If you want an easy-care, attractive and fast-growing houseplant, then take a closer look here. The Baby Rubber Plant, with its thick, glossy green leaves, is just what you’ve been looking for. This is all about how to grow and care for a Peperomia obtusifolia.
I’ve already done a post and video on Peperomia care (all of them that I’ve grown have been easy) but wanted to do one dedicated solely to this succulent-like beauty. I live in the Sonoran Desert in Tucson and my 3 Peperomia obtusifolias thrive. If they can handle the dry climate here (where the humidity averages 25-29%), then they can handle the dry air in your home.
Quite a few of my houseplants (especially my Dracaenas) have brown tips due to the dry air. Mine have no brown tips at all. How great is that?!
This is used as a tabletop plant, in dish gardens & in terrariums. It would also be well suited to use in a houseplant living wall.
I’ve seen this sold as a plant which gets 12″ x 12″, usually in 4″ or 6″ grow pots. In my experience, it gets much wider. The mother plant growing in the white pot (in the lead photo & 2 below) has already been pruned & propagated 2 times.
It’s starting to meander & trail so I’m going to let it go for a while & see how wide it actually gets. Right now it’s 20″ wide but will really take off in a month as spring approaches. My Variegated Baby Rubber Plant (which is younger) grows in a more upright form.
You can always prune your Baby Rubber Plant if you want to keep it more compact & upright.
For me, the Baby Rubber Plant grows fast in bright, natural light. If the light conditions are lower than it prefers, the growth rate will be slower.
Even though this plant flowers (more on that towards the end), the deep green, glossy foliage & easy of care are its allure.
Peperomia Obtusifolia Care
There are numerous variegated forms of the Peperomia obtusifolia. If you have one of them, just know the care points in this post all apply. One difference: they need a bit more light to bring out & keep the beautiful variegation.
The Peperomia obtusifolia is no different than many other houseplants. It prefers & does best in bright natural light – moderate or medium. 1 of mine grows in my dining room 10′ away from a large bay window & the other in the guest bathroom beneath a skylight.
I’ve never grown it in lower light, but imagine it would tolerate lower to moderate conditions.
Just be sure to keep yours out of direct, hot sun as those thick, fleshy leaves will burn.
The variegated varieties of this plant need a bit more light.
Peperomia obtusifolias are succulent-like in that they store water in their thick fleshy leaves, stems & roots. You don’t want to over water this epiphytic plant because it’ll succumb to root rot.
I let mine go almost dry before watering again. In the summer it’s once a week & in winter, every 2-3 weeks.
I’ve recently posted a guide to watering indoor plants. This will help you in determining factors as to how often you water yours. I always tell you how often I water my specific houseplants so you have a guideline & can adjust the frequency to your conditions.
If your home’s comfortable for you, it’ll be so for your houseplants too. Just be sure to keep your Peperomias away from any cold drafts as well as air conditioning or heating vents.
Peperomias grow in humid environments in nature & love it. Because their root systems are small, they also collect water through their leaves.
I live in a dry desert climate so that’s why I wet the foliage every time other time I water the plant. I also put mine out in the rain a few times a year for some extra moisture & to clean the foliage off.
You could mist your Peperomia obtusifolia a couple of times a week if your home’s dry & you think it needs it. Another option would be to fill a saucer with small rock & water & then set the plant on top of that. The rock keeps the roots from submerging in the water.
Feeding / Fertilizer
I give most of my houseplants a light application of worm compost with a light layer of compost over that every spring. Easy does it – a 1/4″ layer of each is plenty for these smaller sized plants like the Baby Rubber Plant. You can read about how I worm compost/compost feed here.
I feed my Peperomias with Eleanor’s vf-11 in late spring, mid-summer & at the end of summer. We have a long growing season here & they appreciate the nutrients this plant food provides. Once or twice a year might do it for your plant. You can also put it in a spray bottle & use it for foliar feeding.
Whatever houseplant food you choose, don’t over-fertilize your Peperomia obtusifolia because salts build-up & can burn the roots of the plant. This shows up as brown spots on the leaves.
You want to avoid fertilizing any houseplant which is stressed, ie. bone dry or soaking wet.
Lastly, don’t fertilize houseplants in late fall or winter because this is their time for rest.
Soil / Repotting
Check the post & video that focuses on repotting peperomias along with the best time to do it, steps to take & the soil mix to use. In a nutshell, they like a rich, chunky, & well-draining mix.
Their root systems are small so they don’t need repotting often. I repot mine every 5 years to freshen the soil mix or if the roots are coming out the bottom. And, I only increase by 1 pot size; from 4″ to 6″ or 6″ or 8″.
Here’s a guide to the basics of repotting which will help you out, especially if you’re a beginning gardener.
I have to trim an occasional spent leaf off. The Baby Rubber Plant grows so fast that I’ve already pruned it a few times. The stems grow tall & heavy causing them to flop out of the pot. As I said above in “Size”, I’m letting the mother plant do its thing so I can see just how long those stems will get.
You can read how I pruned & propagated my Baby Rubber Plant here.
Peperomia obtusifolias propagate by stem cuttings (it very easy to do in water), by taking leaf cuttings &/or by dividing the plant.
You can see how I planted my Baby Rubber Plant cuttings here.
My Peperomia obtusifolias have never gotten any. Maybe that’s because I regularly spray the foliage & stems with water in my kitchen sink. I’ve heard they can be susceptible to mealybugs & spider mites.
As with any pests, be sure to keep your eye out for them & take control as soon as possible. They spread from houseplant to houseplant very quickly.
Safe for Pets
Hip hip hurray, the Peperomia obtusifolia is a plant which the ASPCA lists as non-toxic for both cats & dogs.
My 2 kitties don’t pay much if any attention to my many houseplants. If your pet likes to chew on plants, just know that chewing on this one could make he or she sick. But, it’s not toxic.
Covering the highlights of Baby Rubber Plant Care:
They aren’t like other flowers & you could actually mistake them for a new leaf emerging. All the flowers on mine have been greenish. There’s a picture of a Baby Rubber Plant flower spike in this post towards the end.
No. It’s commonly called a succulent-like plant but it isn’t classified as a succulent. It might be easy to think that because it stores water in its leaves, stems & roots, just like succulents do.
Yes it can in. I had a Peperomia Red Edge & a Variegated Peperomia obtusifolia growing outdoors year round in my Santa Barbara garden. They grew in pots in bright shade in a garden full of bromeliads & succulents.
Santa Barbara has mild winters (zone 10a & 10b) & I lived 7 blocks from the beach, not in the hills where it got a bit colder at night. I grow my Peperomias indoors here in Tucson because the winter evenings are colder & the summers are much hotter.
You can put your Peperomia outside for the summer but just make sure it doesn’t get any direct, hot sun. And, take it back inside when the evenings start to dip into the 50’s.
It depends on the Peperomia. Some stay shorter than others & some trail. Peperomia obtusifolia, which I’m writing about here, is 1 of the taller ones that I’ve grown.
My Peperomia obtusifolia in the white ceramic pot stands about 13″ tall. Some of the stems are starting to trail & grow outward as they get top heavy. My Variegated Peperomia obtusifolia which grows in a dish garden is now over 16″ tall & is more upright.
Peperomia obtusifolias are the only Peperomias I’ve rooted in water. I had the 2nd batch of cuttings I took from the mother plant in water for almost 6 months. I’m not sure how long they’d grow in water for the long haul though.
You sure can. Because they’re native to tropical climates, they’d love it. It’s best to avoid misting them at night.
I’ll talk about the Peperomia obtusifolia here. That would most commonly be due to lack of water.
Conversely, don’t water it too often. If the stems are mushy, the cause would be too much water.
I bought all mine at local garden centers. You can find them for sale online at Steve’s Leaves, Etsy, Taylor Greenhouses, Amazon, & more by searching “peperomia obtusifolia for sale”.
This is a wonderful plant to start with if you’re a beginning houseplant gardener. Or, if you’re someone like me who has many other plants to maintain both indoors and out, easy care Peperomia obtusifolias are the ticket. They’re such an attractive plant and propagate in a snap. Just think of all the cuttings you’ll be able to share!
Want to learn more about houseplants? Take a look at these articles too!
- How to Clean Houseplants
- Office Plants for Your Desk
- Where to Buy Indoor Plants Online
- Easy Tabletop and Hanging Houseplants
You can find more houseplant info in my simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive
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