Rubber ficus, known more commonly as rubber tree or Ficus elastica, is a popular indoor houseplant native to areas of India and Indonesia. In the United States, the plant grows indoors almost exclusively, as it cannot tolerate cold temperatures. In the wild, rubber ficus reaches up to 40 feet in height, but only reaches about 12 feet indoors. Gardeners value the rubber ficus plant for its adaptability, tolerance of household conditions, ease of care and longevity. With proper care, a rubber tree lives up to 15 years and brightens any indoor room with its deep green to variegated foliage.
Keep rubber ficus in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day. Maintain a consistent temperature of 62 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
Water rubber ficus just enough to keep the soil slightly moist, about once per week, during spring and summer. Reduce the frequency of watering to once every 10 to 12 days during fall and winter, when the plant is no longer growing actively.
Fertilize the plant during spring, summer and fall about once every two weeks using a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer. Water both before and after applying to release nutrients into the soil and prevent root burn.
Use a soft, damp cloth to clean rubber ficus foliage about once every three to four days. This will remove dust and pests and leach out excess fertilizer salts. Use tepid water to avoid shocking the plant and wipe gently to prevent damaging the leaves.
Re-pot rubber ficus once every other year to provide room for growth and fresh soil. Increase the size of the container by 2 to 3 inches each time and use a growing medium made of two parts peat moss and one part potting soil.