Hailing from Southern China, Indonesia, and other regions of Southeast Asia, the Rubber Plant, or Ficus elastica, is a fan favorite among houseplant enthusiasts. Its easy going nature and NASA-approved air purifying qualities make this Ficus one of the best plants to care for in your home. It is great for beginner gardeners and an excellent addition to any plant expert’s home garden. To learn more about how you can help this lovely evergreen thrive, read on:
Before getting into general care, knowing how this plant may affect your home ecosystem is important. The Ficus elastica is toxic to both animals and people, as its sap contains caoutchouc, a chemical compound that gives the Ficus’ sap its elasticity. Although this plant isn’t deadly in small doses, it can cause mild to moderate skin irritation when touched with bare hands. Eating the Ficus elastica may cause nausea, vomiting, lethargy, and lack of coordination. Call poison control if your pet or child ingests some of this plant and visit a doctor immediately. Most cases of Ficus Poisoning aren’t deadly.
The Ficus elastica is toxic to both animals and people
Keep your rubber plant out of reach from any pets or children to prevent any accidents. When handling your rubber plant, always wear gardening gloves and long sleeves if you’re working with a bigger plant.
The Ficus elastica is a NASA favorite for a good reason: not only is it great at cleaning the air of chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene, but it’s also easy to care for!
Like other Ficus, the Ficus elastica needs at least six to eight hours of filtered sunlight. Ideally, your Ficus should receive bright, indirect sunlight each day but can tolerate longer periods of medium light. You can keep a rubber plant just about anywhere, as long as it’s near a windowsill. If your Ficus isn’t getting enough light, its leaves will start to droop and grow thin.
Ficus elastica needs at least six to eight hours of filtered sunlight
Rubber plants aren’t too picky about their soil, as long as it’s well draining. Fast, well-draining soil is required to keep this plant safe from root rot and overwatering complications, so we recommend using a cactus mix to ensure good drainage. If you’d like to make your own soil mix, use peat, perlite, and coarse sand to achieve the same level of aeration. Rubber plants also enjoy slightly acidic soil, and adding compost into your soil mix will help increase acidity.
Fast, well-draining soil is required to keep this plant safe from root rot and overwatering complications
by Job Narinnate
Frequent waterings are a rubber plant’s best friend. To ensure they’re getting enough water, water your Ficus about once a week when the first inch of soil is dry to the touch. When watering, always let any excess water drain from your pot before putting the plant away!
Frequent waterings are a rubber plant’s best friend
Temperature and Humidity
The Ficus elastica thrives in USDA agricultural zones 10-12, meaning it needs warm temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit with moderate humidity. Ideal for apartments kept at a moderate 75 degrees, your rubber plant will do best indoors at any humidity level above 50%. If your humidity is a bit low, mist the plant or keep it near a humidifier to ensure it’s getting enough moisture.
Rubber plants don’t need much fertilizer, as excessive fertilization can lead to fast growth. During the summer growing season, fertilize your Ficus with a water-soluble fertilizer or compost once every two weeks.
Potting and Repotting
Outdoors, a Ficus elastica can grow up to 50 feet tall, but indoors, it can reach about 10 feet. So, you’ll need to repot your rubber plant often– about once every one or two years. When choosing a pot for your rubber plant, try to prioritize drainage: make sure your pot has a drainage hole, and for extra drainage, choose a pot made from porous materials like concrete, terracotta, or ceramic.
Best to repot your rubber plant often– about once every one or two years
When you repot your rubber plant, always wear gloves to avoid skin irritation, and repot only during the growing season. As an evergreen tree, rubber plants are prone to experiencing transplant shock (especially before it reaches maturity) and will need the extra energy to recover.
Rubber plants aren’t known for blooming often, if at all. So, don’t worry if summer rolls around and you don’t see flowers on your Ficus. However, when the Ficus elastica does bloom, it also produces small figs. Although these figs aren’t edible, it’s still an exciting sight to see your houseplant producing fruits. A common misconception among indoor gardeners is that long, bright red sheaths indicate flowering– this is actually how your rubber plant grows new leaves. Rubber plant flowers are much smaller and are pale green.
Rubber plants aren’t known for blooming often, if at all
by Oscar Wong
Pruning and Propagation
Rubber plants don’t need pruning unless you plan on making the tree bushier. To prune a rubber plant, make sure you have a pair of clean pruning shears and gardening gloves. When pruning, cut off any branches just before the node to ensure they’ll grow back bushier than ever. After a good prune, your rubber plant may look scraggly– that’s normal! New growths will appear over the trimmed areas to create a fuller look than before. Although it’s preferred to prune your rubber plant during the growing season, this resilient Ficus can handle pruning anytime.
Rubber plants don’t need pruning unless you plan on making the tree bushier
Propagating rubber plants, on the other hand, isn’t as easy as pruning them. To propagate, take a smaller stem cutting and let the stem callous over for a day before dipping it in a rooting hormone. Then, stick your cutting into a pot of fresh soil. To promote healthy growth, you’ll need to create a miniature greenhouse to trap humidity and warm air. Using a few layers of plastic wrap, build a little tent around your cutting, and place it near a sunny windowsill. Mist your cutting frequently to keep the soil moist, and you should see new growth in about two weeks.
Common Pests and Complications
Rubber plants are susceptible to most indoor houseplant pests, like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale. To treat these pests, we recommend using gentle treatments often recommended for succulents. This way, you’ll avoid causing any damage to your rubber plant.
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