The Peperomia Obsutifolia is a beautiful upright plant with thick, glossy cup-shaped leaves. They are beginner-friendly and non-toxic plants that require little maintenance.
- Ideally, provide bright, indirect light; East or West-facing windowsills are ideal.
- Water when the topsoil is dry, and use an airy and well-draining potting mix. Your plant has small root systems that are prone to being overwatered.
- Repot every 2-4 years when the plant gets very root-bound; being slightly root-bound is okay.
- Use a succulent fertilizer diluted to half-strength once a month during the growing season.
- Average room temperatures and humidity is okay, though the warmer and higher the better!
- Avoid cold chills and drafts, this causes leaf drop.
Let’s dive into the details.
What is the Peperomia Obtusifolia?
Nicknamed the Baby Rubber Plant or Pepper Face, the tropical Peperomia Obtusifolia hails from the rainforests of South America and is prized for its waxy and lush green foliage that looks like a mini-Rubber Plant (though they are unrelated).
The “normal” plant has bright green leaves, while the Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata, the variegated cultivar, has green centers and yellow or cream speckled variegation.
Caring for your Peperomia Obtusifolia
Peperomia Obtusifolias do best in ample amounts (at least 8 hours) of bright but indirect light. Ideally, choose an East or West-facing windowsill.
While they can tolerate some shade, they tend to grow leggy and don’t appear to THRIVE as well as in brighter indirect light conditions. This is especially true for the variegated version of the Peperomia Obtusifolia, which has less chlorophyll.
At the same time, make sure your plant stays out of direct sunlight – this will only burn its leaves!
Another important tip is to rotate your plant occasionally. We find our Peperomia Obtusifolia’s stems lean heavily towards the sunlight. So rotation will support even growth 🙂
Being ever the low-maintenance houseplant, your Peperomia Obtusifolia has succulent-like leaves that store water, so this little fellow doesn’t need watering as often as many other houseplants.
You’ll know it’s time to water when the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil is dry to the touch. In this case, water deeply until the potting soil is saturated and excess water escapes from the drainage hole. Remember to empty the saucer (if any).
Since your plant is an epiphyte, it has roots that love to breathe. They also have shallow root systems that are vulnerable to becoming overwatered. In fact, overwatering is one of the key mistakes that beginners make when growing a Peperomia Obtusifolia.
If in doubt, underwater rather than overwater!
Another clue that your plant is ready to be watered is that its leaves start to wrinkle slightly and curl more than usual, which means that its water stores have depleted. Conversely, if leaves are stiff and plump, then it has ample water in storage!
As a rule of thumb for Peperomias, the thicker the leaves, the more they can tolerate dry spells! Your Peperomia Obtusifolia is not too fussy, it can grow well in average room humidity. But if you want it to thrive, aim for >50%.
Again, this Baby Rubber Plant is happy in average indoor temperatures. Anything between 65 – 85 degrees F (18-30 degrees C) is ideal for a thriving plant.
Like many other Peperomias, they prefer warm and stable temperatures, so place them well away from any air vents or drafts. Sudden temperature drops often result in dropping leaves.
This Peperomia grows upright and stays relatively compact, topping out its height at 12 inches (30 cm tall). It is well-loved for its waxy, cupped obovate leaves with pinkish petioles (stem that holds up the leaf).
Your plant produces cream-colored inflorescences (spikes) with tiny white flowers. These flowers are insignificant and numerous and may appear between spring and fall. Flower spikes grow taller than the stems, poking their heads out from the foliage.
To be honest, they are not grown for their flowers. This species is much more sought-after for its lush foliage.
Soil or Growing Medium
Peperomia Obtusifolia loves a well-draining, airy potting mix. Because your plant is both epiphytic and succulent-like, the last thing they want is heavy soil and holds too much water.
Here’s a great mix you can try out:
- 1 part indoor potting soil
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part orchid bark
Adding perlite and orchid bark lightens the potting soil and enhances drainage qualities. The indoor potting soil we recommend is slightly acidic and has plenty of organic nutrients for the best growth.
If you’re open to semi-hydroponics, we’ve also seen great results using LECA (clay balls). The great thing about LECA is that it allows your plant to draw water as and when it wants a drink, rather than depending on you to get the watering schedule right. This significantly reduces the risk of overwatering!
That said, it can be a bit more expensive than normal potting soils. Check out our article on the Pros and Cons of LECA to see if this is a good fit for you.
Your plant is a slow grower, so we like to fertilize it monthly using a nutritionally-complete, succulent liquid fertilizer to give it a boost. We’ve seen our Peperomia Obtusifolia perk up with this fertilizer. Every leaf matters with a slow grower like this one!
Do avoid using urea-based fertilizers as these tend to be too harsh and can damage your plant’s roots.
- Apply at half-strength just once a month in the spring and summer months.
- Hold off fertilizing in the fall and winter months. Your plant is a light feeder, so doesn’t need it during this time.
- Before applying fertilizer, water the soil to avoid burning its fragile roots.
- When you first purchase your plant, check whether its soil has been treated with a slow-release fertilizer to avoid doubling up on the fertilizer. This is a common practice in some nurseries. In this case, hold off fertilizing for 6 months, as too much fertilizer can lead to root burn and mineral salt build-up.
Your Peperomia Obtusifoila likes being slightly root-bound, so don’t repot unnecessarily; this will only stress your plant our for no reason. Here are our repotting tips:
- Repot only when you notice roots emerging from the pot’s drainage hole. As a rule of thumb, this should be every 2-4 years. Your Obtusifolia is compact with a small root system, so repotting is not common!
- The day before repotting, water your plant to reduce transplant shock.
- Use a pot with drainage holes that are just 2 inches larger than the old one. This will ensure your plant doesn’t hold on to too much moisture in its unused soil when watering.
- Spring is the best time for repotting – at the start of the growing season, giving your slow-grower some time to establish in its new home.
Here’s how to repot your plant:
- Gently place your plant on its side, using your fingers to loosen any compacted soil around its roots so that your plant can wriggle free. Peperomia Obtusifolia roots are pretty thin and delicate, so be careful as these can break easily.
- Prepare your new pot, filling it partially with some fresh potting mix.
- Place your plant in its new pot, adding more potting soil to hold the plant in place.
- Gently tap down on the soil. Don’t be too aggressive in patting down the soil, as you still want some air pockets for the roots to breathe!
- Wait around 7 days before watering your plant. Your plant will naturally start looking for water, sending out roots deeper into the pot, allowing it to establish well into its new home. Also, any damaged roots are allowed to heal during this time.
Wiping down leaves
We’ve noticed that the Peperomia’s thick leaves attract more dust than some other plants. It’s good to wipe down leaves occasionally with a damp cloth and then wipe dry. This helps remove dust and grime from the plant’s stomata (we think of this like clogged pores!), which makes transpiration and photosynthesis more efficient.
Your little Peperomia Obtusifolia is not toxic to humans or pets.
Propagation (Water Propagation!)
The Peperomia Obtusifolia can be propagated through leaf cuttings and by division, but we still prefer using water propagation using stem cuttings. Here’s how:
- Identify a part of the stem that is around 4 inches long, has a couple of leaves, and at least two nodes (the knobby part from which new growth will emerge!)
- Using clean garden shears, cut just below the node.
- Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the stem cutting (as this will be submerged in water).
- Place the stem cutting in a jar filled with room temperature water. You should have at least one node below the surface of the water.
- Place the jar in a warm location, where there is plenty of bright but indirect light. But do avoid direct afternoon sunlight.
- Change out the water every few days to prevent the build-up of fungi and murky water.
- In 2-3 weeks, you should see some new roots forming.
- Once the roots reach about three inches long, you can replant your new plant in a well-draining potting mix in its permanent pot.
- Treat as you would any other Peperomia Obtusifolia!
- Being a slow-grower, you likely won’t need to prune your Baby Rubber Plant too much.
- However, trimming off any dead or damaged leaves or leggy stems is a good idea to allow your plant to refocus its energy on new growth.
- Use sterilized garden shears. We like using 70% isopropyl solution to sterilize our garden tools and prevent cross-infection.
- A pair of sharp gardening shears is essential to deliver clean cuts and prevent trauma!
Common Pests and Diseases
While your Peperomia Obtusifolia is relatively problem-free, the most significant issues are:
- Overwatering: this is the biggest mistake we see people making. The Peperomia Obtusifolia has a shallow root system and a delicate one too. Overwatering suffocates its roots, causing damage more quickly than other plants with deeper roots systems. Prevention is always better than cure, so be sure to water your plant only when the topsoil is dry and to use an airy and well-draining potting mix!
- However, if you’ve got an overwatered plant on your hands, consult our guide to save your overwatered plant.
- Related to overwatering, fungal diseases can also be an issue for Peperomias. Trim off any damaged parts and apply a broad-based fungicide.
- Less commonly, you may also see the odd mealybug, aphid, or fungus gnat. For these usual houseplant pests, use a neem oil solution or Insecticidal soap spray to kill them off.
Why are stems leggy?
Leggy stems are most commonly due to a lack of light. Your plant compensates by growing longer stems to reach for more light! You may also notice stems flopping over as they cannot support the weight of the leaves; the leaves themselves may also show signs of losing variegation (if you bought the Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata).
Relocate your plant to a brighter spot, but one that is still out of direct sunlight. You may also choose to use a grow light if your home doesn’t get adequate natural light!
Why are the leaves wilting?
Improper watering (either too much or too little) can cause wilted leaves. Check the soil – if it feels dry and looks cakey, it’s underwatered. On the other hand, moist soils that remain moist over 5-7 days indicate your plant is overwatered.
Why are the leaves yellowing with mushy black stems?
This is definitely a worry. Yellowing leaves alongside mushy black stems is most definitely an indication of root rot, thanks to an overwatered plant. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to save your plant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is a good place to buy a Peperomia Obtusifolia?
Peperomia Obtusifolia aren’t exactly rare, but you may not find one at your local nursery. We like using Etsy to find reputable sellers.
Is the Peperomia Obtusifolia a succulent?
While many Peperomias (and Hoyas, for that matter) have succulent-like leaves, they are not classified as a succulent. Yes, they are more tolerant to dry spells and lower humidity than the average non-succulent houseplant, but not nearly as well and as for as long as true succulents. As an example, the Mother of Millions likes dry climates of <20% humidity!
Should I mist my Peperomia Obtusifolia?
Lightly misting your Peperomia Obtusifolia in the mornings can momentarily boost moisture levels. But honestly, investing in a humidifier is a much more effective and long-lasting solution, especially if you have a couple of plants that can benefit from higher humidity! Choose one that allows you to set the specific humidity % to have more control over these levels. We like this one.
Do Peperomia Obtusifolia grow quickly?
Nope, your plant is a slow-grower! You’ll need to be patient with this one. The best thing you can do is give it the best care conditions, which does increase its growth rate slightly!
Similar Plants and Varieties
Peperomia Obtusifolia variegata
The Peperomia Obtusifolia variegata is the variegated cultivar of the Peperomia Obtusifolia. Instead of having uniformly green leaves, this plant typically has leaves that have a green center, with a splash of yellow or cream on the edges. Bright indirect light brings out the best of its coloring.
With over 1,000 species of Peperomias, you’re spoilt for choice! Here are some favorites:
- Peperomia Watermelon: This guy has a red stem and peltate leaves that resemble an uncut watermelon. They are adorable and compact plants that, as you can imagine, are in demand!
- Peperomia Frost – a cultivar of the Peperomia Caperata, this compact plant has a mound-like appearance that stuns with thick heart-shaped leaves with a frosty metallic sheen.
- Peperomia Ginny – sometimes known as the Tricolor Ginny, this plant grows upright stems with large, elliptical cream and green leaves with striking pink-red borders.
- Peperomia Hope – a personal favorite, this compact vining plant has lush and round, button-like foliage.
- Peperomia Prostrata – nicknamed the String of Turtles, this vining plant has tiny, plump round leaves that are usually kept in hanging baskets. Long vines cascade down for effect! They have variegation that resembles turtle shells.
- Raindrop Peperomia – a small compact plant with beautiful raindrop-shaped leaves.
- Peperomia Albovittata, also known as the Peacock Peperomia.
- Peperomia Napoli Nights, a Peperomia Frost look-alike but with darker green leaves.
- Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia Argyreia) – a compact upright plant with leaves that resemble uncut watermelons 🙂
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.
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