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How to Care for Rubber Plant?

How to Care for Rubber Plant?

Rubber plant (known as Ficus elastica, rubber tree, rubber tree plant) is one of the popular houseplants due to its waxy leaves and large appearance. This plant completes the decoration of any house due to its large and beautiful leaves. Continue reading this article in TooPlant in order to learn more about how to grow and care for rubber plant.

Introduction of Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)

Before addressing how to care for a rubber plant, please allow us to give you a brief introduction about this houseplant.

Introduction of Rubber plant

Name Rubber plant
Botanical Name Ficus elastica
Common Name(s) Rubber plant, rubber tree, rubber tree plant
Plant Type Evergreen tree
Family Moraceae
Mature Size Height: 50 to100 feet (outdoors); Spread: 50 to100 feet (outdoors)
Sun Exposure Partial shade
Soil Conditions Moist but well-drained
Bloom Time Rarely blooms
Toxicity Toxic to cats[1]1American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Cats. ASPCA.org and dogs
Native Eastern parts of South and Southeast Asia
Hardiness Zones 10 to 12 (USDA)

Rubber plant can grow up to 30 meters in their habitat in Southeast Asia. As a houseplant, it grows between 1 and 3 meters in height anywhere. Rubber tree plant owes its name to its plant sap, which is sometimes used to make rubber. In this article, we try to teach you how to grow a rubber plant and care for it in a correct way.

The plant’s leaves have a shiny and rubbery appearance. These plants are tall and if they are cared for properly, they will produce beautiful leaves. Rubber tree plant usually has dark green species or colored leaves. For example, species called “black knight rubber tree” or “ruby rubber plant” have reddish black leaves. Rubber tree is easy to maintain and if you are looking for a tall houseplant that will impress your guests, rubber plant is valuable to maintain.

Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’, Ficus elastica ‘Burgundy’, Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’,  and Ficus elastica ‘Robusta’ are the most common types which can be maintained (kept) indoors.

In this article, we want to provide you with information about how to care for rubber plant, so stay tuned with Tooplant.

Care for Rubber Plant

In short, about the maintenance and care of the rubber plant, we must say that the key to maintaining this houseplant is balance, which means the right amount of water and light. If you can provide the right amount of both, you will have a happy, strong and tall rubber tree plant. If the rubber tree plant wilts, it will tell you that it needs more light or water. To have a rubber tree that is always beautiful and fresh, it is necessary to observe and consider the vital items such as light, watering and other items that we have mentioned in detail below.

In this part, we will focus on the most important aspects which you need to take into consideration while treating this houseplant. The best methods of how to care for rubber tree plant include as follows:

Rubber Plant Light Requirements: What light is best for rubber plants?

Light is among the first important issues to care for rubber plant. Ficus elastica (Rubber plant) prefers indirect light that is not hot. Direct sunlight can cause its leaves to burn. You can keep this plant close to the window with a curtain so that the right amount of light reaches the plant.

The colored leaf species of this plant need more light to produce the color of their leaves, so make sure you sufficiently provide the rubber plant light requirements.

Above, we tried to discuss all the details related to the rubber plant light requirements since it plays a significant role in order to care for rubber plant.

Rubber Plant Watering: How often should you water a rubber tree?

In the rest, concerning the tips of caring for a rubber plant, it is better to know that these plants need more water during the growing season, i.e. in summer. You should keep the soil moist, but do not saturate it.

You should also clean the leaves of the plant with a damp cloth to keep them moist and help the plant absorb more light. If you do not want to wipe each leaf, spraying is another way. Plant rubber tree in well-drained soil to always fight root rot.

During the dormant season, in winter, you need to keep the soil dry, but not too dry.

Allow the soil to dry a few inches between waterings to make sure you do not water too much. As the leaves wither, you should realize that the plant needs more water.

In this way, to care for rubber plant, watering is considered to be of great significance.

Rubber Plant Soil: What is the best soil for a Ficus elastica (Rubber plant)?

Intending to care for rubber plant, the other crucial matter is soil. Rubber tree plant tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, but only if it is well drained. However, since you grow rubber tree as a houseplant in a pot, you need to use a good, fertile soil mixture to keep your plant growing well.

Pure soil is not suitable for planting rubber tree plant because the soil is heavy and retains a lot of moisture, which will lead to root rot of the plant. It is better to mix potting soil with another substance such as potting soil or peat mixture and only have about 50% of the pure soil. You should lighten the soil so that it drains well.

Otherwise, the best option is to use a fertile potting mixture because it has good drainage and does not hold much water. Many potting mixtures contain slow-release fertilizers that also help nourish the rubber tree plant; Especially if you often forget to fertilize your plant.

You can also prepare the soil mixture using equal parts of peat, pine bark and coarse sand. The most important thing to keep in mind for growing Ficus elastica is to make sure your plant has fertile soil that drains well.

Thus, it can be said that, soil is another basic and important issue so as to care for rubber plant.

Rubber Plant Temperature Tolerance

Now, we come to temperature which is assumed to be principal to care for rubber plant in addition to light, watering and soil that are mentioned above.

Rubber plant generally prefers temperatures between 15 and 23 degrees Celsius. But it can survive in winter at low temperatures up to 10 degrees Celsius.

Like water and light, a well-balanced temperature is ideal for the plant to grow. Rubber tree plant likes humid climates because it is like the air of its origin, but it can survive even low-humidity temperatures.

Rubber tree plant is sensitive to temperature changes and prefers to live in areas with constant temperature and humidity.

Rubber Plant Humidity: Does rubber tree like humidity?

Moisture is another thing which we need to inevitably pay attention to when talking about how to care for  rubber tree plant.

Rubber tree grows in its native environment in areas with constant humidity. Therefore, to grow your plant healthily and prevent potential problems, it is essential to provide the moisture needed for the rubber tree plant to grow.

Moreover, do not place the rubber plant in areas where the air is naturally dry, such as near heating systems or air vents. Do not worry! You can easily provide the moisture needed by this houseplant indoors, and you can try one of the following methods:

¤¤ Prepare a water spray bottle and spray water on your plant several times a week. You cannot spray too much. So, if you spray the leaves of rubber tree plant with water daily, your plant will not have problems.

¤¤ You can fill a large tray with small pebbles and place a rubber plant pot on it. Fill the tray with water so that the moisture in pebbles helps to create moisture around your plant.

¤¤ If you have a large bathroom that has good lighting conditions, you can put your rubber plant there. With a constant flow of water through the shower, etc., enough moisture is naturally created for your plant.

Therefore, please do not forget to take humidity into consideration in order to care for polka dot plant in the best way.

Rubber Plant Fertilizer: What is the best fertilizer for a rubber tree plant?

When you want to care for rubber plant, one of the important questions that may come to your mind is “what is the best fertilizer?” In what follows, we will address how to fertilize this plant:

In general, Rubber tree does not require much fertilizer, but regular use of fertilizer during the growing season makes the plant produce large, shiny leaves and also helps maintain plant health. You should only fertilize your plant when the plant is growing, i.e. spring and summer. When winter arrives, the plant goes dormant and its growth slows down, so fertilization should be stopped.

During the growing season, you can use water-soluble fertilizer and fertilize the plant when watering. It is enough to use this fertilizer for the freshness and proper growth of Ficus elastica once a month. You can also use different options to fertilize this houseplant:

•• You can use slow-release granule fertilizers and sprinkle them on the soil of the pot. You can repeat it every two months. These slow-release fertilizers decompose each time the soil is watered, and most of them are enough for two to three months. After this time, fertilize the soil again. Always try to follow the instructions of the specific product you are buying.

•• You can also use a balanced water-soluble compound. Dissolve the fertilizer in water and water your rubber tree plant with it.

Problems of Fertilizing Rubber Plant

Fertilizers usually cause salt to accumulate in the soil over time, and it is necessary to wash the soil periodically to remove this salt. Although rubber tree plant tolerates moderately salty conditions in its environment, too much salt in the soil can cause the plant to burn its foliage. Removing salt accumulation is easy.

Depending on the size of the rubber plant, you can take the plant pot to the sink or bath and let the water run for 5 minutes in the soil to rinse off the salts completely. Then allow water to drain from under the pot and return the pot to its place.

As a result, we could say that fertilizer is regarded as one of the fundamental issues when someone wants to care for rubber plant.

Rubber Plant Toxicity: Are rubber plants poisonous to humans and pets?

In order to care for rubber plant, toxicity is considered to be a major issue because it directly relates to your health especially children and pets.

Rubber plant is toxic to cats and dogs, and also its sap can cause itchy skin in some people. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after carrying the plant, especially if your hands are in contact with the sap. Eating this plant can cause mild stomach problems or more severe symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals considers rubber plant toxic to cats. Therefore, as rubber plant is toxic to cats, you need to be careful and keep it out of reach of cats.

Rubber Plant Repotting: How to repot rubber tree plant?

You need to repot your rubber tree so that it can grow. It may be necessary to repot it every few years or every year, depending on the size of the pot and the growth of the plant. If you want your plant to stay in its current size, do not repot it.

Always move the plant to a pot that is larger than the previous pot. Planting Ficus elastica in a very large pot makes the soil more wet and thus endangers the health of the plant.

In addition, if the pot is small, the roots of rubber tree plant will not have enough space and the plant will stop growing. Most of the time, when the pot is small, the roots come out of the drainage holes. You can use any pot with a drain hole to repot the rubber plant. The process of repotting this plant is easy and does not require any special work. You can follow the below steps to do this:

¤¤ Gently remove the rubber plant from the pot in which it grows and carefully separate the roots.

¤¤ Fill a quarter of a new pot with a well-drained pot mixture and place the plant in it, filling the rest of the pot with soil.

¤¤ Make sure you do not plant the rubber plant in a pot much deeper than the previous pot. Firm the soil around the plant by hand.

¤¤ After planting, water the rubber tree to saturate the roots. Continue watering until it comes out of the drainage holes under the pot. Place the pot in a place that receives bright, indirect sunlight.

Rubber Plant Pruning: How to prune rubber plant?

Another thing to keep in mind when caring for a rubber plant is pruning it. To improve the growth of rubber tree plant, the growth of new branches and control its size (so that it does not grow too much), you need to prune this plant.

The best time to prune rubber tree is spring. In winter, do not prune at all and be careful that the cut branches release the sap, and you should do pruning with gloves. You can use a knife to prune this houseplant, but if the branches are too thick, use sharp garden shears.

You can prune the side branches to make your plant thicker. Each branch you prune, several new branches grow and your plant becomes thicker. Since the rubber plant goes dormant during the winter months and will not grow until spring, you should not prune it during the cold months.

However, this does not harm the plant and you can remove dead, damaged or diseased leaves from the plant if necessary. Also, use a clean knife and shears to prevent transmission of diseases to the rubber tree plant. You just need to clean the blades with alcohol.

Propagating Rubber Plant: How to propagate rubber tree plants?

When you want to care for rubber plant, another important question that may come to your mind is “how to propagate it.”

The easiest way to propagate the rubber plant is to separate the small branches from the healthy rubber tree plant. You can root these cuttings in soil or water. Allow the sap from the stem to dry before planting.

Another method is air layering. To do this, make an incision in a healthy rubber tree and place a toothpick in the incision site. Keep the area moist with moss and wrap a plastic wrap around the moss to keep it on the toothpick. When you see the roots growing in the moss, cut the branch and plant it in new soil.

In this part, we tried to teach you how to propagate rubber plant in detail. In this way, you can easily propagate your plant.

Common Pests and Diseases

Rubber Plant, like any other plant, can be exposed to disease or pests.

Common Pests

Mealybugs, small worms, scales and aphids are common pests that can make home in your rubber tree plant.

Treatment: If you notice in time, you can remove these insects with a solution of warm water and soap or insecticide soap. You can also treat the plant with neem oil or garlic spray.

How to apply neem oil or garlic spray to the rubber plant?

 

Caring for Rubber Plant: Common Problems With Rubber Plant

After a description of taking care of a rubber plant, we will explain the problems and their solutions:

Why Are Rubber Plant Leaves Turning Yellow?

As “leaves turning yellow” is one of the common problems that you may face when you want to care for rubber plant, we will try to describe the reasons and the ways to solve it in details.

Watering

One of the most common causes of yellow leaves of rubber plant is overwatering or underwatering. Therefore, it is very important to know how to water this plant properly.

The key rule is that whenever the soil surface dries a few centimeters (about 8 cm), you can water the plant well.

This issue is not difficult to diagnose and you can use a wooden skewer or your finger to help you: Slightly tilt the soil surface and measure the moisture. If you feel that it is wet, you have to wait a bit. Of course, we prefer the wooden skewer method, because you can move the skewer close to the root and create holes around it by shaking. These holes help to improve drainage and their most important feature is to establish air flow around the roots.

Pot Size

To prevent yellow leaves in rubber plant, you also need to ensure that the pot size is suitable. The rubber tree plant should be planted in a pot with multiple drainage holes so that it can drain in the best way. The presence of these holes is vital to allow excess water to pass through and prevent the soil from remaining wet.

Light and Temperature

Other environmental changes, such as sudden changes in light and temperature, can also cause rubber tree plant leaves to turn yellow. In this case, yellowing is a sign of the plant trying to keep up with the environment. Rubber plant prefers indirect sunlight and should live in the temperature range of 18-27 ° C.

Root

Yellowing of rubber plant leaves may also be a sign of root closure. If the plant is placed in a pot for several consecutive years, the plant will grow by increasing the volume of the root, causing it to be compressed. In this case, you have to move the plant to a larger pot.

Choose a new pot with multiple drainage holes and about 1-2 sizes larger than the previous pot. Cover the bottom of the pot with fresh potting soil. Now you have to remove the plant from the previous pot and clean the roots well from the previous soils.

We recommend that you thoroughly examine the root for decay or disease, and if you see a suspicious part, separate it from other parts with scissors or a sharp razor. Place the rubber tree plant in the new pot so that the top of the root ball is a few inches below the edge of the pot. Fill the pot with the rest of the soil and leave about 2.5 cm empty for watering.

Of course, yellow leaves of rubber plant is not always a dangerous sign! If everything is in order and you cannot find a problem in maintaining the plant, maybe the plant is going through its natural growth cycle. If the leaves of the lower part of the plant are turning yellow, there is no need to worry. These leaves are the old leaves of the plant. In such cases, prune the plant and enjoy its lush appearance again. Or you can even wait for these leaves to drop.

Why are Ficus elastica leaves drying and turning brown?

The reason for this problem is improper watering. In this case, two cases are appeared:

  1. If the leaves turn brown and at the same time, they become dry and brittle, it means that the plant is dehydrated. If the rubber tree does not receive enough water, the leaves dry out over time and the plant is forced to separate them; Because it prefers to spend all the remaining energy on healthy leaves. Not getting enough light can also make these symptoms worse.

Treatment: do not leave a gap between waterings and always try to keep the soil moist.

  1. If the leaves become soft and sticky while browning, it means that the plant has received too much water. In this case, the soil is saturated with water and the roots cannot absorb water. If the soil is wet and has an unpleasant odor, it means that the roots are also involved. Whenever you find one of these symptoms in your plant, you need to act immediately.

Treatment: First you have to stop watering and let the soil dry a few centimeters. If you think the root is also in trouble, remove the plant from the pot and clean the root from the soil. Cut the brown and black parts of the root with sharp, clean scissors. The root should be white and firm. You can now plant the rubber tree plant in fresh soil and in a new pot.

Since “leaves drying and turning brown” is another common problem that you may face when you want to care for rubber plant, we tried to describe the reasons and the ways to solve it in details.

Why are rubber tree leaves dropping?

One of the problems that people face is the dropping of rubber plant leaves. We must say that “leaves dropping” has different causes and the first step is to identify them:

Reducing turgor pressure

Turgor pressure is the pressure between the plasma and the cell wall. This pressure maintains the firm and healthy appearance of the plant. Over and underwatering of the plant is the main reason for this problem. Another reason is the high level of soil salt. This extra amount of salt can affect the function of osmosis and cause the plant to wilt.

Lack of space for root growth

The root is the heart of the plant. So, you have to provide the right conditions for root growth and development. Small pots compress the roots and prevent them from growing and spreading.

Inadequate drainage system

Wet soil in the long run will prevent the roots’ growth by destroying them.

Lack of sufficient light

Lack of adequate light or a sharp and sudden change in the amount of incoming light can also be other causes of dropping of rubber tree plant leaves. A clear sign of this problem is the plant’s need for support to stand upright. In this case, you must check the lighting conditions. If you are planning to move your rubber plant from outside to the house, you must first adapt the plant to the new conditions. So, it is better to get help from special lamps to compensate for the lack of light.

Lack of necessary moisture

Rubber plant moisture problems are usually observed in winter. Terrariums are a good idea to keep the rubber tree plant moist.

Too much fertilizer

Excessive fertilization and the presence of pests can also lead to the dropping of rubber plant leaves. Aphids, spider mites and various types of bedbugs are common pests of this plant. Rubber tree requires a small amount of fertilizer. During the growing season, you can fertilize the plant every 3-4 weeks.

Inadequate temperature

Extremely hot or very cold temperatures can also cause the rubber tree leaves to become tubular and eventually drop.

Infographic Of How To Care For Rubber Plant

In this article, we tried to explain to you in an infographic the essential tips in the care of rubber plant, so that you can briefly and usefully learn the methods of caring for this plant.

In The End

In this article, we tried to provide you with the necessary information about the methods of caring for a Rubber Plant.

However, if you have any questions regarding this indoor plant or you need to get advice from our houseplant experts, please share your questions with us through the comments section below.

Sources[+]

Sources
1 1American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Cats. ASPCA.org
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