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Every home needs some plants to beautify it and to clean the toxins from it. And if you would like a striking plant to fit the bill, the rubber plant is the perfect choice. With large waxy leaves and a formidable size of 6-10 feet, the rubber plant is also known to oxygenate your home’s air and clean formaldehyde from it.

The sap of the rubber plant is sometimes used to make rubber, and is where the plant gets its name. The rubber plant is a great addition to any home or office, and is easy to learn to care for, as well.

Is a Rubber Plant Different from a Rubber Tree?

No, the terms rubber plant and rubber tree are used interchangeably, and they are both considered Ficus elastica. And as far as the plants go, they really are more like trees, growing about 4-10 high and creating a fantastic centerpiece for your room. If you want to get technical, rubber tree is a more accurate name for the rubber plant.

Rubber Plant

Rubber Plant Information

  • Poisonous – Poisonous to adults, children, and animals

  • Scientific Name – Ficus elastica

  • Life Cycle – Can live for 5-10 years, grow from cuttings or layering

  • Soil Type – Well-draining soil with peat or perlite

  • Plant HardinessZones 10-11

  • Light RequirementsBright sun but indirect

  • Water RequirementsKeep moist during summer, but only water once or twice a month

  • Planting DateEarly spring

  • Flowering SeasonMost indoor plants do not flower

  • Height6-10 feet

  • ColorsBeautiful leaves of deep green, light green, cream, purple, and pink

  • PestsMites, scales, mealy bugs

  • PropagationCuttings or layering

Types of Rubber Plant

Robusta

This variety, with its large leathery leaves, is probably the best-known type of rubber plant for home and office use. Its large wax-like leaves offer a brightness to the area in which it is placed, and it is easy to grow as long as you keep a good balance of water, sunlight, and temperature.

Tricolor

Featuring thick and leathery variegated leaves with a waxy surface, the pink, cream, and green colors of the Tricolor variety really stand out. If you want a step above the ordinary as far as houseplants go, choose this type of rubber plant for your plant needs.

Red Ruby

Deep reds, purples, and cream are at the heart of the Red Ruby rubber plant, and this is a plant that will offer you a touch of the exotic. With such vibrant colors, you will be able to showcase this plant in your home or office.

Propagation of Rubber Plant

One popular method for propagation of the plant is to use air layering. In this method, choose a stem you would like to use, ensuring it is at least 12 inches long. With a sharp knife remove leaves immediately around the area, and then cut a one inch ring around the entire stem, removing all the soft material down to the middle hard wood.

Using rooting hormone, cover the entire area and then cover the cut you made with sphagnum moss, making sure that it is wet. After this step, cover the entire ring with plastic, which will help to keep it wet. In two-three weeks, you will see roots developing in the ring, and can replant the rubber tree cutting on its own.

Another method to propagate is “more traditional,” and involves cutting a six inch section of the stem with two sets of leaves. Remove the bottom set of leaves and dip the section in rooting hormone if desired, before planting it in well-drained soil.

Cover the pot with a glass or plastic covering, as long as it does not touch the leaves. Leave the pot in indirect sunlight for two-three weeks, and it will grow its own roots.

rubber plant close up

Troubleshooting Pests

The plant falls prey to some typical indoor plant pests including mites, scales, and mealy bugs. These pests can eat away at the leaves and ruin your plants. You can get rid of these by using a solution of warm water and soap and wiping the leaves, or using store-bought insecticidal soap.

Additionally, overwatering can cause rotting, so you need to make sure to keep a balance of moisture.

Questions About Rubber Plant

This plant will make a great addition to your home, and although they are fairly easy to grow, the questions below will help you out when you have particular questions about how to troubleshoot your plants.

How to Care for Rubber Plant

Although its an overall easy plant to grow and care for, these plants do need balance or they can be difficult to maintain. Make sure that you keep them warm as far as temperature (60-85 F), and you need to give them indirect sunlight and keep them moist but not saturated.

You can add fertilizer during the summer growing season, and move the potted plants outside on a patio or deck. But overall, the plants will be happy and healthy with indirect sunlight, water, and warm temperatures.

rubber plant houseplant

How Big Can Rubber Plants Grow

In their native Southeast Asia, they can grow to 100 feet high. Once it is domesticated inside your home, expect a height of 6-10 feet as long as you keep the sunlight and water balanced. You can prune the rubber tree as desired if you want to restrict its height, but a 6-10 foot plant in the corner of your living room or office makes a striking focal point to the room.

How Do I Get My Rubber Plant to Grow

The plant will grow just fine if you take care of its basic needs. Although it does not require much, it is important that the elements that help it grow are kept in close balance. It needs indirect sunlight, for instance, and lots of it. Couple that with warm temperatures between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit and a moderate amount of water. Add a bit of fertilizer in the summer months. If you do not live in a warm climate like Zones 10 and 11, you could take your plant outside on a patio so that you can enjoy it there, and then return it inside once the weather turns colder.

Is a Rubber Plant a Succulent

A rubber plant, Ficus elastica, is not a succulent, although its leaves do bear some resemblance to the leaves of a succulent. The sap of the rubber plant is sometimes harvested and made into rubber. Another plant entirely, the “baby rubber plant” or Peperomia obtusifolia, is also often mistaken for a succulent with its plump leaves, but that is also not considered a succulent.

Is a Rubber Plant a Good Plant

Although all plants help to remove carbon dioxide from the air and oxygenate your living space, the plant is especially good with the removal and defense of mold and bacteria that can cause illness. Rubber plants also take care of other toxins like formaldehyde, keeping your living space more healthy for people. As they clean the air, rubber plants create new oxygen through the process of photosynthesis.

Is Rubber Plant Poisonous

The rubber plant can be dangerous to adults, children, and animals, so it is important to keep it out of their reach. And the sap inside the rubber plant can be a skin irritant if it gets on you, so make sure to wash your hands completely with soap and water if any of the leaves happen to break open.

What Temperature Can Rubber Plant Tolerate

The rubber plant loves heat, and grows best when it is between 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 50 as long as it gets a lot of indirect sunlight. Many people who live in more temperate climates will move their rubber plant pots out to the patio during the summer, which helps them to flourish, and then take them inside during the cooler months into an office or family room.

Which rubber plant is good for home?

All the varieties of rubber plants are good for home or office, but Robusta elastica is perhaps the most popular of them all. It is easy to grow, has a beautiful deep green hue, and responds well to the temperature and light in your home. Plants offer oxygen, peace, and beauty to your home, and the Robusta elastica is no exception.

If you are looking for a centerpiece for your home or office, look no further than the rubber plant. For its ease of growing, its air cleaning abilities, and the overall look of the plant, this is a quality plant that you are sure to enjoy for years to come.