Ficus elastica or commonly known as the Rubber Plant is a species of flowering plant and belongs to the family Moraceae. These plants are known for their beautiful leaves that are soft, round and waxy looking and for the heights of the trees planted outdoors, which attain a height of upto 100 feet in their natural habitat. They get their name “rubber plants” from their latex-like white coloured sap that are not used for commercial making of rubber.
Rubber plants, nowadays, are grown all over the world as indoor plants which are potted. These indoor planted rubber plants grow upto six to ten feet in height. They are preferred indoors for their ability to detoxify the air. It acts as a natural air purifier indoors. The other preferred reason for rubber plants to be planted indoors is that they are great home decorating items. They visually soften the sharp edges of the corners indoors.
SPECIES: Ficus elastica
The rubber plants are large trees that grow upto 100-130 feet and in some rare cases it grows upto 195 feet. Their trunks also grow upto 6 feet in diameter. The heavy branches of the trees are supported by the growth of aerial and buttressed roots in the soil. The leaves of rubber plants are shiny, oval and broad. The growth of leaves is at the apical meristem of the tree.
Origin and Range:
Being a member of the Moraceae family, the rubber plants are known to have originated from Asia. They particularly belong to India, Malaysia and Java. The natural range in which these plants grow are widely extended. In the north it extends from Nepal and goes all the way to Indonesia, Bhutan, India, Burma, China (Yunnan) and Malaysia. It can also be found in the Mediterranean Basin.
Use and Cultivation:
The rubber plants these days are widely used for home decorating purposes. It symbolises abundance, wealth and happiness. The indoor planted rubber plants need proper attention and care. Following are the few things to look after:
- Sunlight -The rubber plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight. The light should not be too hot.
- Water – These plants require an abundance of water during summers. Their soils should be kept moist and leaves must be kept misted during summers. The rubber plants need to be kept in well-draining soils indoors. In winters, they don’t seek much moisture but the soil should not be kept dry or else the leaves tend to droop showing dehydration.
- Temperature – Rubber plants prefer a temperature of 60°Fahrenheit to 75° Fahrenheit in Summers and can survive in low temperatures upto 50° Fahrenheit, but it needs moist air with humidity for its growth.