The rubber tree plant (Ficus elastica) makes an excellent house plant for beginners as it requires only minimal care and adapts to a variety of growing conditions. Reaching up to 10 feet in height when grown in a container, the plant produces dark green to maroon, glossy, leathery leaves that reach up to 12 inches in length. Some varieties feature variegated foliage marked with white, pink or yellow, though the most common types have solid-colored leaves. The durable rubber tree plant requires a warm location to thrive, and if kept away from drafts and provided with proper maintenance, it continues to grow for many years indoors.
Plant your rubber tree in a 9- to 12-inch pot filled with well-draining, moist, rich potting soil. Keep in a location that receives bright, medium light for optimal growth. Maintain a temperature of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 to 65 degrees at night for the best results.
Clean the plant's foliage once every two to three days to keep it free of dust and pests. Use a damp cloth soaked in lukewarm water to gently wipe the leaves clean. Be sure to wipe the bottoms of the leaves as this is a prime location for colonizing pests.
Mist your rubber tree plant twice per day with a spray bottle filled with room temperature water to increase the relative humidity of the air surrounding the plant. Spray once in the early morning and once at midday so all excess moisture can evaporate before temperatures drop in the evening.
Water once every week, soaking the soil until moisture begins to exit the drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Drain away any excess water and allow the soil to dry slightly before the next application. Reduce watering frequency to once every two weeks during the winter.
Feed your rubber tree plant once every three to four weeks during spring and summer, once every five weeks during fall and cease fertilization altogether during winter. Use an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer to provide proper nutrition and apply at half the rate indicated by the instructions on the package.
Prune the plant during late winter, just before active growth resumes in the spring, to keep the plant aesthetically pleasing and healthy. Use pruning shears to cut back any overgrown branches and remove any diseased or damaged foliage as necessary.