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 makes them a perfect fit for every plant lover. However, it’s quite common for Peperomia plants to lose 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 leaf drop
Too much water is the most common reason why Peperomia plants lose their leaves so it’s a good idea to inspect the potting soil closely to see what’s going on. 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.
To figure out if overwatering is the reason your Peperomia is turning dropping 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.
Trim away the soft, rotten roots when replacing the soil as this focuses your plant’s energy on growing new healthy roots. Adjust your watering schedule moving forward, so you aren’t watering your Peperomia as much or as often as you were before.
Sometimes it may not be your watering schedule that is causing the leaves on your Peperomia to fall off, but the poor draining of the potting mix and pot itself. 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 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 avoid leaves dropping off.
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
Lack of sunlight
Too little sunlight can also cause your Peperomia to drop its 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. Move your Peperomia to a slightly sunnier spot, whilst avoiding any direct light during summer.
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.
If it’s only the oldest bottom leaves on your Peperomia that are falling off, 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.
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 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.