Everything You Need to Know About Rubber Tree Plants and Soil!
The Ficus elastica (aka The Rubber Tree Plant) is loved for its bold, green, glossy leaves. They’re regarded as a great houseplant for so-called “black thumbs,” and are generally hardy and tolerant to a range of growing conditions. Rubber tree plants can survive in a variety of potting and soil mixes, but to give your plant the best chance of success, it’s essential to be aware of a few key considerations. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about the most appropriate soil types to use if you’re growing Rubber Tree Plants at home.
- The Best Soil Mix for Rubber Tree Plants – The Essentials
- How Soil Affects Plant Health and Growth and Why It’s Important to Use the Right Type
- Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Rubber Tree Plants
- Why Rubber Tree Plants Need Well-Draining Potting Soil
- What pH Level Is Best for Rubber Tree Plant Soil?
- The Best Potting Soil Based on Your Pot and Rubber Tree Plant
- Soil to Use When Repotting a Rubber Tree Plant
- The Ultimate Rubber Tree Plant Potting Mix Recipe
- Protect Your Hands and Have Fun
- Rubber Tree Plant Soil Tips FAQ
The Best Soil Mix for Rubber Tree Plants – The Essentials
The best potting mix for rubber tree plants is well-draining and slightly acidic with a pH ranging from 5.5 to 7.0. The Ficus elastica can tolerate a variety of potting mixes but will thrive in one containing one part peat or potting soil, one part pine bark, and one part coarse sand or perlite.
How Soil Affects Plant Health and Growth and Why It’s Important to Use the Right Type
Soil not only supports your plant’s larger structure by stabilizing its roots but also provides your plant’s primary source of nutrients and moisture.
If you take a moment to consider the different habitats where different plants grow, you can quickly see why different plants require different types of soil. For example, certain plants grow above streams and prefer to have their roots soaking in water, while others grow broad, shallow root systems in the arid desert sand.
To ensure houseplants receive the nutrients they need in the conditions that will support a healthy root system, each plant’s ideal potting mix should be designed to mimic the plant’s natural environment.
Rubber tree plants are native to the humid rainforests of South and Southeast Asia, where they enjoy a constant bath of light moisture in rich, well-draining soil.
Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Rubber Tree Plants
Potting a rubber tree plant in the wrong soil mix usually leads to one of two problems: 1. The soil holds too much moisture; 2. The soil dries out too quickly.
Too Much Moisture
If your potting mix is not draining thoroughly enough and holding too much moisture, you might see the following signs of a stressed rubber tree:
- Leaves turning yellow or brown
- Leaves developing brown or yellow spots
- Leaves drooping and falling off the plant
These are all signs of possible root rot. To address them, check that your pot has an adequate drainage hole and repot your rubber plant, making sure you’re using a well-draining potting mix.
Too Little Moisture
Whether you use too much sand or simply have a rubber tree in need of fresh potting mix, you might find that your plant’s soil is drying out too quickly between watering and that this is stressing your plant. Signs of too little moisture in the soil include:
- Leaves feel crisp, rather than waxy
- Leaves curl inward
Consider increasing your watering scheduling, refreshing your plant’s soil, or adjusting its potting mix.
For more, see our essential guide to watering rubber tree plants at home.
Why Rubber Tree Plants Need Well-Draining Potting Soil
Rubber tree plants require well-draining potting soil to prevent root rot, bacterial and fungal diseases and to create the optimal environment and moisture level for their roots.
A potting mix well-suited for rubber tree plants will be well-draining without compromising on available nutrients. Although it’s essential for a rubber tree plant’s potting mix to be well-draining, these plants are also heavy feeders that grow quickly and require nutrient-rich soil.
Rubber tree plant potting soil should consist of at least one nutritious part (potting soil or peat moss for acidity), one part bark for draining and proper aeration (bark), and one part perlite or coarse sand to prevent the potting mix from compacting and becoming overly dense.
What pH Level Is Best for Rubber Tree Plant Soil?
All cultivars, hybrids, and varieties of rubber tree plants will do well in slightly acidic potting mixes. They can tolerate pH extremes that range from 5 to 8.3 but will fare best if potted in soils with more moderate pH levels ranging from 5.5 to 7.0.
The Best Potting Soil Based on Your Pot and Rubber Tree Plant
All rubber tree plants prefer a fairly similar soil composition and potting mix recipe. Your soil should be slightly acidic and well-draining – regardless of the type of potting container you choose. Ideally, you’ll always use a pot with ample holes for drainage.
When choosing a potting mix for your rubber tree plant, however, you should consider the size of your plant. The taller and larger the plant, the more likely you’ll want to use a heavier potting mix (like one containing sand for aeration instead of perlite) to weigh down the pot and provide better support to the structure of your tree.
Soil to Use When Repotting a Rubber Tree Plant
When repotting any type of plant, it’s typically best to try to provide stable and consistent growing conditions. This is also true for rubber tree plants.
Try to stick with a similar potting mix recipe to the one you used before. However, if your plant has grown considerably, you might benefit from nixing the perlite in favor of sand for the reasons mentioned above.
The Ultimate Rubber Tree Plant Potting Mix Recipe
The Best Home Soil Recipe for Rubber Tree Plants
To create the best homemade rubber tree plant potting mix, combine a nutrient-rich component like peat or potting soil with a drainage and aeration component like sand, perlite, bark, and/or coco chips. Aim for one part peat or soil to two parts drainage.
Pre-Mixed Soils for Rubber Tree Plants
Since rubber tree plants are so hardy and tolerant of different soil conditions, you can also get by with a well-draining, store-bought potting mix like Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix or one that’s been hand-blended specifically for rubber tree plants.
A Note on Using Cactus and Orchid Mixes with Rubber Tree Plants
You can pot a rubber tree plant in a store-bought cactus or orchid mix, but neither is an ideal choice. Cactus potting mix doesn’t offer quite enough nutrients to rubber tree plants, and orchid potting mix generally contains too much bark, which makes it too light and loose to support a tall rubber tree plant.
Although they aren’t ideal on their own, cactus and orchid potting mixes, work well to help you create a potting mix of your own. Try mixing one part cactus mix with one part orchid mix and one part peat.
Protect Your Hands and Have Fun
Rubber tree plant sap is toxic to people and pets. It can cause illness and be quite dangerous when ingested, and it can also irritate the skin. So, before you start helping your rubber tree plant get acquainted in its new home, be sure you have a pair of rubber gardening gloves to keep your hands safe while you’re having so much indoor gardening fun.
Rubber Tree Plant Soil Tips FAQ
What Soil pH is Best for Rubber Tree Plants?
Rubber tree plants do best in soil with a slightly acidic pH. Remember that a neutral pH is 7.0, and any number below this is considered acidic. Rubber tree plants do best in a mix with a pH between 5.5 to 7.0.
Can you use cactus or orchid soil mixes for Rubber Tree Plants?
Cactus potting mixes typically won’t have quite enough nutrients for rubber tree plants, and orchid potting mix generally contains too much bark, which makes it too light and loose to support a tall rubber tree plant.
What are the main soil considerations when repotting a Rubber Tree Plant?
Always switch out your soil when you repot your Rubber Tree Plants to remove any issues with compaction and diseases.
How do you mix Rubber Tree Plant soil?
To make the Rubber Tree Plant soil mix, add all the ingredients to a large container, then add water until just moist. Thoroughly mix the ingredients together, and then fill your Rubber Tree Plant pots.
Does Rubber Tree Plants like moist soil?
Rubber Tree Plants plants do best in a potting mix that holds moisture yet also drains well. Ensure your potting vessel has a drainage system so excess water can disperse during watering cycles.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.