Peperomia columella Rauh & Hutchison
Peperomia columella is a much-branched succulent with fleshy ascending stems densely covered with bright green leaves with epidermal windows at the apex. The stems grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) tall and 0.4 inches (1 cm) in diameter, branching from the base. Leaves are thick and fleshy, truncated, U-shaped in cross-section, up to 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) long, up to 0.3 inches (0.7 cm) wide, and up to 0.25 inches (0.6 cm) tall. The "window" on the leaves is composed of water-storing tissue that allows light penetration to the interior photosynthetic tissue.
The tiny flowers appear on terminal inflorescences with 2 to 5 branches in spring.
Peperomia columella is endemic to Peru. It occurs at elevations between 4,690 and 5,170 feet (1,430 and 1,575 m) in dry areas, often in crevices on steep cliffs or in sandy soil.
USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Peperomias are not particularly hard plants to grow, and their small size and delicate leaves make them perfect for desktops and dish gardens. They will rarely overtake their neighbors or shade them out. In short, they are perfectly mannered and attractive little plants. The biggest problems are usually related to watering. They like steadily moist soil but can be very sensitive to overwatering. Overwatered Peperomias tend to wilt or have raised, scab-like protrusions on their leaves. Do not be alarmed if your plant loses a few bottom leaves, but a massive leaf drop is usually due to a temperature change or fertilizer problem. Lastly, Peperomias are susceptible to mealybugs, so keep an eye out for cottony white masses on leaves' stems or undersides. These plants thrive when slightly pot-bound, so do not overpot them.
Repot plants in spring, especially to refresh the existing soil, but place either back into the same size container after root-pruning or go up only one pot size. The largest Peperomias remain relatively small, so they will never grow into large specimen plants. Most species can be relatively easily propagated from leaf cuttings.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Peperomia.
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