Ficus Robusta: Care, Breeding and Replanting

Ficus robusta is but one of a fairly large number of ficus species. Ficus robusta is actually a variety of the species Ficus elastica. A ficus tree is literally a fig tree, but many varieties of this species bear fruit or “figs” that are barely noticeable, or not observable at all. Although some members of the ficus family are grown outdoors and can become quite large, most are more suitable as an indoor plant, and are found not only in homes, but in many offices as well.

The Rubber Plant – The most popular ficus house plant is most likely Ficus benjamina, the “Weeping Fig”. Ficus elastica “Robusta”, also known as the Rubber plant, has become a very popular and attractive indoor plant. Ficus Robusta has very large deep green leaves, often 10″ long and 5″ wide. The Ficus elastica species is a native of India, and grows to be a very large tree, reaching 100′ in height. Robusta is a variety of this species, which has been bred as a much lower growing and compact house plant. One of the characteristics of the elastica species, hence the name Rubber Plant, is when the leaves or stems are cut or damaged, they bleed a creamy, sticky, latex-like substance, similar to that used in the production of rubber.

Ficus Robusta is a tropical tree which can be grown outdoors only in USDA Zone 11. Consequently, it is rarely seen in the United States as an outdoor plant. As an indoor plant it needs to be placed where there is strong light and the soil needs to be kept moist. Most plants are sold when between 1′ and 3′ in height, and can grow to a height of about 20′ if allowed to do so. They can be pruned back as needed.

Ficus Robusta Care – One reason for keeping the soil moist is if the soil becomes to dry, Ficus Robusta, like most other ficus species, will interpret drying soil as a signal that a dry season is approaching, and it will begin to shed its leaves as a matter of self protection. If this happens, the leaves will grow back, but it’s better to keep the soil moist and enjoy an attractive plant all of the time rather than just at the intervals where one remembered to water it. Misting the plant regularly can be very beneficial in this respect. Misting the leaves every day, or every other day will more than likely keep leaf dropping to an absolute minimum.

Ficus Robusta
Ficus Robusta photo

Between misting and occasional light watering, the tree will get the water it needs. Too frequent, or too heavy watering may cause the leaves to begin to turn yellow, and they may also begin to drop off. Like the other ficus species, Robusta doesn’t particularly like being moved, and may shed at least a few of its leaves after being transported from one place to another. When placed in one location, facing bright light, it is a good idea to rotate the tree partially from time to time, unless it is becoming too large to do so. This is done to insure a more uniform growth, and also ensure an overall healthier and more attractive plant. The bottom line is, this is an easy care plant, but in some ways is rather finicky, and does have a tendency to drop its leaves if it feels it isn’t being treated right.

Get Off To A Good Start – Many problems can be avoided by looking for a healthy and hardy plant to begin with. A healthy plant, once purchased and subjected to tender loving care, is bound to remain that way. If you haven’t yet purchased one of these for an indoor decorative effect, viewing a few images will quite possibly convince you that Ficus Robusta, the Rubber Plant, is a “must have”.

Home care

As it was mentioned earlier, Robusta Elastica is not a capricious ficus, which makes it very attractive for those who are just beginning to “start” plants at home or for very busy people.

  • Lighting: Ficus Robusta likes bright diffused light and can also be in the shade. If you have phytolamps at home that can replace sunlight, Ficus will feel great somewhere deep in the room.
  • Temperature: the most optimal temperature range is between +64.4°F and 77°F.

Like his brothers from the family Ficus Robusta does not like draughts and sharp temperature changes. And if you don’t stick to the recommended limits, the plant may react by dropping its leaves.

  • Watering: Elastica Robusta loves abundant watering, but it requires that the ground has time to dry out, about 2 cm – 3 cm deep.

Be careful not to allow the soil to overwet, otherwise, the soil may sour and the roots may rot. In addition, do not dry out the ground, otherwise the ficus will arrange a leaffall.

  • Air humidity: the best option for both humans and plants is to have an air humidity level slightly above 50% . In winter, when homes are heated by central heating, the humidity decreases, which means that the ficus will need additional spraying and rubbing of leaves with a wet sponge.

In the warm season, wiping leaves are also very important for keeping the plant clean.

  • Transplant: Ficus Elastica is a fast growing plant that needs to be transplanted every year at a young age with a pot increase. A more mature ficus is enough to replace the top layer of soil with a new one.
  • Feeding: Feeding is very important during the period of active plant growth – from spring to autumn. For this purpose, it is best to use nitrogen-saturated complex fertilisers.
  • Reproduction: Reproduction is done by cutting, i.e., it is necessary to carefully cut the stalk with 2-3 pairs of leaves and take root either in special soil or in ordinary water.

Ficus Robusta

  • More care tips: Since the leaves of the rubber tree are very large, dust is deposited on them over time, which contrasts well with the dark green smooth background and therefore sooner or later becomes a visual problem. For cleaning, you can put the complete Ficus elastica, if it is not too large, in the shower and rinse. Before doing so, put the inner pot together with the root ball in a foil bag so that the soil does not get soaked. To prevent lime stains, wipe the leaves with a soft cloth after the shower bath. In addition, you can rub the leaves with a cloth lightly soaked in beer to make them shine again. Young rubber trees grow quite rapidly in good light conditions and should therefore be given a slightly larger pot every two years in the spring. For old plants, repotting every four to five years is sufficient.

Diseases and pests

Ficus Robusta is practically not visited by any pests, but sometimes a spider mite can become an unexpected guest. What to chase away the cheeky need to wipe the leaves on both sides.

More often, the ficus may be subjected to improper care, which may cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall. The causes of this behavior are the plants:

  • excess or lack of light;
  • dried air;
  • too high a temperature;
  • draught;
  • excessive or insufficient watering.