Rubber Tree Care Guide
The Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica) is a species of fig tree native to southern and southeastern Asia. Their resistance to infections and longevity make them exceptional houseplants that can be found all over the world. Rubber tree care is simple and easy.
Interesting Rubber Tree Facts:
They also go by the name rubber plant and rubber bush.
They are extremely durable. In fact, they can grow up to 200 feet (60 meters) tall in the wild, and their roots are grown over rivers in India to create bridges.
True rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) are a source of latex. However, houseplant rubber trees (Ficus elastica) produce a small amount of latex. Be weary if you have a latex allergy and know that exposure can cause skin irritation.
Learn more facts and benefits of rubber trees at balconygardenweb.com.
Rubber Tree Temperature Requirements:
Rubber trees will thrive in the temperature range of 60°F to 80°F (16°C to 27°C). The tree will be able to enter active growth and produce new leaves.
They can survive in temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C), however, the plant’s growth will be stunted. Prolonged exposure may result in the plant wilting. Rubber trees will not survive frost/freezing temperatures.
Additionally, if the temperature remains above 90°F (32°C) the plant will be at risk of drying out and wilting.
If you live in zones 10 through 12, rubber trees can be planted outside. They will survive year round if given enough water. However, if you live in colder areas plants need taken inside during winter.
Also, avoid placing rubber trees in drafty areas. Drafts will cause leaves to dry out and eventually wilt. Long term exposure will result in leaves falling off and dry branches.
Rubber Tree Light Requirements:
Proper rubber tree care requires proper lighting. They prefer to be kept in environments with bright, indirect light. A lot of bright light will allow the plants to thrive.
They are able to tolerate direct sunlight, however, their leaves will turn a deep burgundy color. Plants will need more water when kept in direct sun.
Rubber trees will need more sunlight if they start to become leggy. Leggy plants will start to lose leaves and their soft purple-red color will fade.
Leggy plants can be fixed by moving them to a brighter location. Learn more about leggy plants and how to treat them sunspotnursery.com.
Rubber trees require a lot of water during the summer and much less in the winter. This correlates with the monsoon season (June-September) of southern Asia, to which they are native.
For this reason, the plant should be kept moist in summer. This includes misting leaves and branches, as well as watering the soil once to twice a week.
Never allow the tree to sit in water. Keep its soil moist/damp but not soaked.
During the plant’s dormant season (winter), it will only need water once to twice a month. Let the soil dry out a little between waterings.
If a rubber tree is too wet or dry, its leaves will turn yellow and fall off.
Early signs of too much or too little water are:
- Smaller leaves
- Curling leaves
- Drooping leaves
Rubber trees need a well draining soil. If they stay in sitting water too long, their roots will rot.
Good soils to use include:
- Cactus potting mixes
- Sphagnum peat moss mixes
- Any nutrient dense potting soil mixed with 1 part soil to one part course sand or perlite
Additionally, add a layer of rocks at the bottom of rubber tree pots to provide extra drainage.
Also, plant trees in a pot with holes in the bottom to help with drainage. This pot can be placed in a larger pot to prevent water from leaking onto the floor.
Learn more about drainage, pots and their usage at sunspotnursery.com.
Fertilizing Rubber Trees
Rubber Trees do not need fertilizer to survive. However, fertilizer helps to boost development during its growing season and help it thrive year round.
To make a rubber tree fertilizer mix, first purchase a 10-10-10 nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium fertilizer that is water soluble.
Second, mix 1/2 a teaspoon of the fertilizer with 1 gallon of water in a container.
Finally, water rubber trees with the fertilizer mix once a month over the summer. A gallon of fertilizer mix should last for the whole season, however, larger trees may need 2 gallon of fertilizer mix per year.
Care Tips and Tricks
- Rubber trees kept indoors are magnets for dust particles. Dust will sometimes collect on the plant’s leaves and prevent them from photosynthesizing. However, this can be fixed by wiping down the leaves with a damp cloth every few weeks.
- Prune trees regularly to help promote dense leaf growth. Also, pruning helps keep the height of these plants under control.