Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Rubber Plant, Rubber Tree, Decora Tree
Ficus elastica

Family: Moraceae (mor-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ficus (FY-kus) (Info)
Species: elastica (ee-LASS-tih-kuh) (Info)

Synonym:Ficus cordata
Synonym:Ficus decora

One vendor has this plant for sale.

36 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)
over 40 ft. (12 m)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade
Full Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 41 photos.
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16 positives
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive poeciliopsis On Mar 17, 2015, poeciliopsis from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

Central Phoenix -- Ficus elastic is more hardy than usually thought, or at least mine is. It grows in a relatively sheltered spot, against an east facing brick wall and if the winter is cold I cover it. It is 20+ years old and has frozen to the ground at least twice, and most recently suffered extensive frost damage in January 2013 (even though covered) when we had over two weeks of freezing nights, with a low of 24 F, followed by a cold February with over 10 freezing nights. This winter's 26F was the low of a 9-night freeze in Dec/Jan., but the plant suffered no damage (with cover).

Positive BayAreaTropics On Sep 20, 2014, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

I posted for posterity the ORIGINAL narrow leafed Ficus elastica that you would find in habitat. You only see them now around old homes,OR old 50-60's TV shows as the potted plant in the home or office.
Outdoors,easy care.They also make nice in Oakland is trained flat against a parking lot wall for a good 20' in each direction. Very attractive.
The tree in the picture has survived cold as low as 24f in 1990. And Now in 2014,is not watered because of the drought. The tree looks fine. Built to last.

Positive chill_check On Mar 19, 2011, chill_check from Charlotte, NC wrote:

I have a burgundy one planted outdoors here in Charlotte. After the first frost I cut it back leaving a 3'' stump cover with pine straw and a small tarp to keep out excess moisture. It sometimes gets into the single digits during the winter. For the last 4 years it has returned growing to about 4',I usually remove all but 2 shoots. I have recently removed the covering and am happy to see 1 new shoot pushing out .

Positive earthtender1 On Feb 15, 2011, earthtender1 from Dunedin, FL wrote:

i have a rubber plant that i have had for several years in my back yard... all of a sudden something is eating it... i thought it was poisonous? i haven't found the critter yet... i looks like a caterpillar or grasshopper kind of... any information?

Positive counrtythumb30 On Dec 9, 2009, counrtythumb30 from Cedar Springs, MI wrote:

I have a 8 ft tall by 8 ft wide green rubber tree that is growing in all directions.Im running out of room for it grow looking to trim some branches but i dont know how. Is there anyone who can tell me how to do that step by step instruction?

Positive PotEmUp On Nov 29, 2009, PotEmUp from Fremont, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

According to Ripley's Believe or Not!
"In the hills near Cherrapunji, Meghalaya, India, villagers have built bridges from living roots of Ficus elastica trees!"

Very cool tree!

Positive trinawitch On Sep 9, 2009, trinawitch from Canton,IL &Dent County, MO (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have 3 of these trees, 2 burgundy and one green, my daughters cat nearly killed the green one off last year by eating the leaves and using the pot as her litter box (cat is gone now) I repotted this spring taking the time to completely wash the roots clean of any kitty reminders, the plant has nearly doubled in width and the bracnches have filed back out. All 3 plants are at least 4 feet tall, with this green one spreading almost as wide, the other two are only slightly narrower. told husband he needs to finish the greenhouse before them or the 9 1/2 foot weeping fig get any bigger! Thank God for 12' ceilings!

Positive xyris On Jun 7, 2008, xyris from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is a note to accompany some before-and-after pictures I am uploading on the effects of heavy pruning of an out-of-control outdoor Ficus elastica in Sebring, Florida. I cut off all the long branches in March, and successfully rooted almost all of the resulting tip cuttings in moist sand outdoors in less than two months. The remaining stems (about 1 to 2 inches in diameter) put out many new side branches and vigorous new growth, much improving the look of the plant. It seems that Ficus elastica in our climate wants to put out long stems with little or no side branching (at least in plants up to 10 years old, or older) so pruning is necessary for fuller growth.

Positive wreinha On May 5, 2008, wreinha from Macomb, IL wrote:

I have 2 rubber plants, both 5 feet in height, I live in zone 5b and will move over to zone 6 in eastern IL, one of the rubber plants that I have is air Layered from the other rubber plant, I hope they grow nice and big.

Positive Opoetree On Aug 16, 2007, Opoetree from Oak View, CA wrote:

We originally had this as a house plant, then put it outside. I grows nicely -- but, it was bitten hard by frost last year when we had unusual temperatures in the teens. However, it has come back (slowly) from ground up and will probably do well again (unless we have another unusually cold winter). Like the plant. Like it best when new leaves are coming on and you can see the red color of the new leaf buds.

Positive Airel_Ice On Oct 19, 2006, Airel_Ice from Arlington, TX wrote:

Help! I propagated this from a air layer.. now its HUGE in just a matter of months-- how do I trim this, or can I trim this so it will grow out not just up!

Neutral teachaholic On Feb 20, 2005, teachaholic from Devon
United Kingdom wrote:

Help! Robbie the Rubber plants in trouble. Ive had a young Ficus Elastica for just over a year, last summer it grew well producing four leaves, but part way through this winter brown dry patches began to appear on the bottom leaf, they spread until it fell off. I wasnt too worried, knowing this can be normal but suddening two more leaves are brown and yellow veined. I can see the next one up is starting to go the same way. What is the problem????

Negative pardonRgarden On Jul 21, 2004, pardonRgarden from San Diego, CA wrote:

While the Rubber Plant is a tidy, colorful, and thriving tree (requires little water), I must warn those with smaller plants about the root system, before you transplant one into your yard. The tree is very hardy in our San Diego climate, and we have a lovely established tree of about 15' in our backyard, about 18' feet from our house.

Thanks to our also vigorous three Aussie pups, our backyard has been graded down to fine dirt, which recently exposed a 3"-diameter (no exageration) horizontal root that runs all the way across our yard! Since we are in the process of dog-proof-landscaping our yard, a landscaper mentioned we might need to remove the tree, as its roots are invasive to hardscape. Now witnessing the enormous roots of our tree, I am sad to say, it does appear that we will have to remove the tree. I had hoped to offer it to a tree recycler, however being of the Ficus family, it appears to be on their list of trees that they cannot recycle.

The Rubber Plant is a pretty tree, and shapes very nicely when pruned (some milky white sap to avoid). I will miss the brilliant tightly rolled red blossoms (that erupt amidst the clusters of large deep green leaves), but cannot risk having these roots interfere with our home structure.

If you do have room to grow a Rubber Plant, I would encourage to enjoy the tropical beauty of one! I will try to upload a photo, prior to our tree's removal.

UPDATE: Good news about dealing with potentially invasive roots of the rubber tree! A local nursery owner told me that we can simply dig down around the tree and severe any potentially invasive roots close to the tree. Since it is such a hardy tree, I am happy to try this alternative to removing the tree! He had success with a tree that had ROOTS that were about 1 foot in diameter!

Positive palmbob On Jun 25, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This tree is an easy 9b grower... they are sold as house plants, but everyone gets tired of them eventually and many try them in their gardens here in zone 9b in southern California (very dry climate!) and they do great. Never seen frost damage this tree and mine (and all my neighbor's) trees have seen temps into the mid 20s. Relatively slow in So Cal, and doesn't tend to banyan (no arial roots), but I have seen large trees over 30'.

Positive foodiesleuth On Jun 25, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

Grows very well planted outside in our very wet climate. It can reach great heights and huge canopies and requires no special care.

Positive tremax On Jun 25, 2004, tremax from Delray Beach, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

does well in shade in zone 10b

Positive moira_uk On Jun 24, 2004, moira_uk from Calne, Wiltshire
United Kingdom wrote:

My indoor plant is growing vigorously.It started with one leaf 5 years ago and is now nearly 5 feet tall and taking over! I live in southern England. Will my plant grow outdoors if I transplant it?

Positive Monocromatico On May 19, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

I recently collected and herborized branches and fruits from this tree in the town of Caxambu, Brazil. It was around 15m tall, and the light grey trunk was 1,20m diameter. The strong roots took over the land around the tree. The visual was of a gargantuan bonsai. The fruits weren't mature yet. I know that they become red, I have to see this yet


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Haleyville, Alabama
Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)
Brea, California
Brentwood, California
Hayward, California
Merced, California
Oak View, California
Pomona, California
Rancho Cucamonga, California
San Diego, California (2 reports)
San Pedro, California
Temecula, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Dunedin, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sebastian, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
Honomu, Hawaii
Canton, Illinois
Macomb, Illinois
Jackson, Kentucky
Gonzales, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Saint Charles, Missouri
New York City, New York
Charlotte, North Carolina
Austin, Texas
Broaddus, Texas
El Paso, Texas
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
La Porte, Texas
New Caney, Texas
Pearland, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
Shepherd, Texas
Spring, Texas
Victoria, Texas
Brady, Washington

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