Botanical name: Peperomia argyreia
Synonmy name: Peperomia sandersii
Watermelon Peperomia also called Watermelon Begonia is compact upright bushy Peperomia plant which grows to a height of about 12 in. The slightly-fleshy, oval-shaped, green leaves are strikingly marked with curved silver stripes which makes them resemble the skin of a watermelon and hence the common name "Watermelon Peperomia". The stems are red-colored and the flowers are rat-tail flower-heads made up of green flowers on an upright spike. The plant is native to the tropical rain forests of northern South America where it grows as an epiphyte on trees.
Numerous varieties of Peperomias; trailing, bushy and upright ones are available. Popular trailing types include Peperomia scandens variegata (Cupid Peperomia), Peperomia glabella (Wax Rivet), Peperomia prostrata (String of Turtles) and Peperomia rotundifolia (Creeping Peperomia). The bushy types grow to about 4-6 in. high and include Peperomia caperata (Radiator Plant), Peperomia argyreia (Watermelon Peperomia), Peperomia hederaefolia (Ivy Peperomia).The upright types have more distinct stems which grow vertically for part or all of the plant's life. They include Peperomia magnoliaefolia variegata (Desert Privet), Peperomia obtusifolia, (Baby Rubber Plant) and Peperomia verticillata (Whorled Peperomia)
Watermelon Peperomia prefers bright light away from direct. It will also thrive under artificial light. Too little light will result in leggy plants. Keep it away from direct sunshine as it can lead to scorching of the leaves. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Water Watermelon Peperomia liberally during the growing season and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Significantly reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil barely moist. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead in root-rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.
Average warmth between 18-250C is ideal for Watermelon Peperomia. Protect the plant from cold draughts as they can cause leaf drop. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.
Watermelon Peperomia thrives in a high humidity environment. You can employ these techniques to raise humidity for the plant. Watermelon Peperomia can also be grown in a terrarium as high humidity can be maintained.
Feed Watermelon Peperomia with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 3 weeks during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn. Learn more on feeding houseplants.
Repot Watermelon Peperomia during the growing season only when the plant has become pot-bound. However, the soil can be refreshed at the beginning of the growing season if not repotting. Use a rich, free-draining soil. Use a pot one size larger for repotting as the plant grows slowly. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging which can lead to root-rot.
Pruning Watermelon Peperomia involves regular removal of dead foliage to maintain the plant neat and tidy.
Watermelon Peperomia can be propagated from leaf cuttings or by division.
Propagating Watermelon Peperomia from leaf cuttings
Leaf cuttings root easily, use a rooting hormone to enhance rooting. Take leaf cuttings from a healthy Watermelon Peperomia. Ensure each leaf cutting has a petiole. Allow sometime for the formation of a protective callous tissue over the cuts. Place the leaf cuttings in a jar of clean plain water and change the water every 7-10 days. Place in warm shaded place until growth begins at the base of the petiole. Allow for substantial growth of the roots and new leaves. Transfer to individual pots and place in a cool shaded place. Maintain the soil moist until the plant is well established. For a fuller plant, plant several cuttings in one pot.
Propagating Watermelon Peperomia by division
Take out the Watermelon Peperomia from its pot and divide it into several sections. Pot up these sections in individual pots. Place in a cool shaded place. Maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges. Allow the new Watermelon Peperomias to be well established before transplanting.
Exposing Watermelon Peperomia to hot direct sunlight will cause the leaves to become dull and lifeless. Protect the plant from hot direct sunlight or move to a shaded spot.
Leggy stems in Watermelon Peperomia are due to low light. Cut back the stems to rejuvenate growth and move the plant to a brighter spot.
Brown leaf tips and edges in Watermelon Peperomia are due to sudden drop in temperature from cold draughts. Remove all the damaged leaves and keep the plant away from cold draughts.
There are two causes of sudden loss of leaves in Watermelon Peperomia. Either the temperature is too low; move to a warmer spot or the plant has been underwatered causing the foliage to wilt.
The cause of brown and shrivelled leaves in Watermelon Peperomia is too dry air. Watermelon Peperomia prefers a humid environment. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for the plant. Watermelon Peperomia can also be grown in a terrarium as high humidity can be maintained.
Waterlogging of Watermelon Peperomia is the cause of wilted and discolored leaves and corky (scabs) on the underside. If not corrected in time, waterlogging can lead to Root-rot disease.
Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia) is non-toxic to both humans and pets. The plant is safe to grow in the home.