How to Take Care of a Ficus Elastica Plant

Overview

Ficus elastica, more commonly known as the rubber tree, originates from the tropical regions of India and Malaysia. In their natural habitat it is not uncommon for these trees to grow well over 100 feet tall. Being easy to grow and maintain, the ficus elastica has become a popular houseplant in areas with cooler climates. With proper care and handling, your rubber tree plant will provide many years of satisfaction.

Step 1

Place your rubber tree plant in a location that is bright, but not in direct sunlight. The plant will thrive in a warm, humid spot that simulates its natural environment. Ficus elastica is very sensitive to cold, so keep it away from exterior doors and windows where there may be drafts.

Step 2

Water your plant thoroughly but always allow it to dry out between each watering. The water should be tepid rather than cold. The soil should hold moisture while also providing drainage. A well-mixed combination of peat moss, perlite and bark is ideal for potting soil.

Step 3

Fertilize as desired. Fertilizing your ficus elastica is usually not necessary as it will grow vigorously, provided that the location, soil and watering are to its liking. If desired, use a water-soluble fertilizer designed for indoor plants, and add at half the recommended dose. Do not fertilize during the winter months.

Step 4

Prune your ficus elastica regularly to keep it a manageable size. Cut stems just above the leaf node. Pruning the top branches will force more lateral growth and allow the plant to fill out.

Step 5

Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth once a month to keep them free of dust. If you see any insects or leaf mold add a drop of soap to the water and wipe the foliage clean.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber tree plant
  • Sterile potting soil
  • Fertilizer (optional)
  • Damp cloth

References

  • U.S. Dept. of Agriculture: GRIN Taxonomy for Plants: Ficus Elastica
  • University of Arizona Extension: Interior Plants: Selection and Care

Who Can Help

  • United States Department of Agriculture: Ficus Elastica Variegata
Keywords: ficus elastica care, rubber tree care, ficus elastica

About this Author

Based in Surrey, British Columbia, Stephen Oakley is a freelance writer focusing on environmental issues, travel and all things outdoors. His background includes many years spent working in the Canadian wilderness and traveling worldwide.