Peperomia obtusifolia snapped main stem

(Question)

Climate zone Fayetteville NY. Direct sun 1pm to 6pm, adjusted high-low with venetian blinds. Soil: perlite, vermiculite, Promix. A Peperomia O. circular growth, 34″ width, 18″ inches wide and 12″ high. A very fecund plant with large everything.
The main stem, when lifted, broke off at the soil line on September 10th. I put it in a large plastic bag (semi-transparent), and rolled up the open end to minimize moisture loss; airing it out for a few minutes each day. Five days ago, I placed it in a deep 36″ clear Sterilite storage tub, and placed the top on, unlocked, and partially opened it for a few hours a day; draping damp paper towels along the sides. I’ve been trying all along to read about cuttings, and calling and visiting greenhouses to ask skilled people to come to my home for a few hours, show me what to do, and buy the appropriate pots and potting media, with an offer of $300. First, most greenhouses are shut down, or converted to holiday stuff, in Onondaga County; second, are concerned about possible pathogen infections to their flora, and third, they do not go to homes except for landscaping business. I think placing Peper in that tub has drained too much moisture from it, the leaves are curling, some severely. Propagating stem tip cuttings, leaves and lower stem cuttings, doing my best, will be too late for most of the plant if I can’t keep it hydrated meanwhile. I am thinking of place it in the bathtub and using a rosette watering can with tepid water to drench Peper, place it on a workbench with no direct sun for an hour, then place it back in the original plastic. What is your advice on this? Who can make an intervention? Do you know any skilled plant people in CNY? Yes, Peper means a lot to me.

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto master gardeners with your inquiry.

The fact that the main stem was snapped from the roots is why the leaves are beginning to curl. The faster you can get the plant to pull roots the better since the majority of water uptake for the plant is through their root system.

Many plants, particularly those from tropical regions, can be propagated from leaf cuttings and this plant is no exception. Fill a small 3-3 1/2”pot with sterilized potting mix and make a small hole in the middle. Remove a leaf from the plant , trim the petiole back to about 25-50mm long then dip the base in a powder  rooting hormone, available from your local garden centre. Place the petiole in the hole and firm the leaf into place so that it will remain standing up.

When the pot is complete,water it and cover it with a tent of clear plastic film to maintain humidity and store it in a bright warm place out of direct sunlight. Check the cutting weekly for resistance when pulled. Transplant once roots have formed.

Peperomia can also be propagated by tip cutting, which, as the name suggests, includes a growing tip. Tip cuttings can be made from a main stem or sides shoot. Similar to leaf cuttings fill a small 3-3 1/2”pot with sterilized potting mix and make a small hole in the middle A tip cutting is usually comprised of the tip bud and a length of stem that possesses at least two pair of leaves.

Remove the lowest pair of leaves from the cutting and then with a sharp clean knife, trim the stem to just below the node. Once again, dip the end in a powder  rooting hormone then follow directions as for leaf cuttings.

You might be interested in this article from the Missouri Botanical Garden on the general care of this lovely plant.