Ficus elastica, commonly known as the rubber plant, is a hardy, popular, ornamental plant native to South Asia. Due to its beauty and air purifying qualities, this plant is commonly used in private homes and commercial workplaces.
Those who have got potted rubber plants may like to know how to care for these evergreen tropical plants.
Rubber plant: Facts
|Botanical name: Ficus elastic
Plant type: Tree, indoor plant
Foliage: Shiny oval leaves
Height: Outdoors – up to 50 ft, Indoors – up to 3 metres
Flowering season: All seasons
Flowers: Yellowish-green, extremely rare
Toxicity: Sap is toxic; causes mild irritation and burning sensation on direct contact
Propagation: Cutting or air layering
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How to care for a rubber plant?
Soil: To propagate a rubber plant, you would require water-draining soil since excess moisture is not good for the plant. One part peat, one part pine bark and one part coarse sand is considered a good mix for a rubber tree.
Sunlight: The plant requires at least 6-8 hours of bright indirect sunlight in a day. The leaves would discolour if the plant lacks sunlight. If the plant becomes leggy or sheds leaves that too is a sign of lack of light.
Water: Water your rubber plant at least once in 10 days. Allow the soil to dry in between watering. If your plant receives enough sunlight, it would require more water. The leaves would curl inward if there is a lack of water. Over-watering would manifest through droopy leaves and discolouration.
Temperature: Temperature ranging between 65°F to 85°F is ideal for a rubber plant.
Pests: Rubber plants may get scale or mealybugs. Treat these with neem oil and the plant would be good as new.
Cleaning: Wipe off the dust from your rubber plant at regular intervals. Use a clean, moist cloth for the purpose.
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- Fertilise your rubber plant during the growing season only.
- Use lukewarm water to water your plant.
- Keep removing dead or dying leaves.
How to propagate a rubber plant?
Ideally, rubber trees should be propagated between early spring to late summer. It can also be done during the fall or winter, however, the process may prove difficult.
Step 1: Identify a leaf node along an elongated stem that could do with some pruning. It is through the leaf node that a new root would grow.
Step 2: Take a sharp knife and make a cut above and below the leaf node. While keeping one leaf with the cutting, remove the remaining leaves.
Step 3: Dip the cutting in the rooting hormone.
Step 4: Place the cutting in well-draining potting soil in a small pot. Plant the cutting at least 2 to 3 inches deep in the soil. Make sure the soil is moist at the time.
Step 5: Since this plant loves indirect sunlight, place it in front of a window.
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How many hours of sunlight does a rubber plant need?
A rubber plant requires 6-8 hours of indirect sunlight.
How many times do you have to water a rubber plant?
You have to water a rubber plant at least once in 10 days. More watering may be required depending on the amount of sunlight that the plant receives.