Peperomia obtusifolia, commonly known as a baby rubber plant, is a hardy, pretty, pet-safe plant that is great for beginners or those who prefer plants with low-maintenance care routines. Learn all about this popular type of peperomia with my care guide!
How do you look after Peperomia Obtusifolia?
The Peperomia Obtusifolia is commonly known as the Peperomia Green, pepper face plant, or my personal favorite, the Baby Rubber plant. However, the plant is not technically a rubber plant, which refers to a ficus elastica).
This plant has the best of both worlds—tropical yet succulent-like. As a houseplant they don’t grow very tall, are easy to maintain, and are safe to keep around pets. You really can’t go wrong with a baby rubber plant!
Peperomia Obtusifolia plants hail from the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. They grow epiphytically, meaning they take nutrients from the other plants they grow on top of. Keeping this in mind for their care will help your baby rubber plant thrive.
Peperomia Obtusifolia origins (aka the baby rubber plant)
The foliage is the focal point of this plant; their leaves are shiny and cupped. They swell with water like a succulent, which helps them be tolerant to drought.
They can be a rich, dark green, and variegated plants can have a marbled white and green pattern. It can be grown upright in a pot, trailing as a hanging plant, or even in terrariums.
Although it has no relation to the rubber tree (Ficus elastica), the plant’s plump, glossy leaves do look similar. Peperomia Obtusifolia is part of the Peperomia genus, made up of over 1,300 species. I’ve written a lot about Peperomia plants in the past:
- Peperomia Caperata Frost Care
- Peperomia Rosso Care Guide
- Watermelon Peperomia Care (Peperomia Argyreia)
- Peperomia Albovittata Care
- Peperomia Hope Care
- String of Turtles Care
- Peperomia Raindrop Care (Peperomia Polybotrya)
- Peperomia Beetle Care (Peperomia Guadrangularis)
Peperomias are so beloved as houseplants that the National Garden Bureau (a non-profit organization that advocates for the gardening industry), declared 2022 as the year of the Peperomia! Exciting times to own a Peperomia 🙂
What type of light does a Peperomia Obtusifolia need?
Don’t let this plant’s succulent-like leaves fool you. Unlike succulents, they do not handle direct sunlight well! To stay on the safe side, limit its light exposure to a window with bright, indirect light.
Try placing your Peperomia Obtusifolia in an east-facing window where it can get a few hours of morning sun. Finding the right balance of light exposure will ensure you aren’t burning the leaves or causing it to grow long and leggy.
Plants get leggy when they aren’t getting enough light. Their stems start getting longer because the plant is literally reaching for the light. Leaves also begin to grow smaller, and overall the plant looks kinda sad.
Baby rubber plants generally do really well with artificial light, too. At my old job, I worked in a basement with no windows but lots of overhead fluorescent lighting. Someone had a Peperomia Obtusifolia in their cube, and it was thriving!
This plant got absolutely no sunlight and got maybe 12 or so hours of artificial overhead office lights. And it looks large, happy, and healthy. So I’d say that’s a ringing endorsement for this plant in an office setting.
Pro Tip: If you own a variegated Peperomia Obtusifolia, closely monitor its light intake since too much or too little can cause it to lose the variegation.
Peperomia Obtusifolia plants are a unique blend of succulents and tropical plants, which means their soil requirements are somewhere in between. They’ll want well-draining, nutrient-dense soil.
As an epiphyte, it will need organic matter to feed off, like perlite or compost. To improve drainage, adding some perlite or bark will bulk up the soil and prevent too much water retention. No matter what mix you choose, make sure its roots never sit in soggy soil!
Pro Tip: You can buy a cacti pre-mixed soil at the store and add in some organic matter like a bit of leaf compost to enhance it.
How often should I water a Peperomia Obtusifolia?
How often should you water a Peperomia Obtusifolia? The good news is watering will be the least of your worries. They actually store water in their plump, fleshy leaves and stems, making them very drought resistant.
As a plant owner we tend to overwater our babies, but with this one you’ll want to refrain from that since they are susceptible to root rot. Use the soil as a frame of reference; once the top 2-3 inches have dried out completely, then you’ll know it’s time to water again.
Aim to water once every 10-14 days, and even less during the fall when it’s getting colder. And definitely less in the winter. As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, the plant will use less water.
Pro Tip: Yellowing leaves are often a sign of overwatering. Lay off the water until the leaves bounce back! Trim them off when they die.
When I said the Peperomia Obtusifolia made a great houseplant, I wasn’t kidding! They actually prefer the average indoor temperature, around 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit—and even into the 80s.
No need to worry about turning your plant room into a sauna with this one. The only thing you’ll have to watch out for are drafty windows or heater vents. Sudden temperature changes can cause the plant to drop leaves.
However, I’ve found this one to be one of the hardiest peperomias. It seems to be less vulnerable to temperature fluctuations than some other varieties with thinner stems and leaves.
Do Peperomia Obtusifolia plants like to be misted?
Humidity is also not something you’ll need to think about with the baby rubber plant. They will adapt well to our average indoor humidity levels just fine. I recommend that you don’t mist this plant since its leaves could grow fungus from being wet.
This plant is truly a low-maintenance beauty. And if you do notice brown spots on the leaves, it could be a sign of a fungus! Make sure you’re wiping the leaves clean and don’t mist them anymore.
Peperomia Obtusifolia propagation
Thankfully Peperomias are all relatively simple to propagate. I have a whole post on three ways to propagate peperomia plants, but here is an overview on propagating the Peperomia Obtusifolia. The best method in my opinion is through stem cuttings during the growing season. Snip a stem that has at least 2 leaves.
Remove the lowest leaf on the cutting and dip in rooting hormone (though this isn’t necessary—you can skip it if you don’t have it). You can stick it in water to root it and transfer to soil once the roots are several inches long.
Keep the soil moist for a few weeks and the humidity high as the cutting establishes its soil roots. A good way to do this is by adding a plastic baggie over the cutting or using a DIY plant propagation box.
Remember to let the plant get some air every few days by removing the bag or lid. If there is too much humidity, it can lead to moisture sitting on the leaves, which isn’t great.
You can also skip the water rooting step and go straight to soil. This is totally fine, but I like the water process because it’s a pretty way to display plants, and you can also monitor the root development.
Baby rubber plant FAQs
I’ve covered most of the essential care tips in this post, but here are a few other FAQs you might be interested in.
1. Do Peperomia Obtusifolia flower?
Most indoor Peperomia Obtusifolia plants do not flower. However, mine has flowered, and many of my other peperomia plants have flowered, too! Their flowers are unique and don’t look much like a flower at all. Instead they look like a yellow spike growing upwards. You can cut them off immediately if you don’t like them, or you can let them die and trim them off.
2. How big does a Peperomia Obtusifolia grow?
Not very big. Indoors you can expect them to only grow about a foot in height. This is great because it allows you to keep the plant in the same place—like a shelf or a windowsill—and you can probably even keep it in the same pot for a few years.
3. Do I have to repot the Peperomia Obtusifolia?
Speak of keeping it in the same pot, these plants don’t grow large roots, and they don’t grow very quickly. So repotting shouldn’t be an issue you run into, especially if you’re growing it indoors. At most you’ll need to repot once every few years.
4. Is the Peperomia Obtusifolia safe to have around pets?
Yes! This plant is non-toxic to keep indoors if you have curious cats or dogs. However, it isn’t meant to be ingested, so it’s always best to keep plants away from nibbling pets and kids. See my post 16 Non-Toxic Plants for Cats to Add to Your Collection for more on this topic!