The Q&A Archives: Rubber Tree Plant Confusion

Question: I have what appears to be an unhappy, but not sick *yet*, rubber tree. I searched your Q&A database for a solution and found these 2 answers to situations similar to mine:

Answer: Each of the answers you've quoted were written to help resolve problems with specific plants growing under specific conditions - neither of which may apply to the growing conditions your ficus is currently in. You didn't say exactly what the problem with your fig tree is, so I can't tell you which of the courses of action would be best to follow. In general, Ficus elastica is a popular houseplant because it adapts well. It will grow in shade in the southwest and full sun in the Pacific Northwest. In Connecticut it will appreciate bright, indirect light during the summer months. Well draining soil is a must so if you tend to overwater your plants, a cactus mix will help your plant remain healthy. If you tend to underwater your plants, a regular potting soil will be just fine. Flooding the soil to leach out salts is important in the South where the water has a high salt content, but not so important in the north were salt levels are lower.

It's natural for plants to grow very slowly during the winter months because of cooler temperatures and lower light levels. Because of this, plants won't need as much water or fertilizer during the winter months. As a side note: The lower the light levels when new leaves are forming, the larger the leaves will grow.

Ficus does not like drafts, or being near heat registers. They do like to have the dust sponged off their leaves (or place them in a shower to remove the dust).

Hope this information clarifies things and helps you give your ficus the best possible care.

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