If you are busy with work and the other numerous chores you have around the house but still want to enjoy a little greenery in your home, take a closer look at Peperomia obtusifolia. This adorable plant has so many cute nicknames, such as baby rubber plant, pepper face, dwarf pepper- all of them perfectly reflecting its memorable appearance.
Is Peperomia Obtusifolia a complicated one to maintain?
Absolutely not, if you have the necessary knowledge on plant’s likes and dislikes.
It is an ideal plant for beginners as well – it is evergreen, low-maintenance, and oh, so lovable!
If you are curious to find out more, keep reading!
What is Peperomia Obtusifolia
Peperomia obtusifolia is a succulent-type, evergreen peperomia (there are over a thousand types of peperomias).
It grows in the dense forests of Central and South America – Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
It belongs to the family of Piperaceae.
Piperaceae are flowering plants known as the pepper family.
Although there are over 3600 recognized species, they develop 13 genera, but there are two main genera, Piper and Peperomia.
The family has developed from ancient flowering plants, Magnoliids, mostly tropical plants that are the source for numerous essential oils that we use till this day.
Peperomia obtusifolia is also known as pepper face, dwarf pepper, fleshy peperomia, hanging peperomia, American rubber tree, or baby rubber plant. Even though it is not related to the Hevea Bransiliensis, the main resource of natural rubber, it still resembles this plant a lot.
Plus, there’s Watermelon peperomia– it doesn’t take much to guess how it got this interesting name.
It can be grown as a ground cover or a hanging plant, but when kept indoor, it is a low-growing bushy plant.
Being ornamental and very adaptable, it is great for indoor growing.
Peperomia obtusifolia has glossy, wide, dark green succulent-type foliage growing on thick stems.
The leaves and stems have a fleshy feel to them, and they are both used as water storage.
Having in mind that the plant lives in very dry subtropical areas, so the leaves shrink during long droughts and plump when watered.
Sometimes, you will see plants with variations in leaf color- these are called variegated.
The completely green one is called Peperomia obtusifolia green, and the other one is Peperomia obtusifolia variegate.
Its color pattern resembles yellow-green marbling and is especially appealing since every leaf is different than the other.
The flowers are not particularly attractive, they are pretty small and look like spikes, usually greenish or white.
Although hanging peperomia obtusifolia is a fast-growing plant, it is not the case with the one kept indoor.
It is a small, compact plant, growing up to 25 cm in height and width, so accommodating one won’t be a problem.
Sunlight Requirements of Peperomia Obtusifolia
In the wild, they live on the ground and therefore don’t get too much direct sunlight.
You should try to recreate these conditions at your home as well.
Peperomia obtusifolia likes sunlight, but not direct.
It can survive under low indirect light as well, but it will flourish if you place it on a medium bright or a bright place.
Never leave it under the direct sunlight as it will burn- you must choose the appropriate location.
The best place for peperomia is windowsill faced east or west.
If you have a variegated plant, peperomia obtusifolia variegate, you can give it a little more sunlight than the green one.
Just follow this simple general rule for peperomias is – the lighter the foliage color, the brighter the location of the plant.
If it is placed somewhere too dark, the yellow part will start to go green in time.
Watering Requirements of Peperomia Obtusifolia
Peperomia obtusifolia likes to be watered often and little.
It is best to do it once or twice a week, depending on the season.
Let the upper layer of the soil become completely dry before you water them.
During hot days you should water it more often, but still not too often- remember, it’s a succulent.
Always use lukewarm water.
Too cold water might shock the roots.
Also, try to water all of your plants during early morning or late evening, never during the day.
It is pretty logical, if you stop and think about it – in nature, it never rains while the sun is in its peak, so the point is- listen to the nature.
Of course, if you have the conditions to collect rainwater, it is the best possible solution as it has no chlorine and other substances that can be found in tap water and are potentially harmful to the plants.
If you can’t collect rainwater, you can fill plastic or glass bottles with water and leave them under sunlight.
The chlorine will fade out and the sunlight will destroy some other damaging substances.
But, during summertime, the water in the bottles will get pretty hot.
Always let it get a little colder before watering the plants since hot water is just as bad for your greenery as the cold is.
You can use distilled water as well.
When watering, water all around the plant, not just one spot (the roots are all around the plant base).
The smaller the size of the container, the more often watering is needed.
Good drainage is the key to a healthy plant, so you should use a pot with holes on the bottom that will let the plant release the excess water.
If you are not sure whether you should water your plants, you can use a moisture meter and solve your problem that way.
Humidity Requirements of Peperomia Obtusifolia
Peperomia obtusifolia likes high humidity conditions but can tolerate very dry air so usually, there is no need to increase the humidity in the room.
Since it has a shallow root system, it collects water from leaves as well, so you should mist it from time to time.
Avoid misting it during the night-time.
If your peperomia is not getting enough humidity, it may get threatened by parasite infestation.
In case you live in a dry area, mist the leaves every second time you water the plant.
You can also leave the pot outside while it is raining (during the summer, of course), just to get that shiny foliage look.
If the air is too dry in your home, you can place your pot on a tray filled with wet pebbles and sustain the humidity that way.
Another good way is to put some rocks on the floor of your container when repotting, and then add soil and the plant.
That way, the rocks will maintain humidity but also secure even better drainage, doing only good for your peperomia.
Keep in mind that the air is drier during the winter because of the heating, but air conditioning during hot months is just as drying out.
Temperature Requirements of Peperomia Obtusifolia
The average room temperature will be fine for your peperomia.
As they live in subtropical areas, they won’t survive outdoor in most of the world parts, but indoor they will be comfortable as long as you are comfortable.
Their preferred temperature is 18 °C to 30 °C. Don’t let the temperature drop below 15 °C.
Propagation of Peperomia Obtusifolia
All peperomias can be propagated from any part of the plant except for the root, and the propagation itself isn’t very hard, so you should try it out, even if you are a newbie in the greenery field.
Before propagating, make sure your plant is healthy and the cut-off stems and leaves are clean and sharp.
It lessens the possibility of getting or spreading any diseases, and it enlarges the chances of a successful propagation.
Propagation from stems
You can propagate them from stems – just cut the stem carefully and put it in the water in a well-lighted area on a temperature around 20 °C until it releases roots.
When cutting, make sure there are at least two leaves on the stem (they mustn’t be submerged in water).
The stems should be about 7-20 cm long.
Wait a couple of weeks and the roots should appear.
When the roots have grown up to 3 or 4 cm, you can put the offspring in soil.
Propagation from leaves
You can propagate them from leaf cuttings as well.
Be careful when plucking the leaf.
It is best to use sterilized scissors or a knife so you can be sure you are not hurting the leaf or the plant.
Let the leaf dry out for a day or so, then put it directly into the soil.
You should previously make a small hole for the leaf.
Once you place it, tuck it nicely and watch it grow.
When propagating, it is important not to use a too big container since the plant itself is pretty small.
Use a 10-15 cm container, it’s the ideal size.
The key to the successful propagation of peperomia is keeping the offspring moist.
You can place the whole pot in a plastic bag and recreate the greenhouse conditions that way.
Believe it or not, you can use stretch foil as well- the effect is the same.
Keep the soil moist and check on it every few days since the bag can get wet from the condensation, and the soil be dry at the same time.
You should place it in a damp surrounding like the bathroom window.
Of course, you can always use rooting hormones to help you get better results, no matter which method you are using.
Propagation from seeds
If you consider yourself an adventurous gardener, you can try to propagate peperomia obtusifolia from seeds.
I feel obligated to warn you right at the start – the results of this adventure may not be as you have expected them.
Since it is an ornamental plant, it is pretty hard to propagate it from seeds.
Anyway, if you are feeling lucky, you can buy some seeds and start your escapade.
It is pretty hard to find a reliable seed source, especially since most peperomias are hybrid plants, so even if you manage to grow them, they may not resemble their mother plant.
Sow the seeds according to the instructions shown on the package.
Water them thoroughly and place them in a sunny spot indoor, avoiding direct sunlight.
The soil must be constantly moist before the germination happens.
After the germination, separate the seedlings and place them in different containers, in a sunny bright spot (of course, without the direct sunlight).
Since it is a succulent type plant, in this phase you should avoid leaving the soil too moist, as it may cause mold and root rot.
Repotting Peperomia Obtusifolia
Peperomia obtusifolia is a slow-growing plant and you should wait a couple of years before you re-pot it.
The ideal time to do this is during spring, from March to April.
You will see when it is time to replant them by the roots hanging from the drainage holes – it means the plant has overgrown the container (this is also the reason why the container shouldn’t be too big and especially not too deep).
Every three to five years is usually the best time gap.
When repotting, make a mixture of organically rich soil – add some compost, moss, and orchid bark.
Add some sand for better drainage.
Since they have some succulent characteristics, you can buy a succulent and cactus mix from your local flower shop and mix it with regular soil, in a 1:1 ratio.
As I have already mentioned, it is essential to place it in a pot with drainage holes.
Another important thing is not to use a too big container, it should be bigger only by one size than the previous one.
Also, it shouldn’t be too deep since great dept will increase the possibility of waterlogging (the plat’s roots are shallow anyway, so there is no need to use deep containers).
It should be potted as deep as it has been in the previous container.
Add charcoal to soil mixture, for two reasons – it helps the drainage and absorbs all the impurities and odors.
You can add it whenever you are repotting any other plant as well.
Pruning Peperomia Obtusifolia
You can lightly prune your peperomia from time to time, just to let it develop even greener and more beautiful foliage and to make it’s bush more attractive.
The shaping will make the stems grow more upright.
If not pruned from time to time, the foliage can look messy and fuzzy.
Of course, if you want to get that hanging look, you can leave the longest stems uncut and prune just a little of the top parts.
Make sure you do not over-prune the plant, as you can damage it that way.
When the plant gets older, remove all the dried out, lifeless leaves and stems.
It is best to do this after the winter season.
Fertilizing Peperomia Obtusifolia
Since it is a shallow-rooted plant, it doesn’t need much feeding.
Nontheless, too much fertilizer can destroy it.
There is no need to fertilize your peperomia obtusifolia the year you have bought it.
You can fertilize it the following year during hot months in spring and summer (from April to August), but never during winter and autumn.
Also, always use liquid fertilizer since it is the mildest.
You can use cactus fertilizer or the ordinary green plant fertilizer.
Moreover, you can also add a thin layer of worm compost to the pot every spring.
The main thing is that you do not over-fertilize it since the built-up salts may drain out the plant.
Peperomia is one of the few plants that can be grown completely in water.
To do this, you will need to grow a green thumb, since it can be a complicated process and it is a bit harder to keep them thriving in water than in soil.
It is not recommended to move them from soil to water since this way you will be changing the plant’s whole life routine.
If you do decide to do so, it is essential to remove every single part of the soil from the roots.
The plant will be in a bigger threat of mold, so you should change the water, or at least add a new amount of water every seven to ten days.
It has to be lukewarm and you should try to use lime-free water (or at least low-lime concentration water).
Although it will probably give you a little trouble at the start, peperomia obtusifolia looks beautiful living in water and if you succeed to keep it alive, you will surely be proud of the horticulturist in you.
Taking Peperomia Obtusifolia Outside
Of course, during summertime, you can try to take your peperomia obtusifolia outside (but never under direct sunlight).
It will do good for her, but there are more than a few conditions you should get aligned before you do this.
Keep an eye on the temperature (especially during the night-time, if you live in a colder area), the plants around the peperomia (you don’t want any negative impact from the surrounding plants), and the sunlight, since its outdoor impact is much stronger, you should keep the pot in full shade for the first couple of days.
Also, when outside, your peperomia will be more exposed to pests and other harmful effects, so you should take extra care of it, at least at the beginning until you set the right conditions for the plant.
Here are some tips on taking your houseplants outside.
Winter Care of Peperomia Obtusifolia
During the winter you should water it less, but you can mist it since the air is drier during the cold months.
Also, your peperomia will grow slower since there isn’t that much sunlight.
Never fertilize it from September to February.
The leaves tend to die in great numbers during the winter due to the conditions opposite to the ones in their natural habitat.
Common issues with Peperomia Obtusifolia
Peperomia obtusifolia is a very resistant, low-maintenance plant, so it shouldn’t cause you much trouble.
They are repellent to disease and pests.
The common issues are usually related to overwatering or exposing the plant to strong direct sunlight.
If you notice the leaves beginning to fade and look dull, they are sunburnt.
Not Enough Sunlight
You peperomia will start to lose its variegation if it’s not getting enough sunlight.
In that case, you must find a new spot for it.
If the leaves are wilted, the plant needs watering.
In these cases, it is best to put a whole pot in a bowl full of water and let the plant “drink” as much as it needs.
If you only water it from the surface, the chances are the water will only run through the over-dried soil, not leaving any nutrients nor humidity to the plant.
On the other hand, if the leaves are wilted and you notice the plant losing leaves, it is due to over-watering.
Blisters may appear as well. In the case of overwatering, you should leave the soil to dry out.
If you notice mold and rotting, repot the plant, because if you don’t, it will probably die out (it depends on how much waterlogged the plant is, but even replanting doesn’t guarantee your peperomia will survive).
To try to save it, take it out of the soil and shake off all the excess dirt from the roots.
Examine the roots.
If most of them look healthy, remove the destroyed ones and re-pot the plant in new, fresh, and above all, dry soil mix.
Cold Wind Drafts
Although it is a resistant plant, it can be affected by cold wind drafts, so keep that in mind when picking a spot for your new housemate.
The leaves will start to fall off or you will notice leaf edges or tips getting brown if the plant is hit by a cold draft.
The leaves will have the same appearance if you infuse too much mineral salts in the soil through the fertilizer (they can literally dry out the plant).
Red Spider Mites
Although repellent to pests, some species will want to attack you peperomia if found near it. Red spider mites are one of them.
They appear if the plant is overwatered or not getting enough sunlight.
What do they do? They suck the sap from the leaves, so the foliage will become yellow and eventually dry out.
To prevent spider mites, regularly mist your plant.
If they do appear, consult your local flower shop worker for the best insecticide, and do it as soon as possible since all the pests go from one plant to another and before you know it, all of your beloved greenery will be in danger.
Benefits of Peperomia Obtusifolia
It is known as an air purifier, so you can keep it in the bedroom as well.
At the same time, it is both decorative, and beneficial for your health as well.
The good thing is that it is not known as a poisonous plant, but try to keep it away from small children and pets.
If pets chew the leaves it might make them sick, but it is not toxic.
Peperomia obtusifolia is an attractive, easy-care, evergreen succulent-type plant, living in the Central and South America.
It has a glossy, wide green (or green-yellow) leaves and long, fleshy stems.
Also, it likes a lot of indirect sunlight.
You should water it often but not with great amounts of water since overwatering can cause root rot and attract pests.
Since it is a shallow-rooted plant, it doesn’t need replanting often, once in every three to five years will be enough.
It is a pretty resistant plant, so it won’t cause you much trouble.
On top of everything, it is a great air purifier and it’s non-toxic to children and pets, but still you should try to keep it away from them.
Have you got any special tip for me? I’m curious to hear!
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