Peperomia plants have really grown in popularity over the past few years and we can totally see why; their incredible foliage, ease of propagation and small size make them a perfect fit for every plant lover. However, it’s quite common for Peperomia plants to start losing their leaves as a sign that something isn’t quite right. This can have several causes so we have put together this post to go through the various factors to help you figure out why your Peperomia is losing leaves.
Overwatering can cause your Peperomia to start losing leaves
Too much water is the most common reason why Peperomia plants begin losing their leaves. This is why it’s always our first port of call to diagnose the issue and it’s a good idea to inspect the potting soil closely to see what’s going on before doing anything else.
Peperomia plants don’t like sitting in puddles of water for long periods of time and their roots will begin to rot. Once the root system becomes damaged, it can’t provide oxygen and nutrients to your plant and cannot keep your plant stable anymore so the leaves will droop and eventually fall off.
It’s important that you properly diagnose the issue of overwatering before amending anything about your watering routine as holding off water when it’s actually another issue causing your Peperomia to lose leaves would be damaging.
To figure out if overwatering is the reason your Peperomia is losing leaves, check the moisture levels in the soil immediately. If the soil is quite waterlogged and clumpy then replace it with fresh dry mix. You might be tempted to wait for the potting mix to naturally dry out but this just risks even more damage to your plant and may mean you can’t revive it.
To accurately check the moisture levels in the soil there are a few different methods, two of which are more reliable than others. Firstly, you can use a moisture meter to determine how so damp the soil is. These are great affordable little devices that will save you a lot of headaches when it comes to watering your plants.
The other method to discover if your Peperomia is losing leaves due to soggy soil is to remove your plant from its pot and inspect the potting mix. This will also allow you to inspect the root system to see if the issue has been going on long enough to damage the roots.
Trim away the soft, rotten roots when replacing the soil as this focuses your plant’s energy on growing new healthy roots.
To prevent your Peperomia from losing any more leaves in future adjust your watering schedule moving forward, so you aren’t watering your Peperomia as much or as often as you were before to prevent it from losing any more leaves. Make sure to check the potting mix before watering to ensure it has had time to dry out properly.
Peperomia Plants can begin losing leaves due to drainage issues
Sometimes it may not be your watering schedule that is causing your Peperomia to start losing its leaves, but the poor draining of the potting mix and pot itself. This means that you might actually be watering your Peperomia the right amount, but there are reasons why that moisture is still rotting the roots and causing issues with your plant.
Here are a few things you can do to increase the drainage and help prevent waterlogged soil.
Add perlite to your Peperomia’s potting mix
You can very easily increase the amount of drainage in your Peperomia’s soil and stop it losing more leaves by mixing in a small amount of perlite. This aids not only drainage but aeration of the soil too which is a win-win.
Ensure your Peperomia’s pot has drainage holes
It’s vital that your Peperomia’s pot (and all of your houseplant’s pots) have drainage holes so that any excess water can flow out into either the planter or the saucer. This is a great step to preventing root rot and leaves from falling off as your Peperomia won’t be sitting in waterlogged soil.
You may also want to add a few small stones or pebbles to the bottom of your pots, this ensures that the drainage holes don’t get blocked by soil or any loose debris.
Use terracotta pots
Although terracotta pots can be a little bit more expensive and are easier to break, their upsides are much more than just the aesthetic. The clay they’re made of is permeable which means that some of the water in your soil can evaporate through the sides of the pot. This isn’t the case for the plastic pots that most houseplants come in when bought, which instead hold in every drop of water. So sometimes it’s worth investing a little more for your Peperomia to make sure that the roots of your Peperomia plant aren’t sitting in too much moisture as this will help prevent your plant from losing any more leaves in future.
Your Peperomia might be losing leaves due to underwatering
One of the more common factors when it comes to Peperomia plants losing their leaves is consistent underwatering. Peperomia plants will forgive you if you occasionally forget to water them but they will struggle with dry soil for weeks and weeks.
It’s important to ensure that your Peperomia is actually being underwatered before you change anything about your care routine. You don’t want to start watering it more if it doesn’t need it as too much water can actually damage your Peperomia a lot quicker. To confirm that underwatering is causing your Peperomia to lose leaves, take your Peperomia out of the pot to inspect how the potting mix feels. If underwatered, the potting mix will fall apart and feel very sandy to touch. You will also see that some of the roots have started to crisp up if you have been underwatering your Peperomia for a while.
Once you have determined that your Peperomia is suffering from a lack of water, slowly reintroduce water to your plant rather than drowning it (they can go into shock if there is a sudden change in environment). A little bit of water once a day for a week should get your Peperomia back on track and prevent it from losing any more leaves.
Moving forward, get into the habit of checking the moisture levels in the soil regularly so you can adjust your watering schedule accordingly. You’ll want to increase watering a little in the warmer and sunnier months of the year as the potting mix will dry out a lot quicker than in winter, where you won’t need to water so much. Other factors such as size, maturity and environmental factors will also impact how much water your Peperomia needs.
Lack of sunlight might also be causing leaves to drop
Too little sunlight can also cause your Peperomia to start losing some leaves. Lighting is actually a difficult one with these plants as they need exactly the right balance – they can’t handle direct sunlight, but also are quite fussy about a lack of light.
When the leaves are falling off due to a lack of sunlight, it is also often accompanied by stunted growth and drooping stems. You might also notice that your Peperomia is starting to reach for the light and become unstable. This is also a sign that your plant needs more light and is losing leaves due to a consistent lack of it.
To solve the issue and prevent your Peperomia from losing more leaves in future, move your Peperomia to a slightly sunnier spot, whilst avoiding any direct light during summer.
Cold temperatures might be why your Peperomia is losing leaves
Extreme temperatures and drafts can also be very harmful to your Peperomia as they thrive in warm environments and this can definitely be causing your Peperomia to lose leaves. Make sure your plant is not placed near doors or windows that may be drafty. Even though the temperature of your home may feel perfect for your Peperomia, any drafts coming in from the outside may be colder and harm your plant’s health.
This is particularly damaging during the long cold nights so we recommend picking up a digital thermometer to check the temperature across the day and night in various spots in your home. This will make sure that you don’t place your Peperomia in a spot that is too cold as this should fix the issue and you shouldn’t see any more leaves falling off.
But what if your Peperomia is losing leaves in summer? Surely that can’t be due to cold temperatures? Well sometimes, yes it can. Make sure that your Peperomia isn’t too close to any air conditioning vents or units. Although the cool air might be a nice break from the heat for you, it can actually be damaging to your Peperomia over time.
Your Peperomia may be losing leaves due to natural ageing
If it’s only the oldest bottom leaves on your Peperomia is losing, then this may be natural ageing. As your plant matures, your Peperomia will drop some of its oldest, lowest leaves to focus its energy on growing new healthy and often bigger growth.
This is completely natural so you don’t need to worry about this at all. The one thing you do need to keep an eye on though is the rate of ageing. On average your Peperomia should lose 1-2 leaves every few months. If your Peperomia is losing more than this then it’s a sign that something isn’t quite right and I would consult the reasons we have listed above to find the cause.
Another thing to monitor when it comes to natural ageing is that your Peperomia is growing more new healthy leaves than it is losing. As soon as your plant is dropping more leaves than it is growing, you know something is definitely wrong.
Those are the most common reasons why your Peperomia is losing its leaves. Some causes are easier to diagnose, and others are easier to fix. It may feel overwhelming at first as there are quite a few potential causes but go through each one by one and eliminate any that don’t fit your plant. To prevent the issue (and others) from occurring again in future, make sure to check over your plant regularly to spot issues early. This will give you the best chance at fixing it and getting your Peperomia back to full health.
To find out more about caring for your Peperomia, as well as other common problems and propagation advice, check out our various Peperomia care guides in our Plant Index.
Written by Joanna Turner