Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica) is a very popular houseplant. Known for its bold, glossy leaves. Your Rubber Plant will make a statement in any indoor space. There are many beautiful cultivars of Rubber plants. Ficus elastica variegata is a stunning ficus plant with magnificent white, green, pink leaves. Here are tips on how to take care of your Rubber Plant.
Rubber Trees will thrive in a bright area with indirect sunlight. Too much shade will result in poor growth. You can filter direct sunlight using sheer blinds or curtains. Filter intense afternoon sun. Direct sun from south facing windows will also need to be filtered.
Water your Rubber Plant when the soil feels dry. The best way to tell when it is time to water your Rubber Plant is to feel the soil. Stick your finger in the soil 1 inch deep. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water your Rubber Plant. If the soil is wet, then don’t water your Rubber Plant.
Also take into account the environment, if it’s in the middle of summer you can probably water your Rubber Plant more frequently. If it’s during winter you can err on the side of less frequent watering.
Rubber Tree needs a well-draining, organic potting mix. Only buy organic soil mix because the fertilizer is not as concentrated in organic soil. Non-organic soil should really only be used for outdoor plants.
Rubber Tree should be fertilized once a month when it is actively growing. When it’s dormant, during the fall and winter, don’t fertilize.
Repot your Rubber Plant every year. Buy a large, heavy pot, around 4 inches larger (diameter) than the current pot. If you have a big Rubber Plant plant, get a heavy pot so it doesn’t topple over. Make sure you buy a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom so water doesn’t accumulate and cause root rot.
Know that repotting your Rubber Plant will make it grow larger. When it reaches the size you want it to be at, you should stop repotting your Rubber Plant.
After watering your Rubber Plant and you see water draining out of the pot’s drainage holes, make sure you empty out the accumulated water in the saucer. Don’t let your Rubber Plant’s pot sit in this puddle of water. It will cause root rot!
Your Rubber Plant is a tropical plant. It needs to have daytime temperatures of 70F to 80 Fahrenheit (21-26C). Nighttime temperature should be at 60-70 Fahrenheit (15-21 C).
Dust accumulates on your Rubber Plant leaves overtime. The layer of dust decreases the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. Periodically wiping down the leaves of your Rubber Plant with a damp cloth will help keep your plant healthy. You can also use a duster or dry duster cloth to wipe off the layer of dust on leaves.
Your Rubber Tree is a tropical plant that thrives in humid conditions. Indoor air can be drying. Make sure you do your best to increase indoor humidity. You can do this by spraying your Rubber Plant with water twice a week. Turn on the humidifier. Keep Rubber Plant in a saucer filled with water. But make sure the pot is elevated with pot feet or pebbles so your Rubber Plant is not sitting directly on the water.
Related Ficus Plants: How to Care for Your Fiddle-Fig Tree (Ficus lyrata) and How to Care for Your Ficus Audrey
The common problems for Rubber Tree are scale, leaf drop and root rot.
Problem: Your Rubber Plant looks wilted even if the soil is wet. Check for root rot by pulling the plant out and examining the roots. If the roots of your Rubber Plant plant look mushy (healthy roots are firm) and the roots are gray to black in color, these are telltale signs of root rot.
Cause: Root rot is caused by fungus and is a serious problem for your Rubber Plant. Root rot is a result of wet soil due to overwatering or poor drainage.
Solution: When your Rubber Plant is afflicted with root rot the chance of survival is slim. Your best course of action is to throw your Rubber Plant out and start over with a new plant. This time don’t overwater your Rubber Plant and make sure there is good drainage in the pot.
Problem: The leaves of your Rubber Plant are falling off, that is a sign that something is wrong. It’s normal if one or two old leaves fall off your Rubber Plant but if a lot of leaves fall off all at once that is a sure sign that something is wrong.
Cause: It’s possible your Rubber Plant leaves are falling because it’s been overwatered. Moving your Rubber Plant to a new location where it is not happy can also cause the leaves of your Rubber Plant to fall. Your Rubber Plant can also drop leaves if it’s too cold.
Solution: You need to do a little bit of digging around. Did you overwater your Rubber Plant? What is the daytime and nighttime temperature of the room, is it suitable for your Rubber Plant? You can resolve the leaves dropping problem, once you pinpoint what is causing the leaves to fall from your Rubber Plant.
Problem: If you see little brown bumps all over the leaves and stems of your Rubber Plant, that can be a sign of scale. Try picking the bumps off, if it’s easily removed then that’s a telltale sign of scale. The little bumps can also be gray, yellow or black.
Cause: Scale is common on houseplants and is caused by scale insects.
Solution: You can get rid of scale by picking them off one by one. Or the easier way to get rid of scale is to spray your Rubber Plant with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
Check out our article on how to make your own homemade pesticides using baby shampoo: How to Make Horticultural Oil and How to Make Insecticidal Soap
Rubber Tree is also called rubber fig, rubber plant, rubber bush or Indian rubber bush.
Don’t use straight cold water from the tap to water your Rubber Plant. Rubber Plant prefers cool water that is not hot and not cold. When you turn on the cold water from the faucet add a little bit of warm water.
You can also get to this ideal temperature by filling a watering can or pitcher with water and leaving it out overnight until the water is at room temperature.
Use organic fertilizers with a higher ratio of nitrogen content.
Rubber Tree plants are large plants that can grow to 12 feet tall indoors. You will need a heavy pot for your Rubber Plant so it doesn’t topple over.
Rubber Tree plants are difficult to propagate. One way to propagate your Rubber Plant is by air layering. It is not easy to propagate your Rubber Plant via air layering.
Fiscus elastica Robusta– Has round glossy, leaves
Fiscus elastica Abidjan– Underside of leaves are reddish/pinkish
Ficus elastica Variegata– Has beautiful variegated leaves
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