The baby rubber plant (Peperomia obtusifolia) also referred to as Pepper Face plant, is considered an easy-to-grow indoor plant. I’ll explain the facets of how to grow baby rubber plant in this guide as well as how to easily propagate one in soil or in water at home .
Here’s an overview of how to grow baby rubber plant:
- Water when its topsoil is dry
- Use well-draining, nutrient-rich soil
- Provide bright, indirect light
- Set temperatures to 65-80°F
- Fertilize monthly during the active growing season
If you want to become a master of Peperomia obtusifolia care, you’ve come to the right place. This article will be your guide to a raising a healthy, bountiful baby rubber plant, so keep reading!
Baby Rubber Plant Watering
Here’s a simple rule of thumb for how often to water the baby rubber plant. When its topsoil dries out, it’s time to water your Baby Rubber Plant (Peperomia Obtusifolia).
You don’t want to let the conditions get bone-dry if you can help it, as watering fluctuations can be stressful on some plants.
I always say that the fingertip test is your best gauge into when to water a plant. If you like to time your waterings though, you shouldn’t water the baby rubber plant more than once per week during warm seasons.
In the winter, don’t be surprised if you water this plant even more seldomly.
Why can the Peperomia obtusifolia go so long without being watered?
While the baby rubber plant is not a succulent, its thick leaves take on the properties of a succulent.
The Peperomia obtusifolia has better water retention abilities than most plants. It’s also moderately drought-tolerant.
Those two factors combined give you lots of leeway if you’re forgetful about watering your indoor garden.
That being said, the one mistake you don’t want to make is leaning too far in the opposite direction.
The baby rubber plant has no tolerance for being overwatered.
Once you see the lower half of the leaves turn brown or yellow, your baby rubber plant is pleading for mercy. Continuing to overwater the plant at that point will almost assuredly lead to root rot!
Baby Rubber Plant Soil
What kind of soil do you use for a baby rubber plant? I’d recommend well-draining soil above all else. It should be full of nutrients as well.
You have options for which type of soil you’ll use. If you’re more familiar and comfortable with a standard plant potting soil, that suffices.
You can also grow the Peperomia obtusifolia in peat-based soil.
For the latter, you need one part sand or perlite with two parts peat moss. This mix delivers the aeration and draining capacity that a baby rubber plant must have to thrive.
If you use standard potting soil, then you should add soil amendments to achieve the above two properties.
Perlite is a good soil amendment, as is bark. The former soil amendment has a color and size like popped popcorn kernels. Your baby rubber plant’s soil will drain well, remain aerated, and have decent water retention when you use perlite.
A handful of bark chunks will naturally aerate the soil, especially if the bark pieces aren’t broken up into smaller chunks. The soil’s structure will be stable as well.
Baby Rubber Plant Lighting
I’ve known indoor gardeners to use all sorts of lighting conditions for the baby rubber plant, everything from very bright light to near darkness.
What light is best for the Peperomia obtusifolia is bright, indirect light.
This way, your plant is still receiving sunlight, but through a curtain or another filtered medium.
Your baby rubber plant won’t burn, and it’s not in a dim room with very little if any natural lighting.
Speaking of dim lighting, if yours is a Peperomia obtusifolia variegata such as the Peperomia obtusifolia variegata marble, you must watch how much light the plant receives.
Too little light is the number one way to suck the color and patterning right out of your plant. It will revert to plain green. Once that happens, you can’t get its variegation back.
Even non-variegated baby rubber plants won’t grow as quickly as they should when they’re put in a dim room.
Bathing the baby rubber plant in bright sunlight, even for a few hours per day, isn’t good for this plant either.
Sure, the plant has thicker leaves than most indoor species. However, those leaves are not impervious to sun damage. They can scorch and burn just like any other plant in your indoor garden.
Baby Rubber Plant Temperature
Growing the baby rubber plant in ideal temperatures means temps ranging between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This fifteen degree temperature range is where your baby rubber plant thrives.
This is excellent news for indoor gardeners, as the baby rubber plant’s temp preferences are right within room-temperature range. You shouldn’t have to adjust your thermostat to keep this plant healthy.
When the temperatures drop below 50 degrees, the Peperomia obtusifolia may begin exhibiting signs of cold stress.
Look out for chlorosis or leaf yellowing as well as wilting, reduced leaf expansion, and slowed or stopped growth. Necrosis of the leaf tissue can occur, which means that tissue dies.
Once that happens, there’s no going back.
Despite that the baby rubber plant hails from very warm regions of the world such as the Caribbean, Mexico, and Florida, it doesn’t need temperatures too much hotter than 80 degrees.
In very hot temperatures, the baby rubber plant can suffer from heat stress. The plant might look scalded as if it spent too much time out in the sun, with browning and crispy, dry leaf tips.
Your Peperomia obtusifolia can also wilt. The leaves that remain upright may cup or roll. A plant will roll its leaves to preserve what moisture is left on the surface.
Since temperature and humidity go together like peanut butter and jelly, allow me to take a moment to talk about the baby rubber plant’s humidity requirements as well.
This indoor plant prefers humidity between 40 and 50 percent.
Now, before you assume you have to run out and buy a humidifier, hold on a moment. Most buildings–including your home–have an average relative humidity of up to 50 percent.
Thus, you might not have to do anything special for your baby rubber plant. The moisture that’s already in the air would be enough.
Baby Rubber Plant Fertilization
The baby rubber plant possesses a smaller root system than many other indoor plants. Thus, fertilizing is not something you have to do all that often since the plant doesn’t have a lot of roots for feeding.
How often would I suggest fertilizing the Peperomia obtusifolia? When the plant’s active growing season begins in the spring, you can fertilize as often as two weeks and as seldom as monthly.
Continue this schedule regularly until the end of the summer. In the autumn and through the winter, you can stop fertilizing the baby rubber plant.
Use an all-purpose plant fertilizer and be sure to dilute the fertilizer to at least half-strength before applying.
I would advise you to start with monthly fertilizer feedings for the baby rubber plant. If your plant’s growth seems slow or the plant hasn’t reached full size (about 10 inches in maturity), then increase how often you feed the plant.
In taking this cautious approach, you can usually prevent overfertilization. This can be very damaging to your plant, causing leaf browning and/or yellowing, seedling death, and growth stoppage.
Baby Rubber Plant Propagation
Have you fallen in love with the baby rubber plant, and you want to share your plant with others in your life? Propagating the Baby Rubber Plant is the easiest way to do it.
Here are the steps to follow.
Step 1 – Choose the Right Time for Propagation
When you propagate an indoor plant species is as important as how you go about doing it.
Ideally, you want to propagate the Peperomia obtusifolia in the spring, as then you’re likelier to see growth from your cutting faster. However, if you have to wait until autumn, that’s still a viable period for propagation.
Step 2 – Select a Good Cutting
From your baby rubber plant, you want to find the perfect cutting to propagate.
What does a good cutting look like? It’s healthy with a sturdy stem. At least one leaf has emerged from the tip of the stem, but preferably, it’s several leaves.
The leaves look lush and vibrant.
Once you’ve selected your cutting, it’s time to remove it from the baby rubber plant. You should leave an inch or two of the stem attached to the mother plant.
Use a clean cutting instrument such as gardening scissors or shears. Be sure to disinfect the shears when you’re finished using pure bleach or 70-percent isopropyl alcohol.
A quick wash in the liquid will prevent the cutting instrument from spreading bacteria or disease to another plant the next time you use your shears.
Step 3 – Propagate in Soil
Many indoor gardeners will propagate their baby rubber plant cuttings in soil, but this is one of two options.
If you use soil, then set up a seed tray or a small pot for your baby rubber plant cutting.
You may wish to apply rooting hormone to your cutting to ensure it has a better chance at establishing roots and growing into its own full-fledged baby rubber plant. This step is optional though.
Before plunking your cutting into the soil bed, cut or hand-pluck any remaining lower leaves. These leaves can impact how well the cutting can stay in the soil, so they have to go.
Then place your baby rubber plant cutting in the soil.
Should you choose to grow several cuttings at once, keep them at least an inch from one another.
Step 4 – Propagate in Water
The far easier and faster method for baby rubber plant propagation is to grow the plant cutting in water.
You can skip the rooting hormone when propagating your baby rubber plant in water. Rather, you’d need a glass vase or jar filled with clean, lukewarm water.
Detach any bottom leaves on your baby rubber plant cutting. Next, insert the cutting into the water so any upper leaves aren’t wet but the stem is submerged.
Step 5 – Provide Warmth and Moisture
For either growth medium you selected when propagating the Peperomia obtusifolia, you must provide optimal conditions.
Keep the soil most for cuttings grown in a soil bed. If you’re growing baby rubber plant cuttings in water, then dump the water every week. If the water is cloudy before seven days elapse, then replace it sooner.
You can take a plastic zippy bag, open it, and place it over your baby rubber plant cuttings to create humidity. Don’t leave the plastic bag on permanently, only for several hours per day.
Step 6 – Move Your Baby Rubber Plant to a Pot
In two to four weeks, the shallow, small root system of your baby rubber plant should have developed.
You can now gently remove the plant from its growth medium and give it its own pot. Follow the care instructions above to keep your Peperomia obtusifolia in good shape!
Peperomia Obtusifolia Problems
Growing a Peperomia Obtusifolia baby rubber plant as an indoor plant is not always linear. Setbacks can occur that can leave you frustrated and your plant undergrown.
Here are some baby rubber plant problems to be aware of.
Scabs on the Leaves
These aren’t scabs like the ones that develop on your skin after you have a laceration. Rather, on plants like the Peperomia obtusifolia, the scabs will have a cork-like texture. They’ll also look very dry.
Although the dry part of the scabs would make you think your baby rubber plant is being underwatered, the problem is the opposite.
Overwatering causes these scabs to appear on the foliage of your beautiful Peperomia obtusifolia. You’re likelier to see the scabs in the winter than during any other season.
Regardless of when you spot them, the scabs are an obvious sign to stop watering your plant as frequently.
Not every leaf on your baby rubber plant will survive forever. If a few shed here and there, that shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
When the leaves become shriveled and then wither off your plant, now you should be worried.
Plant leaves can dry out for an assortment of reasons. If you’re underwatering your baby rubber plant, its leaves will wrinkle because they’re dehydrated.
Placing your plant in direct sunlight is another way to cause dry leaves. They’ll become brown and crispy as I touched on earlier.
Humidity is moisture in the air, so depriving the baby rubber plant of moisture by exposing it to very dry conditions can also make the rubbery leaves of this plant dry out.
Overfertilization is yet another cause. The salts have built up in your Peperomia obtusifolia’s soil and have dried out your plant.
You’d have to repot your baby rubber plant in fresh soil, but not before flushing your plant of any salt residue.
When the baby rubber plant’s leaves begin to sag, something is wrong.
Check your thermostat. If the temps are under 55 degrees, that can explain why your plant is drooping.
Keep in mind that other indoor sources of cold air can make your baby rubber plant sag even if the thermostat is at the right temp.
For example, do you have a window air conditioner aiming cold air towards your plant?
An overwatered baby rubber plant is also a frequent reason why it’s unable to keep its leaves upright.