Ficus elastic decora is a popular indoor plant best known simply as the ‘Rubber Plant’. As a house plant it is generally tough and adaptable. Thick glossy foliage, and insignificant flowers this plant is from warmer climates, India through to Malaysia and this gives us a clue to its cultivation requirements.
Variegated forms of Ficus elastic decora are also available and different foliage color can also be found.
In the natural environment this can be a large plant, when grown in containers with restricted root space, plants will reach 2 – 3m in height. Widely used in offices and commercial buildings.
How to Grow the Rubber Plant
If you want height Ficus elastic decora can be left unpruned as the plant grows to a nice shape with a good central leader. Although many choose maintain size and height and create a bushier habit by tip pruning.
The main factors in proper care relate to drainage, light and warmth. A humus rich moist but well drained soil is best. Over watering can cause root problems where the foliage will tend to yellow and drop off.
Good filtered light (indirect light) and a warm position are essential for good growth, cool draughts will cause problems.
Foliage is the main attraction especially with the newer cultivars and the variety of colors available. Clean with a damp cloth to remove dust.
We suggest that you fertilize the rubber tree, with a liquid seaweed fertilizer every month, and use a water retentive potting mix. Repot every 4 – 5 years.
A common problem is Black edges on leaves. This can be caused by a number of factors.
- Heat damage.
- Poor water quality (hard water)
- Usually caused by overwatering, although these plants like moisture they do not like wet or soggy soil. This can happen if the potting mix becomes to old.
Lose of foliage is another problem again caused by a number of issues.
- Rubber plants will drop foliage if they are not receiving enough light.
- They can also drop foliage if placed in drafts, so keep them away from air conditioners and heaters.
Other ficus species include :