Rubber tree
You wonder who dares bother you with that hideous old rubber tree? Well, precisely because of the bad image that the rubber tree really doesn’t deserve: First of all, the rubber tree is not just a rubber tree, but a fig, then it has a lot of advantages, and it does not have to look hideous when grown correctly.

The easy-care rubber tree has many advantages.

The biggest advantage first: a rubber tree is so undemanding and so easy to propagate that every newcomer to plants has the chance to bring such an amount of greenery into their home or balcony, even with heavy work or study stress that real relaxation sets in when you wander around the gaze. Which in turn helps with work or studies … and the rubber tree also makes a significant contribution to improving indoor air quality.

The best location for the rubber tree

The rubber tree originally grew in Nepal, Myanmar and Java, where it can be up to 40 meters high and has a trunk with a diameter of up to two meters. This plant from the mulberry family also lives there under somewhat more favorable light conditions, so you do not have to fear such heights of growth in your living room.

But even so that the rubber tree reaches a moderate height in our country, it needs all the light that we can offer it in this country. So it gets the brightest location that the room offers, and the Ficus elastica, which is used to hot weather, does not want to have anything to do with temperatures below 18 degrees. But you probably just as little, so the rubber tree is an ideal roommate.

It is also in other respects: it prefers a humidity of 50 percent, which is also ideal for us humans, but can also live under the influence of dry heating. Like us, he does not want to be exposed to constant drafts or blazing midday sun, and he is satisfied if it is not rotated all the time. You can almost say where we feel good, a rubber tree feels good when it is quiet and at friendly temperatures.

The best soil for rubber trees

Best soil for rubber trees

To be clear beforehand: this plant will likely grow in almost any growing medium that contains a few nutrients and allows water to reach the roots. So you can simply use good compost-based potting soil, including garden soil, which may then be loosened up with a little sand or peat substitute if it is too heavy.

The sowing of a rubber tree

You can get seeds and sow your own rubber tree, which is definitely a conceivable method of greening an entire apartment – well-grown rubber trees of some size are also offered on classifieds markets for quite a lot of money, they just fit in well everywhere.

The seeds are sown in plastic pots, in a nutrient-poor sowing soil, the seeds in the pot are thinly covered with soil. Then the earth is well moistened, then a transparent plastic bag is placed over the pot, which is placed on the window sill and is only checked occasionally for any necessary moisture replenishment. When the seedling has got its first leaves, it is transferred to normal soil and a larger pot.

When you buy a rubber tree, all you have to do is find the right place in the apartment for it and find the right planter.

The plant pot and repotting the rubber tree

Because even if the pot in which the rubber tree was sold looks quite small, it can stay in this pot. The rubber trees develop best when their roots do not have too much space, so the pots should never be too big.

This means that you always have to repot a rubber tree when you can already see numerous roots that are starting to grow out of the drainage hole of the planter or when you can even see roots (fine light stripes or nets) on the surface of the earth in the planter . Then the Ficus elastica gets a plant pot that is one size larger, it is first moved and then filled all around with soil. There should be a little space between the drainage hole of the planter and the bottom of the planter so that excess water can collect in the lower area.

But it also means that you should choose a fairly heavy planter that guarantees good stability, otherwise your rubber tree could quickly become overweight and fall over with every accidental nudge.

Other care tips for the rubber tree

A little special attention to the large and leathery leaves is good for a rubber tree: You should handle the leaves of a young rubber tree with care, if you nick them or damage the surface, the leaf will develop a light “scar” that continues to grow with the plant.

Watering a Ficus Elastica

The rubber tree must never be cultivated too moist, it would resent a “soaking wet” soil after a short time. If a rubber tree is exposed to constant waterlogging, it will likely even lose its leaves.

You can avoid this if you only water when the top layer of soil in the pot is so dry that at most fine grains stick to a flat hand. If you check in the first time how much water collects below in the planter, you will automatically get a feeling for how often and how much the rubber tree would like to be watered at its location. Even if you will at some point be able to estimate the water requirements of your rubber tree almost perfectly, you would occasionally have to check whether water has collected at the bottom of the planter, remove this if necessary and rinse the inner surfaces of the pot well under hot water.

If the rubber tree has accidentally dried out, the dipping method helps: water in a large bucket or in the bathtub, submerge the whole pot until there are no more air bubbles (feel free to poke the pot a few times, usually a few more bubbles appear) . When the earth has soaked up properly again, the pot must be set up in such a way that it can drip off well; it can only be returned to the planter after about an hour.

Fertilize rubber tree

A Ficus elastica is quite frugal, it is completely sufficient if you give the rubber tree about every one and a half months a liquid complete fertilizer mixed in not too strong a concentration. The alternative is a long-term fertilizer that is used according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

The leaf care, pruning and propagation of the rubber tree

Rubber trees leaf care

When you’ve come to really love your rubber tree, you’re sure to be ready for a little extra care. You can let them grow on the leaves of the rubber tree, they like to be gently caressed, preferably with a damp sponge, with which they are regularly freed from any dust. This damp wiping is of course also good for the look, because the glossy dark green or multi-colored leaves of the rubber tree can look really chic. You are also welcome to take your Ficus elastica with you in the shower, he knows a cool water bath from above from home and enjoys it very much (drain well in the shower because of waterlogging).

A rubber tree can look very good when it’s growing, and you determine that with the cut. You can cut everything off if there are still a few leaves on the plant underneath, including the whole plant in the middle if it has grown too big, or one side if it is growing misshapen.

The cut off parts are cuttings (offshoots) that you can defoliate at the bottom, put in a glass of water and let rooting. So you can potted more and more rubber trees …

Plant protection and pests in the rubber tree

Unfortunately, it is no different with the rubber tree than with other plants that come to us from distant countries: They are fairly easily attacked by all sorts of pests that they do not know from their homeland and against which they have therefore not developed any defense strategies. Here’s how you can help your rubber tree:

  • First of all, the Ficus elastica (like any other houseplant) should be checked regularly for pests.
  • If something “crawls”, quick action is required. If possible, the infected plant should be isolated from other indoor plants immediately.
  • Then it is time to find out what it is, the following pests are most likely to occur in the rubber tree:
  • Red spiders , scale insects or mealybugs ( mealybugs ), you will be able to tell what they are in specialist shops based on the symptoms.
  • Various pesticides are available against all of these pests, and you can find out what you can safely use in your home from specialist retailers.
  • Better than sprays, against which resistance can quickly develop, are usually the agents that get into the irrigation water and work systemically (from the inside), but they too often have to be used repeatedly.

Biological pest control in Ficus elastica

For many plant owners, especially newcomers to plant care, the use of any insects to eat other insects is more than scary. It should actually be a lot more creepy for you to constantly distribute poison on your plants, which, strictly speaking, you do not know whether it will end up in your tea when you are sitting on the couch in the room with the rubber tree.

The predatory insects will venture out into the world outside your home on their own when they have eaten the pests on the rubber tree and are hungry, even without you constantly opening the window. So don’t be afraid to get some information from a specialist store, certain parasitic wasps (don’t worry, look more like ants) or certain robber beetles help against scale insects, Australian ladybirds against mealybugs or mealybugs and predatory mites against extreme red spider infestation. The plants should be isolated anyway, maybe you can gain your first experience with biological pest control in a room in which you don’t spend all of your time. After all, you are helping to maintain the natural balance instead of always making pests resistant to pests.

There are different types of Ficus elastica

The normal rubber tree is simply called “Ficus elastica”, but you can purchase particularly noble varieties:

  • Ficus elastica “Black Prince” has particularly large leaves that are almost round, very dark green and monochrome.
  • Ficus elastica “robusta” is a common, robust variety, true to its name (which is not called Ficus robusta, that is another mulberry plant that only grows in New Guinea and is definitely not sold in our country).
  • Ficus elastica “tricolor” convinces with color: Cream-colored and slightly pink-looking areas on the otherwise dark green leaves.
  • Ficus elastica “variegeta” varies: Green with yellow spots and edges or pink-red spots and edges are on offer.
  • Ficus elastica “doescheri” is also multicolored, but a little more reserved, in cream and gray on green.

Rubber trees have a bad reputation completely wrongly, they are only “dusty” if you do not remove the dust from the leaves. Otherwise, they are willing, very decorative plants, whose propagation frenzy you can use to create a green jungle in your living room almost without spending any money.

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