Botanical name: Peperomia columella
Columnar Peperomia also called Pearly Peperomia is a succulent plant which bears fleshy upright stem from which arise tightly packed, alternately arranged succulent leaves. The stems are the height of about 20 cm and branch profusely at the base to give rise to a multitude of upright stems. These stems look like columns and hence the common name. Columella is the Latin word for little columns. The leaves are fleshy, bright green and bear the shape of a horseshoe. At the leaf apex is a transparent window through which light gets to the photosynthetic tissue. In the beginning, the stems grow upright and later become a pendant, making them perfect for cascading in hanging baskets. Under bright light, the plant may produce rat-tail like inflorescence. Columnar Peperomia species is endemic to the deserts of western South America. The transparent windows are water storage structures which come in handy in drought conditions.
Columnar Peperomia prefers bright light. It will also thrive under flourescent light. Too little light will result in leggy plants and loss of leaf color. 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 Columnar 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 overwatering as it can lead in root-rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.
Average warmth between 15-260C is ideal for Columnar Peperomia. Protect the plant from cold draughts as the cause leaf drop. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.
Columnar Peperomia thrives in a high humidity environment. Set pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity.
Feed Columnar Peperomia with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer once a month 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 Columnar Peperomia during the growing season only when the plant has become pot-bound. Use a rich, free-draining soil and a pot one size larger. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole(s) to prevent waterlogging which can lead to root-rot.
Pruning Columnar Peperomia involves regular removal of dead foliage to maintain the plant neat and tidy. As the plants age, they become straggly. Cut back the stems during the growing season to rejuvenate growth. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.
Columnar Peperomia can be propagated from leaf-cuttings, stem-cuttings or by division.
Propagating Columnar Peperomias from leaf cuttings
Leaf cuttings root easily, there is no need for a rooting hormone. Take leaf cuttings from a healthy Columnar 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 plants in one pot.
Propagating Columnar Peperomia from stem cuttings
Stem-tip cuttings root easily, there is no need for a rooting hormone. Take stem cuttings of about 4-5 in. length from a healthy Columnar Peperomia. Ensure each cutting has at least 2 sets of leaves. Insert the cuttings in moist rooting soil. Place in warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges and substantial growth has been observed. Transfer to individual pots and begin routine care. For a fuller plant plant several cuttings in one pot.
Propagating Columnar Peperomias by division
Take out the Columnar 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 Columnar Peperomias to be well established before transplanting.
Brown leaf tips and edges in Columnar Peperomia are due to sudden drop in temperature from cold draughts. Remove all the damaged leaves and keep plants away from cold draughts.
The cause of brown and shrivelled leaves in Columnar Peperomia is too dry air. Columnar Peperomia prefers a humid environment. To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Columnar Peperomia can also be grown in a terrarium as high humidity can be maintained.
Excess soluble salts in the soil from the water or excess feeding will cause dry shrivelled leaves in Columnar Peperomia; flush out the salts by running a stream of water through the soil until it comes out through the drainage holes. Repeat several times.
Leggy stems in Columnar Peperomia are due to low light. Cut back the stems to rejuvenate growth and move the plant to a brighter spot.
Waterlogging of Columnar Peperomia is the cause of these. This is an indication of Root-rot disease.
Columnar Peperomia (Peperomia columella) are non-toxic to humans and pets. The plants are safe to grow indoors.