Rubber Plant: How To Grow Ficus Elastica The Right Way

If you’re contemplating including new vegetation to your houseplant assortment, together with rubber plant care in your repertoire is certainly the best way to go! Give this ficus oblique daylight, let the soil dry between waterings, and feed it in spring and summer time, and also you’re set.   

Whereas take care of a rubber plant is much like different indoor plant care practices, there are  various factors to contemplate. Holding the shiny leaves the precise coloration, and avoiding wounds which end in drips of white sap isn’t tough, per se, but it surely does require somewhat extra understanding than another vegetation do. 

Fortunately, we’ve devoted this entire piece to rubber plant care, so you are able to do it at dwelling! Let’s talk about all the things you must find out about this beautiful plant. 

Fast Care Information

Widespread Title Rubber fig, rubber bush, rubber tree, rubber plant, Indian rubber bush, Indian rubber tree
Scientific Title Ficus elastica, Ficus elastica robusta
Household Moraceae
Top & Unfold 3-12 toes tall, 3-6 toes extensive indoors; 50-100 toes tall and extensive open air
Mild Brilliant, oblique mild
Soil Nicely-drained potting soil
Water Water when the highest few inches of soil are dry
Pests & Illnesses Fungus gnats, spider mites, scale, root rot, botrytis, leaf spot, powdery mildew, southern blight

All In regards to the Rubber Plant

Rubber plant in pot.

The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is a flowering tree native to southeast Asia, and is naturalized in Sri Lanka, Florida, and the West Indies. In its native vary, Ficus elastica grows giant, as much as 100 toes in jungles of the tropics. It stays at about 6 toes tall as a standard houseplant, as rubber plant care is pretty easy. 

In USDA zones 10 and 11, and indoors, rubber vegetation are perennial evergreens. They’ve woody stems and huge, broad, waxy leaves which can be organized alternately. The leaves are various colours based mostly on the cultivar in query. In its pure habitat the greenish-white aromatic flowers of Ficus elastica bloom in spring. These kind inedible fruit when they’re pollinated by particular species of wasps. Like different fig timber, solely psenes wasps have the anatomical construction that’s appropriate with their flowers. 

In home settings, Ficus elastica doesn’t bloom, however produces beautiful leaves year-round. Rubber tree plant roots are voracious, and may injury foundations and different vegetation if they’re planted in situations that promote extreme development. The widespread title “rubber plant” pertains to the tree’s use as a supply of latex, which the tree bleeds when lower. Whereas the Hevea brasiliensis tree is the primary supply of business rubber, this plant has been a secondary supply previously. 

The sap of each timber could cause irritation when contact is made with human pores and skin. Due to this fact, put on gloves, eye safety, and lengthy sleeves when pruning and repotting. Equally, the plant is mildly poisonous to pets and kids if ingested. Keep away from putting it the place curious canines, cats, and kids can attain it. Nevertheless, it cleans toxins from the air the place it’s positioned. This and their stark foliage is why rubber tree vegetation are so beloved.   

Rubber Plant Care

Rubber plant leaves
Rubber plant leaves.

So that you’ve determined to take care of a rubber plant at dwelling. Let’s speak about rubber plant care in each indoor and outside settings. 

Solar and Temperature

The rubber plant wants not less than a couple of hours of shiny, oblique mild. For those who’re rising one indoors, place it someplace close to a south-facing or east-facing window, the place it receives oblique daylight. For those who dwell in zones 10 and 11, plant your rubber tree open air in a evenly shaded space. Laborious afternoon solar isn’t preferable, so guarantee there’s some shade within the latter a part of the day. Decrease mild might make your rubber plant develop slowly. 

Rubber vegetation do finest in evening temperatures between 60°F to 65°F, and day temperatures between 75°F and 80°F. Be sure that your rubber tree isn’t uncovered to 55°F or decrease temperatures for prolonged durations. Whereas your rubber vegetation can dwell in hotter temperatures, they could lose the fascinating coloring on their leaves above 85°F. 

Water and Humidity

Water your container-grown rubber tree plant when the highest few inches of soil dry out. For outdoor-grown timber, water them each different week when the soil across the tree dries. As a result of the rubber tree is a tropical plant, it has an energetic rising season in spring and summer time, and enters dormancy in fall. This dormant interval lasts by winter. Don’t water as a lot throughout this time. Let chilly water come to room temperature earlier than irrigating.

Younger vegetation want extra water to develop, and a mature plant wants much less. 50% or extra humidity is important to develop a wholesome rubber tree houseplant. In a heat humid local weather, outside timber will do exactly wonderful. Indoor rubber vegetation may have an exterior supply to spice up humidity ranges within the type of a every day misting with distilled water, or a plant humidifier. At all times water within the morning when your plant has time to soak up the water earlier than the solar evaporates it.   


A closeup of variegated Ficus elastica leaves
A closeup of variegated Ficus elastica leaves.

A rubber tree houseplant can thrive in primary, well-draining potting combine. If you’re rising indoors, give your rubber plant an excellent high quality container with first rate sized drainage holes. A mixture of one half pine bark, one half peat moss, and one half sand is good to your rubber plant. 

The identical goes for rising open air. Guarantee the world wherein you’ve planted it has well-draining soil by offering the mandatory aeration and amendments. Break up compacted areas, and add compost and drainage supplies like agricultural sand or perlite. Poor high quality soils aren’t finest for Ficus elastica, and acidic soil at a pH of 5 to 7 is perfect. 

Fertilizing Rubber Vegetation

Your rubber tree wants fertilizer each two weeks to each month throughout the rising season. Within the dormant season, don’t add fertilizer, as this will trigger root and moisture retention points. Younger timber do finest with an natural, high-phosphorus liquid fertilizer diluted to half power to assist new development of roots. Seek for one thing with an NPK of 24:8:15. 

A extra mature plant appreciates nitrogen fertilizers utilized on the identical price, with out dilution. Espoma indoor liquid fertilizers are nice for this objective, as they’ve the precise steadiness of vitamins in the precise concentrations.   

Pruning Your Rubber Plant

Whereas pruning isn’t mandatory, you’ll be able to prune an indoor plant to encourage bushier development. Take away a desired portion from the highest of your rubber plant by clipping the central trunk with sterile loppers or pruning shears relying on its dimension. At all times put on gloves and protecting gear once you do that, because the latex sap could cause pores and skin irritation. 

As a basic rule for houseplants, take away diseased or lifeless leaves or branches year-round. This rule additionally applies to outside timber. For those who dwell someplace these sorts of ficus vegetation are invasive, it’s most likely finest to keep away from planting open air. Nevertheless, should you inherited the outside rubber plant, you’ll be able to attempt to set up a root barrier, and prune away any suckers that develop across the rubber tree. 

In each indoor and outside circumstances, prune your tree simply above a leaf node to encourage new development. Clear cuts forestall entryways for illness, and points together with your rubber plant general. 

Rubber Tree Propagation

Variegated Ficus elastica in pots
Variegated Ficus elastica in pots.

Through the technique of pruning your rubber plant, you’ll be able to take cuttings to make new rubber timber. Make your cuts one inch above the node. If any milky white latex drips from the plant on this course of, dab it with a paper towel till it stops. Take away all however one leaf on the stem slicing, and roll the leaf right into a cylinder so the waxy floor of the leaf faces outward. Then place a rubber band over it to carry it in place. 

Dip your stems in rooting hormone, and plant them in small pots crammed with the identical potting combine you’d use for a rubber plant grown indoors. Affix a plastic bag excessive of your rubber vegetation and make sure the moisture stage stays up round them as new development begins. Place your cuttings in a heat space with entry to oblique mild, and in about 5 or 6 months you’ll discover new development. 

It’s also possible to propagate rubber vegetation by air-layering. Choose a stem that can disconnect from the mum or dad rubber plant to make a brand new one. Use sterile pruning shears or a budding knife to chop ⅔ of the best way by the stem. Dab away any dripping sap. Then pack damp moss across the wound and wrap plastic wrap round it. 

Make sure the moisture stays constant, and in 2 to three weeks, you’ll see roots start to kind. It’s right now you’ll be able to take away the plastic wrap and detach the stem with the basis intact. Plant the stem in your favourite ficus potting soil and place it in shiny mild. If in case you have a wholesome Ficus elastica, be happy to pack damp moss round different stems when the tree is in energetic development to make extra.    

Troubleshooting Rubber Vegetation

Whereas rubber plant care is comparatively low upkeep, you might run into some points. Let’s talk about what can crop up and what to look out for when you take care of a rubber plant.

Rubber Plant Rising Issues

Sluggish development or an absence of latest leaf development might point out improper mild ranges. Give your rubber plant somewhat extra mild by transferring it nearer to a light-weight supply, eradicating obstructions, or offering extra mild from a develop mild. Inexperienced leaves on people who ought to have pink or purple ones most likely resulted from improper mild situations as properly – often an excessive amount of mild. 

Browning of inexperienced leaves might point out a few various things. Crispy brown leaves point out an excessive amount of mild, and your rubber plant must be protected. Brown mushy leaves might point out fertilizer burn or overwatering. To treatment this, cease watering and fertilizing till the soil is dry. Take away broken leaves from the rubber plant. When the rubber plant soil is dry, you’ll be able to resume watering and fertilizing on an adjusted schedule. Attempt a plant moisture meter should you’re having hassle telling when to water subsequent.

Leaves drooping or leaves falling might point out any of the above points. In case your rubber tree is dropping leaves, rigorously think about which of those may very well be occurring, and regulate as wanted. In fact, leaf fell can be generally a sign of pest points. 


A popular Ficus elastica variegation
A well-liked Ficus elastica variegation.

Fungus gnats are sometimes current in vegetation when moisture ranges are too excessive. For a rubber tree houseplant, you may need to cope with them once they make their manner inside your house. Outside rubber vegetation received’t have this situation as a lot. Reduce on watering to forestall them and both soak the soil round your rubber plant with diluted neem oil, or deal with with useful nematodes to forestall any hatched larvae from consuming the roots of your rubber plant.

Spider mites are small bugs that feed on plant sap and weave tight webs across the leaves and branches of a rubber plant. For those who discover them, gently wipe the leaves with a humid fabric to take away them. Then observe up with a light-weight mist of neem oil or insecticidal cleaning soap to kill any remaining mites and forestall future infestations. 

Scale is a standard insect for the rubber tree houseplant, and presents within the type of slimy brown bumps on branches and nodes, or cottony plenty. These are literally bugs that transfer very slowly and feed on the rubber plant as they transfer round. You’ll be able to take away them with a humid fabric or q-tip dipped in alcohol, after which observe up with a mist of insecticidal cleaning soap. 

Rubber Plant Illnesses

In relation to illnesses, rubber vegetation do should take care of a couple of. Rubber vegetation might have points with root rot, particularly in situations the place a rubber tree houseplant has been overwatered or planted in a poorly draining medium. It’s in these situations fungi that trigger root rot thrive. Typically it’s potential to cease the difficulty by not watering or fertilizing after which resuming when the soil has dried. If the bottom of the rubber tree plant is mushy or the central trunk is, you might have to eliminate it, and begin over.

Botrytis blight is brought on by a fungus known as botrytis cinerea. This illness is often brought on by wind carried spores. Indoors your rubber vegetation can contract it from different vegetation or contaminated soils. Younger leaves of the rubber tree plant are the primary to expertise an infection. Prune away contaminated leaves and branches. Copper fungicide might forestall the illness in situations the place botrytis thrives. In case your rubber vegetation are coated in mould, you’ll doubtless should throw them away and begin over. 

Leaf spot is brought on by numerous fungi and micro organism that thrive on rubber vegetation particularly in excessive humidity situations. In the middle of take care of a rubber plant, take away leaves that exhibit these spots. They will unfold and trigger distorted development. To deal with them, use a copper-based fungicide as prevention. Water appropriately on the base of your rubber tree plant. 

Powdery mildew is one other illness rubber vegetation cope with, and it happens in damp, cool situations. It seems to be like white patches that kind on the leaves of your rubber tree plant. Permitting the soil to dry out and repotting your plant into new soil may help. Selectively prune away diseased areas of the plant, which additionally supplies good air circulation. You’ll be able to attempt to forestall the illness with common purposes of neem oil spray as properly. 

Southern blight is a standard illness of the rubber tree plant. It’s a fungal illness that grows mats of mycelial membranes that department from the leaf of a rubber tree plant. There isn’t any treatment for this illness. Present good air circulation round your rubber tree plant. Hold it in situations the place it’s not too sizzling, and never too moist. Enable the soil to dry between watering and prune away diseased foliage. 

Continuously Requested Questions

Rubber plant against a blue sky
Rubber plant in opposition to a blue sky.

Q: The place ought to I place a rubber plant in my home?

A: Place it close to, however barely offset from a shiny mild supply. 

Q: How do I do know if my rubber plant wants water?

A: Anticipate the highest few inches to dry out in your container, after which water.

Q: Is rubber an excellent indoor plant?

A: Sure. It’s probably the greatest indoor houseplants. 

Q: How lengthy do rubber vegetation dwell?

A: They’ve a lifespan of about 10 years. 

Q: Why do rubber plant leaves fall off?

A: That is often attributed to an absence of humidity. Present your rubber plant with a plant humidifier or a every day misting with distilled water to maintain it glad. 

Q: Does rubber plant want daylight?

A: Place them out of direct daylight, as their leaves are delicate to an excessive amount of mild. 

Q: Is rubber plant toxic?

A: It’s reasonably toxic when consumed, inflicting mouth irritation, and digestive misery. Hold it out of attain of kids and pets. 

Q: Is rubber plant fortunate?

A: Sure. In line with the tenets of Feng Shui, the plant is assumed to convey good luck and luck to those that take care of them and the areas they’re positioned in. 

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