I currently have two Peperomia hopes in my collection + whenever I share a photo of either plants over on Instagram I always get some questions about their growth habit + more specifically, how I’ve got my plants to trail in the way they do! A lot of plants have a tendency to grow horizontally or sparsely which can make them look somewhat bedraggled. Having two plants has meant I’ve been able to experiment with a variety of growing conditions + over the last few years, I think I’ve figured out the positions that have the biggest impact on the appearance of both Peps here at HPH.
I’ve also put together a care guide if you want to read more about Peperomia hope here — aptly titled Keeping my Peperomia hope alive !
In this post I’ll be covering the topics of:
- The issue of light + intensity
- Keeping your plant looking full
- Horizontal growth vs. trailing growth
- Broken stems + new growth…
To start things off, in the trio of photos below you can see how my plant looked a few years ago to the left + the photos in the centre + right are from Summer 2020:
Fun fact: This lovely cultivar is actually a hybrid between Peperomia deppeana + Peperomia quadrifolia.
The issue of light + intensity
The pivotal aspect that has helped my plants to grow in quite a dense, full way is down to light — both the positioning but also the intensity of light. The number one element I can attribute to full growth is giving the top of the pot a bright enough location. This goes for all hanging plants, but especially those like String of Hearts, String of Pearls + the Peperomia gang too. If this part of the pot has great levels of light, you’ll notice new growth appearing at the base of the plant (the top of the potting mix) alongside new growth on the existing stems.
In the photo below, you’ll see where my Pep has performed best for me in the nearly 3 years I’ve been growing it — around 0.5-1 metres from a ground floor South-east facing window. In my previous apartment, it also grew pretty well around 1.5 metres away from a South-west window too. Importantly though in both positions, the light is diffused through a net which softens it + goes some way to preventing the succulent leaves being negatively effected by this position.
If the plant gets lots of bright light the disc-like foliage can start to look pretty dull + washed-out in appearance so a bright position out of harsh, direct light is ideal. Bear in mind that these are the conditions that are personal to my current environment + are used as a guide for you to compare with your own home. It’s important to also remember that windows can be pretty different in size + if you live in a built up area, with other buildings close by, or if there are obstacles like trees outside — this all has an impact on the intensity of light.
Sometimes it takes time to find a balance between light intensity + a more ambient light set up. If you are wanting to move your plant from a lower light to somewhere bright, be prepared for a process of acclimatisation as your plant adjusts. It’s often a good idea to do this gradually — incrementally giving the pot a brighter position, or exposure to a brighter light for a few hours a day as you build up to the desired position. Most plants are pretty adaptable, but you might experience some leaf drop or yellowing if you drastically change its conditions overnight. In a new position, be aware if there are any other environmental changes such as temperature, humidity or potential draughts.
Keeping your plant looking full
Alongside a well-lit location that encourages growth at the base of the plant, the other simple way you can encourage your Peperomia hope to fill out concerns pot size + repotting. In my experience, these plants grow best when pot-bound, that is, quite snug in their pot — as opposed to a large pot which results in the root ball being surrounded by lots of potting mix. This can really have a negative impact on a Peperomia because this makes the prospect of overwatering a very real possibility + root rot is certainly not something that will help keep your plant looking full + lush!
I’ve only repotted my larger plant once + the smaller one about three times since having them both for almost three years, which shows just how well they cope with relatively infrequent repotting! I’ve found that with younger pots of Peperomia hope, a few small jumps in pot size is better than a big leap. Pep’s really only need repotting when the roots are circling the pots or growing out of the drainage holes. Another tell tale sign is if they are drying out very quickly — this was something I observed with my large plant last Summer.
When a Peperomia is quite cosy in their pot, you might find your plant has a growth spurt + can easily fill out the top of a pot over time + remain healthy + without needing repotting. If your plant is in a larger pot, it’ll often be putting energy into growing roots instead of leaves, so this is a plant that certainly prefers making itself comfortable in its pot for a year or two before needing much attention or a slightly bigger home. I also only go up one pot size at a time with these as a rule.
Horizontal growth vs. trailing growth
It might sound simple, but do things that encourage your plant to trail! Treat your Pep hope as a trailing plant as early as you can — my smaller pot (above + below) started life nestled on a plant shelf + as the stems grew, they ‘rested’ on top of other surrounding plants, which made the growth more horizontal in nature. When I moved however, I had limited space so opted to hang a few of my plants using hooks into the ceiling beams near the windows to enable them to get decent light. I was pretty surprised at how quickly this seemed to train my plant to grow down, helped out a bit by gravity too. In this position, the whole of the pot + stems had good light so it grew in a really balanced way.
The other reason these plants grow horizontally can be down to available light — if your plant is in a position that is too dark or not intense enough, the stems will naturally start to lengthen and stretch…the plant is literally looking for light! This will mean that the spacing between the leaves increases, that is, the stem is longer between each new set of leaves. This will make the stems less heavy as the leaves play a part in weighing down the stem in question so they are more likely to stretch out horizontally.
The different growth photos throughout this post + especially these two photos below exemplify what I mean above — new growth is naturally more horizontal in form but as the weight of the leaves plus the stem increases, the stem is dragged down + becomes part of the trailing cluster of the existing plant. For quite a long time, the growth from the base was growing up up up like an antenna! Then gravity kicked in + gradually brought it down to join the other stems. So there’s no need to worry if your new growth is looking a little bizarre or diagonal to begin with!
Broken stems + new growth…
These types of trailing plants do have a tendency to get tangled or break off if knocked + this is a common issue as the plants mature — a few of the stems from my larger plant snapped off when I moved last year, but fear not— this will not harm the plant + it can bounce back!
I often get asked about what happens when the stems break in relation to new growth + the below photographs will show how the plant reacts to a broken stem…
The photos below were taken two weeks apart + you can see how the new growth appears right from the end of the stem + after a time, leaves will start to grow from this point too. Over time, the stem will continue to develop + the pep will get growing as normal.
Now that Spring is here, I’m really thinking about giving my more mature plant a trim — it’s starting to look a little leggy + stretched out as it’s very long now + this will help keep my plant looking its best + you can always propagate them to make new plants too. Don’t be afraid to give your plants a bit of a haircut — they’ll often reward you with fresh growth + sometimes it’s just what they need to perk them up a little bit. It took me a few years of growing before I became more comfortable with regular pruning of my houseplants…even though I am always getting the snips out in the garden! As your Peperomia hope grows, the main thing to keep growth balanced + steady is to ensure the whole plant is getting good light. My smaller hanging one is almost starting to grow behind my bookshelf, so I’ll have to adjust it’s hanger a little in a few weeks!
So there we have it, I hope this more specific post was useful to those that messaged me asking about getting your Peperomia hope to trail! These are lovely plants + compared to some more fussy pep’s (a.k.a. those with thinner leaves) this is a much more robust plant for me + is really striking to look at.
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