Information on How to Care for Rubber Plants

Overview

Rubber plants, known botanically as Ficus elastica, are glossy-leaved ornamental plants native to northeast India and southern Indonesia. In the United States, rubber plants can be grown as attractive, no-fuss, low-light-loving houseplants. In addition to the aesthetic benefits, the Ficus species has also been recognized by NASA for its ability to remove toxins from indoor air.

Step 1

Situate your rubber plant 4 to 8 feet from an east- or south-facing window where it can receive a minimum of four hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day. Position your rubber plant in a location that is at least 5 feet away from air conditioners, heaters or drafts.

Step 2

Water your rubber plant regularly during the spring, summer and fall to keep its soil moist. Use lukewarm water, rather than cold, to avoid shocking the root system.

Step 3

Maintain a healthy level of humidity around your rubber plant. Spray the rubber plant with water from a spray bottle up to twice a day to provide the humidity it needs to thrive.

Step 4

Fertilize young rubber plants with an application of a high-phosphorus fertilizer to help them form strong, healthy root systems. Fertilize established rubber plants with a half-strength solution of a high-nitrogen fertilizer every three to four weeks during the spring, summer and fall. Use fertilizer products according to package directions to avoid damaging your plant.

Step 5

Prune discolored, diseased or dead foliage from your rubber plant, as needed, to keep it looking healthy. Prune in the spring using sharpened, sterilized pruning shears to minimize the pruning stress to your plant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Monitor your rubber plant for signs of common pests such as spider mites, scale and mealybug. Treat your plant with an insecticide product, used according to package directions, if necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering can
  • Spray bottle
  • High-phosphorus fertilizer
  • High-nitrogen fertilizer
  • Pruning shears

References

  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Indoor Plant Care
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Rubber Trees and Other Friendly Ficus
  • Flower Shop Network: Rubber Plant Care
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Houseplants Help Clean Indoor Air

Who Can Help

  • Michigan State University Extension: Ficus Elastica
Keywords: rubber plant care, Ficus elastica care, ficus houseplant care, grow rubber plant

About this Author

Megan Mattingly-Arthur has been writing professionally for 10 years. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including "Teen Voices" and "Positive Teens" magazines as well as the book, "The Young Writer's Guide to Getting Published." She is currently enrolled in the Travel and Tourism Specialist program at the Penn Foster Career School.

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