Peperomia obtusifolia - commonly known as baby rubber plant or pepper face plant - is a popular choice as a hanging garden plant, shaded ground cover, or low profile houseplant. It has thick, deep green leaves on vines with a substantial growth rate. If cared for correctly, they can grow 3 to 4 feet a year! Below, we'll discuss everything you need to know to care for your Peperomia obtusifolia and baby rubber plant care tips to enjoy those long vines.
What Is Peperomia Obtusifolia?
Peperomia obtusifolia is an evergreen plant from the subtropical rainforests of Central America and South America. Available in both green and variegated varieties, the dark, fleshy leaves reach up to 4 inches long. A single plant will fill a 12-inch space and send out branching vines that can grow quickly! Feel free to trim them as your space dictates. Peperomia obtusifolia also puts out spikes of small white flowers, and those flowers are small. However - baby rubber plants are sought out for their foliage, not their blooms.
Peperomia Obtusifolia Care Requirements
Like many tropical plants, the native environment of the baby rubber plant would have it growing under the canopy of the rainforest. This means that it needs bright indirect light with some direct sunlight, and an east-facing window or porch would be ideal!
If you place Peperomia obtusifolia in direct sun, you'll see the leaves grow pale and thin. In fact, it's better to give them low light rather than direct light. This solid green Peperomia variety can handle low light conditions for months without putting the plant under stress. However, the variegated type may lose variegation if enough light is not provided. The variegated variety will need more bright light to thrive since its leaves contain less chlorophyll.
One look at the thick, fleshy leaves of the baby rubber plant confirms that it's succulent. These types of plants store water in their leaves so they can go a long time between waterings.
Root rot caused by excessive watering can happen quickly if you water the Peperomia obtusifolia as if it were a regular plant! Water it moderately during the summer and even less frequently during the winter. It should never be sitting in wet soil.
Peperomia plants grow well in the typical indoor temperature range, from 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep it away from air vents or cold drafts, or it may start to drop a few leaves.
Baby rubber plants grow in humid forests, so you'll need to boost the humidity of the air around them if you keep one as a houseplant!
Place your Peperomia obtusifolia among other house plants. Plants naturally increase the air's humidity, so grouping many humidity-loving houseplants together will help.
Place your Peperomia obtusifolia pot on a water tray. This tray should be bigger than your plant pot, and it's filled with pebbles, which you then add water to, and do not fill it above the top of the pebbles. Place your plant pot on top of the pebble and ensure no water is touching. As the water evaporates from the tray, it will create a humidity bubble around the plant.
Mist the leaves and air around your baby rubber plant regularly.
Run a humidifier. While you don't want to turn your house into a rainforest, a humidifier can help during the dry winter months - for both you and your plant!
Rubber plants grow best in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Its natural habitat would consist of soil rich in the nutrients of tree debris. Start with any fresh potting mix, and then mix in an equal amount of compost or other dense organic matter.
Peperomia obtusifolia doesn't have an extensive root system. So, it doesn't need frequent fertilizing. You can fertilize it monthly during the spring and summer with a diluted liquid fertilizer, but no need to fertilize it during the winter months.
Baby rubber plants propagate easily by using leaf cuttings or stem tip cuttings from a mother plant. This should be done in the spring, and the process is the same for either propagation method - it just depends on if you're cutting off a leaf or a longer length of the stem. Here is the process for the stem cutting method:
Use clean, sharp garden shears or a knife to cut a length of stem at least 3 inches long. Make sure that there are a minimum of two pairs of leaves on that stem cutting!
Remove the lowest pair of leaves, and then dip the cutting into a rooting hormone. While not necessary, it does help new roots form quicker and more strongly.
Fill a pot with an equal mixture of peat moss and either sand or perlite. Plant the cutting into the pot.
Cover the pot with a plastic bag to increase humidity, and keep the temperature at 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep watering until you see new growth!
Thankfully, the baby rubber plant doesn't have too many pest or disease problems to contend with. Here's what to keep an eye out for:
Red Spider Mites
These suck the juices out of the thick leaves. You'll know you have a spider mite problem if you notice leaves turning yellow and drying out. Use neem oil or another insecticide to treat the infestation, and start misting your plant regularly to keep them from returning.
Blisters on the leaves signify that you're giving your Peperomia obtusifolia too much water. Those leaves can store a lot of water, but don't overdo it!
If you notice leaves dropping, your plant is too cold. Bring it inside if the seasons are changing. If your baby rubber plant is a house plant, check for air vents or cold drafts.
Is Peperomia Obtusifolia Pet Friendly?
Yes, Peperomia obtusifolia is safe to have around cats and dogs. However, keep in mind that other "rubber plants" are toxic to animals, so double-check the identification of your plant!