Rubber Tree Plant - Knowledgebase Question

Norwood, MA
Question by crystaldarle
February 25, 2000
Can you tell me the real name of the houseplant, rubber tree plant? I have one and I want to snip it and start another one. I don't know much about these plants and where to cut it.


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Answer from NGA
February 25, 2000

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Rubber trees (Ficus elastica) do best with little light and very little water. They don't like wet feet. Let the soil dry out between waterings.

They do best when slightly pot-bound and should only be repotted every 2-3 years. You can use regular potting soil but a soil mix for cactus would be a good choice as well (because it will drain well).

With regard to starting new plants from cuttings, it's always worth a try but these plants are normally started by air layering instead. I'll try to describe the process
here--but if you visit your library you may find a book with
illustrations.

Begin by deciding where you want to cut the stem. I would
try one of the four stems first, before cutting all three. I
would take the cutting about 18" from the top of the stem.
First, using a sharp knife cut almost halfway through the
stem. Insert a wooden matchstick to hold the cut slightly
open. Now surround the open cut with a ball of moistened
sphagnum moss. Using a plastic bag, wrap the moss
carefully, securing it to the stem above and below the cut.
Check the moss regularly to be sure it stays moist. Roots
should emerge from the cut surface and grow into the moss.
Once you see this happening, cut the stem just below the
new roots and plant in fresh, sterile potting soil.

I hope it works for you! Good luck!

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