Visiting family in Florida this summer has been an adventure in discovering tropical horticulture. One plant I noticed immediately, upon walking in the neighborhood, was a large border shrub that looked uncannily like one of my favorite container tropicals because of its waxy thick leaves with creamy varigation, the Peperomia acuminata. (Below in a hypertufa container with a 2" interior diameter):
|Peperomia acuminata (2" leaves)|
Having done some research I discovered that there is indeed a Pepermomia magnoliifolia 'varigata' that is known to grow in the tropics (including Florida), also known as Desert Privet, Spoonleaf Peperomia
|Pepermomia magnofolia 'varigata' (12 -18" leaves)|
More than 1500 species have been recorded, occurring in all tropical and subtropical regions of the world, though concentrated to Central America and northern South America. A limited number of species (around 17) are found in Africa.
These tropical perennials are grown for their ornamental foliage.They are mostly natives of tropical America. They vary considerably in appearance. Some have threadlike, trailing stems and some have fleshy, stout stems. The leaves are smooth and fleshy and may be oval with the leafstalk at or near the center of the leaf blade, or they may be heart-shaped or lance-shaped; their size varies. They may be green or striped, marbled or bordered with pale green, red or gray, and the petioles of some kinds are red.
Peperomias are grown for their ornamental foliage and sometimes for their attractive flowers (Peperomia fraseri). Except for the succulent species, they are generally easy to grow in a greenhouse. Different species (e.g. Peperomia caperata) and cultivars are found in the trade.