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Ficus elastica

Rubber Plant: Hardy, Easy-to-Grow Plant

The rubber plant, also known as a rubber tree, is a perfect addition to your home if you are looking for a resilient plant that is easy to grow and will thrive with minimal effort.

Other names for this plant...

Rubber Tree Rubber Fig Rubber Bush India Rubber Tree

About Rubber Plant

The rubber plant is an excellent addition to any home. These plants are considered easy-to-grow, low-maintenance plants that add a lot of bold, beautiful greenery. Vigorous houseplants with bright green and very large leaves, these popular plants purify the air and add positive feng shui.

The rubber plant gets its name from the thick, milky sap it produces that was used to make natural latex in the past.

It’s important to note that rubber plants can grow quite large and live 10 years or longer. So some long-term planning is necessary before bringing one home.

Botanical Name

The scientific name for the rubber plant is Ficus elastica in the Moraceae family.

Plant Type

It is a tropical broadleaf evergreen tree with waxy leaves. It maintains its large green leaves year-round and rarely loses leaves. Interestingly, rubber plants do not grow new leaves from the bottom of the stem; new growth only appears from the top of the plant.


The natural habitat of the rubber tree plant is in the Amazon rainforests of South America. Over time, the plant was cultivated for growth in many other areas, including Malaysia and Southeast Asia.


The rubber plant leaves are glossy and leathery. A very large, oblong leaf, they are anywhere from 8-12 inches long and come in various colors ranging from dark green to deep maroon.

The rubber tree plant leaves can also be marked with yellow, pink, white or cream. The tricolor rubber plant has variegated leaves with green, cream and pink splotches.

During the growing season, a red sheath appears in the middle of the plant as new leaves grow from the center.

Rubber plants have glossy, dark green leaves and a red sheath that appears during the growing season.

Types Of Rubber Plants

  • Ficus elastica Burgundy

  • Ficus elastica Decora

  • Ficus elastica Doescheri

  • Ficus elastica Robusta

  • Ficus elastica Ruby

  • Ficus elastica Sophia

  • Ficus elastica Tineke

Rubber Plant Styling 

Rubber trees as indoor plants are best potted and displayed on a low table or floor since they grow so large. With the right growing conditions, rubber plants can grow to 10 feet, or taller. With their large, dark green leaves and majestic shape, these beauties make excellent statement pieces in an entryway, corner, or in front of a window.

Rubber plants are also beautiful grouped with other similar plants, such as Monstera, fiddle leaf figs, and snake plants.

The rubber plant makes a statement on its own or paired with other tropical plants.


A rubber plant prefers about 6-8 hours of light each day. The species thrives in bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves.


Your plant should be watered when the potting soil is dry. Depending on the season and conditions in your home, this could be once a week or even more often. Letting the soil dry before adding water is very important to prevent root rot and fungus.


A rubber plant will be happy in a home ranging in temperature from 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit.


Even though they are native to tropical climates, rubber plants can thrive in less humidity than other tropical plants. Shoot for a humidity between 40-50% for optimum growth and happiness for your plant. You may need to mist the leaves during the dry, winter months.


Most rubber tree plants are relatively easy to grow and do fine in well-draining potting soil. However, if you have access to slightly acidic soil, the rubber houseplant prefers it. A well-draining soil should be paired with a pot with drainage holes.


You can prune your rubber plant indoor tree to keep it from getting too big. You can spot trim it or trim the entire crown to the desired height.

Dead or dying leaves should be removed at any time.

Always use sharp, clean scissors and remember that there will be sticky sap, so pruning might be messy. Some people may experience an allergic reaction to the sap, so wearing gloves while pruning is advisable.


When choosing a fertilizer for your rubber plant, one made of 24% nitrogen, 8% phosphorus and 16% potassium is ideal. Fertilize your plant once per month during the growing season. If your rubber plant is in a lower light area, you can fertilize it less frequently as it will naturally grow much slower.

Height & Growth

A rubber tree plant can grow 6-10 feet tall indoors. In the wild, they can grow up to 100 feet.


Robber tree plant sap is considered mildly toxic and can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Wear gloves when pruning your rubber plant and keep children away from it.


Some varieties of the rubber tree are toxic to animals, while others are not. It’s important to research the type you’re considering before bringing it home. If your house pet ingests some of a plant, contact a veterinarian or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Common Problems 

  • Pests: Many pests, such as mealybugs, spider mites or aphids, can plague your plant. You can get rid of spider mites by washing the leaves with a soft, damp cloth or a spray of water. Mealybugs can be combated by dipping cotton swabs in alcohol and wiping them away.

  • Over-watering: Rubber plant leaves can slowly start drooping and can also turn brown or yellow when your plant gets too much water. Over-watering can also lead to root rot.

  • Under-watering: When your rubber plant is under-watered, you may notice stunted or deformed leaf growth, yellowing, curling, or crisp leaves.

Some common pests can simply be wiped off the plant's leaves.

How To Propagate Rubber Plant

Propagation of your rubber plant can be messy but is otherwise not challenging. You might want to wear gloves.

A rubber tree cutting should be at least six inches long and have at least four nodes. Once you cut the piece, remove any of the lower leaves. If the cutting is dripping sap, you can wipe it with a damp paper towel.

Here is where the propagation is different than most plants. You roll the leaf to form a cylinder with the waxy portion to the outside and secure it with a rubber band. Apply rooting hormone to the end of the cutting.

Plant the cutting into a soilless potting mix with some sort of stake, like a toothpick or popsicle stick, inside of the rolled leaf to keep it upright. Place a plastic bag over the cutting to create a mini greenhouse.

Place the cutting in a warm place and wait, misting the leaves and soil periodically, careful not to let the soil dry out. You should see roots in 4-6 weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the rubber plant a good indoor plant?

A very low-maintenance plant, the rubber plant is an excellent indoor plant that many people enjoy displaying in their homes.

How often should you water a rubber plant?

A rubber plant should be watered when the soil is dry, approximately once per week.

Is a rubber plant poisonous?

Technically, the rubber plant is considered poisonous. Contact with the sap may cause an allergic reaction.

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