Peperomia serpens is a beautiful, bright green perennial plant that looks like a miniature ivy. This vining peperomia has stems covered in thick, succulent-like, heart-shaped leaves. In South and Central American tropical forests, you will see these vines hanging from trees and rooting in leaf litter.
Other names for peperomia serpens include vinagre plant, hoya serpens plant, and peperomia serpens variegata. The variegata type has white margins on its leaves. Peperomia serpens is an attractive, easy to care for houseplant when you follow these care instructions.
In the wild, peperomia serpens grows in dappled sunlight and partial shade, so try to recreate that amount of light at home. Medium, indirect sunlight for two to six hours per day is sufficient. It will grow well near a window where it receives light filtered through a sheer curtain.
Avoid exposing your peperomia serpens to direct sunshine as intense light can burn the leaves.
Although it’s not a true succulent, peperomia serpens has great drought resistance due to its ability to store water in its leaves. Overwatering is a much greater danger than underwatering as too much water destroys a serpens plant’s roots.
Allow the soil to dry well between waterings; test this by inserting your finger two inches into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. You can also buy a moisture probe that will let you know when your peperomia serpens needs another drink.
Soil and Fertilizer Tips
Peperomia serpens requires soil that has excellent drainage. You don’t have to go to any special expense or effort. Simply add a generous scoop of perlite to a balanced potting mix.
Peperomia serpens variegata’s fertilizer requirements can be met by adding some organic compost to the potting soil. Or apply a twice-diluted balanced liquid fertilizer once a month between March and November. Use one that has an NPK ratio of 10-10-10.
Temperature and Humidity Requirements
Serpens plant thrives in typical indoor house temperatures between 60 F and 80 F. Avoid extremes in temperature, either way.
Peperomia serpens loves high humidity, so mist it at least once a week with a fine spray of water. If your home is particularly dry inside, make a plant evaporation tray with pebbles and water. Set your houseplant pots on top and they’ll receive higher humidity without wicking up excess water.
Potting and Repotting Peperomia Serpens
Peperomia serpens is good in hanging baskets or sitting on a shelf, where its vines can trail over the edge. Vining peperomia needs a container with drainage holes in the bottom. It’s also a good idea to add an extra drainage layer of brick pieces or stone to the bottom one-fifth of the pot.
Its roots are smaller than you may expect, so this plant doesn’t quickly become rootbound. Even if it does, peperomia serpens prefers that over being surrounded by too much empty soil. Repot your serpens plant once a year to refresh the soil and its nutrients.
When to Prune Peperomia Serpens
Peperomia serpens is a small plant even when fully mature, so you won’t need to prune it down to a certain size or shape. Simply remove damaged or withered leaves when you notice them.
You can prune a serpens plant’s flowers when you see them, or leave them until they wither. The flowers are small, light green spikes covered in tiny projections along the tip.
Peperomia Serpens Propagation
Hoya serpens propagation can be accomplished by stem or leaf cuttings. Use a sterile knife or pair of scissors to cut a stem with leaves attached (or several leaves without stems) and dip the cut ends in rooting hormone. You can either place them in a jar of distilled water or insert them into damp potting soil.
Whichever method you choose, wait until the new roots are at least two inches long before moving your cuttings into their own little pots.
Common Peperomia Serpens Challenges
Peperomia serpens is generally a very healthy plant, but it can be infested by mealy bugs, aphids, or thrips. These are easily treated by applying neem oil or an insecticide. It’s best to tackle infestations as soon as possible, because they can spread quickly and damage your plant.
Root, stem, and leaf rot occur when the plant is watered too heavily or allowed to stand in water. Flabby yellow leaves that fall off are another sign of overwatering. Curling, brown leaves are a sign that the soil is too dry or it’s receiving too much direct sunlight.
Peperomia Serpens FAQs
Yes! While most plants in the Piperaceae family are slow-growers, peperomia serpens will put out new leaves quickly if it receives proper care. The plant itself will not grow very large, but expect to see plenty of new foliage every peperomia growing season.
No, not at all. Peperomia serpens must be allowed to dry out between waterings. Sitting in wet soil quickly leads to root rot which will ultimately kill your plant.
Always look at the foliage to gauge your peperomia serpens plant’s health. At first, the leaves will curl up. Then they’ll turn brown or grey, and feel crunchy. Even if you water the plant and it revives, these withered leaves will likely fall off.