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10 Tips on How to Care for Rubber Trees (Ficus Elastica)

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10 Reasons to Make the Rubber Tree Houseplant Your Next Indoor Plant

1.- About Rubber Trees

The rubber tree (Ficus elastica) are large tropical plants that can grow up to 100 feet tall in their natural habitat in Southeast Asia. It is characterized by its large, oval-shaped green leaves and its resilient nature. The rubber plant is not a good starting plant for gardeners because it does not forgive if neglected.

However, as a houseplant, it is easy to care for and can be grown year-round. The rubber plant requires light, moisture, and heat to thrive. For best results, place the plant in southern or eastern exposure, but keep it away from windows to prevent the leaves from scorching.

The rubber plant is an excellent addition to any home. Not only does it have beautiful waxy-looking leaves that start with a pink-coral hue, but it eventually deepens to a rich dark green; the rubber plant is also known for its ability to help purify the air.

As the rubber plant grows, it may begin to droop, so it’s important to support its leaves by using a long wooden dowel or bamboo stalk. Doing this will help keep the leaves upright and prevent them from drooping.

Many people grow the Ficus elastica ‘Tineke,’ Ficus elastica ‘Burgundy,’ Ficus elastica ‘Ruby,’ and Ficus elastica ‘Robusta’ cultivars indoors they are easy to care for and require a minimal amount of sunlight. Additionally, research has shown that having plants in your house will have amazing benefits for you! Visit our article Amazing Psychological Effects of Nature in Pet-Friendly Interiors to find out more!

How to Care for Rubber Trees (Ficus Elastica)

Rubber, Ficus elastica, Live Indoor Plant, 2 to 3-Feet Tall

2.- Selecting the Best soil for Rubber Trees

One of the best things about rubber tree plants is that they are not picky when it comes to the soil in which they are grown. Many people who grow plants indoors use cactus mix, but any excellent well-draining soil should do the trick. Additionally, rubber plants prefer a more acidic soil composition.

Much like a fiddle leaf fig tree, which many believe resembles, rubber plants “consume” their soil and will eventually have their roots exposed. If this happens, simply add more soil to the top of the container, and the problem will be solved. Rubber plants are low-maintenance and easy to care for, making them a great option for indoor and outdoor gardens.

3.- The Best light for Rubber Trees

One of the most important factors for a rubber tree is light. They need bright light, but it should be diffused rather than direct. Morning sunlight is usually fine, but in the afternoon, they should be moved out of the line of sight of the strong direct rays since they can roast the leaves.

If they don’t receive an adequate amount of light, they’ll wilt, lose their lower leaves, and the color of their foliage will become dull as opposed to glossy and vivid. Rubber plants are also relatively drought-tolerant, so you don’t need to water them too often. Let the soil dry out completely between watering and give them a good soaking.

If possible, try to use filtered or distilled water since tap water can contain chemicals that can build up in the soil and eventually damage the plant. With a little care, rubber plants can make a great addition to almost any home or office.

How to Care for Rubber Trees (Ficus Elastica)

Rubber, Ficus elastica, Live Indoor Plant, 2 to 3-Feet Tall

4.- How to Water Rubber Trees

Rubber tree plants are demanding when it comes to moisture levels, and they want to have a consistent amount of moisture but should not be allowed to become soaked in it. As a result, gardeners must be careful to check the moisture levels in the top few inches of soil to determine whether or not it is time to water their plants again.

If the top few inches of soil are dry and crumbly, it is time to water the plant once more. However, rubber plants are also susceptible to damage from prolonged exposure to dry conditions and have a poor drought tolerance. As such, gardeners must be careful not to let the soil around their plants become too dry.

5.- How to Fertilize Rubber Trees

Plants are living creatures that, like all living creatures, need food to survive. In the wild, they get their nutrients from the soil in which they grow. However, when they are grown in pots indoors, they rely on their caregivers to provide them with the nutrients they need.

The best way to do this is to give them a diluted liquid fertilizer throughout the entire growing season. This will help them to stay healthy and strong. Some industry professionals suggest giving indoor plants only a trace amount of fertilizer to prevent the roots from becoming overstretched and the plants from becoming root-bound due to their rapid growth.

However, if you give your rubber tree plant a trace amount of fertilizer, you may not be providing them with enough nutrients to meet their needs. It is important to find a balance that meets the needs of your particular plants.

How to Care for Rubber Trees (Ficus Elastica)

Rubber, Ficus elastica, Live Indoor Plant, 2 to 3-Feet Tall

6.- Best Temperature and Humidity for Rubber Trees

These plants, like other varieties of ficus trees, are susceptible to damage from drafts of cool air. Unhealthy plants will have a spindly appearance, with internodes that extend outward, and the leaves may initially turn yellow and then brown before falling off completely.

In general, rubber tree plants do best when they are maintained in environments that range from cool to warm, with temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels that are also moderate. Consider purchasing a space humidifier for your house if it has a reputation for being on the dry side.

You should also take care to avoid overwatering your rubber tree; allow the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings. If you notice that your plant’s leaves are drooping, this is usually a sign that it is time to water. With proper care, your rubber tree can thrive indoors for many years.

How to Care for Rubber Trees (Ficus Elastica)

Rubber, Ficus elastica, Live Indoor Plant, 2 to 3-Feet Tall

7.- How to Propagate Rubber Trees

If you are seeking to add a new rubber tree plant to your collection, you may be wondering if it is possible to start the plant from a cutting. While it is possible to propagate rubber plants from leaf cuttings, the process is not particularly simple and often takes multiple attempts to succeed.

Additionally, it is often easier and quicker simply to purchase a potted plant. However, if you are determined to take a cutting, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of success.

First, be sure to use a rooting hormone on the cutting. Second, create a warm and humid environment for the cutting by covering it with plastic or placing it in a propagator. Finally, be patient; starting a new plant from a cutting is an inexact science and may take several weeks or even months before you see results.

How to Care for Rubber Trees (Ficus Elastica)

Perfect Plants Rubber Plant | Ficus Elastica ‘Burgundy’

8.- Rubber Trees – Common Pests and Diseases

Pests like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, scale, and thrips are known to commonly infest indoor houseplants. Rubber plants are susceptible to all of these types of infestations.1 If early detection of the infestation is not possible, wait as long as you can before beginning treatment with a non-invasive method such as neem oil.

Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree and has been used for centuries in India for its pest-repellent properties. When used as directed, neem oil can be an effective treatment for various pests without causing harm to your rubber plant.

If the infestation is severe, you may need to consult with a professional to determine the best course of action. Your rubber plant can recover from even the most serious infestation with proper care and treatment.

How to Care for Rubber Trees (Ficus Elastica)

Perfect Plants Rubber Plant | Ficus Elastica ‘Burgundy’

9.- When should I repot my Rubber Trees?

Rubber plants are interesting because they grow really rapidly when given the appropriate conditions. As a result, you will need to change their pots once a year until they reach the desired height. While this may seem like a lot of work, it is actually quite simple.

All you need to do is scrape away a few inches of the existing potting medium and then replace it with new potting soil. If you cannot move the container, you can add new potting soil on top of the existing potting medium. Either way, your rubber plant will be happy and healthy!

10.- How to prune Rubber Trees

Hardy rubber trees are unique in that they can be trimmed year-round without harming the plant. In fact, around June is the optimal time to prune these plants, as cuttings root faster now. When it comes to actually cutting the tree, it’s important to remember that this plant grows from the next node down.

This means that you’ll need to sharpen your shears before starting, as sap from the rubber tree is quite uncomfortable. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves while trimming. Once you’ve decided on the tree’s desired shape, you can begin cutting above a leaf or stem node.

Be sure to remove any leaf scars that remain, and aim to remove 1/3 to 1/2 of the plant’s branches – but no leaves. The good news is that the Hardy rubber tree will grow back quickly after you’ve made your cuts.

How to Care for Rubber Trees (Ficus Elastica)

Perfect Plants Rubber Plant | Ficus Elastica ‘Burgundy’

Final Thoughts and Facts

Rubber trees are having a major moment. From small apartments to sprawling estates, it seems like everyone is embracing this beautiful houseplant as the centerpiece of their botanical oasis. 

Easy to care for, this member of the fig species can grow up to 100 feet tall in its native jungle habitat. Still, those purchased from nurseries are usually between one and four feet tall when you bring them home! Rubber trees prefer humid and indirect sunlight environments, so make sure not to put them too close to an air conditioner or drafty windows.

You should also water these plants regularly but not keep them soaking; use a moisture meter if needed! They are considered toxic if eaten by pets, so it’s best you keep Rubber Trees out of reach from curious kitty cats and doggy noses. With some love and TLC your Rubber Tree Houseplant will thrive and be the envy of all of your abode-mates!

  1. The botanical name for the rubber tree, Hevea brasilienis, is uniquely impressive.
  2. Rubber tree houseplants can reach enormous heights, making a dramatic statement in any home or office.
  3. With their cylindrical and swollen trunk, rubber trees are aesthetically pleasing and sure to be a conversation starter.
  4. Their large roots mean these plants will thrive better with enough space around them instead of being too close to homes or sidewalks.
  5. Regardless of the environment you have in your home, rubber trees can survive—including in hot and wet climates as well as dry conditions.
  6. Rubber tree leaves are interesting and spiral-shaped, yet hardy enough to handle temperature fluctuations without dropping off the tree easily.
  7. Latex harvesting from these houseplants is safe – no harm will come to them!
  8. However, since latex harvesting takes time, owning one of these plants means they will provide many years of enjoyment. If you harvest their latex, the wait will be worth it!
  9. Mesoamerican people such as the Aztecs and Mayans have harvested these plants for centuries, so keeping one would add a bit of history into your living or work space!
  10. As long as they are properly cared for, rubber trees will produce latex throughout their lives, so you’ll never run out! Plus, even plantation-grown rubber trees can still reach up to 25 meters tall due to tapping for latex production – quite an impressive height for an indoor plant!

Care for Rubber Trees – FAQ

How can I keep a healthy rubber tree houseplant?

To keep your rubber tree plants healthy, use a damp cloth to wipe down the leaves every few weeks. This will help remove any dust or dirt accumulated on the plant. Remember that Direct sunlight can result in scorched leaves, so make sure to place your plant in a spot that receives bright, indirect light. 

Is rubber plant care easy?

Yes, to care for a rubber tree plant, you must water it regularly, place it in a spot that receives bright, indirect light, and use a damp cloth to wipe down the leaves every few weeks.

What are the most common diseases rubber plants can get?

The most common diseases that rubber plants can get are root rot, leaf spot, and stem canker.

Are rubber tree plants pet-friendly?

This plant is not a pet-friendly houseplant; it’s considered toxic due to its milky sap.

Which are the most common rubber plant problems?

While rubber plant care is easy, the most common rubber plant problems are leaf drop, yellowing leaves, and stunted growth. 

How to Care for Rubber Trees (Ficus Elastica)

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M.Arch. Julio Arco
M.Arch. Julio Arco

Bachelor of Architecture - ITESM University
Master of Architecture - McGill University
Architecture in Urban Context Certificate - LDM University
Interior Designer - Havenly
Architecture Professor - ITESM University

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