The Peperomia Obtusifolia or baby rubber plant is a common ornamental plant because of its fleshy and bushy succulent-like foliage. It is fast-growing and easy to care for, giving you a quick start to your houseplant hobby. Because of its widespread adoption in homes and offices, it has acquired several common names, including hanging peperomia, baby rubber plant, pepper face plant, and American rubber plant.
To grow a Peperomia Obtusifolia, keep in mind the following tips:
- Water at most once a week in summer but allow the soil to dry completely before the next watering session.
- It prefers an average room temperature of 65ºF – 75ºF (18ºC – 24ºC).
- Keep it under indirect bright light.
- It requires a rich potting mixture. Peat-based potting moisture will be sufficient.
A native of South America, the Peperomia Obtusifolia grows off the debris of other trees in high humidity and will thrive on nutrients provided by the natural forest environment. However, you need to provide extra care indoors or when growing it on a flowerbed in your compound. Here are specific areas to watch to get the best glossy foliage from the pepper face plant.
Basic Care guidelines for Peperomia Obtusifolia
The green and fleshy leaves of the baby rubber plant can make you feel like the plant requires a lot of water. However, the truth is that the leaves tend to store enough water to survive during the dry period. Minimal watering is needed to keep the plant healthy.
Water sparingly while allowing the soil to drain thoroughly before adding more water. Too much water will result in soggy soil that causes root rot and other bacterial as well as fungal infections. Remember, saturated soil will eventually kill the plant.
Reduce watering during winter. In fact, the leaves will have stored sufficient water and only require moderate amounts once or twice a month. Do not be too concerned about dry soil in winter unless your pepper face is beginning to wilt.
The Peperomia Obtusifolia grows and will appreciate in humid forests such an environment. The small roots mean that the plant has to collect water through the leaves. Provide a moist environment where such water can be found.
Mist the leaves regularly and allow the leaves to remain wet for a while. If the weather is too dry like summer and you do not want to mist the plant directly, then place a pebble tray at the foot of the plant. Natural evaporation will provide the humidity required to support optimal growth.
The Pepper Face Plant also loves grouping because it aids in trapping sufficient humidity. Keep the plant away from vent ducts because they leave the air around too dry. If humidity levels are not satisfactory, you may use an automatic humidifier.
The best potting mix for baby rubber plant is peat-based because it drains well. Mix 2 parts peat with 1 part sand or perlite. Your target should be to get well-aerated soil that also drains well.
The soil affects the frequency of watering and the availability of nutrients to the roots. Fertile organic soil is recommended during potting because it drains well, is well-aerated, and will release nutrients slowly as the compost decomposes. Baby rubber plant requires a small quantity of soil because of its tiny root system.
The deep green foliage of the pepper face plant is showy and prefers bright light. If you are dealing with the variegated variety, several additional hours of sunlight can help in enhancing its beauty. Moreover, the variegation will be lost in the absence of sufficient light.
The Pepper face plant can still tolerate moderate light found indoors. The low light intensity only alters the depth of the green color on the leaves. It means that you can grow the plant in your bathroom as long as you enhance brightness using fluorescent lighting. However, too much light will cause the leaves to turn pale.
The plant may be confused with other varieties in the same family. Unfortunately, the leaves fall off from scalding by the sun, and the damage may be irreparable, leading to the eventual loss of the plant.
The Peperomia Obtusifolia does well in a temperature range between 65ºF and 75ºF (18ºC to 24ºC). Such temperatures are what you would expect in an ordinary home minus the dry air. However, your pepper face plant will survive slightly lower and slightly higher temperatures based on other conditions like humidity and soil moisture.
Very low temperatures will damage the roots and leaves of your peperomia plant. Do not allow the plant to remain in an environment where temperatures fall below 50ºF (10ºC). Nor should you leave it where there is a cold draft. Moreover, do not place the plant near air conditioning vents because of the draft generated by these systems.
Advanced Care for Peperomia Obtusifolia
The dark green and fleshy looking foliage of a baby rubber plant can only be achieved by giving attention to minute care needs. For some varieties, the leaves will show appreciation through variegated leaves.
If you want to tinker your plant into producing adorable, eye-catching foliage, here are a few more areas you need to work on:
Apply diluted liquid fertilizer once every two weeks between spring and summer. The plant will still thrive if you apply the fertilizer once every month. Because autumn and winter are dormant months, fertilization is not required.
Compost is also an excellent addition to your potting plant. The nutrients are released slowly such that your plant will not be choked. Even when using compost, avoid application in winter and autumn because the plant remains dormant. Foliar feeding is also a recommended option.
However, overfeeding the peperomia obtusifolia will be disastrous because it tends to burn the roots and causes a chemical buildup in the potting mixture. Brown spots will appear on the leaves, and the plant will eventually wilt. Always choose fertilizers rich in nitrogen to boost foliage growth.
Trim the spent leaves occasionally, especially when they begin to turn yellow. Pruning may also be used to control the growth of your plant so that it does not outgrow the pot or garden you have prepared. Begin by removing the old leaves and stalks that are damaging the appearance of your plant.
Use a sharp knife to cut the stalks. You can also use it to clip them at the nodes. It will ease the healing of the cuts and protect the plant from wilting. Target the old stalks with no leaves or those that missed flowering because they are a burden to the entire plant.
Prune during spring and summer because the warm weather will speed up recovery. These seasons also come with a bright light that encourages foliage growth. Still, you may prune your peperomia any time of the year because it grows throughout the year.
Peperomia Obtusifolia has a small root system that will save you from regular repotting or potting up. It might take 3 or 4 years before you think of repotting unless the foliage has outgrown the current pot. In this case, a small pot will not be a problem for your plant and will not stop the foliage from thriving.
Also, repotting is sometimes done to enhance soil quality or change it after contamination with chemicals during fertilization. Remember, you will change the potting mixture without enlarging the size of the container. Even the largest peperomia remains relatively small and with an even smaller root system.
Repotting can be done at any time of the year, but preferably during spring and summer. Such timing gives your plant sufficient time to recover and grow beautiful foliage. Use fresh soil to enhance its fertility, chemical balance, and control incidences of root rot.
The baby rubber plant is best propagated using cuttings. Cut the tip of the vines and leave a stalk with about 2-3 leaves. Place the cutting in a pot with freshly mixed soil enhanced with organic compost.
The cutting may also be propagated by placing it on a potting solution. The rooting solution should be enhanced with foliar or rooting hormones if you want a fast-growing plant. Keep the water at a warm temperature of about 20ºC or 68ºF.
Leaf propagation is also an option when dealing with peperomia obtusifolia. Allow the cut leaf or stem to dry before putting it in the propagation soil. When propagating the variegated varieties, using the leaf may cause your plant to lose the variegation.
Pests are not a significant problem for peperomia obtusifolia plants. However, you may have to deal with fungal diseases resulting from overwatering. Excess humidity may also result in bacteria-related diseases and infections. Keep the leaves dry to prevent mites and scales from perching on the surface.
Spider mites and mealybugs could also pose a challenge but are easy to clear by cleaning the leaves and keeping them dry. Watch out for yellow and dying leaves because they could be signaling the presence of pests or diseases.
Top Peperomia Obtusifolia Varieties
More than 1000 peperomia varieties exist, each with its unique beauty and the ability to tolerate different climatic conditions.
To help you choose the best plant for your home or office, we have compiled a list of top peperomia varieties and how to identify them. They include:
- Peperomia Obtusifolia variegata– the plant is native to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Florida. It is commonly referred to as pepper face or baby rubber plant. It has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for its beauty and ease to care.
- Peperomia Obtusifolia Greengold- the variety is short but grows broadly on the pot. It is variegated glossy and perfect for hanging gardens. Moreover, it appreciates bright light and will grow to a height of 30 cm.
- Peperomia Obtusifolia Alba- it produces leaves that resemble pure ivory that will eventually fade into pale lime. These leaves are glossy and jade green with the stalks coming with reddish petioles.
- Peperomia Obtusifolia Albo Marginata Hummel White Cloud- this evergreen and small-statured plant has fleshy and variegated foliage made of yellow and smooth emerald green leaves. You will notice that the plant loves a scrambling and spreading growth pattern. It also loves well-drained soil and an adequately shaded garden.
Frequently Asked Questions about Peperomia Obtusifolia
Is Peperomia Obtusifolia a succulent?
The appearance makes it easy to refer to peperomia obtusifolia as a succulent. Though the leaves are thick and slightly luscious, the plant prefers more water and a humid environment than many succulent varieties. From experience, this is a compact, relatively easy, and attractive plant to grow.
How big do peperomia Obtusifolia plants grow?
In the wild, baby rubber plants can grow up to 3 feet tall and trail up to 6 inches. However, the size will depend on several factors, including the quality of care provided, lighting, and pruning habits. Pruning the tips of the vines results in a shorter but lush plant. Removing old leaves results in longer vines and a taller baby rubber plant.
Do peperomia plants have flowers?
Yes. The flowers come in cordlike spikes that could pass unnoticed. The flowers are white, cream, or pink. Others may be anything between yellow and brown. The flowers will appear in spring and summer and last between 3-4 weeks before falling off. However, the foliage is equally colorful and is the main reason why peperomias are grown indoor.
Does peperomia plant purify the air?
Research indicates that peperomia plants purify the air indoors or around the garden. The leaves reduce formaldehyde levels by up to 47%. This is one of the most common pollutants you will find indoor. Beyond beauty, the plant will give you a healthier indoor space.
Why are my peperomia leaves turning yellow?
The first suspect could be water. Overwatering and underwatering have a similar effect on your peperomia plant. Since it does not like a lot of water, many of the potted peperomia plants will turn yellow because of waterlogged soil.
Repot the plant using porous and adequately drained soil. Keep the saucers free of excess water to promote drainage. In the garden, do not plant peperomias where irrigation or rainwater accumulates.
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