Ficus elastica, more commonly known as rubber tree, is a tropical perennial valued for its attractive, glossy foliage, resilience and ease of care. The plant reaches 40 feet in height in the wild, though it only reaches 3 to 4 feet high as a houseplant. Each leaf is dark green in color and grows up to 8 inches in length. Native to Asia, Ficus elastica requires warm temperatures to thrive. Due to its tropical origins, gardeners usually grow Ficus elastica as a houseplant in the United States. Popular in homes and office buildings, the plant requires only minimal care indoors.
Keep Ficus elastica in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day. Maintain a constant temperature of 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 62 to 65 degrees at night. Inconsistent temperatures may cause the plant to drop its leaves, so keep it in a warm place away from drafts.
Water once every 7 to 10 days, or whenever the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Soak the plant thoroughly until water begins to exit the drainage holes, allow it to stand for several minutes, and then drain away all excess water. Allowing the roots to stand in water may cause rotting or disease.
Feed Ficus elastica once every three to four weeks while the plant is actively growing using an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer. Reduce fertilizing frequency to once every five to six weeks during fall, and cease feeding altogether in winter. Apply at half the strength recommended by the manufacturer to prevent over-fertilization, which may cause leaf loss.
Prune the plant once per year during late winter, just before active growth resumes in spring. Use pruning shears to cut back all overgrown limbs and remove all damaged or diseased growth, to improve the plant's health and aesthetic appeal.
Re-pot Ficus elastica once every three to four years, or whenever the plant appears crowded in its present container. Increase the size of the container by 3 to 5 inches each time and provide a fresh well-drained, fertile potting soil.