Whether you own a hardy succulent like a cactus or a high-maintenance bonsai, there’s nothing as heartbreaking as seeing your houseplants lose color. And although Peperomia plants are largely manageable succulents that make beautiful houseplants, they’re not immune to the dark forces that steal colors from plants. So, what causes the bright foliage of your Peperomia to become pale, and can you do anything about it?
Some of the most common reasons Peperomia leaves fade are insufficient and excessive sunlight, bad watering practices, poor planter and soil drainage, root and leaf diseases, pests, low and inconsistent ambient humidity, and extreme temperatures.
Plants are alive and respond to stimuli, environmental factors, and diseases, just like every living thing on earth. Faded leaves are usually early or mild symptoms of something wrong, and I decided to write this article to let you know some common reasons your Peperomia might be the way it is. Let’s get started.
1. Insufficient and Excessive Sunlight
All plants need sunlight to perform photosynthesis and make their food—a process necessary to create energy for the plant’s life processes. However, just as you need the right kind of food and the right amount of calories to lead a healthy life, Peperomia plants also need balanced sunlight to thrive.
Insufficient sunlight will cause most plants to fade, yellow, and become brown, as the plant won’t be able to photosynthesize. However, giving your Peperomia too much sunlight can do more harm than good. Excessive sunlight usually dries out the plant, stripping the leaves of their moisture and leaving the Peperomia pale.
If you notice they’re starting to pale, I recommend you place your Peperomia in low-intensity or indirect sunlight. But medium light—like that from the early morning or late evening sun—will be better. Remember to keep the plants away from the harsh mid-afternoon sun as it can seriously hurt them.
2. Bad Watering Practices
Watering is usually the most challenging practice when you have a garden or a houseplant—and with good reason. Different plants need specific soil moisture levels to thrive, and overwatering or underwatering them could cause serious complications.
For Peperomia plants, starving the plant of water could cause it to lose most of its moisture, drying out the plant and causing the leaves to fade. The symptoms typically worsen as the plant loses more water, but you can easily save it if you water them afterward.
However, overwatering the plant can also cause it to fade. Overwatering Peperomia plants can result in water imbalance, usually seen as faded, yellow, and brown leaves.
It’s easier to overwater than underwater succulents like Peperomia, so I recommend you bottom-water the plants once a week. You can water more often if the weather is extra dry, but ensure you allow the soil to dry before the next watering session.
Remember to use only clean, room temperature water for Peperomia plants as low-quality water can affect absorption and cause faded leaves.
3. Poor Planter and Soil Drainage
As I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to overwater Peperomia plants if you aren’t being careful. And while having an excellent watering routine will help prevent faded leaves, there’s still some risk if you’re using unsuitable planters or inappropriate soil.
Planters without drainage will cause water to accumulate in your soil, resulting in water imbalances you’ll typically see in overwatered Peperomia. Fortunately, you can solve and prevent this problem by using a planter with drainage holes.
However, getting a planter with holes is only one piece of the puzzle. You’ll still notice faded leaves if you’re using unsuitable soil. Ensure you use well-draining soil so the water does not accumulate in the root of the plants.
You can use coarse sand for the Peperomia or mix a bit of peat moss with the soil to improve drainage. You should measure the soil moisture content closely so you don’t wait till the plants’ leaves fade before acting.
I recommend using a soil moisture meter for measuring soil water content. It’s accurate and works without batteries, so you don’t need to worry about keeping it charged.
4. Root and Leaf Diseases
Diseases are normal in all living things, but since they don’t move around, plants are more at risk of getting sick. They have to deal with environmental conditions, pests, and vectors.
Several root and leaf diseases can cause faded leaves in Peperomia plants.
Root rot—which affects the plant’s ability to absorb water and nutrients efficiently—can result in sickly shoots, pale leaves, and damaged roots. You might need to examine the roots of your Peperomia if you notice these symptoms—even if you’ve been keeping the plant healthy.
Still, there are also leaf diseases like leaf spots. Leaf spots look the same in all the plants they affect, causing brown, black, or yellow spots in their victims. However, many Peperomia plants typically start out looking pale before they even start developing spots.
The most common leaf spot diseases in Peperomia plants that can cause faded leaves are Rhizoctonia leaf spot, Cercospora leaf spot, and Phyllosticta leaf spot.
Remember that faded Peperomia leaves might also indicate aging, so there’s no need to panic if your Peperomia is quite old.
Peperomia plants are pretty, but they’re also pretty juicy. It’s no wonder many insects and animals seek the plant for its nutrients. And while you can easily take care of them with a pesticide, some pests are pretty tenacious.
Aphids, mites, fungus gnats, scales, caterpillars, and thrips are a few of the pests that can damage the shoot and roots of your Peperomia plant. The damage in itself could result in faded leaves, but some pests also cause diseases that could start as faded leaves and result in the death of your plant.
I recommend you use a pesticide to keep your Peperomia pest-free. I recommend using one that is effective against numerous plant pests, including aphids, without harming your plant. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you want it to work effectively.
6. Low and Inconsistent Ambient Humidity
Like soil moisture content, low humidity levels can also affect the vitality of your Peperomia plants. It’s also pretty common to end up with faded leaves if you don’t maintain suitable humidity for your plant.
Peperomia plants need average levels of humidity to survive. Levels between 30% to 50% will ensure the leaves do not dry out. Humidity outside these levels can cause Peperomia plants to fade, yellow, lose leaves, or even become dormant.
Fortunately, it’s easy to maintain the appropriate humidity levels your Peperomia plant needs. After all, it’s the exact humidity level in most homes. Your plant will be fine if it’s an indoor Peperomia.
However, you can use a grow tray if you’re growing outdoors or someplace it might not get consistent and adequate humidity. You can also use a hygrometer to keep track of the ambient humidity levels around your plant.
7. Extreme Temperatures
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, your Peperomia plant is sensitive. And while it might seem like it can brave even desert-like temperatures, the plants prefer indoor temperatures.
Deviations from the optimal 65°F to 75°F (18.3°C to 23.9°C) range will result in faded or yellow leaves, dormancy, or death. These plants are easier to keep indoors, but you can leave them outside if you can regulate the temperature.
I recommend you keep a thermometer around the plant to keep track of its temperature and prevent faded leaves.