Rubber Tree Basics

What is a Rubber Tree?

Cousin to the popular Fiddle-Leaf Fig, the Rubber Tree gets its name from the white latex that they produce. These plants are growing in popularity due to how low-maintenance they are and how well they can adapt to indoor spaces. Rubber Trees come in many varieties to fit your space and are a great pick for even the newest plant parents. 

 

While these plants can start small, they can grow up to 40 feet tall and wide in their natural habitat, the wilderness of India! Inside, they may not get more than 10 feet tall and wide, however don’t stress - they can certainly be trimmed back! Their stunning colors range from dark green and burgundy tones to light pinks and whites. 

Already excited? You can grab live plants for sale like the Rubber Tree online here!


Toxicity Level

The Rubber Tree’s sap makes it toxic to pets, cats, and dogs (and humans). If ingested, it can cause mouth irritation and digestive upset. The sap also can cause skin irritation, so when clipping back, make sure to wear gloves. Keep this plant out of the reach of more curious critters and children!

Care Level

Rubber Trees are great beginner plants, having low water requirements meaning that even the most forgetful gardener can take care of them. Place them in a place with medium light and some humidity, and they will thrive! We think Rubber Trees are one of the best starter plants out there.

Great for People:

  • Who are new plant owners and want something easy to start with
  • Who loves tropical vibes
  • That travel often and are on the go, who may not have time to water often
  • Who love rainforests
  • Who like a variety of colors

 

Great for Spaces Like:

  • Partial shade patios
  • Areas with higher ceilings
  • Window areas with medium, indirect light
  • Spaces with some humidity
  • Places out of reach from curious pets

How to Care for a Rubber Tree

Light preference

Your Rubber Tree will do best in medium light but can survive in a range of low to high light. Make sure to move them into a place with brighter light if you see their growth stunted too harshly. If you see brown, burnt spots on their leaves, they may need less harsh light. Make sure to watch your plant for signs that it may not be getting what it needs!

Water/Humidity

Make sure to let the soil of the Rubber Tree dry out completely between waterings. To check, use a wooden skewer or your finger to look for moisture in the first two inches of soil. When you do water it, flush the soil with rain, filtered, or bottled water to keep your plant happy and healthy. If you notice water gathering in the saucer or tray under the plant after watering, make sure to empty it to prevent root rot and over-hydration. Empty any saucer under the pot to make sure that the roots don’t drown and get over-hydrated. This plant likes a bit of humidity, so spritz it with water occasionally, put a small humidifier by it, or place it on top of a pebble tray filled with water.

Ideal Temps

The Rubber Tree prefers temperatures between 65-78°F. Be careful that this plant doesn’t get placed somewhere near areas that may have cold drafts, such as chilly windows, AC vents, outside doors, or other similar spaces. Keep this plant warm to keep it feeling at home and thriving!

Plant Food/Fertilizer

Fertilize your Rubber Tree with a fertilizer high in phosphorus for root development. Do so once a month in the spring, summer, and fall months with an organic fertilizer. In the winter, let the plant rest. While this may seem intimidating at first, it is easy once you get into the habit of it! When fertilizing, make sure not to get the leaves covered in the fertilizer as it can burn them. Also, avoid fertilizing when the plant is stressed, such as extra dry, soaking wet, or inflicted with pests or diseases.

Repotting Frequency

Check on the roots of your plants about every two years. When first receiving your plant, try to wait 6-12 months before you rehome your plant unless the roots start to poke through the drainage holes or above the soil. Transplant in the spring when possible, and use a 2” bigger pot, placing a screen at the bottom of the container to secure the soil. Pick a soil mix with perlite or pumice that is well-draining. Water your plant in the old pot an hour before making the switch.

Propagation

When pruning or propagating, take a cutting with a sterile knife or scissors between two nodes (where the leaves grow off the stem) with several leaves. Remove the bottom set of leaves, and dip the cuttings first in water, then a rooting hormone. Set the cutting in well-draining, moist soil, setting it at least 1-2 inches down into the soil. Put a clear plastic bag over the cutting to give a greenhouse effect and mist the inside of the bag. Keep the rooting plant in bright, indirect light for about 6-8 weeks until the roots are established.

Cleaning

About every month or when you notice them getting dusty, it is time to clean off your Rubber Tree! Get a damp cloth or paper towel, gently working from the stem’s base towards the tip of the leaf. Clean both sides, and remove any dead leaves or debris that may be on the surface of the soil. If you are going to prune the plant, make sure to wear gloves.


Common Issues of the Rubber Tree

Pests are one of the more common issues a plant collector may face. When you water your plants, make sure to examine them carefully. Look at the undersides of the leaves, the soil around them, and the stems. Spider mites, scale, and mealybugs are some of the more common pests. As soon as you see a problem, isolate the affected plants and deal with them according to the pest you are dealing with. 

Another common issue with Rubber Trees specifically is under or overwatering. When either of these occurs, you will notice leaf yellowing. Check the soil to see if it may be too soggy or dry. You also can notice that you may be underwatering if the leaves of your rubber tree start folding inward or curling.


Complimentary Plants with your Rubber Tree:

Neanthe Bella Parlor Palm is a great pair with your rubber tree! It has the same requirements, meaning it likes medium levels of indirect light, likes its soil to dry out completely between waterings, and likes a bit of humidity. It pairs great aesthetically with the Rubber Tree, too, providing a more feathery texture next to the bold leaves of the Rubber Tree!

Guzmania Bromeliads are a great tropical addition to your space and pair great next to a Rubber Tree. They have the same light and water requirements, though the Bromeliad likes a bit more humidity, so it may need to be spritzed a bit more often. This is another easy plant to take care of and is a great addition to your new green space.

For more information on caring for your new indoor plant, check out our comprehensive care guide here.

Buy one of the many varieties of Rubber Tree online through Lively Root! Take a look at the Burgundy Rubber Tree, Ruby Rubber Tree, or the Ficus Tineke Rubber Tree!

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