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Publication #FPS466

Peperomia obtusifolia Peperomia, Baby Rubber Plant1

Edward F. Gilman2

Introduction

Peperomia has round, smooth, dark green leaves and short, somewhat brittle stems, seldom growing taller than 12 inches (Fig. 1). Quickly growing into spreading clumps, peperomia is ideal for tropical groundcover use, as well as container culture or raised planters. It also makes a durable houseplant and will cascade over the side of a hanging basket.

General Information

Scientific name: Peperomia obtusifolia
Pronunciation: pep-per-ROE-mee-uh ob-too-siff-FOLE-leeuh
Common name(s): peperomia, baby rubber plant
Family: Piperaceae
Plant type: perennial; herbaceous
USDA hardiness zones: 10 through 11 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Figure 1. 

Peperomia


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]
Uses: container or above-ground planter; mass planting; naturalizing; suitable for growing indoors; cascading down a wall
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range

Description

Height: .5 to 1 feet
Spread: 1 to 2 feet
Plant habit: spreading
Plant density: open
Growth rate: moderate
Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]
Texture: coarse

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: obovate
Leaf venation: bowed
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: variegated
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: flowers periodically throughout the year

Fruit

Fruit shape: oval
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable
Current year stem/twig color: reddish
Current year stem/twig thickness: very thick

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in the shade
Soil tolerances: slightly alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 24 to 36 inches

Other

Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Growing in partial to deep shade, peperomia will thrive in moist, rich, organic soils or less fertile sandy soils. Although preferring high humidity, it must have well-drained conditions to avoid stem and root rot. Plant on 12- to 18-inch centers for quick establishment as a ground cover. It is best to err on the dry side when growing peperomia.

A few available cultivars include: 'Alba', young growth entirely white-yellow, marked with bright red; 'Albomarginata', grey-green leaves with silvery border; 'Albomarginata Minima', dwarf form of the preceding; 'Minima', compact plant, leaves one to two inches long; and 'Variegata', grey-green blotched green leaves with a broad, creamy-white margin.

Propagation is by cuttings which root easily or by division.

Peperomia's main pest problem is mites.

Pests and Diseases

Peperomia is susceptible to stem and root rots and leaf spot diseases.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS466, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date September 1999. Revised June 2007. Reviewed June 2011. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.