Rubber tree plant care begins with a little understanding of some of the more general features of this amazing plant.
The rubber tree, also known as ficus elastica, rubber plant or rubber bush is a species of plant from the genus fig and the family of Moraceae. It’s therefore closely related to the fiddle leaf fig tree.
It originates from the east of South Asia and Southeast Asia. Today, it’s also growing naturally in the West Indies, Sri Lanka, and Florida, US.
It’s a big tree that can grow between 98 and 131 feet in height. Its trunk can reach up to 6.6 feet in diameter.
Its leaves are broad, shiny, thick, leathery, and oval. They can reach up to 13.8 inches in length.
What’s interesting about the leaves is the fact that the size is largest on the younger plants and much smaller on the older ones.
They grow inside a sheath which grows as the leaf develops. When it matures, it unfurls and the sheath drops off.
In recent years, rubber plants have become popular indoor plants and much loved home and office décor.
If you have the patience to grow your own, young rubber plants which are brought up indoors, will adapt better to indoor life than a more mature one.
When placed outside in the summer, they can reach great heights in only a couple of years.
If you want to keep them small, choose smaller pots and keep them indoors.
It can thrive when placed in a bright area that gets partial sun and not direct light, especially one during hot summer days.
Its shiny and glossy leaves add a great atmosphere to almost any space and are a great option to fill corners or to beautify empty spaces.
Good to know:
When you grow a rubber tree as an indoor plant, you’ll rarely see blooms. On the other hand, the ones planted outside can be seen growing small white flowers and green fruits.
It’s an ideal plant for people who want a strong and fairly easy going plant which can reach impressive heights in only several years.
Important to know:
The rubber plant is mildly toxic to humans and pets- its ingestion may cause gastrointestinal problems and irritated skin.
Rubber Plant Benefits:
According to NASA studies, rubber plants can improve the quality of air as their large leaves absorb chemicals and dissolve them, making them harmless.
If you place them in your indoor space, they’ll also remove bacteria and mold spores!
How to Take Care of an Indoor Rubber Tree Plant
Rubber Plant Light
Good rubber tree plant care means not exposing it to direct sunlight. But, it still does want a bright and light area.
For example, this can be a sunny section of your room or office shielded by a sheer curtain.
If the plant needs more light, it will show you – it tends to become leggy and the lower leaves will begin to fall off.
Your rubber plant prefers a temperature range between 60 degrees F and 70 degrees F. During winter, they can do well in temperatures as low as 50 degrees F.
They need a good balance of temperature and consistency as they can be very sensitive to changes.
The plant also loves humid air because of its tropical origin, though it does well in less humid indoor areas too.
Water & Humidity
In summer, your rubber plant indoor care will involve more watering than in winter. You should maintain the soil moist, yet not too soaking.
It’s also good to wipe the leaves using a damp cloth to ensure they’re moist enough and to improve the absorption of sunlight.
You can also mist them if you don’t have the time to go over every leaf. The key to fighting off root rot is a soil that drains well.
In the winter when they’re not growing, keep the soil dry, but not too much. If you notice drooping leaves, the plant needs more water.
Make sure you avoid cold water- water them with room temperature water to prevent shocking the plant.
Rubber Plant Soil
One of the most important things for a healthy and happy rubber plant is a properly draining soil.
Also, it has to be well-aerated and a soil for potting.
You can make your own by mixing 1 part peat, 1 part pine bark, and 1 part coarse sand or perlite.
As it’s the case with most indoor plants, fertilize your rubber plant in the growing season only.
A good choice is a half-strength houseplant fertilizer.
Even in smaller pots, rubber plants can reach impressive height. But, there will be a point in their growth when it will slow down or stop.
This is when you need to make a choice-leave the plant as it is or top dress it.
This means removing the top inch of soil and adding fresh compost with fresh nutrients. Or, you can repot the plant.
Transfer it in a bigger pot using proper soil and a pot with a good drainage system.
Grasp the tree by the stem near the soil in one hand and begin pulling it out of the pot using the other hand.
Set it into the new soil and water it until you see water draining from the bottom openings.
How To Propagate a Rubber Tree Plant
Even though it doesn’t always work- rubber plants are one of the plants from which you can take a piece and stick it into soil and it will begin growing.
Add a heating pad under the pot with the cutting to boost the chances for success. Another method of propagation is air layering.
This means making a cut in the plant and putting a toothpick in the hole and pack damp moss around the cut.
Then, you wrap it with a plastic wrap to increase the moisture. When you notice roots, cut the branch off and put it in soil.
Best Rubber Plant Varieties
Rubber plant burgundy- This variety has dark reddish-green leaves and dark-red leaf sheaths.
Rubber plant ruby- A beautiful variety with stunning cream and green leaves and light-red and red veins and sheaths.
Rubber plant black prince- This is a variety with a specific name that boasts dark leaves with bronze undertones and a red leaf sheath.
Other Rubber Plant Care Tips
If you have a rubber plant with a single stem, wait until it reaches two feet in height before you prune it to half its height.
You can also let it grow to six feet and then trim it at five.
They’re a great option for places that need a vertical interest.
You can purchase the plant online or in specialized garden centers in your local area.
Trouble Shooting- Common Issues
Problem: Brown spots & leaves dropping
Cause: The temperature is probably too low.
Solution: Find ways to increase the temperature so that the plant can thrive-maybe move it to a warmer room.
Problem: Droopy leaves
Cause: The plant is under-watered.
Solution: Place the plant in a bowl of water and allow the soil to take it all in and then drain out the surplus water.
Problem: The leaves are droopy & yellowish
Cause: Lower light during winter or/and too much water.
Solution: Move the rubber plant to a location that receives more brightness and light and increase the period between watering.
I do hope that you’ve enjoyed this article on rubber tree plant care.
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