your plant’s soil at least once a week. Overwatering (and too harsh sunlight) may lead to yellowed leaves and root rot. Curling or drooping leaves are other signs of dehydration.
Tip: Because your watermelon peperomia plant wants humidity, try putting it in your bathroom—provided, of course, that there’s enough light.
Watermelon peperomia plants are known as “radiator” plants because they love heat and sunshine. Indirect light is better, so long as there is plenty of it! Direct sunlight may scorch your watermelon peperomia’s leaves.
The watermelon peperomia is a tropical plant, so avoid cold conditions. Its ideal temperature range is 65–75 degrees Fahrenheit. So, this plant can handle anything above 50 degrees but needs to be kept warm at all times.
The soil of your watermelon peperomia must drain well. Instead of using regular potting soil, try using sphagnum moss and organic grit. Some sites also recommend a blend of 2 parts peat to 1 part perlite. Regardless of what blend you use, make sure the top layer of soil is dry before watering.
Watermelon peperomias grow surprisingly slowly for such small plants. The good news is, if you feel like your plant needs fertilizer, your watermelon peperomia can do a little with a lot. When using commercial fertilizer, give your plant half the official recommended dosage.
This plant stays small, so you will not need to re-pot it often, if ever. Only worry about repotting this plant if you see roots poking out of the bottom. Repot every three years in spring if necessary.
However, note that your plant may get “leggy” if it does not have enough light or water. The plant “crawling” out of the pot is not a cue to re-pot! Fix your plant’s problem instead of assuming that your watermelon peperomia needs a new home.
If you take good care of your watermelon peperomia, your plant may get slender green flower spikes. These are not pretty, but also nothing to worry about. So, they usually appear in summer as part of the plant’s natural life cycle. People like this plant for its leaves, not its flowers.
Along with being easy to take care of, the watermelon peperomia is easy to cultivate in captivity. Like several other plants, watermelon peperomias can be propagated by cutting off a leaf, stem, or roots. So, if this interests you, here is a table explaining how to do it.
|How to Cut
|Separate the roots such that each division has some roots and at least one leaf.
|Replant the divisions in separate pots. Treat as you would an adult plant.
|Cut a leaf with at least 1 inch of the accompanying stem
|Place the leaf in water. Change the water weekly until roots appear.
|Cut the leaf perpendicular to the leaf’s stripes.
|Place the cut side into the soil. Water and mist with a plastic container (bag, bottle, etc.) over the leaf cutting to retain humidity.
If you want to experiment with this sort of reproduction in plants, watermelon peperomia is a good plant to try things out with! And if you screw up, there are plenty of people who will help you with whatever problem you are having.
The watermelon peperomia might not be a real watermelon, but it’s still an appealing plant. Those striped leaves create the illusion of mini-watermelons. This plant’s small size, relative hardiness, and non-toxic nature make it great for houses with pets. So, don’t just don’t expect watermelons; the name of this plant can be deceiving.
Elyssa Goins is an experienced house plant hobbyist who maintains over a hundred plants. She is a gardener, beekeeper, and a proud mother of four. She is a member of the American Horticultural Society, has a published study in the National Social Science Association, and loves to talk about her love of plants. For the past twenty years, she’s been all about growing and caring for various fruits, veggies, herbs, livestock, kids, and houseplants. Managing a big garden to feed four growing kids and raising dairy goats has taught her so much about being an excellent plant parent and now is her time to share with you.