Ficus elastica

From PlantHelp.Me
Ficus elastica
Group: Angiosperms
Order: Rosales
Family: Moraceae
Genus: Ficus
Species: F. elastica
Classified: Roxb. ex Hornem., 1819
Propagation: From From cutting, layering, seeds
Adult size: 12-15m
Lighting: High
Watering: Let the soil partially dry before watering
Fertilization: Monthly during active growth
Soil: Well drained
Humidity: High humidity preferred, low humidity tolerated
Other information
Toxicity: Toxic sap
Rarity: Common
See more Ficus

Common names:

Rubber tree

Ficus elastica is a woody flowering plant of the mulberry and fig family Moraceae. Native to Nepal to China, it makes an excellent houseplant and will tolerate a wide range of growing conditions.


Ficus means 'fig' in Latin.

Elastica is named because in the early 1900s the latex sap from this plant was used to make an inferior rubber for commercial goods.



F. elastica has huge, glossy oval leaves with a prominent mid-vein. The leaves are green in the species but have different colours and variegation depending on the cultivar.




Ficus lyrata 'Ruby' has maroon-red new growth. Over time the red fades into a cream colour.



Ficus lyrata 'Tineke' has cream leaf margins and lighter and darker green variegated splashed to the mid-leaf.



Ficus lyrata 'Abidjan' has dark foliage, almost black, with red undersides to the leaves and the sheath protecting new growth is bright red.


F. elastica requires bright light to do well in the home, as close to a window as possible. When moving a plant into a window for the first time make sure to acclimate it to the direct light (see sun damage).

Use a well draining soil mix (see aroid soil). The soil surface should dry within a week even when the plant is dormant in winter. Water thoroughly until the water drains through the bottom of the pot, never allowing the plant to stand in water.

Ficus are 'creatures of habit' and like consistency - never allow the soil to dry out completely for long periods of time and never keep the plant's roots so wet that they don't mostly dry through. Finding a routine which keeps the soil slightly moist most of the time is key to healthy growth and the plant retaining its leaves.

Ficus dislike draughts or dry air being blown across them. Site your plant away from fans, air conditioning units and move it away from draughty windows in winter. They will tolerate dry air but if you live somewhere extremely arid, consider adding a humidifier to bring ambient humidity up slightly or it may develop brown leaf edges.

Common issues

Yellowing/dropping leaves

Yellowing leaves are a sign of too much water. Ensure the pot has good drainage and allow the surface of the soil to dry between watering. Older leaves will naturally yellow and die eventually.

If the soil is staying moist for more than two weeks between watering, or the soil feels soggy or very wet after a week then consider repotting the plant into a smaller container: the roots staying wet for too long will lead to root rot and a quick decline in the plant's health. When repotting use a well drained mix (see aroid soil)

Sun damage

F. elastica can take direct sun without damage but first requires acclimatisation or leaves will bleach, brown and eventually die. When moving your plant into an area which gets lots of direct sunlight build up the plant's tolerance first. Limit the amount of direct sun to an hour a day for a few days, then two hours, then three and continue to slowly increase the plant's light exposure until it is fully acclimated.

When moving the plant outdoors, choose a spot in shade or that gets dappled or screened sunlight. Let the plant slowly acclimate to being outdoors and never move the plant into direct sun without slowly building up a tolerance first. Some direct morning or evening sun is fine but hot midday light will scorch the leaves.


F. elastica is relatively resistant to pests, however it can be affected by spider mites, mealybugs, scale, thrips and whitefly.