How to Grow and Care for a Rubber Plant

Reviewed by Sabrina Lopez | September 2, 2022

Ficus elastica plant top view above close up. burgundy rubber pl

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Jump to: Fast Facts | How to Grow | How to Repot | How to Propagate | Common Issues | Our Recommendation | FAQ

Ficus elastica is sometimes referred to as the “rubber plant,” thanks to its history in latex production. Like the fiddle leaf fig, snake plant, and other tropical indoor trees, the rubber tree plant is quickly becoming a popular statement piece in homes across the country.

While the rubber tree plant might look intimidating to beginner plant parents, the truth is this houseplant has only a few care needs that even beginners can manage. Here’s how to keep your rubber tree plant happy and growing well.

Courtesy Amazon

Hirt’s Gardens Burgundy Rubber Tree Plant


This easy-to-grow plant is a great choice for beginners looking to start their indoor garden. It is the perfect complement to any office, dorm room, or apartment as it is able to adapt to low sunlight levels. It comes in a three-inch pot and requires only light-to-moderate soiling.

$24.99 On Amazon


Fast Facts on Rubber Tree Plants

Common nameRubber tree plant, rubber tree fig, rubber plant

Plant family


Native climate

Southeast Asia

Light level

Bright, indirect light and low light

Average mature height (indoor)

About 10 feet tall

Soil type

Well-draining soil

Frequency of watering

Once per week during the growing season


Toxic to both dogs and cats

Ideal humidity level

Greater than 50%

Common variations

Ficus elastica (Tineke), Ficus elastica (Burgundy), Ficus elastica (Ruby), Ficus elastica (Robusta)


How to Grow a Rubber Plant

With large green leaves and a waxy appearance, the rubber tree plant is a popular indoor houseplant, thanks to its distinct look. If you’ve cared for tropical plants before, you might be surprised to learn that rubber plant care is very straightforward; you don’t need to be a plant care expert to grow this indoor tree. Use the following steps to simulate your plant’s native climates and help it reach new heights.


If you’d like your rubber plant to grow fuller and bushier, you can apply fertilizer once every two weeks during the growing season. The best fertilizer for rubber plants is made up of 24% nitrogen, 8% phosphorus, and 16% potassium. Base the frequency of your fertilization on the light conditions in your home. If the light is low, you can fertilize less frequently and maintain a healthy plant. Though a rubber plant needs regular fertilization, too much fertilizer will cause it to become “leggy,” with long stems and just a few leaves on the top.


Like most tropical plants, the rubber plant requires plenty of filtered, bright light. While rubber plants can tolerate direct sunlight in the early morning hours when the sun’s intensity is low, you should move your plant out of the sun during the afternoon. You can create a lower-light environment ideal for tropical indoor plants by putting up transparent curtains and placing plants close to the window.


Rubber tree plants require a well-draining potting mix to avoid root rot, a fungal infection that damages the roots of indoor houseplants. When choosing a pot, pick one with drainage holes, which will help prevent root rot if you overwater the plant.

Beyond this, rubber tree plants aren’t picky about their soil—they do well in nearly any type of general potting mix. If you want to give your rubber plant an extra boost of nutrition, choose a potting soil mixture that contains one part peat, one part pine bark, and one part sand. This is the ideal soil mixture for the rubber tree plant, as it remains moist without turning soggy.


Cool drafts and low temperatures can harm your rubber tree, as these plants are native to hot and humid parts of Southeast Asia. Rubber trees usually do well in consistent temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If you start to see leaves turn yellow or drop off, chances are that your home is too cold for your rubber tree plant.


Thanks to their origin in tropical climates, rubber plants are used to bursts of watering followed by a dry season. During the dry season, rubber plants go into dormancy, which means that they don’t need as much water.

To simulate this climate, keep your plant’s soil consistently moist during the warm summer. When the temperature is high, water your plant once a week, and wipe the leaves with a damp cloth. This helps simulate the humid environment in which rubber trees grow naturally. You can also use a small, portable humidifier to keep the plant moist.

During the winter season, allowing your plant’s soil to dry out between waterings is okay. Water it once every two to three weeks during this time. If you notice your plant’s dark green leaves turning yellow, you’re probably overwatering it. If leaves begin to shrivel, turn brown, or fall off, these are all signs that you’re underwatering.


How to Repot Rubber Plants

Though ongoing care for rubber trees is low maintenance, they require regular repotting because they grow so quickly. Depending on your location, you might need to repot your plant each year. Here are the steps to take during the repotting process.

  1. Choose a new pot that’s 3 to 4 inches wider in diameter than the current pot. If your plant has grown many new leaves or branches since the last time it was potted, you may want to choose a heavier pot for improved stability.
  2. Remove the plant from its current pot by gripping the base of the stalk. Tease the root ball to break it up.
  3. Add a few cups of soil to the base of the new pot. Place the plant in the pot. The surface of the root ball should be just below the new pot’s rim.
  4. Fill the remainder of the pot with soil around the rootball. Leave about 2 inches from the top of the soil to the rim of the pot for watering.
  5. Water the plant well after repotting, and allow it to drain before placing it back in its tray.


How to Propagate a Rubber Plant

  1. Locate a suitable stem for propagation. Make sure each stem is at least 6 inches long and has at least four leaf nodes.
  2. Cut off the stem at the base using a sharp pair of scissors or gardening shears. Remove the bottom leaves from the cutting, but leave two to three leaves near the top of the stem.
  3. Dip the tip of the stem into a rooting hormone solution after the sap has dried.
  4. Plant the stem into a shallow pot of soil. If you’re propagating outside of the spring or summer season, consider using a heating pad to support growth.


Common Issues with Rubber Plants

Though caring for rubber plants isn’t difficult, they can still run into some of the most common problems plant owners see with tropical plants.

Root Rot

One of the most common plant infections, root rot is a fungal illness that affects the roots of household plants. Root rot forms when roots are left saturated in water for long periods. Allow your rubber plant’s soil to drain after watering to prevent root rot from taking hold.

Yellowing Leaves

If your rubber plant’s leaves begin to turn yellow, this is a sign that you’re overwatering your plant. Allow the plant’s soil to dry out completely before watering again.

Pest Problems

Mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites are common household pests that attack the rubber plant. If you have pests in your home, you can protect your plants by applying a noninvasive treatment option, such as neem oil. If DIY remedies don’t correct the problem, call a pest control company as soon as possible.


Our Recommendation

If you’re new to plant care, a rubber plant can be an excellent choice. Its hardy nature means it can survive in most types of potting soil, and you don’t need to do any specialized pruning to keep the plant healthy. Ensure your plant is getting enough water during the growing season and receives mostly indirect sunlight throughout the day, and it will grow green and gorgeous.

Rubber Plant FAQ

Are rubber plants easy to care for?

Yes, rubber plants are relatively easy to care for. They can tolerate a wide range of indoor temperatures and conditions, and they don’t require specialized potting soil or pruning tools. Simply water the plant when the soil looks dry and be sure it gets plenty of indirect sunlight, and you’ll have a happy rubber plant.

How long do rubber plants live?

Rubber tree plants can live for many years. In the wild, some rubber plant species have been known to live for more than 100 years routinely. A rubber plant may live 10 years or longer when grown as an indoor houseplant.

What is the benefit of a rubber plant?

Rubber plants provide several benefits, including improved air quality within your home. Specifically, they can help remove formaldehyde particles and bacteria from the air. They’re also low-maintenance and add aesthetic value to nearly any space.