The India Rubber Plant is a very popular house plant that has large, dark green oval shaped leaves. Some varieties will often have a burgandy tint to parts of the leaf.
The leaves are shiny and feel thick and almost pulpy and can reach 8 inches or longer under optimal conditions. Leaves grow inside sheaths that will drop off from the plant once the leaf has developed. Immediately inside the new leaf, yet another leaf is waiting to develop.
While Rubber trees can survive in a variety of lighting conditions, it will grow better if given bright, indirect sunlight. Placing your plant near windows or providing artificial light will keep it healthier.
The soil should be kept moist at all times, but not soaked. And, the plant should never be allowed to sit in water. If you have a pot with a hole, generously water the plant until the water starts to drain out of the hole. Remove any standing water in the bowl after a few minutes.
The watering time will vary depending on the humidity and other conditions of the room, so you should always touch the soil to check for dryness. Always use warm or room temperature water to avoid shocking the roots and damaging the plant.
A general purpose potting soil works well with Rubber trees, but make sure that it is aerated. You can add some sand or Perlite to the soil to help with drainage. Soil should drain well, but retain moisture.
When mixing your own soil add equal parts of coarse sand or Perlite, garden soil and peat or humus. The plant will thrive much better is you add just a slight amount of lime to the mixture.
During the spring and summer months, a good quality water soluble fertilizer can be used every two months or so. If your plant is in a low light area, reduce the feeding times to about once every four months.
Propagation can be done with seeds, air layering or stem cuttings. Cuttings and seeds should be planted in a mixture of Perlite and peat and covered with a plastic bag to retain moisture and placed in indirect sunlight. After the new plant has gotten well established it can be re-potted in regular potting soil.
For air layering, cut halfway through the stem approximately one foot down from the top of the plant with a sharp knife. Wrap the cut area with sphagnum moss and secure a plastic bag over the area.
Once the roots have formed, cut the new plant off below the root area and plant it. Propagating new plants with the air layering method can take up to two months or more.
If you need to re-pot your Rubber plant, it’s best to only do it in the spring when the while the roots are actively growing. The new pot should only be around 2 inches larger than the original pot.
To keep the glossy shine to the leaves, frequently wipe them with a damp cloth or tissue. If the plants leaves get stains or hard to remove soiled areas, a mild hand soap can be used to wipe the leaves.
Extended lengths of time in low light conditions will cause the Rubber plant to lose it’s bottom leaves. If your plant begins to drop it’s lower leaves move it to a sunnier location.
Common Name: India Rubber Plant, Rubber Bush, Rubber Fig
Plant Type: Perennial
Height: 6 ‘- 10′
Color: Dark green, burgundy
Insects and Diseases: Mealy bugs, whitefly, scale and thrips
Written by Connie Corder for HouseplantsForYou.com, Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved