Rubber Plants: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing and Maintaining Them
Rubber plants are native to India and Southeast Asia, growing in checkered sunlight under taller trees. They are also referred to as Ficus elastica. They bring charm to any space. These medium-height plants thrive well to a great extent if they are in the right conditions, like proper watering, good sunlight, and enough fertilizer. In the wild, they grow into larger plants and can live up to 100 years and grow to a height of 100- 130 years. Rubber plants also work well as indoor houseplants, though growth will be hampered if kept in small pots. They are perfect for enhancing the décor of any living room. Allow your plant to acclimate gradually to new locations, as pushing it too fast can drop its leaves.
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How to Grow Rubber plants from Cuttings
Growing a rubber plant from a cutting is an easy way to propagate the plant. Here are the steps to follow:
Choose a Healthy Stem:
Select a branch from the rubber plant that is at least 4-6 inches long and has a few leaves.
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Cut the stem:
Use a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears to make a clean cut just below a node (the spot where a leaf attaches to the stem).
Prepare the cutting:
Remove the lower leaves from the stem, leaving just a few at the top. This will help the cutting focus its energy on rooting instead of supporting leaves.
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Plant the cutting:
Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone powder (optional), then plant it in a pot filled with well-draining soil. Water the soil lightly, and cover the pot with a plastic bag or plastic wrap to create a humid environment.
Provide the right environment:
- Keep the cutting in a warm, bright spot with indirect light.
- Avoid placing it in direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves.
- Check the soil regularly to ensure it stays moist but not waterlogged.
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In about 2-3 weeks, the cutting should start to grow new leaves, which means it has rooted successfully. Now, you can remove the plastic covering and treat it like a regular rubber plant.
Growing a rubber plant from a cutting can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to expand your collection or share plants with friends.
How to Grow Rubber Plants in Pot
Rubber plants are popular houseplants that can be grown in pots. Here are the steps to follow to develop a rubber plant in a pot :
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Choose the right pot:
Select a larger pool than the current plant container. The pot should have drainage holes to allow excess water to drain out.
Prepare the soil:
Use a well-draining potting mix rich in organic matter. You can also mix in some perlite or coarse sand to improve drainage.
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Plant the rubber plant:
Place the rubber plant in the center of the pot, ensuring that the top of the soil is level with the lid. Add soil around the plant, pressing it down gently to remove air pockets.
With proper care, your rubber plant should thrive and add beauty to your home for years.
Types of Rubber Plant
Several types of rubber plants can be grown as houseplants. Here are some of the most common types:
This is the most common type of rubber plant known for its large, glossy leaves that can be green or variegated.
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Ficus elastica ‘Burgundy’:
This variety of rubber plants has dark, burgundy-colored leaves that are a striking contrast to other green plants in the home.
Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’:
This variety has green leaves that gradually turn a deep, rich red as the plant matures.
Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’:
This variegated variety has green leaves with white or cream-colored markings that can be very striking.
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Ficus elastica ‘Decora’:
This variety has large, dark green leaves that are more pointed than the standard Ficus elastica.
Ficus elastica ‘Abidjan’:
This variety has smaller, rounder leaves than other rubber plant varieties but still has the classic rubber plant look.
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While not technically a rubber plant, the fiddle leaf fig has become very popular recently and has similar care requirements to rubber plants. It is known for its large, violin-shaped leaves.
Each variety of rubber plant has its unique look and characteristics. Still, they all make great houseplants that are relatively easy to care for.
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Caring for rubber plants
Despite its tropical origins, rubber plants can be grown indoors. Just give it time to adjust to the changes and the in-home temperature, humidity, and lighting.
Rubber plants thrive well in bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight, which can burn large leaves and turn them from glossy to dull. While rubber trees can bear lower light, it helps them grow strong.
Rubber plants prefer humus-rich soil with good aeration. An all-purpose commercial potting mix curated for indoor container growing provides the balance of moisture retention and drainage that rubber plants need.
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Rubber trees are more tolerant of drought than other ficus plants, but overwatering and underwatering cause dropped leaves. Allow the soil to dry slightly, then water thoroughly. Never let your plant dry to the point of wilting. Rubber plants require less water during winter, so water them accordingly.
Rubber trees can be heavy feeders from spring through late summer. You can feed your plant a balanced mix of essential plant nutrients that promote strong, beautiful growth. One application provides for up to 4 months.
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Rubber tree plants take tall, tree-like forms if not trimmed. To make them dense, trim the branches a few inches in late winter. Always wear gloves while cleaning rubber plants. Milky sap can cause skin reactions.
Rubber trees grow aerial roots similar to monstera plants. They propagate quickly from cuttings. Take cuttings from the tips about 10 cm long. Strip leaves from the lower third and place in water for 30 minutes. Place your cutting in moist fertilizer, seal a clear plastic bag over the pot, and keep it in a corner where it receives good sunlight.
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Rubber trees mature their plants every two to three years. Therefore, smaller containers limit their plants. When transplanting, choose a container a few inches larger in diameter than the existing pot.
Rubber trees are low-maintenance tropical that can be grown indoors around the year or outdoors in warm climates. Rubber plants are easy to care for and thrive under the right conditions. Keep the soil moist and make sure it receives good sunlight.
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