The Ficus Elastica, also known as the Rubber Tree Plant, is a stunning and forgiving houseplant that has captured the hearts of many house plant lovers. With its glossy thick leaves the Ficus Elastica is a great choice for beginners and experienced houseplant lovers.
Just like any other house plant, it requires proper care to thrive and flourish in your home. In this guide, we’ll walk you through all the essential steps of care, making it easy for you to keep your new rubber tree happy and healthy for years to come!
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Rubber Tree Plant Care
1. Light Requirements: One of the first things to consider when caring for your Rubber Tree is light. Ficus’ prefers bright, indirect light, so placing it near an east-facing window or a few feet away from a west facing window. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and cause damage if your plant is not acclimated to that intense of light. If you would like to have your Ficus in brighter stronger light then gradually move it to higher light. If your plant is kept in low lighting conditions you risk etiolation which means the plant grows leggy because it is searching for more light.
2. Watering: Proper watering is crucial for the well-being of your Rubber Tree. The key is to have a balance and avoid both overwatering and underwatering. Allow the top inch or two of the soil to dry out before watering again. Always check the moisture level by sticking your finger into the soil. When you water, ensure the excess water drains out of the pot to prevent root rot. During the winter months, reduce the watering as often as the plant enters a slower growth phase. Ficus’ are pretty forgiving when you forget to water. So don’t worry if you forget. Just give the plant a through watering.
3. Humidity: The Ficus Elastica is native to tropical regions, and appreciates higher humidity levels. In dry indoor environments, especially during the winter when heaters are running, the air can become too dry for the plant. You can increase humidity by placing a humidifier nearby. Another method is to use a pebble tray filled with water under the pot, ensuring the water level is below the pebbles to prevent root rot. Your best option is a humidifier for consistent humidity.
4. Temperature Warm temperatures are best suited for Rubber Tree Plants. They prefer temperatures between 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 26°C). Avoid exposing the plant to drafts or sudden temperature changes, as it can stress the plant and lead to leaf drop and wilt.
5. Pruning Pruning is essential for maintaining the shape and size of your Ficus Elastica. You can trim back overgrown or leggy branches to promote bushier growth. Use sharp and clean pruning shears to make precise cuts, and remember to wear gloves, as the plant’s sap can be irritating to the skin.
6. Fertilization Regular fertilization during the growing season (spring and summer) can keep your Rubber Tree Plant healthy and thriving. Choose a balanced liquid fertilizer and dilute it to half-strength to avoid over-fertilization. Feed your Ficus Elastica once every 2-4 weeks, but avoid fertilizing during the dormant winter months. You can also fertilize using the weekly weakly method, which is where you add a tiny amount of fertilizer every time you water.
Rubber Tree Soil
Young Ficus Elastica plants may require repotting every year or two, while older ones can be repotted every 3-4 years. Look for signs like roots coming out of the drainage holes or roots seen from the top of the pot. This is known as the plant becoming root-bound. When repotting, choose a slightly larger pot with good drainage, and use a well-draining potting mix.
The best soil for a rubber tree plant is well-draining mix containing one part peat or potting soil, one part pine bark, and one part coarse sand or perlite.
Here are some of the benefits of using this type of soil for rubber trees:
- It will help to prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged, which can lead to root rot.
- It will allow for good air circulation around the roots, which is important for healthy growth.
- It will provide the plant with the nutrients it needs to thrive.
Rubber Tree Propagation
There are two main ways to propagate a rubber tree plant: by air layering and by stem cuttings.
Air layering is a process where you encourage roots to form on a stem while it is still attached to the parent plant. This is a good method if you want to propagate a large branch of the plant. To air layer a rubber tree, you will need to make a cut in the bark of the stem and then cover the cut with moist sphagnum moss. The moss will help to keep the area moist and encourage root growth. Once roots have formed, you can cut the branch from the parent plant and plant it in a pot.
Stem cuttings are a more common way to propagate rubber tree plants. To take a stem cutting, you will need to cut a 6-inch piece of stem from the plant. The cutting should have at least two nodes, which are the points where leaves emerge from the stem. Remove the bottom leaves from the cutting and then dip the cut end in rooting hormone.
Plant the cutting in a pot of well-draining potting soil and keep the soil moist. The cutting should root in about 6-8 weeks.
You can also place your cutting in water to root. Many find the water propagation method more satisfying because you can see the roots develop over time.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to propagate a rubber tree plant from stem cuttings:
- Choose a healthy stem that is at least 6 inches long and has at least two nodes.
- Using a sharp knife or shears, make a clean cut just below a node.
- Remove the bottom leaves from the cutting, leaving 2-3 leaves at the top.
- Dip the cut end of the cutting in rooting hormone.
- Plant the cutting in a pot of well-draining potting soil.
- Water the soil thoroughly and place the pot in a warm, bright location out of direct sunlight.
- Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
- In 6-8 weeks, the cutting should have rooted and you can transplant it to a larger pot.
Houseplant Propagation made easy! Read This!
Rubber Tree Varieties
There are many varieties or cultivars of the Rubber Tree that have been created over time. Each variety can have distinct leaf patterns, colors, and growth habits, making them popular choices for plant lovers. Below are some of the common Rubber Tree Plant varieties:
- Ficus elastica ‘Burgundy’: This variety is known for its striking deep burgundy or reddish-brown leaves. The new growth often emerges in bright red tones, which gradually mature into the darker burgundy color.
- Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’: ‘Tineke’ features variegated leaves with a combination of dark green, creamy white, and pinkish hues. The unique foliage patterns make it a visually appealing choice for plant enthusiasts.
- Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’: ‘Ruby’ is prized for its attractive pink and green leaves. The pink coloration is most prominent when the plant receives bright indirect light.
- Ficus elastica ‘Robusta’: As the name suggests, this variety is robust and vigorous in growth. It has large, deep green leaves and is considered one of the most resilient Rubber Tree Plant varieties.
- Ficus elastica ‘Doescheri’: ‘Doescheri’ displays stunning dark green leaves with prominent white veins, creating an eye-catching contrast.
- Ficus elastica ‘Variegata’: Also known as the Variegated Rubber Plant, this variety has creamy white or yellowish streaks along the edges of its green leaves.
- Ficus elastica ‘Decora’: ‘Decora’ is a classic variety with large, glossy, and deep green leaves. It is one of the most commonly found Rubber Tree Plant varieties in households and offices.
- Ficus elastica ‘Abidjan’: ‘Abidjan’ has elongated, lance-shaped leaves with beautiful bronze or copper tones.
- Ficus elastica ‘Melany’: This variety features leaves that start with bright red coloring and eventually turn dark green as they mature.
- Ficus elastica ‘Black Prince’: ‘Black Prince’ is known for its nearly black, dark purple leaves that add a touch of drama to any space.
These are just a few examples of the many Rubber Tree Plant varieties available. Each variety has its own unique character, making the Rubber Tree Plant a great option for plant lovers looking to add some greenery to their homes.
Following this Rubber Tree houseplant guide, you can create the best environment for your Rubber Tree to thrive. Remember that each plant is different, so watch closely and adjust your care routine accordingly. With patience, love, and a little bit of knowledge, your Ficus Elastica will reward you with its lush foliage, enhancing the beauty and ambiance of your home.