by Jennifer Poindexter
Houseplants are a great way to add natural beauty to your home. If you’re in the market for an indoor or outdoor plant, you should consider the peperomia obtusifolia.
If the name is intimidating, it shouldn’t be. It’s the scientific name for the baby rubber plant. This plant is native to Southern Africa and thrives in the rainforest.
It’s similar to a succulent and has vibrant foliage which can range from green to marbled with white and yellow.
Don’t let the name of this plant fool you. It’s not related to the natural source of rubber, hevea brasiliensis.
If you’re intrigued this might be the right plant for you. Don’t bring it into your life without knowing how to care for it, though.
Instead, keep reading and learn all you should know to care for the baby rubber plant. Let’s get started.
1. The Baby Rubber Plant Has Specific Growing Conditions
As with any plant, you must be able to provide adequate growing conditions. If not, the plant might not thrive.
With this particular plant, it needs the proper soil, adequate lighting, and the right growing container.
The baby rubber plant needs well-draining soil that’s aerated. This ensures the plant can receive water without remaining in consistently soggy conditions.
Next, you must provide indirect light. It can be high or low lighting, but the plant can’t handle direct light as this could scorch the leaves.
The last thing this plant needs from you is the right growing container. A baby rubber plant can grow to be anywhere from six inches to twenty inches wide.
Be sure to choose a growing container which can support the size of the plant. You can also prune the plant or transplant it, as needed.
If you can provide these few basic needs, the baby rubber plant should have a wonderful start under your care.
2. You Must Water Your Baby Rubber Plant Adequately
Watering the baby rubber plant is an important part of caring for it. If you over water the plant, it could lead to root rot.
Also, be advised that this plant is drought tolerant. The leaves and stems are thick and able to retain moisture well.
The best way to water this plant is to sit it in your kitchen sink and spray water into the soil. When water is running out of the bottom of the planter, you can stop applying it.
Allow the container to drain fully before placing the plant back in its growing location. Don’t add any more water to the plant without testing the soil.
Insert your finger into the soil, next to the plant. When it’s dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to have another deep watering session. If not, don’t add anymore water.
This is a simple way to ensure you don’t overwater this plant. You may also grow the baby rubber plant outdoors during certain parts of the year, depending upon your planting zone.
The foliage of the plant will catch water, but it’s also wise to set the plant out in the rain occasionally to ensure it receives a thorough soaking from time to time.
Again, you can use the soil test to know when the plant needs more water and when it doesn’t.
Humidity is another subject which must be considered when growing this plant. How much you must do to provide proper humidity will depend upon the growing location of the plant.
In nature, the baby rubber plant grows in humid conditions. However, they’re tough, and might not require extra care when growing around your home. If you want to ensure this need is met, you have a few options.
The first is you can spritz the plant with a spray bottle of water a few times per week, or you can choose to grow the plant in a naturally humid location of your home. This would include rooms such as the kitchen or bathroom.
If these options don’t work for you, try placing the planter within a larger planter. The larger planter should have rocks in the bottom and water poured over them.
You don’t want the water to cover the rocks completely as it will touch the bottom of the plant. Once the smaller planter is set within the larger one, the water helps provide humidity.
Whether you choose to provide additional humidity is a personal choice. Consider these tips as you supply adequate care to your baby rubber plant.
3. Temperatures Matter with the Baby Rubber Plant
The baby rubber plant is easy to care for when it comes to providing adequate temperatures. If growing the plant indoors, typical home temperatures should suffice.
The plant prefers temperatures between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re growing the plant outdoors, ensure it’s only outside when the temperatures are in this range.
It’s also important to ensure your baby rubber plant isn’t placed where it will receive drafts. You don’t want to place it in front of any air conditioners or heaters as this will cause the temperature to fluctuate.
Provide consistent temperatures for your baby rubber plant, and it should be happy in your chosen growing location.
4. You Must Know How to Feed Your Baby Rubber Plant
Fertilizing the baby rubber plant is a simple process. It needs a fertilizer that’s rich in nitrogen, water-soluble, and diluted before application.
Feed your plant one time during the spring and one time during the summer to ensure it has all the necessary nutrients to thrive.
Be careful not to over fertilize your plant as too much salt from the fertilizer can burn the foliage. You also shouldn’t apply fertilizer if your plant appears stressed, is heading into dormancy, or is already dormant. This occurs during fall and winter.
Follow these few tips when fertilizing your plant, and it should have all the nutrients it needs.
5. Propagation is Simple for this Plant
The great thing about growing your own plants is typically you can create more of them without spending another dime.
Propagation of the peperomia obtusifolia plant is straightforward. You can divide the mature plant by using a gardening spade.
Divide the plant, all the way through the roots, and transplant the divisions into separate containers under the same growing conditions discussed earlier.
Your other option for propagation is to remove a cutting of the plant, and place it in water. Over the course of a month, the cutting should form roots.
At this point, you can transplant the cutting into well-draining soil and under the growing conditions already mentioned.
Propagating is a great thing to do when it’s time to repot your plant. It should only need to be repotted once every five years.
When the roots are growing from the bottom of the planter, it’s time to divide the baby rubber plant, or place it in a larger container.
If you choose to move the plant to a larger container, you should only go up one pot-size. If you plant in a pot that’s too large, you run the risk of oversaturation during watering.
Propagating and repotting this plant is another way you can provide quality care. In return, the plant should remain healthy and vibrant.
6. Understand Your Enemies When Growing a Baby Rubber Plant
When you grow any plant, you must understand what could potentially bring harm to it. The baby rubber plant is no different.
This will dislodge them from your plant. However, you can also use an insecticide to correct this issue as well.
When it comes to battling fungal diseases, you can use a fungicide to treat current issues. However, it’s best to head off potential issues by providing adequate growing conditions.
These diseases form when the soil is cold and wet. Therefore, provide enough light to warm the soil and plant in well-draining soil to avoid this issue.
You should also consider reducing the amount of water being supplied to the plant and potentially pruning some of the foliage to increase airflow around it, if signs of fungal disease are appearing within your baby rubber plant.
By staying alert to potential threats, you’re doing your part to keep your plants as healthy as possible.
7. Detect Problems with the Baby Rubber Plant
There are times when your baby rubber plant will let you know it’s struggling. If you begin noticing that the foliage is fading, it means the plant is receiving too much direct sunlight.
If the leaves begin to wilt, it means the plant is receiving too much water. When the plant begins to drop leaves, it’s also a sign of too much water.
If the foliage begins to brown at the ends, it means the plant is sitting in a location where it’s receiving drafts, and the temperatures are fluctuating.
When any of these things occur, correct them by either moving the plant or reducing the amount of water being applied.
Also, if you notice any dead foliage or leaves which are falling out of the planter, it’s okay to remove them. This will keep the plant well-supported and healthy.
This concludes all of the tips a gardener might need when raising a peperomia obtusifolia plant, also known as the baby rubber plant.
Hopefully, you’ll find great success with these tips to help you along the way. Whether growing indoors or outdoors, the vibrant foliage of this plant is a great way to add beauty to any area in or around your home.