Ficus elastica aka Rubber Tree has been a popular houseplant for quite a while. Look closely in the background of any 1950’s sitcom and you just might spot one silently co-starring from the background.
You may have heard this plant can be difficult. It’s not un-true!
It does have a few special requests when it comes to light, water, temperature, and humidity. If one of these are out of balance you may notice a large number of leaves falling.
There are plenty of colors to choose from in both solid and variegated varieties (like mine shown here). Solid colors can range from green to burgundy, to nearly black, while some variegated varieties have beautiful tones of pink and creamy white (like mine shown here). Keep in mind the lighter colors will require more sunlight to maintain their full vibrance.
Ficus elastic can be sensitive to temperature fluctuations and doesn’t like to be moved around a lot so resist the urge to see how it looks in every room and just pick a good spot. Avoid putting it near a drafty window, heater or air-conditioner.
If you play your cards right, have access to some amazing natural light, and are careful not to overwater you’ll have a happy plant with the potential to grow as tall as your ceilings will allow!
Ficus elastica’s watering needs will change with the seasons and general temperature.
The summer months are prime growing time and your plant will need extra hydration so it can get its groove on and produce lots of beautiful new leaves.
In growing season the soil can be kept moist but always well drained.
In the winter months when things slow down let the soil dry out a bit to avoid soggy roots.
When in doubt check the soil! I’d highly recommend picking up a moisture meter to take the guess work out, a chopstick works just as well.
Bright but not harsh indirect sunlight. Think a bright window with a sheer curtain to protect your plant from harsh rays.
If Ficus elastica’s sunbathing needs are not met you may notice it shedding leaves and becoming thinned out and leggy.
Variegated varieties with lighter colored leaves will require more sunlight to keep their leaves looking bright and saturated.
Good to Know
This plant can’t stand sitting in water and will do best in a well draining soil mix so don’t forget the perlite!
Keeping the leaves dust free by gently wiping with a damp cloth will help keep Ficus elastic looking its best and also help to prevent pests.
Be cautious of the sap it is an eye irritant and toxic to pets and people.