Lately, you’ve not enjoyed the full extent of your watermelon peperomia’s beauty since its stems and leaves keep drooping. This guide will tell you how to prop the plant up again so it looks its best!
Why is the watermelon peperomia drooping? A watermelon peperomia can droop for various reasons, including underwatering, overwatering, low humidity, overfertilization, transplant shock, temperature extremes, diseases, and pest infestations.
I realize that was a whole laundry list of issues that can affect the watermelon peperomia. Don’t worry, as I’ll go cause by cause ahead and explain in more detail which care habits could cause this variegated plant to sag. I’ll also tell you how to fix the issues, so check it out!
Why Is My Watermelon Peperomia Drooping?
Cause #1 – Underwatering
An underwatered watermelon peperomia doesn’t necessarily exhibit drooping leaves right off the bat.
However, once the plant realizes that the water it desperately needs isn’t coming, it will begin to curl its leaves. The leaves will also sag.
Your watermelon peperomia is trying its best to hold onto the paltry water supply it has left, so the foliar drooping will continue until you replenish your houseplant.
How to Fix It
The watermelon peperomia doesn’t need water too frequently. Allow the soil to dry several inches, then replenish.
Using the fingertip test, you can gauge when it’s time to water your variegated peperomia. You’ll find after a few weeks that this test is much more reliable than watering on a schedule.
Why’s that? A plant’s watering needs change!
To simplify this example, let’s say that you don’t live in a region that experiences extreme temperatures. Even still, your watermelon peperomia needs more water in warmer months and less water in colder months.
If you always water the plant every nine days, your poor peperomia can dry out and droop, especially in the summer!
Cause #2 – Overwatering
Do you water your peperomia every other day because you don’t want it to feel deprived? If so, that could be another reason it’s begun drooping.
An overwatered indoor plant eventually lacks the foundational strength to hold itself up. Its roots are soaked in water, the stalks, stems, leaves, the entire plant will end up suffering.
All of these parts become mushy, giving your watermelon peperomia a saggy-leafed appearance.
How to Fix It
Overwatering is far more dangerous than for the diminished aesthetics of your watermelon peperomia.
Prolonged soaking conditions can cause the fungal disease root rot. Without enough oxygen, the roots die one by one.
By the time you see issues such as sagging leaves, root rot could have already wreaked havoc deep in the soil.
So how do you save a houseplant with root rot? Well, you can only try, and I can’t promise you the watermelon peperomia will survive.
First, you have to remove the plant from its pot. It should come out easily since conditions are so oversaturated.
Separate the peperomia from the waterlogged soil and free its root ball. Remove all black and brown roots from the root ball using clean gardening shears.
Disinfect your shears using bleach or 70 percent isopropyl alcohol when you’re finished.
Next, fill a pot with fresh, dry potting soil and put the watermelon peperomia back in. Prune any dead or dying leaves and disinfect your shears again.
Moisten the soil and provide the right lighting, temperature, and humidity. Allow several inches of the peperomia’s soil to dry out before watering it again.
Closely monitor the plant. If it’s still alive in a few days, then it will likely survive in the long run.
Cause #3 – Low Humidity
Some indoor gardeners don’t know what humidity levels their plants require. Others think they know but mist the plant a few hours a day and aren’t providing enough moisture.
When the peperomia lacks humidity, the leaves will begin to sag. You might also notice that the leaves feel crispy and dry, have turned brown, and are curling.
How to Fix It
You can’t gauge whether your watermelon peperomia is receiving enough humidity without knowing what the humidity is like in your home or office.
A hygrometer will tell you. The tool reads the moisture in the air.
You don’t need to use a hygrometer exclusively outdoors. Buildings such as your home, apartment, or office complex have relative humidity too, and a hygrometer can read the moisture levels indoors.
More than likely, the hygrometer reading was between 30 and 50 percent, right? That’s fine, as the watermelon peperomia needs at least 40 percent humidity.
Can you increase the humidity? Sure, maybe to around 50 percent, but there’s no need to go higher than that.
Skip the misting. You need to do it way too often for it to be feasible. Instead, buy a humidifier and let that mist the watermelon peperomia for you.
You can also keep the plant in the bathroom if growing it at home. The warm blasts of air from showering will keep the peperomia nice and moist.
Cause #4 – Overfertilization
How often do you fertilize the watermelon peperomia? Although plants use fertilizer as fuel to grow, you can overdo it if you’re not careful.
Fertilizers include a lot of salts. When added to the soil, the salts suck up moisture, leaving the roots starving for more water. If you don’t realize that and don’t water your plant for a while, you can compound the issue.
You could see drooping leaves, brown or yellow discoloration across the striped leaves of the peperomia, and a dry, crispy texture.
How to Fix It
Even if you stop fertilizing the watermelon peperomia for months, the salts in its soil will remain. That’s why your first order of business is to treat the current soil.
You can flush the soil with water to remove the excess salts. If it’s easier, you can dump that soil and refill the pot with fresh, unfertilized soil.
Moisten the soil and continue caring for the watermelon peperomia as you would any other time in better health.
How often should you fertilize this variegated houseplant?
The watermelon peperomia only requires fertilizer during its active growing season in the spring and summer.
You should only apply fertilizer once a month. Use a general plant fertilizer but dilute it to half-strength with water.
Follow the application instructions to get your fertilizer quantities right.
Cause #5 – Transplant Shock
The watermelon peperomia only needs a pot upgrade every two to three years. When that time comes, the peperomia could suffer a case of transplant shock.
What is transplant shock? It’s a stress reaction plants undergo after moving into a new environment like a bigger pot.
Despite the name, more than moving your plant can contribute to transplant shock. Suddenly changing the watermelon peperomia’s lighting, fertilizer schedule, water schedule, or temperature can induce the same symptoms.
One of those symptoms? Wilting leaves. Look out for falling leaves and foliar yellowing too.
How to Fix It
Optimal care of the watermelon peperomia will prevent transplant shock caused by all but moving the plant. As for that cause? You can’t exactly prevent it.
Your plant will eventually become too big for its pot, necessitating an upgrade.
All you can do is continue to care for the watermelon peperomia as best you can. Water it when needed, maintain a fair temperature, keep conditions moist, fertilize only when necessary (and consider waiting if you just moved the plant), and provide bright, indirect light.
Plants usually recover from transplant shock within a few days, weeks, or months. Some plants may sustain the effects for years, but that’s not the norm.
Cause #6 – Temperature Extremes
The watermelon peperomia prefers temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Once its temperatures shift too low or too high, the stress from the extreme temperatures can cause leaf drooping among other symptoms.
For example, if your peperomia is overly cold, its root ball will come out easily, the stems can split, the leaves may soften, and you might see blackened foliage.
When the plant is too hot, besides limp leaves, check for signs such as a papery, crisp leaf texture and foliar yellowing or browning, especially around the leaf edges.
How to Fix It
It’s not enough to set your thermostat to the desired temperature. You also have to eliminate hot and cold drafts throughout your home or office.
Keep the watermelon peperomia away from the fridge, which gives off heat when it’s closed and releases cool air when it’s open.
Drafty doors and windows can be another sore spot, as can ventilation systems. Sure, your house needs ‘em, but vents blow hours of hot or cold air per day that can leave the watermelon peperomia drooping.
Cause #7 – Diseases
An unhealthy watermelon peperomia becomes a lot likelier to wilt. Here are some diseases that can cause sagging leaves.
- Rhizoctonia leaf spot: The fungal disease Rhizoctonia leaf spot leads to lesions across plant foliage. The spots look wet and can spread to eventually reach the stem. You might also notice drooping leaves.
- Phyllostica leaf spot: Phyllostica leaf spot, another fungal disease, creates a different type of spot on the leaves of the watermelon peperomia. The spots look reddish or brownish and can also develop a water-soaked look. Affected leaves can sag.
- Sclerotium stem rot: The fungus Scherlotinia sclerotiorum causes sclerotium stem rot. White mold on the stems is the trademark symptom, but other signs include plant wilting, dry stems, and stem shedding.
- Fungal root rot: The aforementioned fungal root rot can weaken the entire structure of the watermelon peperomia, leading to sagging leaves, mushy stems, and dying roots.
How to Fix It
The treatment course for plant diseases varies. Fungal diseases may react well to fungicides, but not always. Sometimes, the best decision is quarantining your plant or even throwing it away and starting over.
Cause #8 – Pests
The watermelon peperomia attracts an assortment of pest species, including caterpillars, thrips, scale, spider mite, mealybugs, and fungus gnats.
Although each insect species differs wildly from one another, they all have one common goal: to feed on your plant.
When sucking up plant sap, the leaves become so drained they can no longer sustain themselves. They fail to hold themselves up, leading to drooping.
If you look at the undersides of the leaves, you may see trademark signs of a pest infestation such as white webs (in the case of spider mites) or a sticky secretion known as honeydew.
How to Fix It
First, you have to identify which pest has invaded the watermelon peperomia. Then you can devise an effective treatment and removal method.
Some pests come right off if you flick them by hand into a bucket. You can also blast pests off the peperomia with a garden hose. Just don’t use too much water pressure!
You can’t go wrong with dish soap and water in a spray bottle. You can always fortify that with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol instead of dish soap.
If you need a heavier-duty treatment still, neem oil and insecticide work.
Keep in mind that it can take days for a treatment to take effect, so have some patience and give these treatments time to work.