Peperomia obtusifolia

American Baby Rubber Plant

Peperomia obtusifolia is commonly known as the American rubber plant, baby rubber plant and pepper face plant that's from a large genus of over a 1000 species and many cultivars of the Peperomia.



Description

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 from tree debris and the natural tropical environment.

There are a number of cultivars including the dark green leaved, variegated and the Peperomia obtusifolia 'Albomarginata' that displays yellowy gold and green patched leaves.

Foliage: The primary attraction as an ornamental plant is the 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. Most will grow up to 25 - 30 cm in height and must be pinched out at the tips to direct, stop and encourage growth.

Flowers: The baby rubber plant can flower that are 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.


Facts

Origin: South America.
Names: 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'

American baby rubber plant

Peperomia obtusifolia Care

Temperature: Ideal temperatures of 65-75ºF (18-24ºC), and no lower than 50ºF (10ºC).
Light: Bright light and for the variegated types some direct sunlight (couple of hours) can help them grow well. 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, but again dependent on the leaf color.
Watering: The baby rubber plant is fairly easy to water. Allow the top soil to dry out completely and then water thoroughly. You do not want to over water 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 being dry.
Soil: A peat based soil is best used that drains well. 2 parts peat and 1 part perlite or sand is a good mix. Other mixes will work well, but the main point is for the medium to drain well and be well aerated.
Re-Potting: You will not need to repot or pot up a size very often as this plant has a small root system. It's a good idea to change the soil or at least the top soil annually and if a young plant has out grown 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 becoming waterlogged. Shallow pots are a good option for Peperomias.
Fertilizer: During spring - while the plant is growing use a diluted liquid fertilizer once every 2 weeks, and once a month during summer. No feeding is required from autumn to spring
Humidity: 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. Most homes should be fine with its natural humidity if the air is not dry.
Propagation: 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 tip with one or two leaves on it. Plant the cutting in a very small pot with fresh potting mix that's moist and try to provide warm temperatures of about 20ºC (68ºF), and plenty of bright light (warmth and light is the key to success). 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. 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 out until planted. Wait for new growth and be careful not to overwater the move a pot size up once plenty of growth has happened.
Pruning: 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. To get them looking their best, try and grow and prune them to display a bushy appearance.

Potential Problems

Wilting

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.

Not Flowering

The plant not flowering may be caused by lack of light or fertilizer.

Sudden Leaf Drop

Sudden drop in temperatures is a likely cause and/or overwatering.


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