Radiator Plants (Peperomia Spp.)

Radiator Plants have been a commonly used plant in households for ages. Many hobbyists are starting to realize that these types of vines can do well, if not better, in a vivarium. Every aspect of their care requirements matches everything a closed enclosure can offer. In addition, these plants can even benefit the tank as well as its inhabitants. This detailed article will provide insight into the propagation and care needed to maintain the Peperomia species.

Quick Stats:

Scientific Name: Peperomia Spp.

Family: Piperaceae

Common Names: Radiator plant, Creeping Peperomia, String of Turtles, Magic Marmer

Habitat: Tropical

Height: 4in

PH Range: 6.0 to 6.6

Temperature: 65°F to 75°F

What Are Radiator Plants?

Radiator Plants is the common name used to identify any plants in the Peperomia genus. The Peperomia species is a mat-forming and slow-growing species of evergreen vine. It is one of two genera within the large Piperaceae family. There have been more than 1500 species recorded all throughout tropical and subtropical regions. Most of the varieties are small, compact, epiphytes that usually grow on rotten wood.

Due to its easy care and small stature, Radiator Plants have become one of the most popular plants to grow indoors. In recent times, it has also begun to be grown in an array of vivariums.

Radiator Plants (Peperomia Spp.) Care Guide

Radiator Plants Facts

Other common names for Radiator Plants include Creeping Peperomia, String of Turtles, and Magic Marmer. It is mostly used for its unique foliage and classified as a vine plant. A vine can be defined as any plant with a growth habit of creeping or trailing stems.

A number of species are considered miniature versions of Peperomia plant with little, pudgy, succulent leaves, that wot even measure an inch wide. Even though many people are tempted to think that they form part of the succulent category, they are not. These plants prefer more water and higher humidity levels than succulents. All that they really have in common is their tick and fleshy leaves.

Description

Most species in the Peperomia genus are significantly similar in nature. However, Beetle Peperomia, for example, has a quite unique and eye-catching appearance. The leaves of this plant are usually compared to those of a succulent. They are almost a perfect circle, chunky, and smooth to the touch. They are only a quarter of an inch wide and grow twisted around a stringy brown stem.

One of the details that makes these vines so prominent is the veins that cover each leaf. The veins range in color from maroon, dark blue, and purple on young leaves. As they begin to mature, the veins will turn a silvery-white color. The white color against the darker green foliage creates a beautiful pattern throughout.

As stated before, these plants do not grow very large. In fact, most miniature species of Radiator Plants will usually only grow up to 4 inches long. Peperomia is epiphytic in nature. This means that the plant commonly grows on trees or in between rock cracks. They use aerial roots to “stick” themselves to such surfaces and continue to grow. Instead of absorbing nutrients and water from the soil, it will get them from other sources such as air, trees, and rain.

Habitat

Peperomia is a species that can be found all around the rainforests of Brazil. They can be naturally seen growing on trees, rotten logs, rock crevices, and even the forest floor. The natural habitats of this plant are known for their tropical temperatures, moisture, and bright yet shaded sunlight. The ideal temperature range for optimal growth falls anywhere between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Even when Radiator Plants are grown indoors, they will not tolerate very cold temperatures. Anything below 50°F will cause the leaves to start wilting.

PH Preference

Radiator Plants prefer neutral PH levels. However, they can still endure slightly different ranges, as long as they are not too drastic. A PH of 7 is considered neutral. A PH below 7 is acidic and a PH above 7 is alkaline. With that in mind, the ideal PH for Peperomia will range anywhere between 6.0 and 6.6.

Vivarium Type

Radiator Plants can do extremely well in a few different vivarium types. Although there is no specific type of enclosure that it must be grown in, some will ultimately be better than others. The best way to decide on the perfect enclosure will be to keep in mind the plant’s natural habitat. The appropriate setup of the enclosure can make a huge impact on the overall look and health of the plant. Be sure to go with setups that have tropical, but well-drained terrestrial areas. Here are recommended vivariums Peperomia will do well in:

  • Paludariums – Half aquatic/ half terrain-based enclosure.
  • Terrariums – Fully terrain-based enclosure with little to no aquatic features.

Vivarium Placement

Peperomia Spp. can be placed almost anywhere in a vivarium. The exact location where the plant is placed in will ultimately be up to the individual growing it. It can be placed towards the bottom of an enclosure, near a wall or tall surface, and allowed to creep its way to the top. Doing so can help illuminate and bring life to a typically neglected area of an enclosure.

In addition, Radiator Plants can also be placed in a bucket like structure, at the top of the tank and permitted to freely cascade down. This works well when placed both at the front as well as the back of the vivarium. It will not overgrow and block the view behind it. Last but not least, this vine is a terrestrial-based plant. In any manner, it should always be grown above water.

Substrate

Peperomia is not very picky when it comes to the substrate. However, there are still some guidelines that should be followed. Radiator Plants prefer moist and well-drained soil. There are a few potting mixes that will work just fine. However, most hobbyists have found that a peat-based soil mixture is ideal for this plant. If grown epiphytically, Peperomia will not need any substrate. Instead, make sure that the surface the plant is attached to has a neutral PH and provides sturdiness.

Lighting

Radiator Plants favor bright indirect light. The plant should never be placed under direct sunlight for longer than a few minutes. Direct sunlight will scorch the vine’s foliage and drastically deteriorate its health.

Inside of a vivarium, artificial lighting can be used to replicate the Peperomia’s natural environment. Fluorescent lights will work extremely well. Try to go for cooler colors that resemble a bright, but shaded day. This will assure the plant is receiving all the light it needs, without being harmed. Avoid any type of light that has high levels of UV rays. Too much light or direct sunlight can cause Peperomia to lose its variegation. Once it has faded away, it will not come back.

Buy Radiator Plants

When shopping for a specific Peperomia species, expect a few key indicators you are buying the best quality plant. The plant should be insect free along with any other types of pest. In addition, the purchased plant should be green, vibrant, and healthy-looking. Try to avoid any browning or wilting leaves. Those are usually signs of poor health and could make it harder for the plant to survive. Click the image below to find out more about the current price and other relative info of this plant:

Radiator Plants Care and Propagation

The care and propagation of miniature Radiator Plants will be the same as any other species of Peperomia. Overall, they are all plants that do not demand too much effort when it comes to their maintenance. Nonetheless, its basic needs should always be met. This will guarantee that it’s foliage remains healthy and continues to flourish. Basically, as long as these plants are receiving an adequate amount of indirect light and it is not overwatered, the plant will thrive.

How to grow

All Peperomia species can be propagated exactly the same. It can be easily reproduced through the use of cuttings or plantlets. When using the stem cutting method, simply take a healthy adult plant and cut a few inches off the top of the stem. The new pieces should then be re-planted somewhere moist and warm in order to grow. Make sure to also provide enough bright light to promote new growth. Using plantlets will also be fairly easy to do. Plantlets are basically tiny baby leaves that will begin growing along the stem of the plant. These can then be carefully cut off from the mother plant and left in water. The same light and temperature requirements apply to this method.

Watering

Peperomia species are not a fan of overwatering. Its soil should be evenly moist but allowed to start drying before more water is added. Waterlogged or soggy soil will cause the subterranean roots to rot and eventually kill the plant. An easy way to know whether or not the Radiator Plant should be watered is by checking its soil.

Dip a finger into the top 1 to 2 inches of the substrate. If it is dry to the touch, then you can proceed with watering, and if it still feels moist, then you can wait a few days before checking again. Also, always make sure to look for signs of overwatering. If the vine looks wilted or grows scab-like protuberances from its leaves, reduce the amount or frequency of water.

Plants Similar To Radiator Plants

Adding diversity to an enclosure is key to an aesthetically pleasing setup. Try mixing up the look of your vivarium with different flora that can easily co-exist in the same types of environment. Furthermore, if for some reason you find this vine hard to acquire or would like to consider something similar to this plant… Here are some other vine plants you might find may do well with or in the place of Radiator Plants:

Wandering Jew (Tradescantia Zebrina)
Creeping Fig (Ficus Pumila)
Satin Pothos (Scindapsus Pictus 'Argyraeu')

Conclusion

As you can see, Radiator Plants can be a great addition to most vivariums. If cared for properly, they will thrive in tropical biotypes and add a nice bit of character to the enclosure. Be mindful that even though these plants are very similar to most succulents in appearance, they will not tolerate the same type of environment. Have you ever used a species of Peperomia in your household setting? If so, how was your experience?