For several reasons, it would help if you had Rubber plants (Ficus elastica) included in your garden collection.
They’re effortless to propagate and not so fussy to maintain; they also possess unique rejuvenating properties in which some species are known to demonstrate excellent air-detoxifying and purifying properties.
Propagating Rubber Plants
Starting with the most popular method, Rubber plants are commonly propagated by air Layering. They can also be successfully propagated by preparing stem and leaf cuttings.
Propagating Rubber Plants by Air Layering
Many Rubber plant propagators adopt this technique because it is simple enough to set up; newbie propagators with little or no prior experience can also have a good chance at success.
In air Layering, we’re attempting to provoke root development on an adventurous stem while it’s still well attached to its mother plant.
The trick is first to pick a point on a well-established stem between 12 and 18 inches away from the top. Pick out any leaves around the stem, leaving only the leaves at their top edges.
Now, using a clean, sharp knife or gardening scissors, cut one inch thick into the stem, and ensure you remove the cambium or inner tissues for nutrient uptake of the stem; the cuts shouldn’t be more than one inch wide.
Ensure the cut area is around the same spot on the stem, forming a circle. Remove the cambium-containing phloem vessels, so that manufactured food is trapped around the exposed stem surface, forcing the stem to bud and grow new roots once it’s covered in soil.
Peel out the cut-out barks and cambium tissues to make a clean cut. You can get your commercial rooting hormone and rub some of it on the scrapped surface. You can also make use of natural honey in the absence of a rooting hormone.
To cover the whole surface, pour in a cup full of Sphagnum moss and secure it by wrapping a plastic or polyethylene bag around it, ensuring that none of the edges are exposed. You could also use a vine or twist ties to bind the edges securely.
Ensure the set-up gets sufficient doses of indirect sunlight and keep a good eye for pests. New roots will begin to develop in three to six weeks.
You can transplant the rooted stem once you see well-developed roots on it by cutting it off the mother plant before potting in a fast-draining soil mix.
Propagating Rubber Plants by Stem Cuttings
Stem cuttings are a great way to trim your rubber plants. So you gain a whole new plant in the process and end up with a better-shaped older plant that can now grow new branches from the cut spaces.
Select a healthy-looking stem from a mature plant; you may prefer to select a stem that makes the plant look leggy or needs some trimming.
The selected stem should be at least six inches long, bearing up to four leaf nodes and three mature leaves. Leaf nodes are essential in propagating Rubber Plants as they serve as the budding sites for new plants to root and develop eventually.
Using your clean, sharp knife or gardening scissors, nip off the selected stem from its mother plant carefully without causing damage to the leaves and nodes. Do this just below the nodes to improve the chances of success.
Remove the leaves close to the cut edge of the stem with their stalks fully attached; these can be prepared separately as leaf cuttings.
The stem cuttings should only have one or two leaves at the top end for the rooting process. You can clean up your stem cutting using soft tissue paper if it keeps oozing liquid sap.The stem cuttings can be rooted in water or a soil mix potting.
Rooting your Stem Cuttings in a Potting Mix
You can root the stem cuttings in a soil mix potting or a soilless potting mix. A soilless potting mix comprises perlite mixed with coconut coir, vermiculite, and fine sand. You can add some powdered limestone and fertilizer to improve the nutritional value.
On the other hand, the potting soil can be enriched with the proper nutrients as long as it is well draining and aerated with artificial holes created at its bottom and sides.
Now that your Potting medium is all set, dip the tip of your stem cuttings in a rooting hormone for faster results, and pour some of the Potting mixes into the pot.
A plastic or clay pot will suffice. Insert the cuttings in shallow holes on the surface of the Potting medium, not more than one inch deep, and make them firm with more potting mix.
Watering should be mild, and you should position the pot where there’s plenty of indirect sunlight. Your cuttings will start rooting in 3 to 4 weeks.
Rooting the Stem Cuttings in Water
Rooting your stem cuttings in water takes twice as long as in a Potting medium, and the chances of success are pretty slim. It would be best if you only tried it when you have all the time to monitor them.
Once your stem cuttings are fully healed after cutting, place them in a transparent glass jar and pour water as much as three inches high in the glass container.
Place the rooting jar under indirect Sunshine and change the water weekly. Your cuttings will start developing new roots in 12 to 16 weeks.
Once the roots are one or two inches long, you should transplant the cuttings into a Potting medium to prevent them from rotting.
Propagating Rubber Plants by Leaf Cuttings
Propagating rubber plants should be targeted towards early spring down to late summer because that is their active growing season. The leaf cuttings can also be propagated similarly to the stem cuttings in water or a pot.
Ensure you’re using healthy mature leaves without patches, rings, or whittles for the cuttings; each has its stalk firmly attached. The leaves should be spread broadly on the water or soil surface and allowed to receive sufficient indirect Sunshine.
Watering a Rubber Plant
A Rubber Plant potting has a high tolerance for water; it’s best only to treat them to naturally flowing water. Chemically treated water might result in wilting or yellowing of leaves due to corrosion.
It would help if you watered them every week during their growing season, which usually falls between late fall and summer.
During winter, it’s preferable to limit how much water comes to them; if possible, only rub them gently with a piece of damp material. It would be best if you only watered them once in two or three weeks this season. They usually hibernate in winter, and so require less watering.
A good practice during summer is completely flooding the pot with water and lifting it over a sink until all excess water flows out.
This helps wash away excess nutrients that might cause leeching and gives the plant a good drink. It’s great if you only do this when the top soil layer is dry and crumbly.
How much Sunshine does a Rubber Plant need?
A Rubber Plant is unusually easily adaptable to low-light environments. But their best exposure would be a daily healthy dose of indirect Sunshine. Expert gardeners recommend positioning them at the south or eastern-facing windows for maximum results.
They are known to enjoy warm sunny climates with temperatures ranging from 60°F to 83°F (16°C to 28°C), although they can tolerate lower temperatures up to 50°F (10° C) during winters.
Low to medium-range humidity is encouraged, so you should practice misting when the atmosphere gets too dry.
How Susceptible are Rubber Plants to Pests?
Rubber plants are generally low-maintenance home garden plants, and maintaining them should be easy, even if you’re propagating them the first time.
I would advise that you take adequate precautions against pest attacks; they are easily infested by garden pests such as mealy bugs, scales, and white flies. A great deterrent would be spraying Neem oils or rubbing them down the trunk.
Rubber Plant Toxicity
As you grow more pots, you soon realize that they’re practically not irritable to human or animal skin except for their sap.
Rubber plants are magnificent houseplants that can be easily maintained for over 20 years. They can reach towering heights of up to 20 feet indoors and more than 150 feet in outdoor environments.
Feng Shui considered each a good luck plant attracting fortune and prosperity. Surrounding your home with them certainly improves the saturation of positive energy.