Peperomia plants are low-maintenance indoor houseplants, which means they don’t require a lot of attention in order to thrive. However, if you notice them wilting or drooping, you need to address the problem right away.
Generally, drooping Peperomia leaves indicate dehydration caused by underwatering or low humidity. However, the plant can also wilt due to extreme temperatures, pest infestation and root rot caused by overwatering.
Adjusting watering frequency, improving soil drainage, and keeping the plant pest-free can revive a droopy Peperomia.
In this article, you’ll learn how to Identify other signs on your plants that can determine the root cause of wilting and how to recover from them.
Let’s get started
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What Happens When Peperomias Droop?
Normally, your Peperomia’s stems and leaves are strong and firm to the touch. The leaves are attached tightly to the stems, the leaves are unbendable, and the plant stands at attention.
But when the leaves and stems become soft and flexible to the touch and the whole plant sags down, your Peperomia is wilting and drooping.
You will need to determine the cause of the problem and fix it.
Causes of Peperomias Drooping
Here are eight reasons why your Peperomia may be drooping. If you check them all out, and correct the problems, you should have a happy, healthy plant.
- Low Humidity
- Temperature Stress (Hot & Cold)
- Pests Infestation
- Over Fertilizing
- Repotting Shock
- Dusty Leaves
Underwatering is probably the most common reason that Peperomias droop.
When Peperomia has enough water in their tissues, they are able to be turgid, or firm. Plants breathe out water vapor all the time, and if there isn’t enough water available for them to replenish it in their tissues, they will begin to show signs of stress.
However, when your Peperomia is dehydrated, it no longer stands upright — it loses its turgidity and sags down. The stems sag, the leaves droop down from the stems and develop brown tips and edges.
Peperomias don’t like to be consistently moist, but they don’t like their soil to be bone dry either.
It’s best to water it when the soil is dry 1” to 2” down from the top. If you let it go much longer than that, it will begin to droop.
You can water your Peperomia plant from the top and let the excess run out the drainage holes, or you can set it in a dish of water and let the soil wick up through the holes.
Water until the soil on top is moist to the touch, but not soggy. Then let your plant be until it’s ready to be watered again — usually in one to three weeks depending on the time of year and how warm it is.
Household humidity is usually fine for easy-to-grow plants like Peperomias, but they can struggle and droop if the humidity in the house becomes too low.
Humidity can vary from room to room, and can be especially low in the winter when the heater is on.
If the humidity in your house dips too low, your plant might try to conserve moisture by curling its leaves and even drooping them. This will reduce the surface area of the plant that will be able to lose moisture.
Since Peperomias are native to tropical and subtropical areas of the world where the humidity is high, the more humidity you can provide for them in the house, the better they will like it.
An indoor hygrometer will tell you the humidity level. Peperomias do best when it is 50% or more.
So if it is lower where you have your plants, you would be wise to boost it. You can use a humidifier (if you have one), or you can set your plants on a layer of stones in a tray of water, making sure the pots are above the water line.
Humidity tends to be higher around plants that are grouped together, and you can mist them daily to increase it even more.
Overwatering is probably the main reason houseplants die. If your Peperomia has floppy, soggy stems and wilting, yellowing leaves, it’s a good bet that it is overwatered.
The best potting mix for Peperomias needs to be loose and chunky enough for good aeration, and if the spaces between the pieces of the mix are constantly filled with water, no air can get to the roots.
The roots will begin to rot and they won’t be able to deliver nutrients to the plant. As a result, the Peperomia will droop and eventually die.
The sure signs that your plant is overwatered are soggy, watery stems that flop down and yellowing leaves. Both mature leaves and new leaves may droop, and the roots turn black, mushy and foul-smelling.
To remedy this situation, you can do one of two things. You can just let the plant dry out and then water it less frequently.
However, if it shows signs of severe overwatering, you can take the plant out of the pot and wash off all the soil from the roots. Cut off any rotten roots with clean shears or knife, and then repot it in a fresh potting mix.
Water it thoroughly after repotting, but be sure to let the soil drain well. (Your pot MUST have drainage holes!)
Then only water it every 7 to 10 days, or when the top of the soil is dry down 1” to 2”.
Temperature Stress (Hot & Cold)
Peperomias grow best in temperatures between 60⁰ F and 80⁰ F (15⁰ C – 27⁰ C). Anything below 50⁰ F (10⁰ C) will cause stress to the plant. The leaves will curl and droop, and the whole plant will wilt.
They are not equipped to handle freezing, or even low, above-freezing temperatures since they are tender herbaceous plants.
High temperatures, above 80⁰ F, also cause them stress and can contribute to leaf curl and droop.
The symptoms that your plant is too cold are that the leaves will curl and droop, and the whole plant will wilt. Freezing temperatures will produce ice crystals in the plant and this will cause a breakdown of the tissues and death of the plant.
Too high temperatures will cause your Peperomia’s leaves to curl, roll, or take on a cup shape. They also can exhibit leaf scald and dry edges, and the plant can grow too fast and become leggy.
You probably won’t have trouble with either high or low temperatures inside the house, since normal ambient household temperatures are perfect for Peperomias.
If you put them outside in the summer, however, be careful of direct sun and high temperatures. Their leaves will burn in direct sunshine, and they will droop in temperatures above 80⁰ F.
Likewise, if you’ve left your plant outside into the autumn, be careful of low nighttime temperatures.
A near-freezing cold snap can leave you with a seriously drooping plant. Bring your Peperomias in when the temperatures threaten to dip below 50⁰ F.
Peperomias are normally pretty resistant to indoor pests, but if they’re exposed to infested plants from a store, greenhouse, or from the outdoors, a heavy infestation can cause leaves to yellow and droop, and the plant to droop.
Common houseplant pests that you might see are mealybugs, spider mites, and whiteflies. If you leave your Peperomia outside in the summer, it can also fall prey to scale, thrips and fungus gnats, in addition to caterpillars, snails, and slugs that can chew holes in the leaves.
Carefully check on both sides of the leaves, in the leaf axils, on the stems, and on the soil for signs of insects. Pick or wipe off any that you can see. You can also turn your plant sideways and run it under lukewarm water to knock off any remaining pests.
A commercial insecticidal soap or mild liquid soap like Castile diluted in water makes an effective spray to get rid of these pests. Neem oil is excellent, too, although it may take longer to kill them than an insecticidal soap.
Here’s what to look for with the various insects and the damage they cause:
These are white, cottony puffs on the undersides of the leaves and leaf axils. Honeydew from these insects can cause sooty mold to form which can kill the plant.
These are tiny reddish-brown creatures with eight legs that spin webbing on the undersides of the leaves, leaf axils, and stems.
Spider mite damage looks like a series of yellowish dots on the tops of the leaves, causing them to droop and sometimes curl.
These are tiny, white, heart-shaped insects that fly up in a cloud when the plant is moved or jostled.
Whitefly larvae and nymphs suck plant juices which weaken the plant, and they also excrete honeydew that can cause sooty mold to form.
These are little insects with either a soft or hard protective shell that they live under. The scale looks like a small red, brown, or black bump on the stems or leaves.
They suck plant juices and excrete honeydew that can cause sooty mold to form, both of which can sicken the plant and cause it to droop.
Scrape them off and then prevent their return with a schedule of neem oil or insecticidal soap.
These are tiny insects that look like little yellow dashes against the leaves and stems. They suck plant juices and are especially fond of young foliage.
The damage that they do is a yellow and brown discoloration of the leaves. If enough thrips infest your plant, the damaged leaves will cause the plant to droop.
These little flying insects look like miniature mosquitoes and are also known as soil gnats. You can spot them buzzing around your plant or running around on the soil’s surface.
The adults don’t damage the plants. They lay their eggs in the potting mix and then their larvae feed on the roots, causing the roots to die and the plant to wilt and droop from dehydration.
Cut off the damaged roots and repot your plant in a fresh potting mix. In the future, your best defense against fungus gnats is not to overwater.
Overfertilizing your Peperomia is too much of a good thing. The salts in the fertilizer can “burn” your plant by pulling water out of the roots, minimizing the amount of water it can absorb.
This will cause dehydration and yellowing leaves, brown leaf tips and margins, and leaf droop.
The best thing to do to remedy this situation is to first remove any blackened, dead roots.
Then either flush the existing soil with water to remove the excess fertilizer or repot the plant in fresh potting mix. Then, don’t fertilize it again for a month or two to let it rest.
Peperomias usually don’t need a lot of fertilizer. If you want to give it a boost once a month in the growing season, follow the instructions on the fertilizer and even dilute it further to prevent any chance of burning.
Every time you repot a plant, it goes through a bit of shock before it settles into its new soil and takes hold.
Your plant may droop a bit as it’s acclimating to its new home, and there are a few things you can do to reduce the stress.
Make sure you don’t expose the roots to the air for any length of time. They can begin to dry out and damage their ability to absorb water when they are repotted.
Then put your plant in just the same place with the same amount of light, humidity, and at the same temperature as it was before.
Differences in the environment can increase the stress on a newly repotted plant and cause it to droop.
Clip off any dead leaves, and make sure you water it thoroughly and let any excess water run out the drainage holes.
You can also give it a light dose of fertilizer after repotting to send it on its way.
Dusty leaves are not a huge problem for a houseplant, but they can limit the amount of sunlight it can absorb and can also limit the exchange of gases in the leaves.
A really dusty plant will not be at its best, but fortunately, this is an easy problem to solve.
Run the leaves under lukewarm water or wipe them off with a damp paper towel on a regular basis to keep them clean, and you should see your plant look healthier.