How to Care for an India Rubber Plant


The India rubber plant is a variety of Ficus elastica that has variegated leaves. The leaves are a dark, glossy green, with creamy white or light green borders and streaks. Desirable for their ease of care and attractive leaves, rubber tree plants are often grown in containers and cultivated as house plants. Care of the India variety does not differ greatly from the rubber tree species (Ficus elastica); although the light requirements should be carefully followed in order to maintain the beauty of the color variegation in the leaves.

Step 1

Grow your India rubber tree plant indoors unless you live in United States Department of Agriculture growing zones 10b through 11. This warmth-loving plant is not cold-hardy and will quickly die in any non-tropical outdoor climates.

Step 2

Place the plant in a location where it will receive bright but indirect sunlight. Indoors, this could be near a window that is filtered by an opaque curtain. Outdoors, a location that is exposed to morning sun and dappled afternoon shade is ideal. Prolonged exposure to the hot, direct rays of afternoon sunlight can burn the white-colored variegation on the India rubber plant's leaves.

Step 3

Water your India rubber plant when the soil has dried down a few inches below the surface. This hardy plant can grow in all types of soil, including sandy, clay or loamy soil. The India rubber plant does equally well in alkaline or acidic soil, but the planting medium should be well-drained, as the plant does not like wet roots. Err on the side of overly-dry soil, as the India rubber tree does not grow well when overwatered, according to Edward F. Gilman, a horticulturist with the University of Florida. Watering once a month should be sufficient during the growing season.

Step 4

Train your rubber tree to grow on one trunk. This is not only more attractive, but it creates a hardier plant. Prune away multiple trunks and dead or dying branches during the dormant season each year.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering tool
  • Pruning tools (optional)


  • Denver Plants: India Rubber Tree
  • University of Florida: Ficus Elastica
Keywords: India rubber plant, rubber tree care, growing rubber trees

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.