Rubber plant care: tips for watering, fertilising & pruning

Lea
Lea
Lea
Lea

Having studied organic farming, I enjoy trying out new cultivation methods and other gardening experiments with friends in our community garden. I care deeply about exploring sustainable and mindful approaches to working with nature. This is my biggest passion, but I am also a real ornamental plant enthusiast!

Favourite fruit: strawberry, mango, guava
Favourite vegetables: artichoke, tomato, rocket

With proper care, you can enjoy your rubber tree for many years. Let us show you what to pay attention to when watering, fertilising and pruning – all about rubber plant care.

Person wiping dust off rubber plant leaf
You should regularly clean the dust from the rubber plant leaves [Photo: Stasia04/ Shutterstock.com]

The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is a popular houseplant. This is, of course, due to its dense evergreen leaves, but also because it is very low maintenance. With proper care, your rubber tree will thank you all the more with lush growth and a long life. To help you know what to look for when caring for your plant, we have summarised everything you need to know about rubber plant care: watering, fertilising and pruning rubber plants.

The rubber plant belongs to the fig genus (Ficus). Do not expect these small treats from your indoor rubber tree, as the small fruits of indoor rubber plants are unfortunately inedible. The lush, dense leaves are particularly decorative and the tree serves as a great ornament for any apartment or office.

In order for the rubber tree to look especially beautiful, it needs a little attention from time to time. Aside from watering, fertilising and pruning, the special leaves also need your attention. Do not let your rubber plant gather dust. Unfortunately, the large, broad leaves of the plant are an ideal place for dust to settle. So, if you want to do something good for your rubber plant, take a damp cloth and wipe the leaves with it from time to time. But if that is too much work, you can simply give the tree a cold shower. It will thank you and will look much more visually pleasing again.

Watering rubber plants

The rubber plant does not like soggy feet. If it gets too wet, it will start losing its leaves. Therefore, it is best to only water it when the upper soil is dry. To determine this, you can use the finger test. Insert your finger into the soil. When the top few centimetres feel dry, it is time to water. Lukewarm, stagnant water is best for this purpose. You should remove excess water from the plant’s drainage dish five minutes after watering. This prevents the plant becoming waterlogged and ensures the roots do not suffer from lack of oxygen or even root rot.

Another way to water the rubber plant is to immerse it in water. To do this, place the pot in a bucket of lukewarm water for a few minutes. This allows the roots to soak up water well. The tree should remain in the water until there are no more air bubbles.

Wet leaves of rubber plant
Rubber trees prefer moderate amounts of water [Photo: Ksenia26/ Shutterstock.com]

Summary: Watering rubber plants

  • Check substrate with finger test
  • Allow top substrate layer to dry off
  • Water in moderation
  • Use lukewarm, stagnant water
  • Discard excess water remove new shoots
  • Alternatively, water by immersion

Rubber plant care: fertilising

The rubber plant is very frugal when it comes to feeding. Therefore, you should never fertilise it too often. A liquid fertiliser every six weeks should be sufficient. Better yet, a supply of a fertiliser with a long-term effect. This would make fertilising every three months enough. But not only will you need to fertilise less often with a slow-release fertiliser – if it is a fertiliser with long-term effects, it is also more environmentally friendly. Our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food with long-term effects optimally provides your rubber tree with all-important nutrients and is also made of natural raw materials.

All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
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(4.8/5)
  • Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly
£12.99

Summary: Feeding rubber plants

  • Do not over-fertilise
  • It is best to use a fertiliser with organic long-term effects every three months
  • Alternatively, use a liquid fertiliser every 6 weeks

Pruning rubber plants

You can do many things by pruning your rubber tree: you can curb growth, encourage growth, or trim the tree into the right shape. The most important thing here is to use clean tools – a sharp knife or secateurs. In addition, a milky, sticky sap is secreted from the cuts when the plant is pruned. Therefore, it is important to take good care of the wounds and cut the tree at the right time. The plant secretes less sap in winter and in the evening. You can dab the cuts on the tree with a damp cloth or sprinkle them with lukewarm water.

Summary: Rubber plant pruning

  • To contain growth, by one third
  • To promote side shoots, cut above nodes on the trunk
  • Cut off side shoots for upward growth
  • Immediately remove any parts of the plant that are dried up, dead or affected by disease or infested with pests
  • Treating wounds

For detailed instructions and lots of tips on pruning your rubber plant, check out our article here.

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