Ficus robusta care guide

Lush plants with large, robust green leaves are among the most sought after in interior decoration, as they offer visual height and fill the space with colour without cluttering it. Ficus elastica robusta is one of those great darlings of the houseplant world, as not only is it gorgeous with its huge, deep green leaves (although there are varieties in other shades), but it is fast-growing and easy to care for, even for those forgetful people.

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If you're looking for a sapling for the jungle branch you're building inside your flat, but want one that's easy to care for (long-suffering, my aunt would say) then you need a specimen of this species. And with this ficus robusta care guide, success is assured.

Facts about the ficus robusta

  • It is native to the tropical rainforests of Asia. It can be found in China, India and Indonesia.
  • It is known as rubber tree, elastic ficus and rubber plant. These nicknames are due to the fact that, when cut, its stem excretes a milky sap reminiscent of that of the Hevea Brasiliensis, which is the real rubber tree. Be careful because this sap can be irritating to some people.
  • The Ficus Robusta reaches a height of up to 60 metres, but don't worry that when they are indoors in a pot, they only grow to a modest 2 metres.
  • It is much more than beauty and size, it is a purifying plant. The Ficus is capable of filtering out environmental toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene and others. You can add it to your collection of purifying plants.
  • Its name "Ficus" means fig and that is because it is related to the plant that produces these delicious fruits.

Care of the Ficus Robusta


The Ficus Robusta is a very hardy plant, as long as you take care of its two main needs: watering and lighting. Contrary to what many may believe because of its appearance and origin, the ficus requires little to moderate watering. This means that it withstands drought very well and that you should make sure that the substrate is dry before watering. If it is over-watered, you risk affecting the roots, which may rot. The leaves are a good indicator: if you have overwatered, the oldest leaves (located at the bottom of the stem) will turn yellow and start to fall off.

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One way to avoid this is to water from below. This is done by placing the potted plant in a wide tray or container with water covering the bottom third of the pot. Leave it for a couple of hours so that it can absorb all the water it needs on its own. Then take it out and let it drain off the excess for another couple of hours. This technique also works with succulents and other species.

Lighting and Temperature

With the Ficus it is the same as with the real estate market: it all comes down to location. It's a plant that doesn't like sudden changes, so it's important to get that spot in your space where you know it will grow happily and meet its requirements. The place you choose for your tree has to allow it to absorb a lot of light, but indirectly. It comes from bright, warm regions, so it will prefer to live in a place with those characteristics. It is true that it can adapt to places with a little less light than indicated, but it will grow slowly, long and with few leaves. Always remember to rotate the pot from time to time to ensure even and balanced growth.

The temperature should be rather warm, between 16 to 24° C. Avoid freezing currents, because it does not like them one bit and they can affect it negatively. It does not tolerate frost, so you can keep it indoors during the winter, but pay attention to its humidity levels, as heating can detract from it.

It does not need to be sprayed with water, but if you do so from time to time, it will appreciate it. Under normal conditions, the Ficus is not too demanding on humidity, as it is a plant capable of regulating it. For this reason it is wonderful for those who suffer from seasonal allergies and dryness, because it can increase the humidity in the room, so you can group it with other plants to offer them emotional and environmental support.

Substrate and Fertiliser

Ficus does not require much in the way of substrate. A universal one will suffice, and it is even better if you add some organic compost. What is essential is that you take care of the drainage system of the pot. This plant is susceptible to root rot, so a good substrate must be accompanied by a pebble bottom or similar to facilitate fast and efficient drainage.

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You can fertilise a ficus with a balanced universal fertiliser (20-20-20) liquid, well diluted. Apply it in the spring and repeat in the summer. Avoid using too much, because you can burn the plant. Your little tree is undemanding and will forgive you if you forget to water or fertilise too often.

Pruning and miscellaneous care

Pruning the growing branches is necessary to control the size and shape of the tree as it develops. If it gets enough light, you will be surprised how fast it can grow, so it is good to keep an eye on it so that it does not grow too long and too sparse. If this is the case, control the height by cutting off the top branches to encourage new leaf growth.

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As it is a plant with a lot of vertical growth, it may need a stake so that the weight of its new branches and leaves doesn't bend it over as it doubles in size. You can use a bamboo or other wood to support it.

Don't forget to clean the surface of its leaves regularly to remove accumulated dust. This will improve the efficiency of its photosynthesis process and make it look shinier and more beautiful. Some people recommend rubbing it with substances like beer (which I don't like, because it attracts insects), but a dry cloth is enough. You can still consult this article to learn how to clean the leaves of your plants.
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About the author
Ame Rodríguez

Dedicated to creating an army of cacti, succulents, poodles and cats to help me conquer the world. In the little free time I have left, I play, write and dance.

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