|Common Name||Rubber Plant, Rubber Tree, Rubber Bush, Rubber Fig, Indian Rubber Bush, Indian Rubber Tree|
|Scientific Name:||Ficus elastica|
|Family||Moraceae (Mulberry Family)|
|Origin||Bhutan, Burma, China, East India, Nepal|
|Habitat||From a tropical/Mediterranean setting|
Rubber Plant Varieties
The rubber tree is used as an ornamental decoration in homes and offices worldwide. They are popular because of their size and the fact that they are relatively easy to grow indoors. Due to its popularity, many varieties of the plant have been cultivated.
Here is a list of popular rubber plant cultivars:
The Robusta boasts large, wide leaves.
The Decora has shiny, broad leaves (even to that of the robusta) with a white midrib on the top surface of the leaf (it will be red beneath).
A unique cultivar, the Doescheri has grey and pinkish leaves.
The Tineke has a bold variegation that covers much of the leaf, blending green and yellow.
The Tricolor has greyish-green leaves, variegated with pink (or red) and creamy yellow or white veins.
The Variegata variation has pale green leaves with a yellow or white margin.
How to Care for Indoor Ficus Elastica
Common Problems with Ficus Elastica
How to Propagate a Rubber Tree
Ficus elastica is very difficult to propagate, but it can be done with air-laying.
In the spring, cut off new tips that are at least 4 inches (10cm) long. Look for cuttings that where the bottom ½ in (12 mm) is woody and light. Note that when you cut the trimmings, the plant will seep out milky-white sap (used for latex) which will rubberize without proper care.
Strip the leaves from the lower ⅓ portion of the cutting and place it in water for 30 minutes to prevent the rubber from forming on the base, creating a cap. Shake the cuttings dry after you remove them from the water, then place them into a sterile medium. Seal the entire cutting (and the medium) into a ziplock bag or in a jar. Set the bag or jar in a bright area, but not in direct sun.
When Should You Repot a Rubber Plant?
Replant as needed in the spring before the growing season begins. When you up-pot, go to a container that is 4 inches wider than the previous pot. The pot shouldn’t be any more than ⅓ larger than your current planter.
Companion Plants to Rubber Tree
There are several plants that work well as companions for the rubber tree. These will include the following:
Peace Lily Overview
Peace lilies are known for their long, dark green leaves that come to a point and their long-lasting white flowers. Due to the lily-like flowers, the plant has long symbolized innocence, peace, and purity and is often used as a symbol of sympathy toward a family who has lost a member. Due to its love of shade, the plant is typically grown indoors and can help to purify the air of several pollutants. The plant is sometimes believed to bring good luck.
Originating from tropical Asia, hoyas are perennial vines or creepers that are known for their waxy leaves and flowers. They typically grow by twining and can grow quite large when given the opportunity. Their flowers are typically characterized as spherical clusters of star-shaped blooms that can come in a variety of different colors. The plants are easy to propagate, making them a very popular option for people who love flowering houseplants.
Bird’s Nest Fern Overview
One of the key things that make the Bird’s Nest Fern interesting is that they are epiphytic, which means they can grow on the surface of other nearby plants. The slow-growing plants can grow to between 3 and 5 feet tall as well as 2 to 3 feet wide. All of the leaves grow from a central rosette that sits in the ground. The plants love humidity, moisture, and warmth and will grow a little faster and taller when kept in those conditions. The plants are native to Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Similar Plants to the Rubber Plant
There are many plants that are similar to the rubber plant in one way or another. Check out the following:
Peperomias are popular houseplants that are very easy to care for. They are bushy and upright. Depending on the variety, the leaves and stems will have slightly different colors and variegations. The plants don’t grow very large, most topping out at about a foot high. The leaves are thick and waxy and can grow to be about 6 inches long, making the plant look full and bright. The flowers of the peperomia are not remarkable but instead, look like small spikes that stand out at the top of the plant.
Snake Plant Overview
Also known as “Mother-in-Law’s-Tongue,” the Snake Plant is a popular plant that can grow up to 4 feet tall with proper care. The plant is created with sword-shaped leaves the grow directly from the base. The leaves will vary in color between light and dark green as well as a bluish green. Not only is the Snake Plant a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of conditions, but it is also known as a plant that will help clean the air in your home.
Chinese Money Plant Overview
Originally believed to bring good luck, the Chinese Money Plant originates in Southwest China. It grows flat, round leaves that can look like coins on long stems that grow directly from the crown. When it is healthy, the plant can become very dense, allowing you to have a rounded plant of green leaves. The plant is very easy to propagate and will frequently shoot up pups around its base that you can transplant into other containers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a Rubber Tree Clean the Air?
Yes, rubber trees are very efficient at cleaning the air. They remove carbon dioxide and formaldehyde from the air as well as certain kinds of bacteria and molds.
Are Rubber Trees Toxic or Bad for Pets?
The sap of ficus elastica can be a skin irritant and can cause mild stomach issues if ingested. Make sure to pick up dropped leaves and to teach children and pets to stay clear of the plant. If the plant is ingested and you need to check with a poison center, call one of the following numbers:
- Australia – Call 131 126
- Canada – Find your province’s number on this website
- New Zealand – call 0800 POISON (0800 764 766)
- United Kingdon – Call NHS 111
- United States – Call (800) 222-1222
What Kind of Container Do You Need for Your Ficus Elastica?
Choose a pot with drainage holes to allow the soil to drain properly. Root rot is a major issue for rubber trees and you shouldn’t risk letting your plant sit in water.