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How to Care for a Ficus Elastica (Rubber Tree)

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The Ficus Elastica (or rubber tree) is native to the tropics of Southeast Asia and boasts many variegations. This plant has gorgeous oval-shaped leaves in a dark emerald shade. The Ficus Elastica is also a fast grower, often reaching up to 100 ft in its natural habitat. While this plant isn’t the easiest for beginners because it isn’t as forgiving as other plants, growing it indoors can help to give the plant the care it needs all year round. Making this plant much more manageable to grow. Let’s dive in with some tips to help your own Ficus Elastica thrive!

Photo of Ficus Elastica by Scott Webb on Unsplash
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

The Ficus Elastica has plenty of varieties for growing indoors, such as Ficus Elastica ‘Tineke’, Ficus Elastica ‘Burgundy’, Ficus Elastica ‘Ruby’, and Ficus Elastica ‘Robusta’. These plants grow well indoors when given the right conditions and personally, have become one of my favorite species of plants. If you’re looking for a care guide on the Ficus Elastica ‘Tineke’, check it out here.

Bright, Indirect Light

The Ficus Elastica, like its variations, enjoys lots of bright but indirect sunlight. They can handle morning light but should be kept away from harsh afternoon light. If your Ficus Elastica receives too much sunlight, it can scorch the leaves. Likewise, if your Ficus Elastica receives too little light, your plant can become leggy and lose its lower leaves. The leaves can also become dull and lackluster.

Regularly Water

The Ficus Elastica does not like its soil to dry out in between waterings. This means you should keep the soil moist. You can ensure your plant is receiving the right amount of water by allowing the first couple of inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Rubber plants are vulnerable to excessively dry soil and are not very drought tolerant.

Well-Draining Soil

When it comes to potting mix, the Ficus Elastica isn’t too picky. As long as your soil is well-draining, your plant will be happy. Many planters find that a cactus potting mix does wonders for the Ficus Elastica plant family.

Fun Fact: Rubber plants enjoy their soil when it is slightly acidic, similar to the Fiddle Leaf Fig.

Diluted Liquid Fertilizer

During the growing season, Ficus Elastica enjoys a weakened liquid fertilizer. The rubber plant can be a heavy feeder when actively growing, which is why using a fertilizer meant for indoor plants will suit your Ficus Elastica well.

60-75 Fahrenheit + Added Humidity

Like nearly all indoor houseplants, Ficus Elastica can become unhappy fast when placed in environments with drafts or cooler temps. Keep Ficus Elastica plants in temperatures between 60 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit and moderately humid. During winter or if your home tends to be dry, a humidifier will help to create a more ideal condition for not just your rubber plant, but all of your plants.

Mealybugs, Aphids, Thrips, Oh My

Ficus Elastica can be susceptible to pests that infest indoor plants, such as aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites, scale, and thrips. Keeping an eye out for pests can help prevent them from spreading and infecting your other plants.

Cleaning the leaves with a solution of 1 part rubbing alcohol to 5 parts water with a few drops of water can go a long way in helping prevent pests. If you do find pests on your plant, consider using an insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Pet safe?

According to the ASPCA, the rubber tree is not pet-safe and is considered toxic to dogs and cats. This plant should also be kept out of reach of young children. Contact with the skin can cause dermatitis and ingestion can cause oral irritation, salivation, and vomiting.

Overall

The Ficus Elastica is a gorgeous tropical plant that can thrive indoors when given the right environment. Given bright but indirect light and well-draining soil that remains moist, can help your rubber plant to flourish. Be sure to keep out of reach of animals and young children as it is mildly toxic and check out its many variegations if you’re interested in expanding your Ficus Elastica family.


Care Guide for Ficus Elastics Tineke // Care Guide for Ficus Audrey