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Rubber Plant: Indoor Care & Growing Guide

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How to Grow Rubber Plant Indoors

Ficus elastica, also known as the rubber plant, is an unusual-looking variety native to the tropics of Southeast Asia. It has large, oval leaves with a rich emerald hue and can grow rapidly, reaching up to 30 meters in height in its natural habitat.

However, it is most often grown indoors as a houseplant, where it can be planted and cared for throughout the year and its size can be kept more manageable.

When it comes to caring for a rubber tree, your job is pretty simple. Provide enough light, water, and warmth (it's a tropical plant after all) and you'll be rewarded with an exotic addition to your indoor plant collection.

Botanical NameFicus elastica
Common NameRubber plant, rubber tree, India rubber plant
Plant TypeEvergreen tree
Mature Size50–100 ft. tall (outdoors), 50–100 ft. wide (outdoors)
Sun ExposurePartial shade
Soil TypeMoist but well-drained
Soil pHAcidic
Bloom TimeRarely blooms
Flower ColorRarely blooms
Hardiness Zone10–12 (USDA)
Native AreaAsia
ToxicityToxic to dogs and cats

Rubber Plant Care

Although rubber trees are a very hardy variety, they do have some specific care requirements to find the right balance in their environment. This means providing plenty of light, moist (but not soggy) soil, and enough fertilizer to keep you healthy.

The rubber tree has waxy-looking leaves that begin in a coral pink hue and deepen to a deep dark green. As the rubber tree grows, it begins to wilt, so it's important to help support it by using a long piece of wood (or bamboo stem) to keep it upright.

Light

Like most plants of their species, rubber trees love lots of bright, diffused light. They can tolerate mild sunlight in the morning but should stay away from the strong direct ray line in the afternoon as they can burn the leaves.

Plants that don't get enough light will grow long, lose their lower leaves, and the color of the leaves will be dull rather than bright and vibrant.

Soil

When it comes to soil composition, rubber trees are not picky. Normally, any good, fast-draining potting soil will probably do just fine - many indoor gardeners opt for a cactus mix.

Also, rubber trees prefer a mixture of acidic soil. Like fiddle-leaved fig trees (which many believe to look like), they too "eat" your soil and will eventually have their roots uncovered.

When this happens, just cover the pot with more potting soil and it won't be a problem.

Water

Water your rubber plant frequently; they like to keep them constantly moist, but not soggy. Rubber trees are also vulnerable to excessive dryness and do not tolerate drought well.

To see if it's time to water again, check the moisture levels in the first few inches of the soil; if they are dry and brittle, it is time to water the plant again.

Temperature and humidity

Like other types of ficus, these plants are vulnerable to cold drafts. Unhealthy plants become long-legged, with elongated internodes, and the leaves may first turn yellow and then brown before falling off completely.

In general, rubber trees do best in moderate to warm temperatures between 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, even in moderate humidity.

If your home tends to be dry, invest in a room humidifier to raise the levels.

Fertilizer

Feed the plant a weak liquid fertilizer during the growing season. They are relatively heavy when healthy.

Some experts only recommend lightly fertilizing indoor plants to prevent them from stretching and sticking to the roots because they grow too fast.

Is Rubber Plant Toxic?

Rubber trees are toxic to pets (especially cats and dogs), but the amount depends on the size and age of your plant and pet. The problem is in the milky sap of the plant, which is present in the leaves and stem.

If you notice that your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Symptoms of Poisoning

  • Gastrointestinal irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Diahrrea
  • Oral irritation
  • Renal damage

Propagating Rubber Plant

Rubber trees can be propagated from leaf tip cuttings, but it's not particularly simple and it's probably easier to buy just a potted plant.

If you harvest seedlings, use a rooting hormone and watch out for high humidity and abundant heat.

Don't be discouraged if they don't spread easily. It is an inexact science that takes time.

Repotting Rubber Plant

Rubber trees grow very quickly under the right conditions and must be replanted annually until the plant reaches the desired height.

Larger plants can be difficult to repot, so if you can't move the container, scrape a few inches of the potting soil and replace it with new potting soil.

Common Pests and Diseases

Rubber trees are vulnerable to a variety of pests that typically infest houseplants, including aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, scales, and thrips.  If possible, identify the infestation as soon as possible and treat it with the least toxic option. neem oil.

Enjoy This Video Tutorial About Rubber Plant Tricks You Must Know!

Source: Garden Up

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