I need to know how to take care of a rubber tree. I had one before and all the leaves fell off. Please help! Thanks so much.
Texarkana, Arkansas (zone 7b)
The rubber tree, Ficus elastica, is treasured for its big bold foliage. They are in general easy to care for, but like their cousin Ficus benjamina a little finicky at times.
Ficus will drop their leaves for a variety of reasons including too much water, too little water, low light, dry heat, a cold draft or even a sudden change in environment.
For better results with your new rubber tree place it in an area that will receive bright light from an eastern exposure and temperatures that are 60 to 65 degrees F at night and 75 to 80 degrees F during the day. Keep your tree away from cold drafts and sources of heat such as a fire place or heating vent.
Rubber trees don’t like wet feet so be sure to plant yours in a container with drainage holes using a loose potting mix that drains easily. Consistent moisture is important, but don’t over water. Deep soak the plant with tepid water and then wait until the top 2 inches of soil is dry to water again.
During the growing season feed with a liquid fertilizer every three to four weeks.
Rubber trees prefer to be root bound, so they don’t need frequent repotting. Wait until early spring to repot plants that have outgrown their containers.
It is common for older rubber trees to lose some of their lower leaves, but new leaves should emerge.
The large leaves tend to be dust catchers so clean them with a soft cloth and a little water.
It is also important to note that rubber trees produce a milky sap when cut. This sap may cause skin irritation and if eaten, an upset stomach. So it’s best to keep the plants away from children and pets.