There are basically three types of rubber plants - the Pará rubber tree or Hevea brasiliensis, Indian rubber bush or Ficus elastica, and the baby rubber plant or Peperomia obtusifolia. The Pará rubber tree is a large tree native to South America, and is the source of natural rubber, while the Indian rubber and the baby rubber plant are ornamental plants.
With its characteristic thick and glossy leaves, the Indian rubber plant can be an excellent indoor plant that can add a touch of beauty and splendor to your home. However, it is important to strike a correct balance between the amount of water and light the plant receives, in order to grow this rubber plant successfully.
Generally, the plant prefers moderate light conditions, and it does not require much water. The best place for growing this indoor plant is the place that receives bright, but indirect sunlight.
So, you can place the plant near a window, if it has curtains. The ideal daytime temperature for growing this plant is 70 to 80°F, while the night temperature should be 65°F.
This plant can reach a height of about 30 to 40 meters, and so, it is better to choose a medium-sized or small pot for growing this plant, in order to restrict its growth. But if the roots overgrow the pot, then consider to replant it in a larger pot.
The plant needs plenty of water during the growing season. However, over-watering should be avoided, as the leaves can turn yellow or brown when the plant receives excess water.
The plant may start to lose its foliage as a result of over-watering. On the other hand, the leaves can droop if the plant does not get enough water. So, you have to keep the soil moist, while maintaining proper drainage.
The water requirement of the plant will be less during winter, i.e, in the dormant season. You can water the plant once or twice in a month during this period.
The best time for applying fertilizer is spring and summer. Pruning is mainly required to improve the look of the plant, and also to promote its growth. You can cut the growing tips of the plant, as this will help check the height of the plant.
If you prefer a bushy look, then consider to prune the stems on the sides. While pruning the plant, be sure to use only a sharp knife or a pruning clipper to remove the dead and the decaying leaves and branches. The ideal time for pruning is the dormant season, i.e., early spring.
Baby Rubber Plant
The baby rubber plant or Peperomia obtusifolia is another popular houseplant that can grow up to a height of 1 foot. The plant is characterized by oblong and glossy, green foliage. Like the Indian rubber plant, it is also easy to grow, as it does not require much care and attention.
The plant basically prefers bright, but indirect sunlight, and a moderate level of humidity. The ideal temperature for growing this plant is 60 to 85°F. Misting can be done occasionally, especially during summer, to maintain the appropriate level of humidity.
The soil should be rich in organic matter, and it should be kept moist for growing a baby rubber plant. During the growing season, the plant needs more water, but over-watering is not recommended. So, before watering the plant, insert your finger into the soil to assess the soil moisture.
Mealybugs are the most important pests that can infect the baby rubber plant, while the Indian rubber plant is susceptible to spider mites, thrips, and scale insects.
Therefore, consider to inspect the plant and its leaves from time to time to detect the presence of an infestation. If properly taken care of, both the Indian and the baby rubber plant can be excellent houseplants.