The Peperomia obtusifolia is commonly known as the Peperomia Green. This is because of its very saturated green leaf color.
But that’s not the only common name the plant goes by. Here are a few:
- Peperomia obtusifolia Green
- Pepper face plant
- Hanging Peperomia
- Baby rubber plant
- American rubber tree
Before I go any further, I also want to clarify that you’ll see a couple of varieties of this plant:
- Peperomia obtusifolia or the Peperomia obtusifolia Green – has solid green leaves (this is the plant I’m taking about in this article).
- Peperomia obtusifolia variegata – is the variegated version with lighter green leaves and yellow patters on the sides of the leaves.
Now that’s all out of the way…
The Peperomia obtusifolia is a beautiful perennial epiphyte that’s commonly found in the tropical and subtropical rainforests of Central and South America.
It is often grown as an indoor plant, in hanging baskets or ground cover in the yard or garden.
Of course, like other peperomia, it is grown for its beautiful foliage.
These are oval in shape, have a lovely green color and a glossy texture. The leaves also grow to about 2 to 6 inches long and are fleshy making them look like succulent leaves.
Peperomia Obtusifolia Plant Care
Peperomia Green Light Requirements
The Peperomia obtusifolia relies on good lighting in order to stay healthy. Its leaf growth, size and color are all affected by how much light it receives.
Because it is an evergreen indoor plant, you want to keep it in a well-lit spot all year round. That way, its leaves will also look beautiful.
For optimum growth and color, bright, indirect light is best. It will also tolerate low light without any problems.
However, because it has dark green leaves, you want to avoid lots of direct sunlight and very intense light. Regular exposure or exposure for prolonged periods at a time will cause the leaves to lose their deep green hue and become pale in color.
In contrast, if you own the Peperomia obtusifolia variegata which features yellow variegations on its green foliage, you’ll want to avoid low light since the plant’s non-green sections don’t collect light. Therefore, they prefer staying in a brighter spot with more light (and can tolerate more light as well compared to its solid green counterpart).
This makes an east or west facing window good choices for the Peperomia Green. It likewise does not have any problem with a north facing window as long as that direction in your home does not get very dark come wintertime.
Outdoors, the plant is happiest when it received dappled sun or stays in partial shade. It needs at least 2 to 6 hours of this kind of light on a daily basis to stay healthy.
Peperomia Green Temperature
The Peperomia obtusifolia is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of South America. Because it lives near the equator, it is used to living in warm climates.
However, it is often found in the forest where it is covered by the canopy of trees, branches and leaves. As such, it does get some protection from the direct rays and heat of the sun.
This makes its ideal temperature between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It can likewise tolerate a bit lower and higher than this range.
In fact, the Peperomia Green does not have a problem with mid to high 90 degrees weather. But can only tolerate down to 50 degree climates on the colder end.
The reason is that it does not see snow, frost or freezing conditions where it comes from.
So it grows best in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 through 12 where it can live outdoors all year. These locations have sunshine even through winter with very mild temperatures during that time.
If you live somewhere colder, it is a good idea to keep it indoors as a houseplant for most of the year. You can leave it outside during the summertime, just make sure to bring it back inside once the weather starts dropping near 50 degrees.
Another feature of the tropical forests where the Peperomia obtusifolia comes from is high humidity. This makes the plant prefer humid conditions that stay at 60% and higher.
Thankfully, its thick, succulent-like leaves store moisture.
This allows it to tolerate dry air much better than other houseplants. Therefore, even if the plant prefers higher humidity, it will not fussy, struggle or experience any harm in lower humidity.
This makes it easy to care for as a houseplant.
The only possible exceptions to this are locations where the air can get really dry. For example, some desert regions of Nevada and Arizona where humidity can average under 30%.
If this is the case, you want to watch the plant and its leaves for signs of trouble.
You can mist the plant or use a humidifier to help the plant out. If you prefer something more passive, a pebble tray or grouping it with other plants work just as well.
How Often to Water Peperomia Obtusifolia
Thanks to its succulent-like leaves, the plant can tolerate quite a bit of dryness. Because of this, you also want to be careful about giving it too much water.
Since it already have water stored away in its leaves, it is easy to overwater the plant.
The problem here is that its root system is fairly small and not extensive. Therefore, they’re easily overwhelmed by waterlogged soil or too much water.
Thus, the best way to water the plant is to stay on the dry side.
This means watering the plant about once a week during the summer and around once every 2 weeks come winter.
But before you do, always check the soil.
How quickly soil dries depends on many factors, temperature being only one of them. Therefore, the only sure way not to overwater your plant is to feel the soil before watering.
The easiest way to test whether it is time to water are either:
- Using your finger – stick your finger into the soil until the 2nd Then check your finger to see whether the tip if dry or moist. Only water if your fingertip feels dry.
- A wooden stick – dip a wooden stick all the way until it hits the bottom of the pot. Then take the stick out. The wet part of the wood shows you until where the water line is. Wait until the top 2 inches of soil is dry before watering. I like to wait until the water line is about 50% of the way down before adding more liquid. Since the Peperomia Green tolerates dryness, this is much safer.
- Moisture meter – just dip the probe of the meter into the soil and check the reading. It will tell you if the soil is dry, moist or wet.
Peperomia Obtusifolia Potting Soil
The best soil for Peperomia obtusifolia is light, airy, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter content.
The first 3 features will allow excess moisture to drain quickly to prevent overwatering. They also allow for more air circulation for the plant’s rotos get enough oxygen.
The latter gives the plant extra nutrients to help it grow and sustain its beautiful leaf color.
This makes a combination of:
- 2 parts peat
- 1 part perlite, pumice or sand
A good choice.
Another potting mix I’ve used successfully for the Peperomia Green combines:
- Potting soil
- Orchid bark
I also like to add a layer of worm compost as topdressing to either of them. This gives the plant extra nutrients. Doing so, reduce the amount of chemical fertilizer you need to use.
If you have succulent mix at home, you can use that as well. A couple of options that have worked for me include:
- 1 part succulent mix with 1 part potting soil
- 1 part succulent mix with 1 part coco coir
Whichever you go with, try to avoid heavy soils. You also don’t want to use potting soil you get from the store on its own since these often retain too much moisture for the Peperomia obtusifolia.
Peperomia Green Fertilizer
The Peperomia Green is not a heavy feeder. Therefore, you don’t need to feed it lot.
In fact, you want to stay on the cautious side.
Again, this is because of its smaller root system. Giving it too much fertilizer or at very high concentrations will eventually damage the plant’s roots since most commercial plant food products contain salt.
As salt builds up, they become more harmful to the plant.
That said, the Peperomia obtusifolia does need fertilizer, at least if you want it to grow quickly and produce beautiful foliage. Without it, the plant will grow slowly, have fewer and smaller leaves.
You only need to feed the plant once a month during the spring and summer. Use a balanced diluted liquid fertilizer. Avoid feeding during the winter.
If you add worm castings, use compost or other organic fertilizer, you may not need to feed the plant with commercial products (depending on how much you use). Or, dilute the dose to quarter strength.
This reduces the salt buildup in the soil over time.
Peperomia Green Pruning
The Peperomia obtusifolia is a fairly fast growing plant whose long stems can grow about 3 to 4 feet a year. Its trailing growth habit makes it popular in hanging baskets. Although you can keep it in pots as well.
It will grow to about 12 inches tall and 12 inches wide with leaves that are between 2 to 4 inches long.
Because of this, it is a good idea to keep the plant neat and trim. Pruning is not necessary but is helpful especially with some stems which will outgrow the others and look like outliers.
The longer stems can also go in different directions making the plant less bushy or affect your desired shape. Therefore trimming once in a while keeps it looking good.
That said, if you want a full-looking Peperomia Green, pinching it back will help keep it looking bushy.
How to Propagate Peperomia Obtusifolia
The most common ways to propagate the Peperomia obtusifolia is by using:
- Stem cuttings
- Stem tip cuttings
- Leaf cuttings
All of these methods are similar and use the same process. The biggest difference if that you’re taking different parts of the plant to grow new ones.
And because of this, the rate at which they’ll grow will vary as well.
But beyond that, the process is very similar.
Here’s how to propagate the Peperomia obtusifolia using cuttings.
- Take a stem or leaf cutting. For stems, you can take a lower stem with lots of leaves or a stem tip. For leaf cuttings, take a leaf with the petiole.
- Then plant the stem or leaf cutting into soil. Use a well-draining potting mix (50% perlite, 50% peat). Make sure the stem or the petiole is buried in the soil.
- Keep the soil moist but not wet.
- You can also cover the pot with plastic to increase humidity. But make sure to remove the plastic bag every so often to allow fresh air in and remove excess moisture.
- It will take about 4 weeks or so for roots to grow. Leaf cuttings take a little longer compared to stem cuttings.
How to Repot or Transplant Peperomia Obtusifolia
Due to its small root system, you don’t need to repot the Peperomia obtusifolia often. It takes around 2 years before you need to repot. Plus, the plant enjoys being slightly root bound. So, you don’t need to hurry.
To keep the soil fresh, it is a good idea to change the potting mix every year. Or, you can replace the topsoil.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
No. The Peperomia obtusifolia is not toxic to people or animals. This makes it safe to keep anywhere around the house even if you have curious and playful kids and pets.
While it is not a good idea for them to ingest the plant’s leaves or stems, there’s no risk of toxicity or poison in case they do.
Peperomia Green Problems & Troubleshooting
Dull, Fading Leaves
If you notice the deep green foliage turn dull or look like they’re fading in color, check for too much light. Often this is from direct sunlight exposure that the plant cannot tolerate.
Brown Leaves and Tips
Browning leaves, edges and tips can happen if your plant is left in the cold. It cannot tolerate temperatures under 50 degrees for long periods.
Sometimes, it is just cold drafts or sudden significant drops in nighttime temperature. Therefore, move the plant to a warmer spot.
Drooping & Wilting
Wilting is usually caused by underwatering. That’s because plants are up to 95% water. So when they lack water, they will wilt since there’s less water to “fill” the stems.
On the other hand, if you notice wilting with leaf loss, the cause is likely overwatering.
Because the two situations are very different, you want to check the soil to see if it is wet or dry before adding more water.
Leaf drop happens when the plant is experiencing cold temperatures that it cannot tolerate anymore. It can also be caused by overwatering.
Therefore., check the soil for wetness or sogginess. If this is the case, reduce watering.
Otherwise, check temperature and move the plant to a warmer area.
Pests and Diseases
The Peperomia obtusifolia is generally resistant to pests and diseases provided that it is healthy. If under stress, shock or it is receiving too much or too little of the requirements above, it becomes more susceptible to them.
The most common pests to try to invade your Peperomia Green include mealybugs, mites, thrips and fungus gnats.
If you see any of them, immediately treat with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
Also, be warry of excess moisture, both in the leaves and soil.
With the former, it can cause bacterial and fungal infections. For the latter, it can lead to root rot.