August can bring some of the hottest days of summer, and while we like to cool off with ice cream or frozen treats, it's a good time to bring into our homes a chill houseplant as well. For the peak of summer, nothing would do better than a Watermelon Peperomia plant (Peperomia argyreia). No, this isn't a fruit to grow in your garden, but a decorative foliage plant with wide leaves patterned like the rind of a watermelon. Charm guaranteed.
About the Watermelon Peperomia Plant
The Watermelon Peperomia is considerably smaller than a melon, but it carries a powerful punch thanks to its undeniably decorative leaves. A native of South America, this tropical evergreen houseplant grows to 15 inches tall and produces large, delightfully patterned leaves on red, upright stems. Each fleshy leaf displays an outstanding swirl of green and silver wavy stripes reminiscent of a watermelon rind.
While these colorful plants can be installed in a shade garden in very warm regions, they make stand-out displays indoors in any hardiness zone. The cheery leaves are their draw, but the plants also produce small white flowers in summer, rising on creamy stalks.
Love the look but need an even smaller houseplant? Try the dwarf version of the Watermelon Peperomia. It has the same awesome leaves but tops out at 6 inches.
Where to Find
Despite their exotic look, Watermelon Peperomias shouldn't be too hard to find. Many stores with garden sections carry Peperomia plants, including Walmart and Lowes, but if you are planning on shopping in person, call ahead to see if Watermelon Peperomia is in stock. City dwellers may also find them in any large plant store.
If you are shopping online, you'll have even more choices. We like the plants available from Bloomscape that come in your choice of pot color. Other online sites include Terrain, Woodies Garden Goods, and Etsy. (Etsy offers whole plants, plus a selection of cuttings at very reasonable prices — all you have to do is install them in your own pot.)
Despite their extremely showy look, Watermelon Peperomias are so easy to care for you might gift one to a total houseplant beginner. In the wild, these are understory plants in the tropics, so a shady spot in a bright room — for example, sitting back from a west-facing window — will get them the sun exposure they require.
Excellent drainage is the ticket to keeping the Watermelon Peperomia happy, so select a pot with lots of drain holes and use well-draining soil. It's easy to mix up your own with two parts peat to one part perlite.
Water is also important to the health of this houseplant and too much will rot it. When to water? Wait until the top inch or so of soil is dry, then give the plant a generous drink, letting the excess run out in the sink. Feed the plant a diluted, liquid fertilizer every few weeks during the growing season.
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From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.