Baby rubber plant care guide – 5 expert tips for this glossy miniature houseplant

The compact size of Peperomia obtusifolia adds a charming touch to indoor plant displays

Baby rubber plant
(Image credit: Stephanie Frey Photo via Alamy)

For houseplant lovers, nothing can get much cuter than an indoor plant that looks like a smaller, identical version of another houseplant. That's exactly what Peperomia obtusifolia is - a miniature version of the popular rubber plant.

Native to Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean, baby rubber plants, as they are also known, grow up to 12 inches tall indoors. There are lots of different types of these plants, many of which offer beautiful variegated leaves.

They gain their name from their succulent-like foliage and similar appearance to rubber plants, but baby rubber plants are actually quite different. 

'The baby rubber plant is a common name used for the Peperomia obtusifolia. You may also hear about a plant known as the rubber tree which is actually referring to the Ficus elastica and not a peperomia. They are completely different plants with different care,' says Paris Lalicata, head of plant education and community at The Sill.

These compact leafy houseplants are low maintenance and we've gathered expert tips for keeping it looking its best.

Baby rubber plant

(Image credit: David Sharples via Alamy)
Paris Lalicata from The Sill
Paris Lalicata

Paris has been at The Sill for five years, looking after Plant Education and Community. She is a self-taught plant expert with over ten years of experience growing houseplants and is currently working on becoming a certified sustainable gardener. She maintains an indoor garden of over 200 plants in the north-east of the USA and is passionate about making plant care more digestible for budding plant parents.

5 expert tips for baby rubber plants

If you're looking for a small houseplant with strong leafy structure, a baby rubber plant is a great choice. They're easy to look after and we've compiled expert tips for giving yours the best care.

1. Avoid putting your plant in direct sunlight 

Baby rubber plant on windowsill

(Image credit: Yuri Arcurs via Alamy)

In their natural environment, Peperomia obtusifolia, can be found in tropical rainforests, shielded from direct sunlight by canopies of trees.

'Baby rubber plants prefer medium to bright indirect light and should be positioned near a window with filtered sunlight,' says Autumn Hilliard-Knapp, houseplant expert from Perfect Plants.

It's important to give baby rubber plants plenty of indirect light because insufficient light can lead to drooping foliage, much like rubber trees.

'Avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves. A spot near a window with a sheer curtain would be ideal,' says Andy Burde, houseplant expert at the House Plant shop

Autumn Hilliard-Knapp
Autumn Hilliard-Knapp

Autumn is a horticulture specialist and marketing professional at Perfect Plants Nursery. With four years of experience in the horticulture industry, she has developed a passion for helping people create beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces to enjoy. Her expertise in horticulture encompasses a broad range of activities, including plant care and selection, landscape design, and maintenance.

Andy Burde from the House Plant
Andy Burde

Andy is a seasoned horticulturist and houseplant expert with With years of experience in plant care, propagation, and interior gardening, he specializes in nurturing healthy, vibrant houseplants and advising enthusiasts on best practices. His focus is on sustainable and practical methods that cater to both beginners and advanced plant lovers.

2. Let your plant dry out

Baby rubber plant

(Image credit: Alena Kravchenko via Alamy)

A common houseplant mistake is not knowing how to water indoor plants correctly. 

'Since they have succulent-like leaves, baby rubber plants are susceptible to overwatering and root rot disease. This is why it’s important to allow the soil to dry between waterings,' says Paris Lalicata.

'Generally, you may see yourself watering the plant anywhere between seven to 10 days depending on conditions in the home. You’ll want to ensure to allow the soil to dry out before thoroughly soaking it,' she adds.

3. Fertilize your baby rubber plant during warmer months

Baby rubber plant

(Image credit: Hazrat Bilal via Alamy)

Baby rubber plants aren't among fast-growing indoor plants and rather have an average growth rate.

You can, however, boost growth and encourage a fuller look by feeding it during its active growth season in spring and summer.

'Feeding baby rubber plants with a balanced fertilizer about every two to four weeks during the growing season can provide them with essential nutrients,' says Autumn.

There are lots of houseplant fertilizers on the market, including this liquid indoor plant food from Perfect Plants.

Their finer root systems also mean that they won't outgrow their pots quickly and you may find you only need to repot your baby rubber plant every three years on average.

4. Keep humidity high around your plant

Baby rubber plants

(Image credit: Narinnate Mekkajorn via Alamy)

As with other tropical indoor plants, Peperomia obtusifolia thrive in higher humidity and providing an environment that resembles its humid habitat will help keep it looking glossy and healthy.

'Keep the plant away from drafts and maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level to mimic its tropical origins,' says Andy.

'Baby rubber plants appreciate higher humidity levels, so misting the leaves or placing them near a humidifier can be beneficial,' says Autumn.

There are lots of ways to increase humidity for your houseplants, including misting, like with this mister from Greendigs, or placing your plants near each other. 

5. Remove dust from its leaves with a damp cloth

Baby rubber plant

(Image credit: Stephanie Frey Photo via Alamy)

Just like rubber plants, baby rubber plants are loved for their attractive, glossy succulent-like foliage which adds bold statement among indoor plant displays.

You may notice that the leaves of your baby rubber plant collect dust, dulling the appearance of their charming leaves, but it's completely harmless and can be easy to clean.

'Wiping the leaves with a damp cloth can help keep them dust-free and shiny,' says Andy.

Shop baby rubber plants online


How is a baby rubber plant different to a rubber plant?

Although baby rubber plants gain their name because they have a similar appearance to rubber plants, these two indoor plants are different species. Baby rubber plants, or Peperomia obtusifolia, are smaller in size, around 12 inches in height. Rubber plants, or Ficus elastica, can grow up to two meters in the right conditions. It's important to identify which plant you have because they have different care requirements.

Are baby rubber plants toxic to pets?

Yes, baby rubber plants, or Peperomia obtusifolia, are non-toxic and safe around curious dogs and cats. Most plants that are not pet-friendly contain a toxic chemical or sap that can cause illness or skin irritation. Baby rubber plants do not contain this, making them safe for houseplant lovers with pets. In comparison, rubber trees (Ficus elastica) are toxic to pets so it's important to research the differences in these plants before purchasing them.

Baby rubber plants are perfect compact additions to houseplant collections. They have glossy, bold leaves and are small enough to fill a space on a windowsill or shelf. They love humidity and will do well as a bathroom plant, alongside orchids or ferns.

Tenielle Jordison
News Writer (Gardens)

Tenielle is a News Writer in the Gardens team at Homes & Gardens with five years of journalistic experience. She studied BA Journalism, Media and English Literature and MA Magazine Journalism at Cardiff University. Before coming to Homes & Gardens, Tenielle was in the editorial department at the Royal Horticultural Society and worked on The Garden magazine. She is passionate about sustainable living and likes to encourage gardeners to make greener choices to help tackle the effects of climate change with a trowel in hand. Tenielle is also a houseplant lover who is slowly running out of room for her ever-growing collection.