The rubber tree plant (Ficus elastic) makes an attractive houseplant. Although many of these plants grow as tall as 100 feet in their native habitat, the majority used in landscaping reach only 25 to 40 feet in height. Used as houseplants, rubber trees provide interesting specimens with their exhibits of glossy leaves and multiple trunks. You can successfully start a rubber tree plant to add to your houseplant collection or to place on a patio.
Start your rubber tree plant from a plant cutting. Although some rubber trees grow from seeds, cuttings provide quick establishment for houseplants. Take a cutting off a mature rubber tree plant in the fall or early spring. Use sharp shears to cut shoots that are between 8 and 10 inches long. Cut beneath cleanly beneath the joint. Remove buds from the lower section of the cutting to avoid suckers.
Bury the new cutting, with the top up, in well-drained, sandy soil to encourage quick growth. Keep the soil moist until planting time. After the soil has begun to warm in the spring, remove the cutting to plant into the area of the landscape or into houseplant pots.
Prepare a pot for growing your new tree. Select a pot with holes in the bottom to provide good drainage. Fill the pot with loose, loamy potting soil. Place the cutting in the soil, allowing just the top inch to protrude from the surface of the soil. Gently pack soil around the newly planted cutting to remove any air pockets. Water the cutting.
Or, plant rubber trees outdoors in climates that experience mild winter seasons. Select a sunny spot with loose, loamy soil and good drainage. Plant your rooted cutting directly into the soil, leaving about 1 inch above the ground. Water well, but avoid soaking your new rubber tree plant.
Provide adequate water for your new rubber tree by keeping the soil slightly moist. Do not soak the ground. Avoid watering outside rubber trees during the heat of the day. Water outside plants in the morning or evening. Water houseplants anytime the soil becomes dry. Increase healthy growth by providing a fertilizer formulated for rubber tree plants. Follow all instructions on the fertilizer package.