Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
If you want a hardy but low-maintenance indoor plant that can reach incredible heights in just a few years, the Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica) may be the perfect choice for you.
In most homes, the glossy leaves are a welcome sight, and while young plants may start little, they will quickly fill in an empty spot. Although rubber plants are commonly kept as houseplants, their rapid growth means that they can eventually reach great heights. Regular trimming can keep a Rubber Plant from becoming unmanageable in size even if you don’t want to keep a true tree-like plant in your home. Keep in mind that no matter how well you care for them, many houseplants will eventually outgrow their confined beginnings and need more vertical room. Rubber plants will keep pushing upwards until they reach the sky. In the last 30 years, Rubber Plants have enjoyed unprecedented popularity, but as people have moved into smaller, more contemporary homes and flats, their numbers have dwindled. When the room was at a premium, the massive Rubber Plant in the corner was one of the first things to go.
They lost popularity and became difficult to track down. The good news is that they’ve made a comeback in the last five years, and are once again among the most sought-after and eye-catching statement houseplants around. They require little effort on your part and are understanding lodgers.
The Rubber Plant has been deemed by Dr. Wol. Everton to be among the top air-purifying houseplants. It has a high transpiration rate, which enhances the humidity in the room it lives in, and it is resistant to pests and diseases. It’s low-maintenance and beneficial to your health. Other members of the Ficus family that are commonly grown as houseplants are the Weeping Fig and Fiddle-Leaf Fig.
Although the original species, known by its Latin name Ficus elastica, has long been extinct, newer cultivars and closely related variations have largely taken its place. Because of this, you may come across the plant under the name Ficus robusta (which, as the name suggests, is considerably more robust and resilient), and some vendors may even do both, writing Ficus Elastica Robusta on the name tag.
Named varieties to look out for are the dwarf Ficus Decora, the nearly black-green leaves of the Prince, and the Ficus Burgundy.
Some of the many varieties of Rubber Plants are also possible sightings. These are more difficult to get since they demand more upkeep in domestic settings.
As this picture shows, Rubber Trees can also exhibit beautiful variegation.
Ficus ruby, with its pink and purple flushed leaves, is worth keeping an eye out for if you have a spot that gets enough light for the variegated varieties.
Does a check with splotches of basic greens and yellows, but it can be rather lovely in the proper setting. There is little difference between the Ficus Tineke and the Ficus Tineke Compacta. You can see the most common variegated variety up above; it looks like army khaki and is very popular.
This plant is known by several different names, including Rubber Tree and Rubber Fig. It gets its rubbery reputation from the white sap that runs freely from cuts or scrapes on the glossy leaves and woody branches.
Due to the high sap content, there is a potential for drips that must be avoided. When ingested, the milky latex makes for a not-so-pleasant taste for either humans or their dogs. You should be careful with this plant since it can irritate your eyes and skin if you come into contact with it. However, if you wipe off any residue immediately, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Early-stage Rubber Plants typically look like this, but they rapidly mature into towering specimens. Photograph of a lush, green Rubber Plant by Scott Webb Despite their widespread preference for a uniform green color, Rubber Plants can occasionally be found with striking patterns of other colors. But rubber plants lack showy blooms, they do produce edible (though poisonous) figs. Indoor plantation with a Ficus elastica Madison Inouye’s macro photograph of a Ficus elastica Rubber Plant revealing its distinctive crimson leaf sheath. Get in contact if you own this plant and would like to share a photo of it.
How to Take Care of Your Rubber Plants
Avoid direct sunlight as much as possible when planting. Instead, make sure your Rubber Plant has plenty of light, preferably from indirect sunlight.
The all-green varieties can tolerate low light and shadow, but prolonged exposure will cause the plant to become leggy and weak.
Bright indirect light is essential for a variegated kind, as the markings will be lost in shade.
The Rubber Plant’s watering requirements are straightforward: when the plant is actively growing, it enjoys a thorough soaking, but the roots should not be kept permanently wet. The best method we’ve found for combating them is to give your plant a good soaking once the soil’s surface and top inch have dried out, then wait until they’ve dried out again before giving them any more water.
The staff at Ourhouseplants.com will give you the side eye if you water your plants more than once per week. Watering more than once a week is probably too frequent in most houses, but if it works for you, keep doing it.
After 30 minutes, if there is still water in the drip tray, drain it since it will kill your Rubber Plant. In the winter, it’s best to cut back and avoid drenching the soil; instead, attempt to keep it evenly moist, but still give it time to dry out before you water again.
When the weather is particularly dry, you can mist the leaves, but other than that, humidity is not anything you need to worry about.
The Rubber Plant needs to be fed for it to grow its enormous leaves. It’s better to feed your plants sparingly and frequently throughout the spring and summer months.
Photos by Madison Inouye of a rubber plant with a red leaf sheath.
Follow the standard feeding guidelines and hold off on fertilizing your plants throughout the winter, or for at least three to six months after repotting or purchasing brand-new plants.
Stop feeding completely if your plant isn’t putting out any new growth.
The Rubber Plant prefers temperatures between 29 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (10 and 50 degrees Celsius) but will flourish in a wider range.
Increasing the temperature will reduce the sluggish appearance of the leaves. In Winter, temperatures as low as 4°C (39°F) are tolerable; nevertheless, watering must be precise. Overwatering will quickly result in the plant’s demise at this temperature.
Despite being kept in small containers, these plants eventually outgrow them.
The size of the plant in the pot is not important, as these plants grow to be rather large. Nonetheless, there will be a day when development halts altogether. You can either keep it where it is, or you can decide to top-dress instead.
To “topdress” a potted plant, you remove the top inch or so of soil and replace it with new compost, which will revitalize the soil by adding nutrients and helpful bacteria.
Alternatively, you might try repotting. If your Rubber Plant is not too heavy, repotting it will be a breeze. Just repot it into a larger container with regular potting soil. The repotting instructions below are simplified for those with some experience caring for houseplants; for those with less experience, we have a more detailed tutorial.
This plant has never required reproduction. For starters, having just one Rubber Plant at home is usually plenty, and secondly, these plants may be purchased for next to nothing. However, if you follow the four methods below, you’ll have no trouble at all propagating a Rubber Plant.
You’ll need a stem (often a growing tip) that’s between 10 and 15 centimeters (approximately 4 to 6 inches) long to get going.
Take off all but one leaf. Wait for the sap to cease dripping (typically within 30 minutes) and then wash it off gently.
You can use either coarse compost or perlite to plant the stem with the remaining leaf. Rooting hormone can be applied to the severed end to speed up the process, but it is not required.
The medium for growing then needs to be kept just slightly damp, in a warm location with indirect sunlight. Bottom heat, or performing it in the summer, yields the best outcomes.
Rate of Development
Your Rubber Plant is presumably growing at a rate somewhere between rapid and moderate. Many people believe that exposing their plants to the elements throughout the summer will prompt a flush of new growth. However, excessive exposure to the sun and rainy, cold summers, both of which might promote disease, should be avoided.
Extremely pot-bound plants won’t flourish in the dead of winter, and you shouldn’t either—spring and summer are prime growing seasons for most plants.
Stature / Exposure
How tall and wide your plant eventually grows is proportional to how well you care for it. In ideal conditions, large containers, and the absence of routine pruning, rubber plants can reach heights of over 9 feet (3 meters). A plant’s height can be reduced by poor care, confinement to a tiny container, or excessive pruning.
All that is required to keep rubber plants looking this wonderful is the bare minimum.
Whether or not you prune, you can influence the plant’s width. If you don’t keep it pruned, the core growth stem will head straight for the ceiling, making the tree appear much thinner and more stunted. Read on for some advice on how to encourage your plant to grow wider and bushier instead.
To achieve a bushy, branching appearance, it is necessary to regularly remove the leading, tallest growth tips via cutting or pruning. In the end, this will result in a considerably broader houseplant, albeit it still won’t grow more than 3 feet (1 meter) in width within most homes.
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Blossoms Did you know?
Ficus belongs to the fig family, which typically has blossoms that are neither particularly showy nor fragrant.
The fresh leaves emerge from an eye-catching scarlet sheath. Many new plant owners make the mistake of thinking their plant is flowering because of this.
Although the flowers are unremarkable, the little fig-like fruits that grow on mature plants are worth waiting for. The foliage of the Rubber Plant is much more desirable than any possible blooms it might produce, thus that is why it is typically brought inside.
The Rubber Plant lacks showy blooms but produces a fruit similar to figs.
Can you get sick by eating a rubber plant?
In a word, yes, the Rubber Plant is (somewhat) toxic to both people and animals. The milky, irritating sap found in the stems and leaves of many Ficus plants, including F. elastica, can cause gastrointestinal troubles if consumed and skin irritation if left on the skin for an extended period or if it gets into small incisions.
The main issue for Rubber Plants when kept inside is dust. To keep them looking wonderful, you should buff them with a moist cloth once every few months. Glossy leaves can also be achieved with the help of leaf shine products.
Rubber Plant Maintenance Simply said good lighting means staying out of the intense sun and deep shade.
Sufficient but not Excessive Watering
Every week throughout the summer and every other week during the winter.
Indoor climate conditions are typical. 10 C (50 F) to 29 C (85 F)
As it grows, fertilize it about once a month.
Concerns and Curiosity Regarding Rubber Plants
For very old leaves, yellowing is natural. Otherwise, it could mean that your plant is getting too much or too little water or light.
The drooping or curling of rubber plant leaves.
Extreme heat, above 29 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit), or too much watering might cause this. The curling and drooping should go away after a few days when the temperature cools or the soil dries out.
Exposure to frost or other forms of extreme cold can also cause this, but in such cases, the leaves won’t return to normal after a few days and will instead immediately begin to fall off the plant.
The leaves have white splotches and drips.
Even a minor injury to a leaf or stem can cause a significant volume of sap to leak out. As it dries, it can look like something unusual is happening on the leaves below.
Rubber plants are delicate and can easily be damaged during relocation, resulting in the release of white sap.
It is easy to remove the sap from the leaves by wiping them with a damp cloth, whether the sap is fresh or dry.
When repotting or relocating your Rubber Plant, please take care at all times. The sap is not only somewhat poisonous and annoying, but it can also cause damage by staining carpets and furniture.
This Rubber Tree Plant of mine has grown too tall.
I believe that Rubber Plants can grow rather large. They may be safely pruned (though you might need a ladder to reach the canopy) with no ill consequences. Find the main stalk and make your fresh top cut there.
Wrapping the exposed stem for a few hours may be necessary to prevent latex sap from spilling everywhere.
After that, one of two things should happen: either a new growth point emerges and the plant continues its ascent, or two or more growth points emerge if the plant is otherwise healthy. The resulting plant will be more robust and bushy. Make use of your newfound knowledge of pruning to create the ideal Rubber Plant!
My rubber plant has white bumps on it.
Though they may look like a bug or a sickness, these dots are completely harmless and require no particular care or attention.
The Rubber Plant is naturally resistant to most pests, thus problems with them are uncommon. Yet, occasional visitors like spider mites and scale insects are to be anticipated.
Can you tell me what I need to do to get my Rubber Plant to grow more bushes?
If there isn’t enough light or if the leaves are damaged, they will fall off over time. Because of this, your plant may develop a thin “trunk,” and you may wish to re-establish its fullness.
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