The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is an evergreen perennial commonly grown for its glossy foliage, adaptability and ease of cultivation. The leaves reach 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) in length, appear in various shades of dark green and maroon, and sometimes feature yellow, cream, white or pink markings. Indoor rubber plants reach up to 3 m (10 feet) in height if provided enough room, though regular pruning keeps the plant more compact. Native to tropical South America, rubber plant grows almost exclusively indoors throughout most temperate regions of the world.
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Things you need
- Houseplant potting soil
- Spray bottle
- Humidifier (optional)
- Houseplant fertiliser
Keep the rubber plant indoors in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight. Use a well-drained houseplant potting soil as the growing medium. Maintain a temperature of 23.8 to 29.4 degrees C (75 to 85 degrees F) during the day and 15.5 to 18.3 degrees C (60 to 65 degrees F) at night.
Mist the plant once every day to increase the relative humidity. Use a spray bottle filled with lukewarm water to reduce shock. Spray the plant during the early morning to minimise the risk of disease. Alternatively, run a humidifier in the room near the plant to increase moisture in the air.
Water your indoor rubber plant once per week to provide adequate moisture. Soak the soil thoroughly at each application, and then drain away any excess water. Apply water directly to the soil, as wet leaves are more vulnerable to fungal diseases.
Feed using a water-soluble houseplant fertiliser once every two months for plants in highlight and once every three to four months for plants in low light. Read the manufacturer's instructions on the package for proper dosage and application.
Wipe down indoor rubber plant foliage once every three to four days to remove dust and prevent pests from colonising. Use a damp cloth to gently clean each leaf, which increases the plant's health and visual appearance.
Prune once per year during early spring, just before active growth resumes. Remove any bare, overgrown, damaged, or diseased limbs. Use pruning shears to cut the plant back by 7.5 cm (3 inches) if it begins to grow too tall.
Repot your indoor rubber plant once every two to three years or when the plant is too crowded in its current container. Increase the size of the container by 7.5 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) to provide plenty of room for new growth. Use a fresh growing medium to ease the shock of transplanting.
Tips and warnings
- Loosely secure the rubber plant to a wooden stake with twine if it begins to lean and cannot support itself.
- Keep the plant away from cold drafts to prevent the plant from dropping leaves.
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