Botanical name: Peperomia obtusifolia
Baby Rubber Plant also called Pepper Face or American Rubber Plant is a compact upright growing Peperomia with cupped leathery leaves. At first glance, the plant resembles a rubber plant and hence its common name "Baby Rubber Plant. The flowers are narrow spikes of white flowers which grow in a winding manner. Baby Rubber Plant is a popular houseplant and numerous cultivars have been developed including variegated ones. The plant is an evergreen perennial and is native to the tropical rain forests in Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean.
There are numerous varieties of Peperomias; trailing, bushy and upright ones are available. Popular trailing types include Peperomia scandens variegata (Cupid Peperomia), Peperomia glabella (Wax Rivet), Peperomia prostrata (String of Turtles) and Peperomia rotundifolia (Creeping Peperomia). The bushy types grow to about 4-6 in. high and include Peperomia caperata (Radiator Plant), Peperomia argyreia (Watermelon Peperomia), Peperomia hederaefolia (Ivy Peperomia).The upright types have more distinct stems which grow vertically for part or all of the plant's life. They include Peperomia magnoliaefolia variegata (Desert Privet), Peperomia obtusifolia, (Baby Rubber Plant) and Peperomia verticillata (Whorled Peperomia)
Baby Rubber Plant prefers bright light away from direct sunshine but it can tolerate medium to low indirect light. It will also thrive under artificial light. Bright light is necessary to maintain the bright and intense color of the leaves. Keep it away from direct sunshine as it can lead to discoloration of the leaves. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Water Baby Rubber Plant liberally during the growing season and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Significantly reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil barely moist. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead in root-rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.
Average warmth between 18-250C is ideal for Baby Rubber Plant. Protect the plant from cold draughts as they can cause brown tips and leaf drop. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.
Average room humidity is adequate for Baby Rubber Plant. It has no need for high humidity.
Feed Baby Rubber Plant with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn. Learn more on feeding houseplants.
Repot Baby Rubber Plant during the growing season only when the plant has become pot-bound. However, the soil can be refreshed at the beginning of the growing season if not repotting. Use a rich, free-draining soil. Use a pot one size larger for repotting as the plant grows slowly. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging which can lead to root-rot. A shallow rather than deep pot is preferable as the plant has a small root system.
Pruning Baby Rubber Plant involves regular removal of dead foliage to maintain the plant neat and tidy. To encourage a bushy compact growth and to control growth, regularly pinch off the growing tips.
Baby Rubber Plant can be propagated from leaf and stem-tip cuttings
Propagating Baby Rubber Plants from leaf cuttings
Leaf cuttings root easily, there is no need for a rooting hormone. Take leaf cuttings from a healthy Baby Rubber Plant. Ensure each leaf cutting has a petiole. Allow sometime for the formation of a protective callous tissue over the cuts. Place the leaf cuttings in a jar of clean plain water and change the water every 7-10 days. Place in warm shaded place until growth begins at the base of the petiole. Allow for substantial growth of the roots and new leaves. Transfer to individual pots and place in a cool shaded place. Maintain the soil moist until the plant is well established. For a fuller plant, plant several cuttings in one pot.
Propagating Baby Rubber Plants from stem-tip cuttings
Stem-tip cuttings root easily, there is no need for a rooting hormone. Take stem-tip cuttings of about 4-5 in. length from a healthy Baby Rubber Plant. Ensure each cutting has at least 2 sets of leaves. Insert the cuttings on moist rooting soil. Place in warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges and substantial growth has been observed. For a fuller plant plant several cuttings in one pot.
Brown leaf tips and edges in Baby Rubber Plant are due to sudden drop in temperature from cold draughts. Remove all the damaged leaves and keep the plant away from cold draughts.
There are two causes of sudden loss of leaves in Baby Rubber Plant. Either the temperature is too low; move to a warmer spot or the plant has been underwatered causing the foliage to wilt.
Wilting and loss of leaves in Baby Rubber Plant is an indication of waterlogging and or overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings and ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to avoid waterlogging.
Exposing Baby Rubber to direct sunlight will cause the leaves to become dull and lifeless. Protect the plant from hot direct sunlight or move to a shaded spot.
Baby Rubber Plant (Peperomia obtusifolia) is non-toxic to both humans and pets. The plant is safe to grow in the home.