Growing up, I always wanted to live in the South. Pearls, seersucker, big church choirs, warmth, and sweet tea were my thing. When I moved to Auburn, I lived on Magnolia Street, and I quickly learned about these beautiful trees called a Magnolia Tree. They had big, dark green, waxy leaves. And huge, beautiful, white blooms. I fell in love with them!
I loved them so much that Magnolia leaves and blooms were a big part of my wedding. We had magnolia flower wedding invitations, magnolia leaf wreath centerpieces, and magnolia leaves and blooms in my bouquet.
One day, I would love to grow a magnolia tree in my yard. But for right now, we are in an apartment, and that is just not feasible. So when I found out about the Rubber Tree Plant, I was hooked. You may be wondering how I got from Magnolia to ficus Elastica (the fancy term for Rubber Tree Plant), but hear me out…
The Rubber Tree Plant is a version of a ficus tree and it can be grown indoors. Although it does not produce flowers, it has these big, dark green, waxy leaves – resemblant of those Magnolia leaves I fell in love with. I felt like I had found a way to have my Magnolia tree with me, even while we are still renting our apartment! Problem, meet Solution.
So, I quickly bought one of these little guys and I have been so impressed by its ease of growth. It is very simple to grow. I bought a baby plant online, although they can be propagated from another Rubber Tree Plant (but that is a post for another day). You can buy that plant here or here.
My Rubber Tree Plant right now is pretty small, but they can grow about 6 to 8 feet, at maturity as a house plant. Rubber Tree Plants produce a sap that is used to make rubber (the name makes sense now…). But don’t worry. The sap isn’t produced for years, and will not affect your house plant.
The Rubber Tree Plant is great for beginners to the gardening world and those who want to add a statement of natural color to their room.
Rubber Tree Plants are relatively resilient plants and can fair well without a lot of sunlight. However, they will certainly flourish and explode in growth when given indirect bright light. Placing the plant near a window, but out of the direct sunlight is the best option.
During the growing seasons, it is important to keep the soil moist, but not saturated. Keep the plant in a pot with a drainage hole. Give it a thorough watering. Wait until the top 1-1.5” of soil is dry before watering again. Be careful not to underwater it. Underwatering will produce dry and brown leaves or spots. Overwatering will produce yellowing leaves.
My plant was making great progress: growing rapidly and showing new leaves every few days! And then I noticed it gradually started to slow. I was concerned that something was going wrong and tried different kinds of light and water and soil combinations. However, none of this was helpful (and actually hurt the plant a bit), because I did not realize the plant was in its dormant season. Even indoor plants will have cyclical dormant periods, where growth and development are put on pause. Do not worry! Take care of your plant during this time and it will resume growing as the environment changes. Just be sure not to overwater the plant during the dormant season. It is okay to let the soil dry out a little bit more during this time.
With your plant in a pot with a drainage hole, you are off to a great start. However, to avoid damaging the plant’s roots, it is helpful to place a few large rocks on the bottom of the pot, before filling with soil. This add an extra layer of protection and drainage.
3 parts gardening soil mixed with 1 part sand will provide the best combination of nourishment and drainage for your plant. However, if you do not have sand available, plain gardening dirt will do. Just be sure to pay attention to overwatering your plant.
Sometimes, pruning will be necessary either due to an unattractive leaf or the need to reshape the plant. When you prune, cut the branch just above the leaf node. This will encourage further growth from this node.
Growing a new plant can be a very fun endeavor. I get so much excitement as new leaves uncoil and the plant shows sign of great health! Pay attention to your plant, as they will differ depending on your specific plant and situation. Learn what works best and stick right with it. Overtime, caring for it will become second nature.