The Rubber Tree

The Rubber Tree, or ficus elastica, is a classic houseplant that is beautiful and easy to grow. It can become quite tall, nearly 50 feet. However, you can control how tall your rubber tree grows by keeping it in a smaller pot. If you want your rubber tree to continue growing, repot the plant in a slightly bigger container as it grows until you’ve reached your desired height. You can also prune the rubber tree to control its shape and height. When pruning the rubber plant, note the white, milky substance that flows from the stems. This sap contains latex, which is where the rubber tree gets its name. Because it grows so easily, the rubber tree is a good choice to have as a focal point amongst your houseplants. Rubber tree plants come in a variety of different colors, from a dark, almost black-velvet green, to bright and golden, or variegated with a touch of pink.

Rubber tree plants are relatively easy to grow, but they still need proper light exposure and water ratios. Bright, indirect light is preferred by the rubber tree. Both of my rubber trees are in a southwest corner room, but not directly in the sunny window. Getting the right water balance is also critical to the rubber tree’s survival. Keep the soil relatively moist during the growing season, (spring and summer), and let the top 1-2 inches of the soil dry out before watering during dormant months (fall and winter). The leaves of the rubber plant will indicate the plants water status. Drooping leaves indicate that the plant needs more water. However, overwatering will cause the leaves to turn brown or yellow and fall off.

Whether you are a seasoned gardener or new to the plant world, the rubber tree is a perfect addition for your houseplant family.

3 thoughts on “The Rubber Tree

  1. In the picture of the variegated rubber plant, the leaves are tinted yellow where it’s usually white. Is that normal? Mine has a light yellowish tint but seems okay. I’ve been trying to find out if that’s normal.


    1. Hi Anna, it sounds like your variegated rubber tree just happens to be more yellow than others and this is probably normal. However, if the leaves used to be white and now they are turning yellow and falling off, you may be over-watering. I have a moisture reader that I use if I’m unsure how wet/dry the soil is. Be sure not to oversaturate!


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