The Resplendent Rubber Plant: all you need to know about the Ficus Elastica
Here at TLB, we know that you lovely plant people like our Ficus Elastica (AKA Rubber Plant) as much as we do. We’re so excited to bring you everything you need to know to be able to care for this popular, wonderfully low-maintenance green beauty. Read on for a full rundown on the origins of this plant, how to care for it and some fun facts too.
Native to Southern Asia, the Ficus Elastica is a plant species in the fig genus. Its most common nicknames include the word rubber: Rubber Ficus, Rubber Fig, Rubber Plant, Rubber Tree and Indian Rubber Tree. This is because the so-called Rubber Plant excretes a thick white latex sap that has been used in years gone by to produce rubber. On this point, it’s important to note that if you have a latex allergy, you should avoid this plant.
A Complete Guide to Ficus Elastica Plant Care
The Rubber Plant proves a popular choice amongst plant people. This is thanks not only to its gorgeous, glossy green colour and impressive size but also because, unlike most other plants in the Ficus family, it is particularly easy to care for.
Light and Position
One of the qualities that make this green beauty is his ability to tolerate lower levels of light. However, to help your plant truly flourish, pop him in a spot that benefits from good bright, indirect sunlight away from radiators, draughts and air vents. If you find he is leaning as he grows it is time to find a brighter spot for him. Once you have found a good spot for your Ficus Elastica, avoid moving it around too much as this guy doesn’t enjoy sudden changes in his environment.
Watering and Food
This is not an overly thirsty plant. He doesn’t like to sit in wet soil and so should be left to dry out in between waterings. When you push your finger into the soil, it should be dry about halfway down the pot before being given a drink. Overwatering is one of the most common causes of an unhealthy Ficus Elastica so always check that the soil has dried out before re-watering. Signs of overwatering include yellowing leaves, spots on the leaves or droopy leaves. If you are seeing any of these signs, be sure to check inside the pot to ensure it isn’t sitting in water and reduce the watering. Drainage holes in the bottom of the growing pot allow excess water to run through into the ceramic/basket. Make sure any excess is tipped away.
Overwatering or significant underwatering your Ficus can also lead to sudden leaf drop so all in all, it is worth keeping to a good regular watering routine with all Ficus houseplants.
Your Rubber Plant will also benefit from a monthly feed to keep those leaves in tip-top condition, we’d recommend this during the summer months only.
Hailing from the tropics, the Rubber Plant is used to humidity in its natural habitat and so will enjoy a little spritz from a mister onto his leaves, especially during the summer. Our Zab Mister provides the perfect addition to your ever-growing urban jungle, the ideal plant accessory to mist your houseplants.
To keep your plant looking its best and those leaves glossy and green, some routine leaf maintenance is recommended by us. Those gorgeous big green leaves do inevitably gather dust over time which makes photosynthesis difficult, so it is a good idea to gently wipe them down with a damp cloth when you notice any dust settling. We’d also recommend using Plantsmith Leaf Shine spray to keep those leaves clean, shiny and fully nourished.
Shop the Ficus Elastica at The Little Botanical
Here at TLB, we stock a lovely range of Ficus Elastica houseplants, we’re sure to have one to suit your style and space. If a big style statement is what you seek, then take a look at our stunning XL Rubber Plant. This big green beauty arrives approximately 80cm- 1m tall and whether he’s standing tall in a shady spot or a well-lit room, he will make an oh so stunning, eye-catching addition to your living space, bedroom or office. Wherever you choose to style him, he looks great in our basket or bespoke ceramics!
Your Little Botanical Rubber Plant arrives at your door with your choice of our effortlessly stylish cotton and seagrass belly basket or our beautifully chic ceramic with a concrete finish. Whichever you choose, it will be packaged separately to the plant, simply pop him into your chosen pot, place him in his forever home and watch him take your jungle vibes up a notch.
Perhaps you don’t have quite enough space in your home for our extra-large Ficus Elastica, don’t worry; he is available as a smaller plant too. Take a look at our Ficus Elastica, measuring up to 35-40cm total height and available in our bespoke almond, charcoal or grey stoneware pots. And if you’ve already got the perfect pot, you can even buy this little guy naked!
Fun Facts about the Ficus Elastica
When growing in its natural, outdoor habitat, the Rubber Tree has been known to reach the heady height of 100 feet; that’s equivalent to three double-decker buses! But don’t panic if you’ve already hit the buy now button and you’re worried your indoor jungle will soon resemble an actual jungle! Even our extra-large variety won’t get quite that tall, they can reach the much more manageable height of 2 metres if cared for a repotted when needed. And did you know Rubber Plants can thrive in your home for 15 years or more?
The Rubber Tree produces a milky-white latex sap once it reaches the age of about 6 years old. This latex has been used worldwide in the past for the manufacture of a wide range of rubber-related products. Sadly though, this latex sap can be an irritant so you should wash it off your skin if you did happen to touch it. You should also keep any furry friends away from nibbling at the plant in case they ingest the sap. If you don’t want to take the risk, we do have a whole range of pet-friendly plants that won’t pose any risk to your furry friends.
Rubber plant sap
The clever Aztecs ingeniously used the sap that this plant produces to make themselves shoes. To do this, they repeatedly dipped their feet into the latex, they then peeled off the mould and smoked it until it became solid. With even more ingenuity, those resourceful Aztecs used the leaves of the tree to waterproof their clothing as the rubbery qualities are excellent for repelling water.
It’s not just the Aztecs who recognised that the Ficus Elastica has so much more to offer than just good looks, like all plants, they are highly useful and valuable. The Ficus Elastica has long been recognised among plant lovers as having the wondrous ability to purify the air around us. Thanks to this superpower, if you’re struggling to decide where in your home to position your Rubber Plant, your bedroom would be a fab choice. In fact, there are many fabulous reasons to consider making your bedroom a botanical oasis; have a read of our blog to find out more.
Meet the Family
As we said earlier, the Ficus Elastica is a plant species in the Fig genus and he has some well-known family members. Most notably the Ficus Ficus Lyrata, more commonly known as the Fiddle Leaf Fig and the Ficus Benjamina, also known as the Weeping Fig. Although not quite as low maintenance as their rubbery cousin, these plants are super popular and make stunning additions to any indoor jungle. If you’re keen to invite the whole Ficus family into your home, here at TLB we have some fab options for you to consider. Like his rubber plant relative, the gorgeous Fiddle Leaf Fig, with his stunning paddle-shaped leaves comes in a choice of sizes and pots ensuring you can make the exact style statement for your personal taste.
If it’s a smaller space you want to fill, take a look at our Medium Fiddle Leaf Fig, available with a stoneware ceramic in your choice of almond, charcoal or grey. Alternatively, bring your space to life with the big and bold insta-worthy Large Fiddle Leaf Fig, available, as ever, in your choice of the pot; our handcrafted Belly basket or hand-finished Grey ceramic.
The ever-popular Weeping Fig plant or Ficus Benjamina is a simply stunning, air-purifying plant with an abundance of deep green, glossy leaves and can be purchased from TLB in a choice of sizes. Take a look at this fabulous leafy Medium Ficus Benjamina plant in a choice of ceramics, signature belly basket or even naked. And just like his leafy relatives, the Weeping Fig also comes as a large, statement plant, standing up to 1m tall in either a stylish grey ceramic or cotton and seagrass belly basket.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Ficus Elastica
How can I make sure my Ficus Elastica is receiving the right amount of light?
The Ficus Elastica will tolerate low levels of light. An ideal lighting situation for this plant is bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight as this will scorch the leaves. To provide your Ficus Elastica with a healthy amount of light, try placing it where it gets good morning or afternoon light or near a window.
Is the Rubber Plant safe around cats and dogs?
Unfortunately, the Rubber Plant does not make a good companion for pets. The plant can secret a thick latex sap (hence the ‘rubber’ name) which can irritate the mouth of your pets and cause indigestion if ingested. This plant should also be avoided by humans with asthma or a latex allergy.
Why are the leaves of my Ficus Elastica droopy?
Droopy leaves on your Ficus Elastica are most commonly caused by either over or under watering your plant. An overwatered plant will display brown tips with yellow edging on the leaves and the droop will occur from the lower part of the plant. If you believe you have an overwatered plant, confirm by checking that the soil is wet or moist. Discard any excess water from the bottom of the pot and allow the soil to dry out.
Always check that the soil has dried out before watering again by pushing your thumb or finger deep into the soil to ensure it is not still moist below the surface. An underwatered plant is more likely to display fully yellow leaves with some crispy brown tips. Again, confirm this by checking the soil is completely dried out and then adding water. Continue to check the soil weekly to ensure you give your plant water as soon as the soil has dried out again.
Here at TLB, we think that the Rubber Plant is a wonderful plant, from its good looks to its ability to purify the air, we think he’s just marvellous and we hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about this green beauty. If you still have questions about the Ficus Elastica or any other of our green friends we’d love to hear from you. Please do get in touch at [email protected]. Until next time plant people.
Lots of love
Team TLB xx