Peperomia is a wonderful and versatile group of plants that are generally pretty easy to keep alive and happy. If you started noticing a few of your peperomia leaves curling or becoming wrinkled, something with how you care for it is likely off.
Luckily more often than not, curling leaves on peperomia or moderate wrinkles aren’t a sign of a serious issue. You will only need to make a minor adjustment in your care routine for the plant to bounce back to health.
This issue can pop up with new plants or even plants that you already had for a few seasons.
Why are Your Peperomia Leaves Curling?
We’ll guide you through some of the most common causes for the leaves on your peperomia curling or wrinkling, how to identify the correct cause, and most importantly, what you can do to fix it.
In almost all cases, this issue is due to something being slightly off with how you care for your peperomia plant. We have a handy care guide for this group of plants that might help you avoid any other issues in the future.
Main Causes for Pepeomia Leaves Curling
- not enough light
- stress from repotting
- temperature stress
- stem damage
- nutrient deficiency (calcium)
Underwatering is Usually the Cause for Peperomia Leaves Curling
Peperomias are pretty effective at retaining water in their leaves and, because of that, don’t need as frequent watering as many other plants.
You should be letting the soil dry out a little on top. This is what is best for most varieties, and this advice is often given for these plants. Letting the soil dry between waterings, if it goes on for too long and too much of the soil dries, can lead to peperomia leaves curling. As the plant can’t get water from the roots, the water reserves will be drained and the leaves deformed.
You should water peperomia plants as soon as the top layer (half an inch to inch/cm or two) dries out. The soil below that shouldn’t really dry out too often. If you are letting the soil dry out too much, the plant is most certainly underwatered.
Watering hint: If the top layer of the soil is dry but the plant is still perky, you can wait a little before watering again, however if the plant seems like it’s drooping you are already a little behind with watering.
Signs to look for
- soil is dry, can be cracked on the surface, or even if it’s really dry, there will be room between the pot and the soil
- leaves and stems can be limp/soft
- leaves can be curled, bent or wrinkled, with bumps on the surface
- they can start yellowing or even fall off
This issue is easy to fix. Water your plant thoroughly and from now on, water your peperomia more often to avoid the curling of the leaves.
If the soil is really dry (cracked, not in contact with pot, or if the water just runs through when you water), you will need to soak your plant in lukewarm water. Fill a bucket with about an inch of water (more if you have a really large plant) and let the pot sit in the water for an hour. If the soil loosened up and got damp up to the top you are good to go, if not repeat.
The Peperomia Watermelon pictured above was severely underwatered, a portion of the leaves was curled, and almost all of the leaves were drooping. The majority of the leaves were feeling limp. The soil was not touching the pot and had to be soaked a few times to loosen up. As a few leaves were still firm, one was taken for propagation (watermelon peperomia is easy to propagate) in the odd case the mother plant wouldn’t recover. Two plants are always better than none.
Not Enough Light Can Also Cause Leaves to Curl
All peperomias thrive with bright indirect light.
The light we might perceive as bright isn’t necessarily bright enough for the plants. If you ruled out issues with watering your peperomia, the next thing to consider is insufficient light.
Keep in mind, different varieties of peperomia can have different needs as far as light goes. As a rule of thumb, the more variegated peperomias (with more white parts) will require more light than fully green peperomias.
If your peperomia isn’t getting enough light, its leaves might begin to curl as the plant tries to make the leaf catch as much light as possible. The surface of the leaf can become wrinkled for the same reason.
Apart from that, you might also notice your peperomia is becoming leggy (long stems stretching towards the source of light), as well as new leaves growing smaller than older ones.
The solution to this issue is a simple one, move the plant closer to the windows, still not exposing your plant to strong direct sunlight. You can also opt for grow lights if better natural light isn’t an option.
This is more common during the winter as the light just isn’t as bright.
Stress From Repotting
If you have recently repotted your plant, the curling of leaves on your peperomia can be stressful.
Give the plant some time to adjust to new medium and get its strength back.
Keep in mind: Avoid repotting plants you just brought home. The plant will be stressed from the change of environment, there is no need to add to that stress by repotting it.
If you suspect you have repotted your plant into a pot that is too big, you might need to repot it again soon – peperomias like tight pots, and you risk overwatering if there is too much soil in the pot (compared to roots).
While overwatering isn’t usually the cause for curling leaves on peperomia plants, it is one that can easily kill your plant.
It’s always best to rule out overwatering for any issue you might be facing, not just the curling leaves on your peperomia.
Overwatering is a watering pattern. Nothing bad will happen if you overwater your plant one time. However, if this watering pattern continues, your plant will suffer.
This has to do more with the frequency of watering and by not letting the top layer of soil dry. If you notice the soil is wet on top all the time, you are overwatering your plant.
Letting your plant sit in water (part of the soil is submerged in water, or water is collecting in the pot) you are overwatering.
Water less in order for your plant to kick back into full health.
While peperomias are pretty hardy plants, sudden drops in temperatures can cause them stress.
Keep them away from cold drafts, especially in winter time.
If you have a trailing variety like peperomia hope and notice the leaves are curling on one vine only this might be due to physical da age somewhere along the vine.
Inspect the plant and look for any damage. If you have a cat, as some peperomias are dangly, they can fall victim to cats chewing the stem.
Nutrient Deficiency can Cause Peperomia Leaves Curling Too
Nutrient deficiency can show as curling leaves also. If you haven’t been fertilizing your plant, repotting the plant in fresh soil was done several years ago (or not at all), and you have ruled out other common causes for peperomia leaves curling, you can suspect a nutrient deficiency.
While peperomias aren’t heavy feeders and don’t require regular fertilizing, they will still deplete the nutrients from the soil as time goes.
Start fertilizing your peperomia plants occasionally. You can use any general foliage houseplant fertilizer. Either dilute the fertilizer more than the box indicates or use it less frequently as it is easier to overfeed a peperomia than underfeed it, so you don’t want to go from one extreme to the other.
Disease – Virus
Viral infections can cause the leaves on peperomia to curl too. However, this is an improbable cause for indoor plants.