Common names: Baby Rubber Plant, Pepper Face
Distribution and habitat: Peperomia obtusifolia is a species of epiphytic flowering plant native to Mexico to northern jungles of South America and the Caribbean. It is an evergreen perennial growing to 25cm (10 inch) tall and broad, with cupped leathery leaves and narrow spikes of white flowers up to 12cm (5 inch) long.
Description: Peperomia obtusifolia has long stems and flashy, glossy, rounded but blunt-edged leaves 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long. Leaf colour is deep purplish green and the stems are slightly purple. Maximum height is about 30cm (12 inch). White flower spikes only 5-8cm (2-3inch) long appear between late spring and early autumn.
Houseplant care: Occasional pinching out of growing points during spring and summer will induce plants to produce more side-shoots and become bushier.
Light: Peperomia obtusifolia with green leaves need to be shaded from the hot sun during the sunniest months, but those with variegated foliage like a few hours of sunshine every day. There for these plants should be placed quite close to a bright window, especially in winter.
Temperature: Peperomia obtusifolia thrive in normal room temperatures. Even when not actively growing, they must have a temperature of at least 13°C (55°F). Despite of their appearance like succulents, they are not desert plants. They need high humidity during the growing season. In very warm rooms the plants will lose their leaves in dryness. It is recommended to keep the plants on trays of moist pebbles on in larger pots of damp peat moss.
Watering: Water the plant only when is clearly needed and then very sparingly. Allow the potting mixture to dry out almost completely between waterings. Too much water even for short periods will result in considerable leaf loss and may even bring on complete collapse of the plants.
The thick, fleshy leaves of these plants allow them to withstand short periods of drought. If at any time the leaves look unusually transparent, this probably indicates that the plant needs water.
Fertilising: Apply standard liquid fertiliser once a month at half-strength from mid-spring to autumn only. Too much feeding will result in soft, untypical growth and eventually the plant will collapse.
Potting and repotting: Peperomia obtusifolia best grown in a peat-based potting mixture. Because they have little root they will do well in small pots, half-pots, shallow pans, bowls and hanging baskets.
Young plants may need to be moved into pots one size larger in spring. Mature plants in 10 to 13cm (4-5 inch) pots are unlikely to need repotting. All pots should have a shallow layer of clay-pot fragments or other drainage material in the bottom to promote drainage.
Propagation: Peperomia obtusifolia can be propagated from 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long tip cuttings. Take cuttings in spring or early summer and insert several of them in same pot of 5-8cm (2-3 inch) with barely moist equal-parts of peat-moss and coarse sand or perlite. Keep the potted cuttings at a temperature of about 18°C (64°F) in bright light but not in direct sunlight and water them very sparingly. Tip cuttings are likely to root in four to six weeks. Move the rooted new plant into larger pots only when they have completely filled their pots with roots and clearly need more space.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Alba’ is a variegated form with pale lemon yellow new leaves, deepening in colour as they age.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Albo-marginata’ is a variegated form with silvery white borders on a grey-green leaf.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Variegata’ & Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Greengold’ are both variegated forms with patches of cream or yellow.
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Minima’ is a dwarf form of Peperomia obtusifolia.
Peperomia obtusifolia is susceptible to grey mould (botrytis) that may appear at the base of the stems if the air is too stagnant. Brown-tipped leaves may be caused by sudden drops in temperature.
Treatment: Keep the plant in well ventilated place to avoid grey mold to appear. Remove the affected leaves immediately and always keep the plants away from droughts and cold window-sills.
Overwatering will result in wilting or discoloured leaves or/and stems and leaf root.
Uses: Peperomia obtusifolia is used in terrariums, mixed planters or in shelves by warm, sunny window.
These houseplants clean the air by emitting high oxygen content, and purifies indoor air by removing chemicals, such as formaldahyde or other toxins.
Foliage – green or variegated
Shape – bushy
Height: 30cm (12 inch)
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – sparingly
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 21°C (55-70°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high
Hardiness zone: 10a-11