Rubber Plant is a very popular houseplant from the Moraceae family known for its bold look and wide, glossy leaves. Rubber Plant is also known as Ficus Elastica, Rubber Fig, Indian Rubber tree and Rubber Bush. These plants are originally from India, Nepal, China, Myanmar, Malaysia etc. Ficus Elastica plants are ornamental plants that can grow into tall trees from 1 foot to about 8 feet tall. They are called Rubber plants because every part of the plant contains a white milky sap that oozes out when the plant is cut. This milky sap is nothing but latex which is used to make rubber.
There are several Ficus elastica varieties in the market. Some of them include
- Black Prince, with almost dark coloured foliage
- Elastica Ruby, with pink and purple flushes in the leaves
- Elastica Teneke, resembles army khaki colour when the leaves grow.
- Elastica Sophie, with dark green leaves, etc.
Rubber Plant is a tropical plant and usually grows in high humidity places. Nowadays, this plant is widely used as an indoor and outdoor plant as it comes in various sizes to suit your house space.
FICUS ELASTICA / Rubber Plant CARE GUIDE
Rubber plants prefer bright indirect sunlight. Exposing them to direct sunlight can cause the leaves leaf burns, especially the afternoon sun. Morning and evening sun is fine, though. A South or west-facing window will be the perfect spot for these plants.
An average room temperature of 15-25 degrees Celsius is fine for these plants. Rubber plants are not frost tolerant plants, so keep them indoors during winters. They can also get affected by sudden temperature drops or cold drafts.
Normal room humidity is fine for these plants. You can still mist the Rubber plant leaves during summers to improve the humidity level.
Water your Rubber plant when the soil feels dry to touch. Ensure that the pot has enough drainage holes to allow the excess water to seep through. Water them once a week during the growing season, i.e. Spring and Summer. You can cut back on watering sessions during the winter season. Overwatering can cause root rot. Check your soil by sticking your finger in the soil. If the soil feels moist, leave the plant for a couple of more days before watering it.
Rubber plants do not like wet feet. They like to be in well-draining and well-aerated soil. An equal mix of coco peat and compost with some perlite is a good soil mix for these plants. Coco peat or coco coir helps retain moisture, whereas perlite helps drain the soil’s excess water.
Feed your Rubber Plant with weak, diluted Liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season. Seaweed solution can also be used to provide nutrition to the plant. You can also redress the topsoil with new soil containing more compost, or worm castings to add nutrients to the soil.
RE-POTTING Rubber Plant
You can repot your Rubber plant once the roots have become root-bound. Spring season is the best time to repot them. Changing the soil every year keeps them healthy and growing.
PRUNING AND PROPAGATION of Rubber Tree
You can maintain your Rubber plant’s height according to your indoor/ outdoor space by regularly pruning from the top during the Spring season. This will also initiate side growth to make your plant look fuller and bushier. Then, you can use the pruned cutting to propagate them. Ficus Elastica can also be propagated through leaf cuttings. Propagation can be done in water as well as in soil. However, I suggest you go with water propagation to monitor the root growth and success rate better in water propagation than soil. Following are the steps for Propagating Rubber plant:
- First, sterilize your scissors, secateurs or knife with rubbing alcohol to ensure that you do not introduce any microbes in your plant.
- Secondly, choose a healthy stem with at least one or two leaves. Then using your scissors, cut the leaf node. You will see the milky sap oozing out of the cutting. Let the milky sap come out, gently wipe the cut end, place it in the water (water propagation) glass or a small pot with a rich potting medium. As mentioned earlier, you can use the same potting mix (cocopeat + compost + perlite).
- Make sure that the soil must remain moist till the roots develop. Whereas, in water propagation, change the water regularly and fill with clean water once a week. Once the roots develop, they transfer into the soil. Keep the pot in a warm spot with plenty of bright indirect light.
Rubber PLANT GROWTH
Rubber plants are generally fast-growing plants as far as they are provided with all the requirements. It has been observed Rubber plants grow rapidly if provided with a lot of bright indirect light throughout the day. Some people prefer keeping them outdoor during Spring and Summer to increase the growth rate. During Fall and Winters, you must not expect much growth or any growth. The plants that are root bound also fail to show any growth.
Rubber Plant TOXICITY
Rubber plants are slightly toxic to humans and pets (cats, dogs etc.).In addition, some people are allergic to Latex or the milky white sap that comes out of the plant. It can cause skin irritation, itching when the sap comes in contact with the skin, or stomach upset when consumed. Therefore, it is advisable to keep it away from small children’s reach. You can also wear gloves when dealing with the plant, such as pruning.
If you are looking for non-toxic or safe plants for your home, visit this link for all plants which are non-toxic to humans and pets.
Due to these plants’ broad leaves, you might see dust sitting on top of the leaves, which might give an unattractive look. Instead, wipe the leaves of your plant with a damp cloth. This will give them their glossy look back and keep them healthy as the leaves will be able to breathe easily.
Rubber Plant benefits
The good news is that Rubber plants are low maintenance and inexpensive to grow. It has been observed that Rubber plants are highly effective in removing indoor air pollutants. Furthermore, Rubber plants help to increase the humidity in the room where they are placed as they have a high transpiration rate.
As per Feng Shui and Indian Vastu Shastra, rubber plants are considered powerful and bring prosperity, fortune and positivity to the home/ family.
- Yellowing of the Rubber plant leaves: Older leaves tend to turn yellow over time, completely normal. But otherwise, not providing enough light or Overwatering can cause this problem.
- Rubber Plant leaves Drooping or Curling: This happens due to Overwatering or sudden temperature change. Too hot or too cold temperatures also cause the leaves to curl to avoid water or heat loss from leaves.
- White Spots on Rubber Plant Leaves: This is completely normal for this plant’s leaves to have white spots on them.
- Pests and Diseases : These plants are quite resistant to Pests and diseases, but still it is advisable to keep an eye on them.
See this link for more House Plants care and propagation tips.
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