Rubber Plant Care

Rubber Plant Care

Rubber Plant Care

The rubber tree is often the first green plant in an apartment, not just in a student booth. The rubber or Indian rubber tree (Ficusastica) is a very popular houseplant that requires little to no location and maintenance, and also makes it easy for thumb-less plant lovers to get into indoor gardening. Find the best rubber tree care tips here !

Maintain the rubber tree

Large, round, oval leaves are characteristic of the rubber tree. However, the dust quickly settles on the leaves of the rubber tree. This is not just an optical problem, because the layer of dust also prevents the plant from photosynthesis. Therefore, you should dust the leaves regularly: either with a feather duster or with a damp cloth — a rubber tree doesn’t require much more maintenance!

Rumor has it that beer leads to more luster in rubber tree leaves (the same can be said for hair online!), but this is not the case. Alcohol dissolves the (fatty) dust layers more easily, but the alcohol solvent will also attack the natural wax layer of the leaves!

Rubber tree dust is easier to remove by simply placing it in the shower stall and showering with warm water and a gentle shower jet. Then shake the branches dry — if the water is very chalky, you should dry the leaves with a rag so that no lime stains remain. Practical: after a shower, the rubber tree is also well watered! If you don’t want the root ball to get wet, place the plant pot in a plastic bag in front of the shower, which you can tie together at the stem.

Practical tip: Even more health for your rubber tree means putting it outside to shower in the warm summer rain!

Suitable place for rubber tree

Ficusastica originally comes from an area that stretches from northeast India to Indonesia. A place that mimics natural conditions from its tropical wet home is perfect for a rubber tree. The rubber tree wants a place:

  • in slightly damp soil without waterlogging
  • at a constant (!) temperature above 18 ° C
  • which is bright without direct midday sun
  • without cold feet and without drafts (neither in front of the windows, nor when heated)!

How much light does a rubber tree need?

A rubber tree needs several hours of sunlight each day. Only with sufficient light, the central branch generously branches and forms a wide, widely branched crown. Important: the more colorful the leaves (for example, for the deities «Belize» or «Variegata»), the greater the plant’s need for light! The rubber tree also grows in partially shaded places — dark Indian corners or windowless rooms, however, do not like the Indian rubber tree at all.

Practical tip: If the rubber tree is moving into the garden during the summer, you should definitely choose a partially shaded location so that its leaves don’t burn in the sun.

Watering a rubber tree: how often and how much?

The rubber tree is susceptible to waterlogging! Therefore, watering a houseplant should only be done when the soil in the pot is noticeably dry. Then pour the rubber tree carefully. After about 10 minutes, drain excess water from planter or saucer.

Practical tip: With submersible irrigation, the rubber tree is always adequately supplied with water. Remove the plant from the planter and submerge in a bath of water until air bubbles rise from the root ball. Remove the rubber tree from the water and let it drain on the lawn for 10 minutes before putting it back into the planter.

When do I fertilize my rubber tree?

Like other green plants, the rubber tree appreciates it if you regularly add a little liquid fertilizer to your irrigation water between March and August: one fertilizer every two to three weeks is enough!

Rubber Plant Care

Cut rubber tree

The rubber tree is a classic beginner plant because it is not only easy to care for but also extremely tolerant of pruning. If the tree is growing taller and taller and not branching out as it should, you can simply cut off the center shoot at the desired height. This stimulates the rubber tree to form side shoots. When pruning rubber trees, follow these guidelines:

  • Trim the rubber tree in early spring, around February
  • Protect yourself from milk juice with gloves
  • Shorten the middle shoot with clean, sharp pruners
  • If further reduction is desired, look in all other branches for «sleeping eyes»
  • Cut off the old branch just above the eye — this is where the new sprout will take place in the upcoming growth phase!
  • Seal large areas with wax to keep the rubber tree from unnecessarily weakening.

Practical tip: It’s best to prune rubber trees in the garden (the sap of the plant easily stains the carpet!) and only plant the plant back into the house when the flow of milk on the cuts has dried up!

Rubber tree spread

If you want to plant a rubber tree, you can grow young plants yourself from seeds (order online). Propagation from the seeds of one’s own rubber tree does not usually work because the breeds sold here do not produce seeds — there is no pollinator (see below).

Rubber Plant Care

The so-called «moss» also works with leaf resins — a rare type of propagation for houseplants and more suitable for gardeners looking to experiment:

To do this, the shoot under the fourth pair of leaves (counting from the top) is cut with a sharp knife: the notch goes up in the direction of growth, and then is carefully bred with a wooden stick. Now wrap the interface first with the soaked moss and then with cling film to secure the bag of moss to the cut (if necessary, tie the bag of moss to the branch with string). In the humid warm microclimate of the foil bag, the rubber tree should form new roots on the wound within about six weeks. If the cuttings are rooted in a bag of moss, you can cut off offshoot below the interface and potting soil.

Multiply a rubber tree by a branch

If you want to propagate your rubber tree, you will need to cut cuttings from the side shoots of the plant:

  • Prune about 10 cm long cuttings from side shoots during the main growing season
  • Remove all leaves except the top/first one and let the cut surface dry
  • Then put the branch in pots with growing soil
  • Make rubber tree cuttings bright and warm and keep the soil moist (use a spray can!)
  • Ideally, you should cover the branches with cold frame or clear film.
  • Ventilate daily to prevent mold!

Root in a glass of water

Alternatively, you can place the shortened and defoliated cut in thin, water-filled glass. Water should be changed every two days. When the rubber tree shoots have well-formed roots in the water (after about 4-8 weeks), you can transplant the shoots into small clay pots.

Practical tip: place the liquid glass with the rags in a clear plastic bag! Inside, the humidity rises and the evaporation stress of the plant decreases. This allows the cutting to root faster.

Due to the «trapped air» in the plastic bag, you can also avoid cutting the rubber tree leaves in half, as is often recommended (to reduce the evaporation area of ​​the rubber tree cuttings).

Rubber Plant Care

You do not need to buy useful and ornamental plants: you can easily grow flowers yourself from cuttings

Winter rubber tree

Rubber tree is not hardy! An evergreen tropical plant does not know low temperatures in its home. In the summer, you can put the rubber tree outdoors (see above), but with a one-digit outdoor temperature, the green plant should quickly return to the house!

Frequently Asked Questions about Rubber Tree Care

We have already answered the most common questions about caring for a rubber tree. Did you know, for example, that the rubber tree symbolizes abundance, happiness, and wealth to the Chinese? In feng shui, Ficus elastica is ideal due to its round leaves to compensate for negative Qi values ​​in corners and sharp edges.

Rubber Plant Care

What soil is best for a rubber tree?

Almost any houseplant or garden soil is suitable as a planting material for a rubber tree. A mixture of potting soil, sand and loosening coconut fibers is ideal.

What to do if the rubber tree loses leaves?

By shedding its leaves, the rubber tree shows that it has been watered too much! If leaves fall to the ground in large numbers, root rot is usually well developed. As an emergency measure, you should immediately plant the rubber tree in dry soil and remove any dead roots!

Why does my rubber tree have yellow leaves: what should I do?

If the leaves of the green rubber tree turn yellow, this usually indicates a magnesium deficiency. With this form of «malnutrition», the plant can no longer produce enough leaf color and the leaves turn yellow. The deficiency is quickly compensated by the usual universal fertilizer.

What are these pests on my rubber tree?

With good care, the rubber tree is quite resistant to pests. In normal leaf care, you should still look closely and inspect the undersides of large leaves. Here you can find traces of spider mites or mealy bugs, especially in dry air during the heating season.

Rubber Plant Care

When should a rubber tree be planted?

As with all potted plants, if the bale is fully rooted and the first roots are already squeezing through the drainage holes in the potted plant, it’s time to plant a rubber tree. Since a rubber tree grows best when its roots don’t have enough room to grow, the new pot should only be slightly larger than the old one. Therefore, strong rubber trees should be planted every two years. Older plants will suffice if every 4-5 Move the spring into a slightly larger pot.

When does the rubber tree bloom?

As a houseplant, Ficusastica rarely blooms. Fruit and seeds never appear on a potted plant! The rubber tree relies on the fig wasp for pollination. Basically, the rubber tree bears small, oval, yellow-green fruits — but these figs are not edible.

Rubber Plant Care

Why is a rubber tree called a rubber tree?

The sap of the rubber milk plant (Ficusastica), which is produced when the bark is damaged, contains latex and can be used to make natural rubber. However, because the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) is more productive, only its latex milk is used for commercial rubber production today. There is no closer botanical relationship between the rubber tree and the rubber tree.

Is rubber tree toxic?

Anyone who eats parts of the rubber tree (unintentionally) should expect stomach upset and nausea. Milk bark juice can irritate the skin and have an allergenic effect. Therefore, the rubber tree is classified as slightly toxic. A tropical plant can be toxic to pets.

Rubber Plant Care

Is a rubber tree in the bedroom harmful?

Green plants in the bedroom are not only a visual effect. They enrich the indoor air with fresh oxygen — but only when the sun is shining! At night, photosynthesis is reversed and they release carbon dioxide. Large-leaved green plants, such as the rubber tree, release especially large amounts of CO2 into the air at night. Sensitive people react to this with restless sleep, scratching of the throat and headache.

In addition, the rubber tree in the bedroom does not find optimal placement conditions: the room is usually too cool and too dark!