How to Take Care of a Rubber Tree Plant

Overview

The rubber tree plant, also known by its Latin name Ficus elastica, is a popular indoor houseplant grown for its attractive foliage and ease of care. The plant adapts admirably to typical household conditions and even tolerates periods of neglect and low light. The common rubber tree plant features dark green leaves, but some varieties have burgundy or variegated foliage. Regardless of type, all rubber trees require similar care and thrive indoors with very little maintenance.

Step 1

Keep rubber tree plant in a location that receives bright morning sun and afternoon shade when temperature peak, such as an east- or north-facing window. Maintain a temperature of 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 62 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Step 2

Water when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch, about once every week. Soak the soil thoroughly until water begins to exit the drainage holes on the bottom of the container, and then drain away any excess moisture to prevent rotting and disease.

Step 3

Feed rubber tree plant once every two to three weeks during spring and summer using an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer. Decrease fertilizing frequency to once every month during fall. Do not feed during winter. Apply the fertilizer at one-half the recommended strength.

Step 4

Wash the foliage of the rubber tree plant with a damp, clean cloth once every three to five days to keep the leaves glossy, attractive, clean and pest-free. Soak the cloth in lukewarm water to prevent shocking the plant and wipe gently to remove dirt and pests.

Step 5

Prune rubber tree plant during early spring, just before new growth begins, to keep the plant attractive, healthy and growing in a compact habit. Use pruning shears to trim back any damaged, diseased or overgrown limbs.

Step 6

Repot rubber tree plant once every three to four years, or whenever it has outgrown its current growing container. Increase the size of the container by 3 to 5 inches to provide plenty of room for new growth. Provide a fresh, all-purpose potting soil as the growing medium.

Things You'll Need

  • Houseplant fertilizer
  • Cloth
  • Pruning shears
  • Container
  • Potting soil

References

  • Michigan State University Extension: Ficus Elastica---Rubber Plant, Rubber Tree
  • University of Minnesota Extension Service: Rubber Trees, Weeping Figs and Other Friendly Ficus
  • "37 Houseplants Even You Can't Kill"; Mary Kate Hogan; 2007
Keywords: rubber tree plant, rubber tree, ficus elastica

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.