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Ficus Elastica Water-colored leaves Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

How to care for a Ficus Elastica (Rubber Tree)

With its large, almost water-colored, leaves, the Ficus Elastica (also know as the Rubber Plant or Tree) is a plant you can't miss. It's leaves don't look like they could be real, but luckily for us as plant enthusiasts, it's a very real plant.

The Ficus Elastica is native to India and Indonesia, so if you're trying to grow it there, you're in luck! The Ficus Elastica might not be the best plant for beginning plant owners, because it doesn't tolerate improper lighting or watering very well. If you're new to plants, you might want to have a look at a Monstera or Alocasia before you try your luck with a Rubber Tree.

If you're still here, congratulations! You've got a houseplant with some of the most beautiful looking (green) leaves. In this guide, we're going to look at how you can take care of this plant and how you can keep it happy.

We'll going over these topics:

  1. Watering your Ficus Elastica
  2. The perfect pot for your Ficus
  3. Light needs for your Rubber Tree
  4. The perfect soil for your Ficus Elastica
  5. Fertilizing your Rubber Plant
  6. Toxicity levels for your pets

Let's dive right in and get to know your houseplant a little bit better! Let's see what it needs to be a happy and thriving part of your house.

Watering your Ficus Elastica

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Large leaf on a Ficus Elastica

The Ficus Elastica is a plant that's very sensitive to overwatering. It doesn't like to be wet, but also doesn't do well when it's in dry soil. It's best to keep its soil moist most of the time and you should water it when the top 1 inch (2.5 cm) of the soil is dry. How often you should water your plant depends on a lot of things, but on average, you should water your plant once per week in the summer and once every 2 weeks in the winter.

Your Rubber Tree is very sensitive to overwatering, so when you have accidentally overwatered it, you can expect leaves to fall off. These leaves will turn yellow first and then brown, before falling off.

When you notice the leaves turning yellow and brown, make sure to stop watering it and get rid of any excess moisture.

The perfect pot for your Ficus

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The perfect pot for plants that are sensitive to overwatering is a pot with drainage holes. These drainage holes prevent that excess moisture stays behind in the bottom of the pot. When your plant is standing in water (having wet feet), it's at risk of getting root rot and this will kill your Ficus, unfortunately. The drainage holes help the moisture to escape the pot, so you plant is never standing in a layer of water.

So your Ficus doesn't like to have wet feet, what does this mean for choosing a pot? It means that you should choose a pot that can get rid of moisture quickly. The best type of pot that helps you get rid of excess moisture quickly is a terracotta pot. This type of pot evaporates excess moisture quickly and helps your soil breathe.

It's best to skip plastic or glass pots as these types of pots don't let the soil breathe and don't let moisture through.

Light needs for your Rubber Tree

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New leaf on a Ficus Elastica

A Ficus Elastica likes bright indirect sunlight. Its bright and variegated leaves prefer a bright spot to get enough sunlight to help it stay healthy. However, if you don't have a bright spot available at the moment, your Ficus also tolerates a spot with less sunlight. If you want to keep your Ficus happy long term, it's best to put it in a brighter spot.

The perfect soil for your Ficus Elastica

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Ficus Elastica leaves in sunlight Photo by Tiia Pakk from Pexels

Earlier, we've discovered that the Ficus Elastica doesn't tolerate overwatering very well. It's much easier to keep your plant happy without overwatering it by using a well-draining soil. Your Ficus Elastica does like to stay in moist soil though, so we need soil that can retain moisture, but drain away any excess water.

The perfect soil mix for a Ficus Elastica is a soil that contains something like peat moss or coconut coir to retain the moisture for a few days. The soil should also be well draining, so you can add things like Perlite, Leca, or Smart Gravel. With the combination of the water retaining ingredients and water draining parts, you'll have soil that retains water, but drains any excess water. This helps your plant stay hydrated, but not get overwatered.

If you want to find out more about helping your soil retain more moisture, "How to make your soil retain more water?" might help you.

Fertilizing your Rubber Plant

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Node on a Ficus Elastica

Your Ficus Elastica is a plant that grows quite quickly. In its natural growing environment, in India and Indonesia, it grows very tall, usually several meters tall. Indoors, it can also grow tall and it's up to you how tall you allow it to get. If you like its height, you can trim the plant back and/or propagate it.

Your Ficus Elastica grows quickly, which means you need to fertilize it occasionally. During the growing season, the spring and summer, you should fertilize it around every 2 weeks with liquid fertilizer. When you fertilize it occasionally, you help it to grow healthy and you make sure the plant has enough energy to put out new leaves.

Toxicity levels for your pets

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Your Ficus Elastica has a fitting nickname: Rubber Tree. This name is fitting, because your plant's sap contains latex. Because the sap contains latex it's considered to be toxic and you should keep it away from pets and young children. However, if you have some pet reptiles, like chameleons, rubber tree is a popular tank setups for them. Featuring thick and glossy green leaves and sturdy stalks for climbing, this plant can easily become the center of the entire habitat. You can review all these in If you have a latex allergy, be careful when handling this plant. It's important to wash your hands after handling this plant or wiping down its leaves.


The Ficus Elastica is a plant with some of the most unreal looking leaves you can find. It's a plant that's great for those of you who like a little bit of a challenge. It's not a great plant for beginners, because it's not very forgiving and has quite specific plant care requirements. The perfect spot for your Ficus is a spot with bright indirect sunlight. Make sure to keep it's soil moist, but not wet. Your Ficus doesn't like to have wet feet, so make sure your pot has drainage holes.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: tropical, moisture-loving, ficus

Posted on: Jun 26, 2021 Last updated on: Dec 10, 2021

Other common names for this plant

  • Rubber Tree
  • Rubber Plant
  • Ficus Elastica
  • Tineke

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Frequently asked questions

Is a Ficus Elastica (Rubber Tree) toxic for pets?
A Ficus Elastica has a nickname, the Rubber Tree. It has this nickname because this plant contains latex. This means it's toxic for your pets, but also for those of you with a latex allergy.
How much sunlight does a Ficus Elastica (Rubber Tree) need?
It needs bright indirect sunlight. It doesn't grow well in low-light places and gets sunburns when it's exposed to too much sunlight.
How much water does a Ficus Elastica (Rubber Tree) need?
A Ficus Elastica is quite sensitive to overwatering. It also doesn't like to dry out, so it's best to water it when the top inch of the soil is dry. This helps your Rubber Tree to stay in a moist environment, without being too wet or dry.

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