Scientific Name: Ficus elastica
Common Names: rubber fig, rubber bush, rubber tree, rubber plant, Indian rubber bush, Indian rubber tree
Ficus elastica is a beautiful, classic plant with large foliage and a huge growth pattern! Taking care of this plant is enormously rewarding - every new leaf is a thrill. Rubber trees require only modest care, and once you get it down, everything takes off fast!
This tree has an interesting number of utilitarian uses! Its sap produces a latex that can be used to make rubber (although the process is inefficient), and in some places in India, the roots of the plant are guided to grow over chasms and form living bridges! How cool is that?
Care for this plant is considered by many to be a little finicky, but in actuality it all comes down to a few simple points:
- Rubber trees prefer bright light, but not heat. This means they don’t want direct sunlight (or to be placed within the heat bubble of a stove / fireplace). If you can, a grow light to supplement any natural indirect light you have available works wonders! Also, rubber trees would prefer to not be placed near any vents or doors (places with moving air) in your home.
- When it comes to watering, rubber trees are actually fairly drought tolerant, but they would much prefer to be kept wet and humid. Keep in mind that they come from rainforests!
- As with all plants, keeping the bacterial populations in the soil healthy and thriving is a must. Applying our bacterial inoculant once a month does a great job of accomplishing that!
- Rubber trees have particularly sensitive roots, and it’s best not to jostle or touch them too much (especially when repotting). If you want to move your rubber tree around your home, do so gently so as not to jar the roots in the soil. If you feel uncomfortable repotting your rubber tree yourself, bring it in to Urban Sprouts and let us help you!
- You’ll notice that the leaves of a rubber tree are quite a bit more rigid than most leaves are. Keep this in mind and be wary of bending the leaves accidentally when pushing the plant against a wall or placing near pathways in your home that you’re sure to bump against the plant in as you pass.
The best thing you can do for your rubber tree is just to give it a lot of routine care. Variables like irregular watering schedules, being moved from place to place frequently, and uncertain air temperatures are not a rubber tree’s friends. Stick to a grounded schedule, and even if it’s not perfect, it will damage the plant a lot less than an unpredictable care routine.
If you need any help with this plant, please feel free to contact us through any of our channels! We’re on standby for any questions you might have.