Rubber trees, formally ficus elastica, can be enjoyed as either medium-sized house plants or grown to become focal point, beautiful indoor trees. If you’re patient enough to grow your own, plants that start out younger when you buy them adapt better to indoor living than starting with a more mature plant. They can grow to impressive heights within a few years, especially if you put the plants outside during the summer. Keeping the plants in small pots will restrict their growth, if you want to keep them smaller.
Rubber tree plant care as a houseplant is easy. If you keep it in a well-lit position in your home. Besides the ornamental aspect, rubber tree is considered an air purifying plant.
Soil pH: Neutral, slightly acidic
Plant type: Tree, Indoor plant
Vegetation type: Perennial
Foliage type: Evergreen
Toxicity: Its sap is toxic and causes mild skin irritation or burning sensation in eyes if comes contacted
Propagation: Rubber tree is commonly propagated from cuttings or air layering.
- – Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’ with variegated green and white leaves having overtones of burgundy and red veins.
- – Ficus elastica ‘Doescheri’: Also called “Indian Rubber Tree”, it has dark green foliage with yellow patches. Plant of this variety needs more natural light than most of the other variety.
- – Ficus elastica ‘Black Prince’: This variety has thick dark green leathery foliage with bronze undertones and large rounded leaves.
- -Ficus elastica ‘Decora’: This variety has thick dark green foliage.
Rubber Tree Plant Information
Native to South-East Asia, the rubber tree grows on the edge of tropical rain forests. It can grow up to 30 m high in its native conditions. However, when you grow rubber tree indoors as a houseplant it only reaches 2-3 m high. *You can grow rubber tree outdoors in USDA Zones 9 – 11.
Rubber tree plant care is easy, which makes it a very popular houseplant. It survives even in poorly lit areas, though with slow growth.
Rubber Tree Plant Care and Growing Requirements
Avoid direct sunlight, especially afternoon sun. Otherwise, the leaves will eventually fall off. Place the plant on a bright and well-lit spot that receives indirect or morning sunlight.
Use well-drained quality potting mix suitable for houseplants and a container with proper drainage. Rubber tree plant care will be easy if you fulfill only these two requirements.
Ideally, the temperature that suits it best lies in a range of 59 – 68 F (15 to 20 C). It can withstand winter temperature down to 40 F (4 C), but the leaves may suffer.
Rubber tree prefers moderately cool, moist and humid air. For humidity, you can mist water on its foliage.
Provide sufficient drainage to plant and avoid excess watering as it may cause root rot. Limit watering to keep the soil slightly moist and leave the surface soil to dry out between watering spells.
Fertilize the plant with all-purpose fertilizer during the growing period in spring and summer.
Pests and Diseases
Rubber plant is resistant to pest and diseases. However, if grown in poor conditions and low light pests like spider mites and mealybugs cause a problem.
Pruning Rubber Tree
Pruning rubber tree is important if you want to keep it in a desired shape or size. You can prune the plant lightly at any time of the year but for proper pruning and trimming wait for spring. Prune your plant in the beginning of the growing season.
Rubber Tree Plant Care Tips
- Repot the plant when it becomes root bound. It grows quickly and within a year you’ll need to repot it.
- Once the desired size is achieved you can stop repotting and keep it root bound.
- If you’re unable to repot the plant, scrap a few inches of potting soil and replace it.
- When fertilizing indoor plants, ensure you don’t feed them heavily. Light dose is enough.
- Wipe and clean the leaves with a damp sponge once in a while.
- Avoid overwatering or misting of leaves with too cold water as rubber plant loses its leaves due to overwatering or when sprayed with too cold water.