Peperomia obtusifolia (commonly known as the Baby Rubber Plant or American Rubber Plant) is a stunning and unique houseplant from the Piperaceae (pepper) family. It is native to South America where it can be found in tropical rainforest habitats.
Lucky for us, this houseplant is relatively common and easy to find in many nurseries. However, the variegated variety of Peperomia may be more difficult to come across.
- How big do Peperomia obtusifolia variegata get?
- Do Peperomia obtusifolia need lots of light?
- How often should you water Peperomia obtusifolia?
- What kind of soil and pot should you use for Peperomia obtusifolia?
- Peperomia obtusifolia problems and issues
- How to propagate Peperomia obstusifolia variegata
Its attractive foliage and rounded leaves bears some resemblance to succulents, but it is actually considered a semi-succulent. The leaves are thick and glossy green with lighter stripes or patches of grayish-green on the underside, which gives the plant a two-toned appearance.
The thick leaves actually hold onto water, allowing the plant’s soil to dry out a bit more than some other common houseplants. This popular houseplant is easy to care for and can thrive in a variety of home or office settings.
When picking out your plant, you’ll want to find one that looks firm and compact with as few damaged leaves as possible. It is not uncommon to find some yellow or dropped leaves on your new plant after purchasing. Peperomia obtusifolia is also non-toxic to animals, so it’s a great addition any household with furry friends.
Fun fact: these plants are also known as radiator plants. It is speculated they were given this nickname because they like dry/bright spots (like above your radiator on the windowsill).
How big do Peperomia obtusifolia variegata get?
These houseplants are slow-growing and typically do not exceed 10-12 inches in height. They also make great hanging plants as their trails can drape over the sides of pots. As far as houseplants go, they’re considered a small variety and work well in 6″ pots. Or, you can plant multiple plants in a larger pot for a fuller appearance.
Do Peperomia obtusifolia need lots of light?
Peperomia obtusifolia is unfussy when it comes to light. You can place this houseplant anywhere in the home that receives medium/bright indirect sunlight. It does not like to placed in direct sunlight as the leaves can burn.
In lower light locations, the plant will survive, but it will not thrive or grow as quickly. It is also worth noting that the Peperomia obtusifolia variegata may lose its variegation if light levels are too low. This is completely normal, but not reversible on existing leaves.
How often should you water Peperomia obtusifolia?
Determining how often to water Peperomia obtusifolia depends on the temperature, the plants location, and the time of year. Generally, plants need a bit more water when the temperatures rise, or if its placed in a sunnier location. When it comes to watering, this plant is very forgiving as it holds a backup supply of water in the leaves.
For this plant, watering 2-3x a month should be sufficient in most environments. Allow the top of the the plant to dry out between waterings. You can also use fertilizer 1x a month, or 2x a month during the summer when the growth rate increases.
Get in the habit of lifting your plants to assess the weight of the soil and whether they need water. While most houseplants do not fare well with overwatering, this one is especially sensitive to it. So, err on the dry side with your Peperomia obstusifolia.
Watering tip: Try the taco method! If you’re not sure whether your Peperomia needs water, try gently folding one of the leaves. If the leaf is stiff, it likely does not need water. When the plant needs water, it will fold more easily (like a taco). It is worth noting that unhealthy (overwatered) leaves will appear mushy, as will the base of the stem.
What kind of soil and pot should you use for Peperomia obtusifolia?
These houseplants do best in clay pots as they are very porous. When choosing a soil, you’ll want to pot your Peperomia in a very well-draining mix. I suggest equal amounts of potting soil, perlite, and orchid bark. When watering this plant, you want the soil to drain very quickly, ensuring that moisture is retained.
Peperomia obtusifolia problems and issues
Peperomia obtusifolia are relatively easy to care for and very resistant to disease and pests. However, no houseplant is completely free of issues and there are a few things that may happen.
- Leaves dropping or becoming discolored: Typically this happens when the plant is overwatered. Allow the soil to dry out before watering again. These plants like to be on the dry side. Leaf drop can also happen when the plant is becoming acclimated to its new environment.
- Dull leaves with fading color: If you notice the color on your Peperomia obtusifolia fading, it may be receiving too much light. Move it to a shadier spot or further away from the window and see how it does.
- Peperomia obtusifolia losing variegation: If you notice your plant reverting back to green, try snipping off that branch and then giving the whole plant more light. After the leaves have reverted, the process is not reversible. But, if you catch it soon enough you can prevent the whole plant from reverting back.
How to propagate Peperomia obstusifolia variegata
Propagating Peperomia obtusifolia is a breeze and does not require any special equipment or previous experience. All you need is a sharp knife or pair of scissors, a rooting hormone (optional), and some potting mix or water.
Methods to propagate Peperomia obtusifolia
Stem cuttings: Start by snipping off a 4-6 inch stem cutting (right above the leaf line) with several leaves still attached. Make sure to sterilize your tools before cutting. A simple wipe of alcohol will do. Remove the lower leaves on the cutting.
Dip each cutting in a rooting hormone before potting to increase its chances of success. This step is optional. When you planting your cuttings, use either moist soil or water. If using water, fill up a container with fresh room-temperature water and place the cuttings in the water. Change the water every few days.
Once your cuttings have taken root and the leaves are healthy, you can transplant them into individual pots filled with a potting mix. Place your new plants in an area with bright indirect sunlight and keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Leaf cuttings: Start by taking a single leaf, making sure to cut away any excess stem. Dip the leaf in rooting hormone and then place it on top of moist soil or water. You can also bury part of the cutting in soil if you prefer. Keep it warm, bright and humid while it takes root.
There are many different Peperomia varieties to choose from, and the variegated Peperomia obtusifolia makes a great addition to any plant collection. With their beautiful foliage and unfussy care requirements, they add a splash of life to any indoor space!