If you like indoor trees, Ficus elastica is a must-have (and you’ve probably heard of it!). Its name, sometimes known as the rubber plant, is derived from the latex-like secretion that it excretes when wounded. Because of its gorgeous glossy foliage and ease of maintenance, this tropical is a favorite in the houseplant hobby.
Continue reading to learn everything there is to know about Ficus elastica care at home and how to keep yours happy and healthy!
Rubber plant, rubber tree, rubber bush, rubber fig, Indian rubber tree, Ficus elastica (common, scientific)
Natural environment of Ficus elastica
Ficus elastica is native to Asia, specifically India and Malaysia. Having said that, this species may now be found all over the world, including the United States. Rubber trees can reach heights of 80 to 100 feet (24-30 meters) in the wild.
They stay considerably smaller indoors, of course, but grow large enough to produce that gorgeous indoor tree look!
On a white background, a Ficus elastica (rubber tree houseplant) | Indoor Ficus Elastica cultivation
Light and temperature affect Ficus elastica.
Light is essential for the upkeep of rubber plants.
Rubber plants thrive in bright but indirect light, ideally from windows facing south (in the Northern Hemisphere). Some varieties, such as the reddish ‘Burgundy’ and ‘Ruby,’ can withstand a few hours of direct sunlight per day.
Plants grown from food scraps
Rubber plants, like other houseplants, have a strong tendency to bend in the direction of sunshine. As a result, rotating the pots or moving them around from time to time is beneficial. Every month or so should suffice. However, when it comes to rubber tree care, this isn’t such a big concern. Unless your plant is in danger of collapsing, it is largely for cosmetic purposes.
Temperature is an important factor in the management of rubber plants.
Rubber trees thrive in temperatures ranging from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius/60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, owing to their origins in subtropical regions. Avoid allowing the room to cool below 12 °C/50 °F for optimal rubber tree care. Plants may shed their leaves as a result of low temperatures. It is also critical not to place rubber plants in drafty places or too close to A/C units or heaters.
When it comes to humidity, rubber plants are quite tolerant. They tolerate average room humidity well, but during the dry winter months, they will benefit from being near a humidifier.
Care for Variegated Rubber Plant
As previously said, rubber plant care generally entails enabling enough light to reach your plant, including some direct sunlight here and there. There is, however, an exception to this rule. The ‘Tineke,’ or variegated rubber plant, does not tolerate direct sunshine well. In fact, direct sunlight can cause the edges of the leaves to burn. However, give a variegated rubber plant plenty of light. If it’s too dark, they’ll lose their lovely variegation.
This is the only distinction between variegated rubber plant care and standard Ficus elastica care.
Soil and planting of Ficus elastica
Rubber plant maintenance: soil
Although opinions differ on which soil composition is ideal for rubber tree care, everyone believes that proper drainage is essential to preventing root damage. Without proper drainage, the roots languish in stagnant water, devoid of oxygen and vulnerable to root rot. Wet feet are virtually never a good thing!
So, how do you incorporate drainage? If you’re using regular potting soil for your Ficus elastica, you can add a little amount of perlite or bark to help keep the soil from getting too compact.
Some people add cactus soil or peat to their combinations as well. Because each plant is unique, you may need to experiment to find out what works best for you.
Planting and caring for rubber plants
When it comes to repotting, you should only do it once a year or anytime the plant appears to be root-bound. It’s probably time if the roots are poking out of the bottom of the planter! It’s best to report during the growing season (spring and summer), but if you buy a new plant straight from the store, you might want to wait until next season to let it adapt.
It goes without saying that the pot’s bottom should have openings to allow water to travel through. This is true for almost any houseplant. A normal plastic nursery pot would suffice, and you can use a fancy overpot.
Ficus elastica watering
When it comes to rubber tree care, it’s critical to keep track of how much you’re watering. Unfortunately, many houseplants, including rubber trees, suffer from overwatering. During the winter, the plant should be maintained gently damp but never wet.
Overwatering your rubber plants will cause the leaves to turn a sickly yellow and fall off, which is an evident sign that you are overwatering them. Sticking your finger two to three inches into the dirt will inform you if a plant needs to be watered. No watering is required if any of the soil sticks due to wetness. To be cautious, if you have a huge plant in a deep pot, you could invest in a soil moisture meter.
During the summer, your Ficus elastica will most likely require watering once a week. During the winter, when it is not actively developing, it could be every other week.
Tip: When watering and caring for rubber tree plants regularly, take the time to carefully wash down the leaves with a damp cloth. This aids in dust removal and allows the plant to receive more sunlight. It can also aid in the control of pests, albeit these plants are not as susceptible as other houseplants.
Ficus elastica propagation
If you adore your plant and want more of it, there are several ways to propagate it. Air layering is one of the simplest approaches.
Air layering is frequently employed for difficult-to-produce trees and plants. It entails cutting into a plant’s stem to promote stem cells to sprout new individuals from the afflicted location. The area should then be wrapped in a material that promotes growth, such as damp moss. Some individuals add rooting hormones to the cut to speed up the process, but it will still take a few weeks before you see any roots.
Essentially, you deceive the plant into growing roots or even additional plantlets on its trunk. The plantlet can then be removed and potted up. If only the roots have developed, you can trim the entire top of your Ficus elastica and plant it. The mother plant, like the new plant, will produce new sprouts and continue to grow normally.
If air layering seems too time-consuming, you may also take regular rubber tree cuttings. Using clean scissors, cut a section of the plant, preferably a young one with a few leaves and visible nodes. Stick this in water or standard rubber tree soil for a few weeks and it should root!
Fertilizer made from Ficus elastica
When it comes to rubber plant maintenance, it’s helpful to know that these plants don’t require a lot of fertilizer. In fact, many folks don’t bother with fertilizer at all. It will, however, welcome a small amount of food!
During the growing season, it is best to feed this plant with a diluted liquid fertilizer once or twice a month.
Purchasing Ficus elastica
You don’t have to break the bank to take home a plant because many of the kinds are reasonably priced. Because of their popularity, they are frequently available in local supermarkets and nurseries. A Ficus elastica can also be purchased online.