Baby Rubber Plant Care: Peperomia obtusifolia
A South American tropical plant, the peperomia obtusifolia is commonly referred to as a ‘Baby Rubber Plant’ because its growth resembles that of the much larger rubber plant (ficus elastica) but only grows to be about a foot tall. Despite its appearance and nickname, it is not related to the ficus plant family at all.
It is also commonly mistaken for a succulent due to its fleshy, thick stem and leaves and the fact that it stores water in its leaves but it’s not related to the succulent plant family either. There are over a thousand different varieties of peperomias; some look quite different from each other, which make it hard to believe they are from the same family. The peperomia obtusifolia can be a solid green or be green with white/yellow variegation. The stems will sometimes have a red color to them. One thing that is common to all peperomia, including peperomia obtusifolia, is that they are an easy to care for plant. This plant is a great choice for any houseplant beginner.
Medium to bright indirect light. Keep the plant away from direct light as it will burn the leaves. You will need to rotate the plant to avoid lopsided growth. As it grows, it will need to be staked/supported as it can become top-heavy and fall over. If the plant is variegated, and like most variegated plants, the more light it gets the more variegation the plant will develop. On the other hand, it will lose its variegation if it does not get enough light.
Improper watering is the most common issue with the peperomia family. Peperomias have epiphytic growth, meaning its roots primarily function to anchor the plant but don’t take up a lot of water. Being an epiphyte, the plant can absorb water through it’s leaves. Furthermore, it’s succulent-like leaves will store water so it doesn’t need frequent watering. Too much water will drown the root system and cause root rot. The leaves will shrivel if under watered and plump back up when watered. When overwatered, the leaves will wilt and/or fall off. The soil’s surface should dry out between waterings; start with a once a week watering and adjust as necessary.
Average. Due to it’s succulent-like qualities, your average home humidity is adequate. If your home is too dry, the leaf tips will become brown. In that case, a pebble tray and a daily misting will increase the humidity.
It is a tropical plant and will do best in temperatures above 65°F. Lower temperature will cause leaves to drop from the plant; it should be kept away from any drafts and heating/cooling vents. Generally, if you are comfortable with the temperature in your home, the plant will be comfortable. If the temperature gets too hot, misting the plant daily can help.
Infrequently if at all. Once or twice a year is all that would be needed. Too much fertilizer will burn the shallow root system.