Baby Rubber Plant: Pruning & Propagation

3 Materials
30 Minutes

Peperomia obtusifolia makes an excellent & easy care houseplant. What's not to love about that glossy green, succulent foliage! Here's how to prune & propagate the Baby Rubber Plant.

Time to take action – this is all about pruning & propagating my Peperomia obtusifolia aka Baby Rubber Plant.

Peperomias, which are available to you in a wide range of variegations and leaf shapes and sizes, make excellent and easy care houseplants. Most of them have glossy foliage; so why wouldn’t we want more of them? I have 2 in my guest bathroom and 1, a Peperomia obtusifolia or Baby Rubber Plant, was taking up too much real estate so on with the pruning.

I love the Baby Rubber Plant not only for its ease of maintenance but also for those dark, glossy green leaves.

The form mine was growing into, let’s call it flippy-floppy, was 1 I liked but I didn’t want another hanging plant. The Rainbow Peperomia growing next to it will be happy to have more space so it can better show off its beautiful self.

Baby Rubber Plants respond very well to pruning. I’ve cut 1 back to 5″ tall and it came back just fine. This time I took about 10″ of stems off. My new plant that’ll result from these cuttings will have a good start in life. I have a favorite way of propagating these plants (in my opinion it’s the easiest!) which I share with you below and also in the video.

This post and video about pruning and  propagating applies not only to the solid dark green leafed Peperomia obtusifolia but also to all the variegated forms of this plant also.

Best time to prune & propagate a Peperomia obtusifolia:

Spring & summer are the best times.  Houseplants prefer not to be disturbed in the winter months. A big plus: rooting goes faster in the warmer months.

How I pruned the Baby Rubber Plant:

You’ll see this in the video. There’s nothing scientific or artistic about this  pruning adventure. I’m just making cuts to shape the plant & also to propagate.

I made sure my pruners were  clean & sharp. Cut cleans are much better & you’ll lessen the chance of spreading any diseases.

I took straight cuts right above  a node. This is the point from which new leaves & roots will grow out of.

The stems which were winding & trailing out of the pot, along with those crossing over, were removed. I tip pruned (this is where the top 1-3″ of newer growth is removed) a few of the stems. Most of the cuttings I took were 8 – 12″ long.

What this pruning will do:

This shaping of my Peperomia obtusifolia will force it to grow more upright. If I wanted another hanging plant, I would have left it be & just done a little tip pruning.

New side growth will emerge off the main stems & cause the plant to fill in more. If it gets too dense, I’ll prune it again in 6 months or so.

How to propagate a Baby Rubber Plant (Perperomia obtusifolia):

1.) Stem cuttings in water.

This is my favorite method & the one I always do when propagating Baby Rubber Plants. I’ll be referring to this method in the categories below. I take cuttings anywhere from 3″ – 10″ & remove the bottom 1 – 5 leaves.

Sometimes I’ll cut off more of the stems if they’re curved. I want the stems to be as straight as possible. Put the cuttings in a vase or jar & follow the care instructions below.

2.) Stem cuttings in mix.

Take shorter cuttings (3-5″) & put them into a light mix like a propagation or succulent & cactus mix. You want the roots to be able to easily emerge & a dense mix will prevent that. Keep them in bright light out of direct sun & keep evenly moist.

3.) Leaf cuttings.

I’ve never done this with Peperomias because I’m way too impatient. I know it can easily be done because there’s good amount of info out there on the internet for you.

4.) Division.

This works just fine if you can find a way to split the plant in 2 or 3. I use a clean, sharp knife to get it started & then gently pull away the divided sections. You can see me  dividing a ZZ Plant here.

5.) Seed.

Another method of propagating Peperomias I have no experience with.

How care for the cuttings in water while they’re rooting:

Put them in a bright spot which receives little or no direct sunlight. Mine are currently on an east facing windowsill which gets an hour of direct sun early in the morning.

It’s late March & if they’re not sufficiently rooted for planting in a month (I’m in Tucson so the sun will be getting more intense & the days get hotter as we move closer to summer), I’ll move them to my utility room.

Check the water level to make sure the bottom nodes are covered with water. I do this every 2-3 days because I live in a warm, sunny climate. You may have to do it less often.

If the water starts looking funky, change it completely. I do this every few weeks to prevent bacteria from growing in the water.

How long it takes for the cuttings to root in water:

You’ll start to see roots emerging in a week or 2. In the warmer months, the roots will grow faster. I’ll be planting mine which I started rooting at the end of March in 5 – 7 weeks time.

Good things to know about the Baby Rubber Tree:

This has nothing to do with pruning or propagating a Baby Rubber Plant: they’re safe for pets. I know a lot of you are pets owners like myself (I have 2 kitties) & I wanted to let you know Peperomias are considered to be non-toxic.

Make sure only the bottom 1-2 nodes are in water. Don’t completely submerge of the stems in water.

Check the water level often to make sure the bottom couple of nodes are in water. Change the water completely every few weeks to so bacteria doesn’t start to grow.

Each cutting should have 3-7 leaves depending on the length of the stem. You don’t want any leaves to be submerged in the water.

Keep your cuttings out of any direct strong sunlight. They’ll burn.

When these cuttings are sufficiently rooted, I’ll do a post and video on planting them. At that time I’ll show you how the mother plant is growing in after the pruning. You can see me  repotting Peperomia plants here along with the mix I use.

The majority of the cuttings I pot up are given away. So not the case with these.

I’ll keep these because I love Peperomias and my Baby Rubber Plants. They do very well here in the desert.

Easy care and glossy foliage – what’s not to love?!

Happy gardening,

Suggested materials:

  • Water
  • Glass Cup
  • Rubber Tree Plant

Joy Us garden
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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