The American Baby Rubber Plant, also known as Peperomia obtusifolia, is a popular houseplant known for its low-maintenance care and ability to thrive in a variety of conditions. It is a small, compact plant with glossy, dark green leaves that resemble rubber.
Baby Rubber Plants are native to the rainforests of South America, but they are easy to grow indoors. They prefer bright, indirect light, but they can tolerate low-light conditions as well. They are also drought-tolerant, so they are a good choice for busy plant parents.
Baby Rubber Plants are air-purifying plants, so they can help to improve the air quality in your home. They are also non-toxic to pets, so your mischievous cat is safe, making them a safe choice for homes with furry friends.
Here are some tips for caring for your American Baby Rubber Plant:
- Water your plant deeply when the soil is completely dry.
- Fertilize your plant once a month during the growing season (spring and summer) with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength.
- High humidity is a plus. Mist your plant occasionally, especially if the air in your home is dry.
- Repot your plant every 2-3 years, or when it outgrows its pot.
Native to South America, the Peperomia obtusifolia is a perennial flowering epiphyte plant species. In its natural habitat, it grows within high-humidity forest areas making use of the nutrients provided by tree debris and the natural tropical environment.
There are a number of cultivars, including the dark green leaves, variegated, and the Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Albomarginata’ that displays yellowy gold and green patched leaves.
The primary attraction of an ornamental plant is foliage, and its growth habit is bushy in appearance. Glossy pelate leaves with petioles grow close to the main stems that are partly rounded and grow a few centimeters in length. Leaves have a fleshy succulent look and feel about them, and the thin stems are non-woody. So, most will grow up to 25 – 30 cm in height and must be pinched out at the tips to direct, stop and encourage growth.
The baby rubber plant can flower that is non-showy. White flower spikes with small white flowers may appear from spring-fall that grow 8 cm in height above the leaves, but as mentioned, they are non-showy and not the attractive feature of this Peperomia.
Care level and growing
Most of the Peperomias are easy enough to grow indoors and in containers including. Humidity and light are important.
Windowsills, greenhouses, and conservatories are ideal places to display this plant. Light is an important factor to consider when finding a spot indoors to grow a Peperomia obtusifolia.
|Baby rubber plant, American rubber plant, Pepper face plant (common). Peperomia obtusifolia (botanical/scientific).
|Max Growth (approx):
|25 – 30 cm tall.
|Poisonous for pets:
|Non-toxic to cats and dogs.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Albomarginata’
Peperomia obtusifolia Care
|Ideal temperatures of 65-75ºF (18-24ºC), and no lower than 50ºF (10ºC).
|Bright light and, for the variegated types, some direct sunlight (a couple of hours) can help them grow well. So, if the leaves are dark green in color, it’s best not to provide direct sun as it will harm them, but the variegated types may lose variegation if enough light is not provided. South, east, or west-facing windows are best suited, depending on the leaf color.
|The baby rubber plant is fairly easy to water. Allow the topsoil to dry out completely, and then water thoroughly. You do not want to overwater this plant and allow the soil to become waterlogged….so it might be best to lean towards less rather than too much when you first start growing Peperomias, as less harm can be caused compared to overwatering.
During winter, water sparingly as the thick leaves will store water, so don’t get too concerned about the soil is dry.
|A peat-based soil that drains well is best. 2 parts peat and 1 part perlite or sand is a good mix. Also, other mixes will work well, but the main point is for the medium to drain well and be well aerated.
|You will not need to repot or pot up a size very often, as this plant has a small root system. So, it’s a good idea to change the soil or at least the top soil annually, and if a young plant has outgrown its current pot, you may repot a size up during spring. Better to lean towards a smaller pot than a pot too large to prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged. Shallow pots are a good option for Peperomias.
|During spring – while the plant is growing, use a diluted liquid fertilizer once every two weeks and once a month during summer. No feeding is required from autumn to spring
|This species does like a humid environment. During the warmer months, you can mist the leaves and/or place the plant on a pebble tray with water at the bottom. So, most homes should be fine with their natural humidity if the air is not dry.
|An easy method to propagate is to take a few centimeters of stem tip cuttings. Remove a tip (petiole) with about 5 – 8 cm of the tip with one or two leaves on it. Plant the cutting in a very small pot with moist potting mix, and try to provide warm temperatures of about 20ºC (68ºF), and plenty of bright light (warmth and light is the key to success). So, you may want to use a rooting hormone on the cut being planted.
The baby rubber plant can also propagate with leaf cuttings, although variegated types may lose the variegation. Also, you may want to experiment and try a few leaves and stem tips to see what propagation method works best for you. I would allow leaves or stem tip cuttings a day to dry until planted. So, wait for new growth and be careful not to overwater the move a pot size up once plenty of growth has happened.
|If stems and leaves begin overgrowing, you can pinch out the top of certain stems to stop growth. Otherwise, they begin to grow spindly and out of shape in appearance. So, to get them looking their best, try and grow and prune them to display a bushy appearance.
These are the potential problems in planting American Baby Rubber Plant.
The most common cause when a plant begins wilting is lack of water. Too much sunlight and over-fertilizing may also cause wilting. Limp leaves and stems may also be a sign of overwatering, but it would be easy to distinguish between too much or too little water by checking the soil.
Pests – Diseases
Pests do not seem to be a major issue for Peperomias, but fungal diseases can be troublesome that may be caused when the plant is overwatered.
Leaves losing variegation/color
The most common cause is lack of light, although lack of fertilizer could cause loss of color.
A lack of light or fertilizer may cause the plant not flowering.
Sudden Leaf Drop
A sudden drop in temperatures is a likely cause and/or overwatering.
Frequently Asked Questions
The root system on this plant is fairly small and doesn’t grow overly fast, so you shouldn’t need to repot them regularly. Once a year should be fine, but make sure to replace the topsoil. If you’re unsure, it’s better to keep them in small pots to prevent any waterlogging.
You can use fertilizer once every two weeks during spring and once a month during summer. So, don’t feed it anything else for the rest of the year.
No – this plant is completely safe for children and pets, so you can leave position them anywhere you want in the house. However, you may want to remember that consumption of any houseplant (toxic or not) can cause vomiting or diarrhea in pets. Although it is unlikely with this one, it’s something to bear in mind.
This plant can live for at least six years if cared for properly. Remember, you can extend this lifespan through propagation.
Yes, it is. Although not as obvious as other plant varieties, research has shown that their leaves can reduce formaldehyde levels by 47%. Formaldehyde is one of the most common indoor air pollutants, so the baby rubber plant can really help clean your space.
Yes – this plant is one of the best to start out with. It’s easy to care for, looks great and has plenty of health benefits too.
The Peperomia obtusifolia is a super attractive houseplant that comes in various sizes, shapes, and colours, so they’re fully customizable to your space. They’re well-known for their foliage, so if you’re looking for pretty flowers, give this one a miss.
The baby rubber plant isn’t overly fussy about its light and water needs, but they grow best in bright rooms. Be sure to keep it away from the windowsills, though, these plants don’t like direct sunlight, and it’ll fade their luscious green leaves! Water the Peperomia obtusifolia when the topsoil has dried out, and then water it thoroughly. However, less is more with these plants, so if you’re nervous about the amount of water you’re giving your baby rubber plant, remember more harm can be caused by overwatering it!
Because of its tropical origins, this plant loves the humidity. So, feel free to mist the leaves during the summer months or purchase a humidifier if the air in your house is particularly dry. However, the air in most houses should be fine naturally.
The ideal temperature for the baby rubber plant is between 18°C and 26°C, so room temperature should help this one grow nicely. Just make sure you position this plant away from drafts or any other temperature changes; it prefers consistency.
The Peperomia obtusifolia is a great little plant if you want a pretty, green addition to your home without the effort. These plants are very chilled out, it’s hard to go wrong with this one!
Elyssa Goins is an experienced house plant hobbyist who maintains over a hundred plants. She is a gardener, beekeeper, and a proud mother of four. She is a member of the American Horticultural Society, has a published study in the National Social Science Association, and loves to talk about her love of plants. For the past twenty years, she’s been all about growing and caring for various fruits, veggies, herbs, livestock, kids, and houseplants. Managing a big garden to feed four growing kids and raising dairy goats has taught her so much about being an excellent plant parent and now is her time to share with you.