Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata Care – Growing American Rubber Plant

Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata

The Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata is a beautiful, more colorful variation of the Peperomia Obtusifolia. The biggest difference between them is that this plant has variegated leaves in the form of creamy white strips and patterns alongside a dark green or olive green background. In contrast, the peperomia obtusifolia has solid dark green leaves.

A few of the peperomia obtusifolia variegata’s common names include fleshy peperomia, American rubber plant, pepper face and hanging peperomia just to name a few.

This plant grows more upright and gets a little taller than its sibling. This is especially true if you don’t prune it. However, it does grow and trail sideways quite a bit.

What makes this plant stand out are its beautifully variegated leaves. While not the biggest (2 to 4 inches) their color pattern makes them hard to miss. It is also worth noting that its leaves are fleshy and store water, giving the plant succulent-like qualities.

As such, the plant is grown mostly for its foliage. However, during the spring, it does grow flowers as well, though these blooms are often overlooked because of its leaves.

Native to Central and South America, it is used to tropical conditions. Thus, it is well-suited for most home and indoor environments.

Thanks to its looks, many people grow in it containers. Although its creeping nature also lends itself well to hanging baskets. If you’re lucky enough to live in USDA zones 10 to 12, you can likewise grow in outside, as groundcover.

Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata Plant Care

Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata Light

While it has many similar characteristics to its sibling the peperomia obtusifolia, the peperomia obtusifolia variegata requires more bright light in order to keep its colored pattern.

So, keeping it under bright, indirect light is key. And, although it won’t die on you in low light conditions, you can expect it to lose its variegation in these settings.

From what I’ve noticed, keeping my plant in medium light vs. bright light is enough to cause a difference in the variegation. The speckles/blotches are visibly lighter when placed in medium light.

Additionally, it is a good idea to rotate your plant 90 degrees every so often so that every part of the plant gets spends time “facing” the light source. This allows its to grow evenly.

Whatever you do, don’t place the plant under direct sunlight. Exposing it to intense sunlight for long periods of time will cause leaf burn.

 

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Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata Temperature & Humidity

In addition to bright, indirect lighting, your peperomia obtusifolia variegata is also specific about temperature. The good new is that it is well-suited for most household climates.

In general, you want to keep your peperomia obtusifolia variegata where the temperature is between 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The closer you are to the middle of that range 65 to 75 degrees, the better.

However, the most important thing to remember is never let it stay under 50 degrees, even for short periods of time. Once the temperature gets this low, the plant will start getting stressed. If it isn’t moves to somewhere warmer, you’ll soon see it show signs of damage.

As such, it is important to be aware of the cold and warm spots in your home. You also want to make sure that it doesn’t stay in a location where the nighttime temperature drops significantly from that in the daytime.

As such, the plant can be grown outdoors if you live in USDA zones 10 to 12. As long it received bright light and stays under shade or away from direct sunlight, it will be happy.

Outside of these areas, the plant is often grown as a houseplant. But, you can still bring it outdoors during the summertime, provided you give it the same lighting conditions above.

Since the peperomia obtusifolia variegata is tropical in nature, humidity is likewise an important factor for it to grow. This plant has a small root system. And, it relies of its succulent-like leaves to store water.

As such, moist air helps it get the proper hydration is wants without the risk of root rot (from overwatering).

That said, if you keep it in humid conditions, make sure that the leaves don’t stay wet for long periods of time. Allowing them to do so puts them at risk of fungal disease.

Again, there isn’t a lot to worry about with humidity because most homes are humid enough for it to be happy. The only time you need to monitor humidity is during the cold months when the air can get really dry.

peperomia obtusifolia variegata

source: wikimedia commons

 

Watering Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata

One of the reasons many people classify this plant, along with its sibling the peperomia obtusifolia as succulents is because of their succulent-like characteristics.

Both store water in their thick leaves and stems. And, by doing so, allow the plants to go without water longer than other houseplants. (Note: while they are drought tolerant, their leaves will droop if they lack water)

As such, you don’t have to water it as much or as often. And, between under and overwatering, you’re way better off giving it less than more water. Additionally, its small root system makes its more susceptible to overwatering.

So, the plant does not like wet feet. And, sitting in water or having waterlogged soil for long periods puts it at risk of root rot.

That said, the one time it will need water is during its growing season (March to September), especially during the summertime. During this time, you want to water it once the soil gets dry.

To do so, stick your finger into the soil. If the top 2 inches are dry, it is time to water again. If it is still moist, wait a few more days and retest again.

When you do water make sure to water thoroughly. And then allow excess moisture to drain through the holes at the bottom of the pot.

Alternatively, watering from the bottom is likewise very effective. It also reduces the risk of overwatering. You can do this by placing is dish filled with water under the pot.

This allows the soil to absorb the moisture via the holes in the pot. And, soon enough the top soil will become moist well.

The biggest benefit of watering from the bottom is that it uniformly moistens the soil. Additionally, once the soil gets enough water (they can only hold so much), it stops on its own. So, you don’t end up overwatering. Lastly, the leaves also never get wet as they can if you water from above.

However, the downside here is it takes longer. Also, using this method, you’re unable to wash away the salts (fertilizer residue) and mineral deposits that accumulate in the soil over time.

 

Soil

The peperomia obtusifolia variegata is an epiphyte. Thus, its smaller root system. This means that it prefers light, loose and air soil. Additionally, you want the soil to drain water well.

Also, don’t pack the soil into the pot too tightly. Doing so defeats the purpose of the getting light and loose soil since you’ll be compacting everything in. When you do so, it makes it difficult for the air and water to penetrate through the soil. And, when the water does wet the soil, it also takes a lot longer to dry.

That said, because the peperomia obtusifolia variegata does not need to be repotted for long periods of time, the soil can get compacted as well. When this happens, it’s a good idea to aerate the soil.

You can use a pair of chopsticks or skewers. Anything that can poke holes into the soil to break it up and allow air and water to get to the bottom will work. For more on soil and repotting, see the section below.

As far as soil goes, a high quality potting mix that’s well-draining works well. Similarly, you can use a combination of perlite and peat if you want to create the substrate yourself.

 

Fertilizing

As with water, the peperomia obtusifolia variegata, prefers less fertilizer to more. In fact, you may want to try not using fertilizer at all to see how it reacts. I know a few friends who don’t use any fertilizer in their variegates and have beautifully healthy plants.

This is because the plants have small root systems. As such, they don’t need a ton of feeding. More importantly, they’re more susceptible to over fertilizing.

If your plant doesn’t grow as well or doesn’t look as vibrant without fertilizer, make sure not to overdo it.

The best time to apply fertilizer is during the spring and summer when it is actively growing. You also want to stop feeding it during the cold seasons.

In the growing season, feed it with a general purpose houseplant fertilizer once every 2 to 4 weeks diluted to half strength.

 

Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata Pruning

As with its sibling the peperomia obtusifolia, you’ll want to prune this plant because it can grow fairly quickly especially during the summer.

Trimming it back will help keep It from getting out of control. You’ll likewise be able to shape it as well as manicure its appearance.

Additionally, as it gets older, you’ll want to cut back on the discolored leaves.

 

Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata Propagation

The peperomia obtusifolia variegata can be easily propagated through leaf or stem cuttings. Here’s how to propagate peperomia obtusifolia variegata from stem cuttings:

  • Pick a few stems to use. Ideally, you want to choose stems that look healthy and have at least a few leaves on them. You also want to cut more than one because propagation doesn’t have a 100% success rate. As such, you’ll want at least a few stem to work with.
  • Cut the stem and allow the “wounded” end to dry.
  • Once the stem cutting dries, put the stem end into rooting hormone powder. This step is optional. But, it speeds up the time for the cutting to root. So I think it’s well worth it.
  • This is another optional step. You can propagate the stem cutting in water. This comes out to be an extra step because you can skip it and directly plant the cutting into soil. However, I’ve found that propagation is easier (higher success rate) via water as opposed to soil. So again, it is well worth the extra effort. Here, you’ll move the stem cutting to soil after it has grown roots.
  • Place the stem cutting into a container with fresh potting mix.
  • After a few weeks, the cutting will begin to root.

 

Transplanting & Repotting Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata

Due to its smaller root system, the peperomia obtusifolia variegata does not need to be repotted often. In fact, you can wait between 4-6 years to repot a mature plant. A sure sign that your plant needs to be repotted is when the roots start poking out of the current container’s holes.

However, the case isn’t true for younger plants. Younger plants will come in smaller pots. And, because they grow faster you’ll need to repot them often.

What increases the frequency of repotting young peperomia obtusifolia variegata is they do better if you increase pot size slowly.

Their small root systems disfavors overly wide or deep pots. That’s because large pots relative to the plant means a lot of soil. Thus, when the soil gets wet, there’s a lot of water in which the plant will be sitting it. To make matters worse, lots of soil and moisture means it takes a lot longer to dry.

As such, large pots relative the plant increase the chances of it getting waterlogged, and root rot in the process.

So, while repotting a mature peperomia obtusifolia variegata isn’t always needed. You do want to change the top soil once a year. Spring is the best time to do so. Not only does this give your plant fresh soil, it also helps keep the soil loose and airy.

 

Toxicity

The peperomia obtusifolia variegata is not toxic to both humans and animals. This makes it safe for homes with young children and pets who may get curious or mischievous enough to play and eat parts of the plant.

That said, even if it is not poisonous, ingesting any parts of the plant can cause unpleasant reactions, it on pets or young kids.

 

Pests and Diseases

A well taken care of peperomia obtusifolia variegata will likely be pest and disease free. That’s one of its perks. However, because it is susceptible to overwatering and likes humidity, it can be weakened if these two requirements are not properly met.

In such cases, you’ll see the plant get soggy and some of its leaves drop. In any weakened state, the plant becomes susceptible to pests. The most common of these include mealybugs and spider mites.

As such, always check the steams and the leaves (including the bottom sides of the foliage). Once you see any pests, make sure to separate the plant from your other houseplants. Pests are notorious for quickly infesting nearby plants.

You can treat most of its pests using insecticidal soap.

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