The Peperomia Rubella is a small plant with beautiful thick, dark green leaves, red undersides and reddish stems. It is a rare peperomia plant that’s native to the Caribbean, more specifically Jamaica.
Some prefer to the plant as Bitsy Peperomia.
So, if you see this label in any store, it is referring to the Peperomia Rubella.
Its size and beauty make it very versatile as you can grow it in a pot in your tabletop or shelf. At the same time, you can put it in a hanging basket or in a terrarium.
How do you care for the Peperomia Rubella? It enjoys medium to bright indirect light. Keep the soil dry and avoid overwatering.
Its thick, succulent-like leaves let it store moisture to tolerate dry periods.
The plant thrives in warm, humid environments that make it very adaptable to indoor living.
Peperomia Rubella Plant Care
The Peperomia Rubella likes medium to bright indirect light. It will also do well in filtered or dappled light indoors.
Good lighting helps the plant grow and maintain its colors.
As such, it is happiest if you keep it near an east or west facing window.
This gives it plenty of light plus many hours of good lighting. And the plant will grow faster and produce more foliage in this environment.
However, protect the plant from too much direct sunlight. It cannot tolerate harsh or intense sun especially that in the middle of the day.
It can withstand about 1-3 hours of this on a regular basis.
However, anything more like that near a south facing window will damage its leaves and possibly scorch its leaves.
Therefore, if you want to position it near a south facing window, keep it at least 3 feet from the opening. It also won’t have a problem 10 feet from the window as the light will still be sufficient at that distance.
In case you want to keep the plant near the south facing window, use sheer blinds or something similar, to filter the light.
The Peperomia Rubella prefers temperatures to stay between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is where it will grow at its best since the conditions are not overly hot or cold.
Excess temperatures will stress the plant. As such, avoid this as much as possible.
That said, the Peperomia Rubella can tolerate warm environments quite well since it is native to the tropical region of the Caribbean.
There the sun shines all year round with moderate to hot weather depending on the time of year.
Additionally, there are no winters there.
Thus, this kind of climate is what the Peperomia Rubella likes most.
It is also why the plant enjoys the outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11. The weather in these regions are similar to its native habitat.
There is no winter in these areas and the climate stays consistently sunny and moderate to warm all year.
On the other hand, it is also important to mention that the Peperomia Rubella has problems once temperatures drop under 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is usually too cold for the plant and its growth will slow down in this condition.
It also means that if you live somewhere with snow or frost, make sure to bring the plant indoors as the weather gets cold towards the end of year.
Keep the plant warm indoors as well as it has a hard time with the cold.
The Peperomia Rubella will thrive when humidity is kept at 60% to 90%. It enjoys high humidity as this is what it is accustomed to in the Caribbean.
However, I’ve noticed that it has fairly good tolerance to average room humidity.
And in many cases, you won’t need to adjust humidity to accommodate the plant.
That said, I still suggest trying to keep humidity at 40% and higher if possible. Although, it can take levels below that.
The only areas I’ve noticed where the plant will struggle are very dry air.
This means that if humidity consistently stays at around 30% or below, then it is a good idea to give the plant a hand.
You can mist the plant or use a humidifier.
I prefer to use a pebble tray or humidity tray depending on which components I have near me at home.
Both work the same way. And they are likewise easy to DIY with just a few old items.
The best part about these two humidity increasing method is that they are fairly hands-off. And all you need to do is add more water to the tray once it gets depleted.
How Often to Water Peperomia Rubella
The Peperomia Rubella is prone to overwatering. This is the common thing many growers won’t tell you about peperomia. They hate too much water.
So, while many resources will tell you that it enjoys moist soil, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you should or can water it like your other houseplants.
This will cause overwatering and potentially kill your Peperomia Rubella.
Instead, stay on the dry side.
The plant is prone to overwatering and root rot. So, it is always better to give the plant less water than more.
If you’re not sure, don’t water.
On the other hand, underwatering is much less of an issue.
That’s because the plant has fleshy, thick leaves that store a good amount of moisture.
As such, I like to wait until the top half of the soil has dried before adding more water. You can likewise wait until the soil is nearly dry all the way down between waterings.
To check, stick your finger into the soil and feel for moisture.
Another option is to use wooden chopsticks or thick wooden skewers. Any wooden stick will really do.
Insert the wooden chopstick in the soil until it reaches the bottom of the pot. Then take it out.
The wet area in the wood will tell you until where the soil is still moist. Thus, you can gauge how far down the soil is dry or wet.
Be careful when sticking the chopstick into the soil.
Stay away from the plant and use the blank part of the soil.
That’s because the Peperomia Rubella has a small, delicate root system that is easily damaged.
Peperomia Rubella Potting Soil
The Peperomia Rubella needs well-draining soil that is porous and rich in organic matter content.
Good drainage is very important because it prevents the soil from holding too much water.
In addition to adding too much water or watering too often, heavy soils that retain excess water is what causes overwatering and possibly lead to root rot.
So, always make sure that the soil has sufficient drainage.
I’ve also come across peperomia from the store where the shop just uses the same soil for most of their plants.
This meant the soil held too much water for that plant.
So, always monitor your new Peperomia Rubella. If you notice that the soil is retaining too much moisture, change it with better draining soil.
In addition to good drainage, try to use a mix with soil pH between 6. 0 to 7.5.
This will make the nutrients in the soil or fertilizer more available to the plant.
The Peperomia Rubella is not going to grow into a huge plant. However, you can encourage it to produce more leaves and become bushy.
Personally, I find the plant gorgeous when it gets quite thick and bushy.
So, I do encourage using fertilizer.
Since the plant is not picky with that kind of fertilizer you use, you have many different options.
The most common fertilizer home gardeners will use is water-soluble fertilizer. But you can go with slow-release fertilizer as well.
Then there are organic fertilizer options like fish emulsion or fish fertilizer.
With liquid (water-soluble) fertilizer, apply every 2-4 weeks during the spring and summer. Stop once early or mid-fall arrive and don’t feed the plant in winter.
Restart fertilizing once the warm weather returns in spring.
When applying, dilute the application by half strength each time.
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The Peperomia Rubella won’t grow into a huge plant. It usually reaches between 6 to 10 inches high and will get quite bushy if you let it keep growing.
As such, it will get wider sideways as more and more leaves grow.
This also means that when the stems get too long, they become a bit messy.
Similarly, too many leaves may require pruning.
In most cases, pruning is really all about keeping the plant neat and tidy. It is also to limit the excess leaves to make its appearance look nice.
How to Propagate Peperomia Rubella
Peperomia Rubella propagation is very easy. This is one of the best features of peperomia plants. And the Rubella is not an exception.
You also have many propagation options.
You can go with stem, stem tip cuttings or leaf cuttings. All of them work with high rates of success. And you don’t need to be overly picky like some other plants because the plant roots quite easily.
I particularly like to use stem cuttings because it is faster than leaf cuttings.
Although, I do know many growers who prefer to use leaf cuttings.
Here’s how to propagate the Peperomia Rubella from stem cuttings.
- Look for healthy stems. You can use one or more stems depending on how many new plants you want to grow. Each stem cutting will grow into a new plant.
- Take a 4-6 inch stem cutting. Then plant it into a pot with well-draining potting mix.
- You’ll need to water the soil and keep it moist. Also, place the cutting it bright, indirect light.
- It will take a few weeks for the cuttings to root. During that time, take care of the new plant like you would its parent.
In addition to propagating in soil, you can likewise propagate the cuttings in water.
With water propagation, place the cutting into a small jar of water. Remove any leaves that will get wet or touch the water.
It usually takes about 3-4 weeks for the cutting to develop a good amount of roots.
You’ll want to wait until the roots reach at least 2 inches or longer before moving the cuttings from the water into a pot with well-draining soil.
How to Repot or Transplant Peperomia Rubella
The Peperomia Rubella will always stay in a small pot. Although, it will need repotting every 3 or so years once the plant gets root bound.
Since its root system is small, there’s no need to hurry with repotting.
And when you repot, be careful when taking it out of the container as well as placing it into the new pot.
The roots are fragile and easily damaged. Plus, there aren’t going to be a ton of them there.
The best time to repot the Peperomia Rubella is during spring to early summer.
When you do, move it to a pot that is one size larger and replace the soil as well.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Peperomia Rubella is considered non-toxic. This means that it is safe to keep around the house even if you have young kids, cats and dogs running around near the plant.
Note that while not poisonous, it is still a good idea to avoid letting you children and pets eat parts of the plant as it can cause choking, gagging or upset stomach.
Peperomia Rubella Problems & Troubleshooting
The Peperomia Rubella is not prone to pests. But it can get them.
So, it is very important to keep the plant healthy and regular inspect it for any bugs.
Mealybugs are a common issue. And they’re a headache to deal with once they become an infestation. Therefore, try to catch them early and treat as soon as possible.
Other pest problems include spider mites, scales, aphids and thrips.
Root rot is something you want to watch out for first and foremost. Since the Peperomia Rubella is prone to overwatering, this becomes a huge problem.
Therefore, take the time out to understand the plant’s watering needs.
And always stay on the dry side of things.
Once you get the hang of wearing the plant, the next issues are leaf infections. Bacterial and fungal leaf infections are caused by leaving foliage wet or allowing water spots to stay on leaves for long periods time.
This can lead to leaf spot disease and other problems.
So, in addition to not overwatering the soil, it is also important not to wet the leaves too much.
Water the plant early in the morning so there will be sunshine to dry the leaves. Avoid watering late in the day.
And keep the plant in a well-lit location with good ventilation to prevent wet leaves from not drying.