The super trendy ficus elastica is my new favorite addition to my massive indoor jungle. Only my favs get names, so this is Lucy 😍
Native to southern Southeast Asia and Indonesia, the ficus elastica was used for its latex sap to make rubber before synthetics available. In addition to being useful for rubber, the roots are used to make living bridges! A dead tree trunk is put across a river, and the ficus elastica’s roots are guided along the trunk. As the trunk rots, the roots grow to the other side, and thicken, and more roots are trained to complete the bridge. The bridge resists wind and flooding well because it is flexible.
Rubber trees make excellent houseplants, as they are low-light tolerant, and help clean the indoor air from pollutants. There are a number of varieties grown successfully indoors with leaves ranging from green to pink to burgundy and a bunch of variegated types in between.
They are quite an easy plant to care for and can grow well on low light. The worst a grower can do (which are common mistakes) is over-water, move the plant around too much or to a spot with less light or with colder temperatures. Sudden drops of temperature or cold drafts are also not good.
Light – a brightly lit spot is ideal, without direct sunlight
Water – Water once the soil becomes slightly dry to the touch and make sure the pot has sufficient drainage holes to allow excess water to seep through.
Humidity – Normal room humidity is fine; mist with leaves with water in very hot summer months.
Pruning – Once the rubber plant has grown to the height you want it to grow up to, you can cut the top off. You may also want to prune back any unwanted branches to give the plant a fuller shape. It’s best to prune in spring or summer but any other time will be fine.