Peperomia Metallica

Gardeners prize Peperomia Metallica for its unusual foliage consisting of dark red and green leaves with a lighter silvery line running down the center. Several color variations make it a delightful houseplant to brighten up a bland room. Its natural habitat is the understory of rainforests in Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru.

Peperomia Metallica is a small, perennial plant with beautiful dark greenish-black leaves that are red or deep pink on the undersides. It likes bright light but will burn in direct sunlight. It is low-maintenance and puts on a lovely show with its glossy metallic leaves.

The plant’s common names are Metallic Peperomia and Red Tree. Peperomia Metallica really stands out because its coloration is so unusual. It can be planted outdoors in partial shade in a well-drained garden bed but is more commonly kept as an indoor plant.

Characteristics of Peperomia Metallica

There are several variations of Peperomia Metallica, one of which is the popular Colombiana variety. You can find it in nurseries marked as Peperomia Metallica var. Colombiana. It is a small plant with leathery leaves with a distinctly metallic luster. The leaves can retain water, making them fleshy and succulent, but the plant is not technically a succulent.

The foliage is dense, gorgeous, and oval-shaped with a point at the end. The upper surface of the leaves is usually dark green, almost black, while the underside is a vibrant red. However, the underside can also be purple, deep pink, or dark brown. The leaves are only around half an inch in length because it is a small Peperomia variety.

The beautiful spiky flowers resemble little red stalks, which explains the plant’s common name – “Red Tree”. Flowers will usually appear in late summer and do not last for long.

Growth Rate and Size

This little Peperomia has a bushy habit and only grows to around eight inches tall when mature. It grows to a width of approximately six inches.

Read more: Peperomia Incana

How To Care For Peperomia Metallica

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

The ideal temperature range for Peperomia Metallica is between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius or sixty-five to seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit. It will not grow below fifty degrees Fahrenheit (ten degrees Celsius) as it is a tropical plant that prefers warm, well-ventilated spaces with good air circulation.

It also likes humidity of at least fifty percent, so you may need a humidifier if you live in an arid climate. Otherwise, you can put the plant in a shallow tray filled with water which will slowly evaporate around the plant and create some humidity. Do not allow the plant pot to contact the water because the soil inside must not become waterlogged.

Modern Air Humidifier at Home, Closeup View

You can also mist around the plant, but the water droplets will not remain for long if the air is very dry. Do not put the plant where it will be exposed to draughts from open windows and doors. It will also not do well on or near an air conditioner or radiator and is not frost tolerant.

Watering Guide

Never allow the soil to get soggy by overwatering your plant. It will die if it gets too much water.  Wait until the top inches of the potting soil are completely dry before watering and water only every ten days in winter.

You can water once or twice a week in summer, depending on how dry the climate is, but you should always test the soil with your finger first to see if watering is necessary. The plant does not grow in winter, and the leaves tend to retain water, so it needs less water during this period.

Another way to tell if your Peperomia Metallica needs water is if you see that the plant is looking a bit droopy. Water only at the plant’s base and not at the leaf level because this can encourage fungi and other diseases.

Light Guide

Metallica will die in direct sunlight so put it in a spot where it gets medium to bright indirect light. They are slow-growers that will be happy in a bright area on your desk or a few feet away from a window. The plant prefers partial shade, which means indirect or dappled light like the light that filters through the rainforest’s tree canopy.

Soil and Potting Requirements

Peperomia Metallica needs well-drained potting soil because its roots can rot or develop fungal growth if the substrate is wet all the time. Use peat-based soil that is loamy and well aerated. You can buy orchid potting soil or make up your own with a mixture of one part perlite or sand perlite to two parts peat.

Surprisingly, the soil on a rainforest floor is not rich in nutrients because most of them are locked into the living trees and other plants that grow there. Your Peperomia Metallica is adapted to live in these conditions and does not need a heavily composed and fertilized substrate. 

The pH of the potting soil should be in the 5 to 7.5 range.  Like other Peperomias, they like to be slightly potbound.

Fertilizer Requirements

A well diluted liquid fertilizer for indoor plants should be applied every two weeks in the summer months. The plant does need some nutrients, especially during the growing season. In winter, if you fertilize at all, only do so once a month, but it is not strictly necessary.

Applying too much fertilizer could result in burns to the plant, and it will die. You can also use organic fish emulsion fertilizer. Stop fertilizing between late October and late February. When potting or repotting, you could work some slow-release fertilizer granules into the soil but don’t overdo it because this plant does not need a very rich substrate.

Quick Care Tips For Peperomia Metallica

Pruning Guide

Peperomia Metallica does not need much pruning, but it is a hardy little plant that can be spruced up now and then by removing dead growth and leaves that are damaged or diseased. If you promptly remove unhealthy foliage as soon as you see it, this will ensure the ongoing health of your plant.

Keep an eye open for fungal infections that are usually a sign of too much watering, and use only clean scissors or cutters that will not contaminate the plant.

You should clean dust and other debris off the leaves periodically and remove dead leaves, flowers and stems. Cut off leaves that have turned yellow or brown to prevent them from rotting on the plant.

Potting and Repotting

Woman Repotting Houseplants

Because Peperomia Metallica is a small plant, it seldom needs repotting. The roots are small and prefer a snug fit, so at best, you may need to go one pot size higher if you bought it as a baby. The soil should be refreshed once a year in early spring. You may need to repot after two years if the roots are really bulging over the top of the pot.

Propagation Facts

To propagate your Peperomia Metallica, use leaf cuttings. Prepare a sanitized propagation tray or pot using a mix of perlite and potting compost. Cut a healthy leaf off the plant at the base of the leaf using sharp, sanitized gardening shears or scissors.

Cut the leaf in two across the broadest part. Then dip the cut edges in root hormone to promote faster and stronger root growth. Insert the cut edge into the potting mix to a minimum depth of half an inch and gently press the soil down around it to ensure that it is in close contact with the leaf.

Water the soil and then enclose the pot or tray in a plastic bag in which you have pierced a few air holes. Leave it in bright light at normal room temperature and lift the bag off it every few days to release excess humidity. Do not put the pot or tray in direct sunlight.

The cutting should form roots from the cut edges, and then a shoot will grow within a few weeks. Once the shoot has developed leaves, you can transfer your new Peperomia Metallica plants into their own pots.

Also Check: Variegated Peperomia Care

Pests and Diseases

Peperomia Metallica is susceptible to Pythium, a genus of parasitic oomycetes that were previously classified as fungi. Several varieties can cause root rot in plants or diseases that affect the leaves, stems, and flowers. If your plant is looking unhealthy, inspect the roots for signs of decay and try to remove the rotten roots as far as possible before repotting in fresh, clean, slightly moist potting soil.

Root rot is usually caused by overwatering. Another affliction from which your Peperomia Metallica could suffer is Cercospora Leaf Spot caused by a fungus called Cercospora hydrangea. It commonly occurs in ornamental plants and affects their health and growth by causing the leaves to drop off.

When you see an infected leaf, remove it immediately and do not allow fallen leaves to accumulate at the base of the plant. Fungus gnats can spread Pythium and fungal infections and should be killed with an organic insecticide.

Red spider mites make a plant look dusty and unhealthy and create webs on the underside of the leaves. They are so tiny you will need a magnifying glass to see them. You can use plant-friendly organic insecticides to kill them or install some ladybugs amongst your plants to prey on the mites.

Mealybugs suck the sap out of plant stems, causing the leaves to curl and turn yellow.  They can be removed by wiping the plant with a cloth or swab dipped in alcohol.

Conclusions

Peperomia Metallica is one of the more unusual Peperomias with its brightly colored leaves and gleaming metallic appearance. It is guaranteed to brighten up any living space and does not require much care and attention. Overwatering and exposure to direct sunlight are no-nos.

References:

https://www.thegingerjungle.com/product-page/peperomia

https://gardeningit.com/peperomia-metallica/

https://www.thespruce.com/potting-soil-indoor-plants-container-plants-1902802

https://rainforests.mongabay.com/0502.htm

https://www.backyardgardener.com/plantname/peperomia-metallica-red-tree/

https://plantophiles.com/plant-care/peperomia-metallica/