Are you are looking for that easy going yet tough houseplant with the capability to reach some staggering heights in just a few years? Well, look no further! This ficus Elastica Care and Tips guide has it all.
The Rubber Plant is the ideal choice for you. Since the Victorian Era, rubber plant has been a favorite houseplant in most Germany households, thanks to its attractive foliage.
Generally, the rubber tree is a beautiful indoor plant commonly known for its large, glossy and thick leaves.
Although the first thought that crosses everyone’s mind at the mention of rubber plant is latex, we are all wise enough to know that it still makes an incredible addition to the household plants collection.
It will not only add a striking decor to your home but also remove formaldehyde toxins present in the air at your home.
There are definitely many reasons why many people would prefer having rubber tree over any other plant in their household.
Whatever the reasons are, 90% of them love it because of its easy maintenance requirements.
Since the plant has received its fair portion of attention over the past years, this article will be aimed at discussing some of the basic growing and care. Tips that will help you get the best out of ficus elastica.
Table of Contents
Ficus Elastica Robusta
Background Information on the Rubber Plant.
The rubber plant or rather ficus elastica traces its origin back to the Malaysia and India cultures where it was commonly grown for production of rubber.
However, today, this plant is now part of most homes indoor plants.
In the native setting, this plant could reach heights as tall as 100 inches.
However, as a houseplant the plant gets to only 8 or 10 inches. And with the right pruning procedures, you can control the height of this tree as much as you would like.
The plant has a life span of up to hundreds of years but can only be harvested for the first time after 7 years. After that, the plant could give a constant production of sap for about 30 years.
Growing and Caring Tips for Rubber Plant
This tropical ornamental plant is a tough and low maintenance plant that will never give you a hard time in your home.
However, before anything else you need to know that the plant can be a little finicky especially when it comes to sudden changes.
For that reason, its best if you find a suitable spot in the house and move it less.
Such factors as air flow and fluctuations in the environmental temperature can have adverse effects on the plant.
Lush leaves of the Rubber Plant
Unlike most other plants, the rubber tree doesn’t necessarily need a lot of light to grow. Actually, the plant does well in indirect bright light.
Preferably, you should place this plant at the window where the sun rays have been filtered through the curtains.
The rubber plant leaves will surprisingly grow larger when the light is lesser.
All in all, if you notice that the leaves are getting soggy and are losing their lustier, you might need some more light source.
⦁ Soil Conditions
The worst mistake you can make with the rubber plant is to let it sit in water.
For the plant to successfully grow, it needs well-aerated and well-drained soil otherwise the roots will rot even before you know it.
If you are growing the plant in potted setting, ensure that the pot has drainage holes at the bottom.
To aid in effective drainage of the soil, most people prefer placing some small stones at the bottom part of the pot.
Also, you could add a fair portion of sand, garden loam soil and peat moss to eliminate the soggy conditions despised by the rubber plants.
Rubber tree is one plant that does well in a very wide range of temperatures.
The plant flourishes well with temperatures anywhere between 10 degrees Celsius and 29 degrees Celsius. Temperatures hotter that this makes the leaves lose their turgidity.
In the winter conditions however, you are allowed to go as low as 4.5 degrees Celsius if need be.
All in all, with such low temperature levels you should ensure that your watering is spot on.
This is because over watering your plants in low temperatures will only have your plant dead quickly.
Like any other plant, the rubber tree needs a little feeding to produce some massive leaves.
The plant should be fed in summer and spring using the diluted liquid fertilizers every two weeks.
Also, you can use compost fertilizer as long as you first mix the soil with wood fibers or coconut.
However, you should avoid fertilizing your plants in winter or the recently re-potted and new plants for 4-6 months.
Plants should not be fertilized during winter because they don’t put forth much growth during this season.
Often there is very little pruning required with the ficus elastica. However, this plant tends to cope very well with the pruning process.
This is because, if you prune the plant you help with its branching out hence giving it a fuller shape.
Also, it makes the foliage to grow more densely hence bringing in a unique touch of elegance.
The rubber plant can be pruned either once or twice a year.
The best time to do this is at the end of winter and summer.
When pruning, you should keep in mind that you don’t have to cut the entire tree back. Light pruning is always enough for the rubber tress.
⦁ Humidity Levels
It’s necessary to mist the rubber plant leaves now and then when the air is too dry in summer.
Besides that, there is no need to worry about the humidity levels since the normal room humidity is just fine with this plant.
Even when you choose to have tiny pots, the rubber plants tend to grow way bigger.
All in all, the growth stops at some point.
In such a case, you may have to move the plant to a bigger pot and have them continue growing or just leave them in the small pot and then top dress them.
The top dressing procedure requires you to scrap off the top few inches of the soil then replace it with fresh compost manure.
Most are the times; your family members or friends will want one of their own rubber plants when they see how gorgeous yours blends with the home decor in your house.
Propagating a rubber plant is never a walk in the park but you can still succeed with it if done right.
Rubber is one of those plants that you can chop off a small branch, stick it to the soil and it will flourish with no time.
However, the best approach to the entire process is air layering the rubber trees. This is one of the most straight forward yet very effective way to do this.
Air layering involves cutting of a part of the healthy rubber tress then applying the damp moss to facilitate the growth of roots.
For best results, propagation should be done in summer or by providing heat at the bottom of the pot.
This is because the growing media needs to be kept warm all time.
⦁ Growth Rate
Most of the rubber plants can be described as growing moderately fast.
However, to encourage the rapid surge of new leaves most of plant owners prefer having their plants outdoor during the summer period.
However, you should not over do the sun exposure and also watch out for the wet summers.
This is because plant exposed to too much water may die or will literary not grow at all.
⦁ Spread and Height
Spread and end-height of your rubber plant relies so much on the care variables applied on to the plant.
In the ideal conditions while having a big pot and less pruning, the plant could achieve up to 9 feet of upwards growth.
However, in poor condition with a lot of pruning and a small growing pot the plant will tend to be shorter.
The plant spread on the other hand relies mostly on plant owner’s choice.
This is because the decision on whether or not to prune the plant solely relies on you.
Normally, the rubber tree will achieve a slender upward growth from the central growing stem.
However, if you incorporate constant pruning, the plant will achieve a more branched style which will give the plant that wide and bushy outlook.
All in all, the plant cannot spread anywhere beyond 3 ft.
Potential Problems Facing Rubber Plant
In the USA, the rubber plants are perennial and does well in the zones 10 to 12 but in most cases are kept as indoor plants.
Relatively, the plant is problem free and can withstand any growing conditions but on several occasions, it can be attacked by some bothersome pests and diseases.
Some of these problems include;
The rubber plants are susceptible to most of the standard houseplant pests like aphids, mealy bugs and scale insects.
The mealy bugs and aphids mostly pierce the plant tissues and feed on the cell sap.
On the other hand, the small arachnids like spider mites feed on the sap too.
If you can see some tell-tale webs all over your plant even before notice the mites, this is definitely a sign that they have attacked your plant.
Since of these sap feeders remove chlorophyll from the plant they make the leaves speckled and stripped.
The scale insects also commonly known as feeders of the rubber plant.
However, this is one plant pest that may go unnoticed if you are not paying close attention to your plant.
This is because they live underneath the protective scales that they use as armor against predators.
A heavy infestation of these sap feeders may cause your leaves to drop.
The best approach to the pests is using the liquid insecticides or horticultural soap that is mainly applied as a soil drench.
Rubber Plant Pests
There only few known diseases that attack the rubber plant. Actually the only diseases rubber is susceptible to is caused by over watering.
This is because over watering creates a medium for the pathogens that grow in the soil.
Waterlogged soil creates the perfect environment for phytophthora which leads to decaying, rots and the yellowing of leaves.
In other cases, the rubber plant may be infected by the foliar nematodes which are microscopic roundworms.
The worms cause the leaf veins to turn yellow and die.
Since there is no known control measure for this, you may have to throw away the entire infected plant then probably buy a new one.
Other Cultural Problems include;
The rubber trees are very sensitive especially when it comes to changes in the temperature.
This plant needs warm temperatures ranging between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature drop below this range may cause the leaves to be discolored and disfigured at the same time.
As the younger leaves get some puckers, the mature ones get sport brown blotches.
Also, the plant is not a big fan of being moved here and there.
And for that reason when shifted from its familiar growing spot, it may drop leaves.
In most cases, the leaves will regrow but the plant will have to remain unsightly until this happens.
What Causes the Leaves to Drop?
If your rubber plant is dropping its leaves at a very alarming rate, it means there is a serious associated issue.
Since there are many reasons why leaves could be dropping off the rubber plants, I will give you a highlight of the major reasons why your rubber plant leaves are falling off.
The sudden change of the lighting conditions
Infestation of pests and diseases
Lack of the ideal humidity levels
Regular air drafts from open windows
Over watering the plant
Over-fertilization of the rubber plant. Rubber plant normally needs only a little feeding