An attractive, low maintenance houseplant is the peperomia, a member of the pepper family of tropical plants.
The striking foliage and vast variation in their appearance are what make these plants so interesting particularly to those who like to have plants in collections.
The leaves are generally large and fleshy and come in a wide array of forms and colours.
The leaf texture can be hairy, smooth, velvety or corrugated. These little succulents can grow alone in small shallow containers or in hanging baskets and terrariums in a mixed foliage planting.
Exploration by plant hunters working in New Guinea and South America constantly introduce new species of peperomia and doubtless many more remain undiscovered.
One popular variety is Peperomia caperata grown for its heart-shaped, dark green leaves with an unusual corrugated surface. Other attractive features are the red or pink leaf stems and white flower spikes that rise above the mounded foliage.
There are many other cultivars with varying leaf colours and patterns.
Check each variety to establish requirements as these can vary considerably, but in general these plants prefer filtered light and some winter warmth.
If you are cold then these plants will also be cold, in fact many peperomias die in winter because of cold, wet soil which is fatal for their small, fine roots.
A temperature range of 12 to 25 degrees Celsius is optimal but 15 to 18 degrees Celsius can be tolerated. Peperomias are obviously frost tender.
Peperomias require humidity so place plants on a saucer of wet pebbles or moss but the pots must not sit in the water. Excessive humidity in a terrarium can cause plants to drop their leaves, rot, then die. Ventilate as necessary.
The perfect growing media to encourage a strong root system is a light houseplant mix such as that for growing African violets. Repot overcrowded specimens in spring before new growth appears.
To remove dust from the leaves give a light showering with warm water. Remove spent flowers and leaves as these can be a source of fungal diseases especially in a terrarium. Pinch out the growing tips in spring and summer to encourage more side shoots for a bushier plant.
How you water these plants is crucial. Allow the potting mix to almost dry out before watering and only then sparingly with warm water. Overwatering is the most common reason these plants don't survive.
Pests are not usually a problem but it still pays to check and take action accordingly. The only disease is caused by overwatering which shows up as dramatic leaf drop and stem rot. The fungal cause is virtually incurable so affected plants are best destroyed
These easy-to-grow plants can be propagated during the growing season by taking a leaf with some stem and placing it in a glass of water to wait for the roots to appear. When they do, pot up the cutting and keep well watered until it becomes established.
November 9, 10: Launceston Horticultural Society's late spring show at St Ailbe's Hall, Margaret Street, Launceston. Saturday 2pm-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.
November 16, 17: Longford Garden Club's spring flower show, Longford Town Hall. Saturday 1.30pm-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.
November 19: North West Native Plant Group, St Pauls Church Hall, 15 Thomas St, East Devonport, 7.30pm. Speaker is Jennifer Stackhouse, former editor of Gardening Australia. Contact Drew on 0488 402 210.
November 19 : Australian Native Plant Society, Max Fry Hall, Gorge Road, Trevallyn, 7.30pm. Stephan Harris to speak on Bass Strait Flora.
November 20: Launceston Horticultural Society, Windmill Hill Hall, High Street, Launceston, 8pm. Robert Armstrong speaks on succulents.