Getting To Know The Unique Shrub-Like Succulent “Peperomia Axillaris”

Getting To Know The Unique Shrub-Like Succulent "Peperomia Axillaris"

Origin.

Peperomia Axillaris’ country of origin is the jungles of Ecuador and Peru in South America. This plant belongs to the Piperaceae family. One of its outstanding features is the beautiful foliage, and it also has a red stem that causes a nice contrast. The leaves are also variegated, further increasing the plant’s attractiveness.  It is a perennial plant that grows slowly and is ideal for tabletop decoration.

Description

This plant is shrub-like which looks like succulents, but it is not.

  • The leaves

The plant’s leaves are thick and fleshy, typical of a succulent. They are primarily green, but they are also variegated. Peperomia Axillaris’ leaves have a pea pod shape.

  • The flowers

Flowers are not this plant’s most attractive feature; they are tiny and insignificant. They are yellow and unscented. The plant blooms in spring.

  • The stem

It has a relatively long stem compared to some of its counterparts in the genus used as table plants.

Peperomia Axillaris Care

Peperomia Axillaris Care
Photo by @sb.cactus_tropicals via Instagram

Lighting

The whole idea of maintaining the right amount of light for this plant is to ensure that it keeps the beautiful light green color of its leaves and facilitates the growth of this plant through photosynthesis. It does not require a lot of sunlight; it should be indirect or diffused light.

You should always ensure that the plant does not stay under direct sun rays for more than two hours as this may cause discoloring of the leaves. In the jungle, these plant grows well in partially shaded areas. The canopies allow just enough light to pass through; therefore, you should try as much as possible to give it similar conditions.

To ensure that it gets the light amount, you should place it by the window facing east. You can set your plant in other directions, like the window facing north. This direction allows very little light; make sure you place it near the window’s opening to allow enough light. if it’s too low, you can move it to a better-lit environment

You can also place your plant by the window facing south and west. Your plant will get enough light here, but you should make sure to move it in the afternoon when it gets too hot.

If your plant is outside, make sure it’s a partially shaded space or on the balcony. You can also move it indoors if it’s too hot outside.

Temperatures

Extreme temperatures easily damage this plant. It is a tropical plant, so it requires relatively warm temperatures. Temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees, it’s advisable that you watch out for overly hot conditions as they might cause dehydration when the soil becomes dry. Move your plant to a cooler place if it’s too hot.

Freezing weather also affects your plant negatively; it cannot do well in areas below 55 degrees. If it’s too cold inside, move it outside and if it’s too cold out, move it indoors.

Humidity

Its leaves store water making the plant able to tolerate low humidity and drought. Peperomia Axillaris does well in moderate humidity between 40% to 70%. If you notice there’s not enough humidity, you can add it only around the plant. It doesn’t have to be in the whole room where the plant is. Some people add more humidity when they want the plant to grow bigger.

Pruning

Peperomia Axillaris does not grow so big; therefore, it does not require a lot of pruning. The plant might get bushy sometimes, and you might feel the need to remove some leaves. This way, the plant will look neat and clean.

When you want the plant to grow more, you may prune it.

Fertilizer for Peperomia Axillaris

Peperomia Axillaris can do well without fertilizer as potting soil is mixed with enough nutrients. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use fertilizer; you can use it if you want your plant to grow bigger. You should use water-soluble fertilizers once a month, only when the plant grows, i.e., after propagation. Always make sure that you dilute your fertilizer to avoid overconcentration, probably 50%. When applying fertilizer to this plant, you must be careful as too much of it might cause fertilizer burn. This is how; Fertilizers are made using salt; generally, salt is bad for plants. This plant will absorb the nutrients, the water evaporates, especially during summer, and then the salt residue, which is left in the soil, causes the plant to dry up. The best time to apply the fertilizer is during spring.

Watering Peperomia Axillaris

The Peperomia Axillaris is semi-succulent and stores some water in its stem and leaves. Being a semi-succulent, this plant requires more watering than most succulents. However, watering this plant is delicate as you have to avoid overwatering or under-watering. Overwatering is most dangerous because it causes root rot.

Distilled or rainwater is the best for watering these plants to avoid chemicals in tap water. If you must use tap water, put it in a wide-open mouth container and let it sit for 24 hours to allow the chemicals to dissipate.

How do you know your plant requires to be watered? The topsoil dryness test is always an effective method of knowing whether your plant requires some watering by inserting a finger into the plant’s soil or potting mix to feel whether or not the top two inches of the soil is dry.

When you notice the bottom leaves of the plant start to wrinkle and slightly wilt when the plant is severely dehydrated.

The best method to water Peperomia Axillaris is the soak and dry method. Insert the plant into a large container filled with water and allow the plant to soak in the water for at least half an hour. After removing the plant, let the excess moisture drain from the drainage holes at the bottom of the container for another half an hour. Water again when the soil is dry.

The plant being dry is a much simpler issue and one easy to fix by soaking and drying. Overwatering, on the other hand, has dire consequences. Growers should be cautious not to leave the plant in soggy or wet soil as it can cause root rot. When the entire room turns to black color, the plant cannot be saved and should be tossed out.

We are always cautious about giving a definite watering schedule even for the various seasons because the environmental conditions are a significant factor in how well the soil can retain water. Ambient temperature, for example, determines how fast water in the soil evaporates. Even in the same seasons, this temperature varies from place to place.

As an epiphyte, much of this plant’s nourishment comes from the surrounding environment. This is why you will need to mist the plant from time to time to make the environment more conducive for appropriate biological processes for the plant.

Placement

It’s a beautiful indoor plant and is primarily used as an interior décor piece. It is best placed by the window, on the tables, on office desks, or on kitchen countertops. Consider its light requirements whenever you are looking for the space where you will place the plant.

It is not a toxic plant, so it cannot cause any harm to your pets and children, but you might consider placing it on a high table so that they don’t damage the leaves when playing.

Soil for Peperomia Axillaris

Like most succulent plants, this plant requires well-draining soil; it should also be loose. Sandy soil is the best. It should also have good aeration and organic matter.

The best soil is potting soil; if you are making it at home, mix it with pumice and small rocks for the best results.

Make sure your pots have draining holes to ensure that the soil is not soggy, which might damage the roots.

Potting

This plant does very well in small pots as they do not grow huge; too large pots might cause the roots to rot. The pots must have drainage holes. If possible, use the unglazed clay pots to allow water to dry quickly.

Repotting Peperomia Axillaris

You should repot your plant after every 2 to 3 years. Its roots are very delicate; be careful not to damage them. There’s no need for repotting in a larger pot as it doesn’t grow a lot. If you notice that the leaves are changing color, it could result from overwatering at this point. You can repot the plant into another pot with dry soil.

Dormancy

Unlike most other succulents, this plant’s dormancy period occurs in summer. Other plants go dormant in winter. Since summer is the plant’s dormancy period, avoid watering your Axillaris unless you notice signs of distress in the plant. Then you can give it a small drink and watch its reaction. You should avoid feeding it ultimately during its dormancy because the plant won’t consume the fertilizer (owing to its dormancy). Also, you should avoid feeding because of the minimal watering this season. Low watering means you cannot flush out the chemical salts that usually accumulate in the soil from fertilizers. Such salts would cause chemical burns on the plant’s roots which can, at best, cause the plant to malfunction and, at worst, cause the death of your Peperomia Axillaris.

Pests and diseases in Peperomia Axillaris

Pests and diseases in Peperomia Axillaris
Photo by @_isai_art via Instagram

Pests

Like many plants of its kind, this plant is not affected by pests a lot. Be on the lookout for pests like aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs; these ones suck the sap. If kept in the right conditions, it will become resistant to pests.

Some insects are attracted to dust. Ensuring that you clean your plant with water and dry it gently will ensure that these insects are kept at bay. It would be best if you kept inspecting your plant so that you notice when it is pests infested in good time. If you notice an infestation, you could apply the following organic pesticides.

  • Neem oil

Unlike the other pesticides listed below, neem oil is a systemic pesticide. It gets into the plant and poisons it against the bugs so that they don’t survive or reproduce when they attack the plant. Pure Neem Oil is made from the neem plant. Therefore, it is entirely natural and not harmful to humans.

  • Hot pepper spray

Hot pepper is quite irritating when it gets on your skin and eyes, and it has the same effects on the bugs infesting your succulents. Spray it directly on the affected parts being careful to protect your skin and eyes.

  • Garlic spray

A concentrated garlic spray can have the same effects on the bugs as pepper spray. You can manufacture the garlic spray by crushing garlic cloves and putting them in hot water. Put just a little hot water so that the end product is concentrated enough to destroy the pests. Remove the garlic residue, put the pesticide in a sprayer, and spray away on the infected parts of the plant.

Always spray a small part of the plant with the pesticide you want to use before spraying on the whole plant. This precaution applies when using contact pesticides, i.e., hot pepper spray and garlic spray. It would be best if you saw the plant’s reaction before you spray it all. You can reduce concentration if the test shows the plant displaying reacting adverse effects of the pesticide.

Diseases

It is not affected by many diseases. The only thing you should be worried about is root rot caused by overwatering. Avoid overwatering your plant and in case of root rot, repot your plant. Also, you could

Also, read

Propagation of Peperomia Axillaris

Propagation of Peperomia Axillaris
Photo by @masson_farms via Instagram

The most common ways through which this plant is propagated are:

  1. Stem cuttings.
  2. Leaf cuttings.
  3. Divisions.

Stem cuttings

Method

  1. Cut a healthy stem with a few leaves.
  2. Remove the lower leaves so that you expose the stem.
  3. Prepare your potting mix soil, which must be well-draining.
  4. Plant your cutting into the soil.
  5. Do not bury the entire stem but make sure it is deep enough into the soil.
  6. Water the soil; you will do this whenever the soil is dry throughout the propagation period.
  7. Put your plant in a place where there’s adequate light and humidity.

In about four weeks, the plant begins to develop roots, and in about 12 weeks, the leaves also begin to grow.

Leaf cuttings

Propagation through leaves cutting is similar to that of the stem in that you use leaves instead.

Method

  1. Carefully Pick a healthy leaf from the plant; you can use a few leaves as one might fail to succeed.
  2. Allow the leaf to dry a little bit.
  3. Fill the pot with the potting mix.
  4. Bury a part of the leaf into the soil so that its ability to root.
  5. Water the soil and place your plant in a well-lit place with enough humidity.

Propagation through divisions is not very common. You can only get one or two divisions in one plant. This, therefore, means it will take you a long time to propagate. It has an advantage in that it roots quickly compared to the leaf and stem propagation.

Fertilizer

Use a balanced succulent fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer months when it is actively growing. Organic manure is ideal for this plant; it can be spread while potting the plant and again after some months to replenish the topsoil.

One can use recommended fertilizer for succulents and cacti, but it should be diluted in water not to overwhelm the plant with excess salts. Excess salts can cause the plant leaves to drop due to too much fertilizer. You can see accumulated salts as white crusty deposits on the soil’s surface.

Fortunately, it’s easy to flush out excess salts. Here is how you flush out excess salts from your Peperomia Axillaris: Pour plenty of room-temperature water over the soil, drenching the soil, and allow the excess moisture to drain out of the drainage holes for several minutes. Then pour more water onto the plant. You should always empty the drainage tray.

Conclusion

This plant requires little care. It is easy for anyone to take care of it. The fact that it’s not toxic makes it safe for homes with small children and pets. It is a beautiful plant, and it can be around for a long time to decorate your home.

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Posted in Succulents