In my horticultural book, the Rubber Plant is the easiest of the ficus trifecta to maintain and keep alive. It’s been slightly pushed aside and I think now’s the time for the Ficus elastica gets the attention it deserves. That’s why I want to share these Ficus elastica, or Rubber Plant and Rubber Tree, growing tips with you.
The Ficus benjamina, or Weeping Fig, drops leaves like it’s fall every day. The Ficus lyrata, or Fiddleleaf Fig, is revered in the groovy design world but we know it’s a challenge to keep looking good. You have a choice of varieties as far as the Ficus elastica goes if plain medium green isn’t your thing. The ones I’ve seen are decora (that’s mine), robusta, variegata, ruby and black prince. All 3 Ficus’ are in our book Keep Your Houseplants Alive.
Step 1: Taking Care of Your Plant
In the summer I water mine thoroughly even 7 days. In the winter it’s every 10-14 days because the sun can be out every day here in the Sonoran Desert. You’ll have to adjust the watering frequency according to your growing conditions. Houseplant watering 101 will shed some light on factors to consider. You basically want a happy medium with this plant – not bone dry but not soggy wet.
I use worm compost & compost to feed all my houseplants in early spring. Worm compost is my favorite amendment & am currently using Worm Gold Plus. You want to apply these sparingly indoors; easy does it.
If combo’s not your thing, you might prefer a balanced liquid organic fertilizer. You can use this 1 outdoors too so when it comes to your houseplants, dilute it to half strength. Use this in spring & maybe again in late summer but don’t overdo it because too much fertilizer causes burn.
Step 2: Don’t Be Concerned About the Dried Up Roots at the Base of the Trunk.
Those are aerial roots which are how this plant grows in nature.
Step 3: Propagation
For me, this is the fun part – more plants, please! The way I like to propagate this fabu houseplant is by air layering. I was going to show you how to do this on my Ficus elastica “burgundy” (it was growing too wide for space it was in) but it bit the dust. You can find out why in the first few minutes of the video.
Air layering takes about 2 months but it’s a very effective way to propagate this indoor tree. Rooting softwood cuttings (the top 6″ or so of growth) in a propagation mix is another way. With the air layering, you can get a taller plant from the get-go.