Over the past few years, the Watermelon Peperomia has definitely become one of our favorite houseplants. Their incredible thick, round and silver striped leaves paired with those thin deep red stems make them one to remember!
However, they are a little bit of a fussy plant sometimes and a common problem that occurs is brown leaves. It’s always pretty devastating when you notice one of their luscious leaves has developed brown edges or patches but don’t fret any longer because we have put together this guide to help you diagnose the problem.
Below we will be going through each of the reasons why your Watermelon Peperomia has brown leaves, so you can not only figure out the problem but treat it and prevent it from happening again in future.
What causes Brown Leaves on Watermelon Peperomia Plants
The difficult thing when diagnosing brown foliage on a Watermelon Peperomia is that there are actually several different and completely separate factors that might be causing them. This means there isn’t a one fits all solution. Instead, there are specific signs that can help you make the right diagnoses as well as things you’ll need to do such as inspecting the soil that can help you figure it out.
Temperature fluctuations can cause brown leaves
Watermelon Peperomia plants don’t like rapid changes in temperature, so you should make sure you keep them out of areas of your home that might be exposed to cold drafts. This includes drafty doors or windows, but also AC vents as a constant flow of cool air will really harm your plant and cause them to develop brown leaves.
It’s also best to keep them away from heating vents, radiators and cookers as the hot dry air that is produced can quickly turn your Watermelon Peperomia’s leaves brown.
Whilst you may think that the temperature in your home is comfortable for you, there may be some hidden cold drafts near your plant or certain times of day when it gets particularly hot next to the window for example. This is why we strongly encourage that you invest in a digital thermometer if you don’t already have one. These can help you track the temperature and figure out if it’s causing the brown leaves.
Waterlogged soil can quickly cause brown leaves
Another one of the most common reasons why Watermelon Peperomia plants develop brown leaves is too much water. It can be pretty easy to accidentally give your plant too much water and its leaves can be quite sensitive to any damage caused to the root system. As they have such thin stems and heavy leaves, even the slightest bit of damage to the root system can turn the stems soft enough to not be able to sustain the healthy leaves attached.
Waterlogged soil cuts off air circulation in the potting mix which can quite quickly rot the root system and prevents your Watermelon Peperomia from taking in any oxygen and nutrients.
Before you change your watering routine, you need to be 100% sure that overwatering is the cause of the brown leaves on your Watermelon Peperomia. The first thing to do is to take your plant out of its pot which will allow you to closely inspect the potting mix and root system. You want to be super careful here as the stems are even more breakable if your Watermelon Peperomia is damaged.
If the potting mix feels soggy and clumpy, then this means your plant has been overwatered. If the roots are soft and mushy it suggests that this issue has been going on for a while and may be harder to revive your Watermelon Peperomia.
You should also be checking drainage at this point as well because if there are problems with drainage, then the impact of even a small bit of overwatering can be huge. You want to ensure that the pot has drainage holes and that they aren’t blocked by anything. This will allow any excess water to flow out into a saucer or planter rather than making the root system sit in a puddle of water.
Underwatering can also lead to brown foliage
Whilst your Watermelon Peperomia will often forgive you for forgetting to water it every so often, it won’t be able to survive for long periods of time without any water. Consistent underwatering will eventually lead to brown patches forming on the leaves.
These leaves will not only be light brown in colour, but they will be very dry to touch. An underwatered Watermelon Peperomia will also begin to lose the brown leaves as they dry out.
The best way to determine if your Watermelon Peperomia has been underwatered is to lift the plant up and see how light it feels, before also inspecting the potting mix. If your Watermelon Peperomia is underwatered, the potting mix will be dry and crumbly and the roots may look crispy (if the problem has been going on for a while).
Brown leaves can be nothing to worry about
There’s one more cause of brown leaves on Watermelon Peperomias which is actually not a problem at all; natural ageing. As your Watermelon Peperomia matures, it will want to spend most of its energy on the new growth.
This is so it can grow taller, bushier and produce larger leaves. For this to happen, it will sacrifice some of its oldest, lowest and smallest leaves. These leaves will turn brown and crispy before falling off your plant entirely.
This is absolutely nothing to worry about as long as the rate of browning is slow, then it’s just simply part of the natural ageing cycle of your plant.
You also want to make sure that the rate of new growth is higher than the number of leaves turning brown. If this ever switches or the rate of browning increases, you have an issue with the watering or environment that your Watermelon Peperomia is in.
How to Treat and Prevent Brown Leaves on a Watermelon Peperomia
How to fix an overwatered Watermelon Peperomia
It’s crucial that you replace any waterlogged potting mix straight away with fresh, high-quality soil. Don’t wait for the soil to dry out naturally as you risk causing even more damage to an already rotting root system. Then you want to trim off any soft, mushy or brown roots and leaves. Use clean, sharp scissors to remove any dying parts of your plant. This will prevent your Watermelon Peperomia from wasting valuable energy trying to keep dying roots and leaves alive.
Adjust your watering schedule moving forward
Take a look at how often you were watering your Watermelon Peperomia, and how much water you were giving it each time. Cut back on one of these factors to ensure you don’t overwater your Watermelon Peperomia again. You then need to find a balance between allowing the soil to dry out between waterings, but not for extended periods of time.
To aid you with this, we recommend buying a moisture meter. These are really affordable little devices that indicate how much moisture is in the potting mix. So gone are the days of guessing when to water. These will help you avoid underwatering (as well as overwatering and root rot) which should help prevent brown leaves on your Watermelon Peperomia in future.
Switch to a terracotta pot
A great way to prevent overwatering (and consequent brown leaves) is to swap any plastic pots for terracotta ones. Terracotta pots not only look great, but they are permeable which means some of the excess water is able to escape out of the sides.
If your Watermelon Peperomia is growing in a plastic pot, then it means the only way for the water to run out is through the drainage holes. Having a permeable pot, it just aids evaporation of excess water over time.
Monitor your plant’s environment
To prevent brown leaves from developing on your Watermelon Peperomia, the best thing to do is nip any problems in the bud before they cause an issue. Monitoring your plant’s environment is a crucial part of spotting issues early so buy a digital thermometer to place next to your plant if you don’t already have one.
These will allow you to spot cold drafts and hotspots and help you figure out if you need to relocate your Watermelon Peperomia throughout the year. These monitors also often tell you the humidity rate as well which is a great way to prevent dry leaf tips.
Removing the Brown Leaves on a Watermelon Peperomia
Now that you’ve hopefully diagnosed and treated the problem correctly, you may be wondering what to do with the leaves that have already turned brown. Unfortunately, once part or all of a leaf has turned brown, there is no reversing this. It is a permanent change as that part of the plant has died.
When it comes to pruning away the brown leaves, we do recommend removing any that are entirely or mostly brown. Not only will this look better aesthetically, but it will help your plant to focus its energy on new healthy growth, rather than wasting it trying to revive the dying areas.
If there are a few leaves that just have a few brown edges or spots here and there, then we recommend that you leave these on the plant as they are still beneficial to photosynthesis.
You also don’t want to remove too much of the plant as it will struggle to take in enough light without many leaves, which will hinder its growth.
Why is my Watermelon Peperomia turning brown?
Watermelon Peperomia plants can develop brown leaves due to underwatering, overwatering or cold temperature extremes. Check the plant’s soil to determine whether or not watering issues are the problem. It’s also worth noting though that some brown foliage is normal, as long as it’s only a few of the smallest leaves here and there. This is simply part of the natural ageing process.
How to fix a brown Watermelon Peperomia?
Make sure to replace any waterlogged soil if you have been overwatering your Watermelon Peperomia and adjust your watering schedule moving forward. If temperature issues have been the problem, relocate your plant to a better-suited spot in your home.
Will my Watermelon Peperomias leaves turn green again?
Unfortunately, once the leaf has turned brown there is no reversing this. This is why figuring out what is causing the brown leaves on your Watermelon Peperomia quickly is crucial to prevent too much irreversible damage. Then once you have treated the issue, remove any of the entirely brown leaves to help your plant focus its energy on new growth.
Should I remove the brown leaves on my Watermelon Peperomia?
We do recommend removing the brown leaves from your Watermelon Peperomia once you have treated the issue. Do not remove them before you’ve figured out the cause as they can often provide clues as to what is going on. If there are just a few brown spots here and there, then we don’t recommend removing these leaves as they are still beneficial to the photosynthesis process.
Those are the most common reasons why Watermelon Peperomia plants develop brown leaves.
Unless it is natural ageing, you need to act quickly to stop the problem from progressing any further. Brown leaves are just a few steps away from your Watermelon Peperomia dying completely so fix any watering problems or temperature extremes immediately.
Over the next few weeks, we recommend giving your plant a detailed once-over every few days to see if any new leaves are turning brown or if your preventative measures have taken effect already. Then once the issue has resolved itself, we recommend giving your Watermelon Peperomia (and all other houseplants) a check-up once a month to help you spot any warning signs early, before they’ve caused a lot of visible and irreversible damage on your plant.
To learn more about how to help your plant thrive, check out our Watermelon Peperomia care guide.