Ficus Elastica

Ficus Elastica

Ficus elastica or ficus elastica, also called elastica – a representative of the Mulberry family. In their homeland, in India, followers of Buddhism consider this plant sacred. An amazing tree is also found on the islands of Indonesia. Its peculiarity lies in the presence of a viscous juice, rich in rubber, on the basis of which rubber is produced. It was this property that was fixed in the name of the ficus. In the recent past, this species, like the Hevea, was bred on an industrial scale to obtain rubber raw materials.

Elastica is one of the most popular representatives of the Ficus genus. In warm countries, such a plant can be grown outdoors, but in northern latitudes it does not winter. As a rule, such a ficus can live at home for about half a century. In the last century, its popularity in indoor floriculture fell for some period.

After undemanding, large and spectacular ficuses began to appear literally everywhere, the flower began to be considered a symbol of philistinism and a relic of the past. But modern flower growers are again beginning to take an interest in an unpretentious and spectacular plant, especially after breeders have introduced many new varieties of the familiar flower.

There are varieties with foliage of different shades of green, with burgundy and almost black leaves, as well as a number of various mottled forms. Varieties differ in the height of the bushes, as well as in their branching ability.

Description of ficus elastica

ficus-elastica
Ficus Elastica

The natural size of the rubber-bearing ficus is impressive: the plant is capable of reaching 30 meters in height. Due to the presence of aerial roots, this tree grows significantly in breadth. These roots descend from the branches and grow into the soil, which allows the tree to receive more nutrients. A ficus with such roots is called “banyan tree”, as well as “snake tree” – they are reminiscent of numerous hanging roots. In some Indian states, they are used to build entire suspension bridges across forest rivers. Due to the fact that they are created on the basis of living trees, such bridges do not rot and are strengthened as the supports grow.

Ficus foliage is large and rich green. It has an oval shape and is slightly pointed at the top. One sheet is about 30 cm long and 15 cm wide. The seamy side of the plate is lighter than the outside. Young leaves are wrapped in reddish stipules, flying around as soon as the leaf is completely open. Some varieties can have variegated leaves.

In nature, the ficus is able to bloom, but this practically does not happen at home, the only exception can be adult specimens grown in large greenhouses. Ficus flowers can only be pollinated by some insects. If this happens, a small fig-shaped fruit forms in place of the flower, but it is considered inedible.

Although the juice of such a ficus can be used in industry, in addition to latex, it contains a number of other substances and is considered poisonous. Contact with the skin can lead to the development of dermatitis or an allergic reaction. To avoid this, work with the plant should be with gloves, and it is also worth keeping it away from small children or pets. The viscous properties of the juice allow the ficus to quickly heal wounds that appear on the trunk due to external damage.

Domestic ficuses are more miniature, their maximum size usually reaches 2 meters. But the rate of its growth still remains considerable: the plant can add up to almost half a meter per year. In nature, they can be up to 2.5 m. In a spacious greenhouse room, the height of the ficus elastica can be up to 10 m. If such a ficus begins to rest against the ceiling, its top can be cut off. But such a formation usually does not cause an increase in lateral branches. To keep the tall ficus bush straight, you can use a support.

Brief rules for growing elastica

The table shows brief rules for caring for ficus elastica (elastica) at home.

Lighting level Light shading or diffused lighting.
Content temperature In the spring-summer period – about +23 degrees, in winter – at least +15 degrees.
Watering mode Enough 1-2 times a week in summer and no more than once a week in winter.
Air humidity High is preferred. In the heat, the foliage is sprayed and wiped with a damp cloth to remove dirt.
The soil The optimal soil is a mixture of peat, turf, river sand and leafy soil.
Top dressing Held twice a month from mid-spring to early fall. You can alternate organic solutions with mineral compositions rich in nitrogen.
Transfer Young specimens move every year from spring to summer. The rest – 2-3 times less often. Old bushes no longer touch, but regularly renew the top 3 cm of soil.
Pruning Formative pruning can be carried out.
Bloom It does not bloom at home, it is grown for beautiful leaves.
Dormant period The dormant period lasts from mid-autumn to March.
Reproduction Cuttings and layering.
Pests Aphids, scale insects, nematodes, thrips, mealybugs, mites.
Diseases Root rot, viral diseases, and problems due to care errors.

Ficus rubber juice contains toxic substances, so be careful when working with the plant!

Caring for ficus rubber at home

Caring for ficus rubber at home

Ficus rubber is especially unpretentious in care, so it is with great pleasure that those people who are just beginning to plant greenery in their house or who do not want to strain too much, caring for home flowers, acquire it with great pleasure.

Lighting

Ficus is very light-requiring, but prefers diffused lighting. Direct bright sun can leave burns on its leaves. If the container with the plant is kept in partial shade, then its growth slows down slightly. In such conditions, the ficus can shed the lower leaves. Variegated forms suggest a greater abundance of light. In the shade, they lose their color.

Temperature

In spring and summer, elastica is kept at a normal room temperature of + 20-25 degrees. Small periods of greater heat are not terrible for her either. On warm days, you can take the pot out to the loggia or to the veranda. It’s good if the ficus can spend the winter in a cooler place, but it should keep at least +15 degrees there. Lower temperatures can damage the flower. It is worth protecting the ficus from drafts. When combined with moist soil, they can lead to browning and shedding of foliage. If the plant is on a cool surface, you can insulate the pot with a foam pad.

Watering mode

Ficus rubber

The soil in a container with ficus is moistened as the top layer dries. Usually, in the warm season, the flower is watered only once or twice a week, and in winter – no more than once a week. Greater moisture can cause ficus leaves to fall off. Excess water should be emptied from the drip tray.

Humidity level

To raise the humidity level next to the ficus elastica, it is recommended to periodically spray the plant with room water, and wipe it every couple of weeks with a damp cloth soaked in filtered or settled water. These treatments help prevent the tips of the leaves from drying out. The ficus can be bathed monthly by covering the soil in a pot to prevent it from getting wet. In winter, spraying is not carried out and they just try to remove the ficus away from the batteries. In this case, the foliage can be continued to wipe in the same mode.

The soil

A mixture of peat, turf, river sand and leafy soil is suitable for healthy growth of ficus. It is permissible to use specialized soil for ficuses, but it is also recommended to add sand to them. Before planting, a drainage layer up to 4 cm thick is laid on the bottom of the container. The bush is moved by transshipment, and then the voids are filled with fresh soil.

Top dressing

Ficus elastica

For the full growth of the elastica, it must be fertilized regularly about twice a month. You can alternate organic compounds with mineral mixtures rich in nitrogen. For example, you can water the ficus with a solution of Nitrofoski (0.5 tsp per liter of water), and then use the mullein infusion. In order for the substances to be better absorbed, it is recommended to add them after watering. At the same time, the nutrient solution should not get on the leaves and buds. Without dressing, the leaves of the ficus can become shallow or fall off, and its growth slows down.

To make the foliage of the ficus brighter and more glossy, you should not use chemical agents for polishing the foliage. As a folk remedy, you can wipe the surface of the leaves with non-alcoholic beer or decoction of onion peels.

Transfer

Young rubber-bearing ficuses are transplanted into a new container every spring. You can carry out this procedure until the beginning of summer. Adult plants are moved 2-3 times less often, trying to do this when the bush becomes too crowded in the old pot. A sign of soil depletion and the need to replace it can be water that does not stay in the soil and goes too quickly into the sump.

The new planting container should be about 5-6 cm deeper and 4-5 cm wider than the old one. Ficuses that are too old and large can be damaged during transplantation, so they should not be disturbed. Every spring, before such elasticae grow, they simply replace the top 3 cm of soil in their pots.

After transplanting, elastica can shed some of the lower leaves, but this is considered a common reaction to displacement. Usually, the plant takes root in a new place in a couple of weeks. Ficus brought from the store is recommended to be transplanted into suitable fresh soil a week after purchase.

Pruning

Pruning ficus elastica

Pruning helps to contain the growth rate of the rubber plant, giving it a more compact appearance. In addition, this procedure allows you to increase the number of leaves of the plant – over time, its lower plates fly around. Formative pruning is recommended from spring to early summer. Sanitary (removal of damaged, growing inward or too thin shoots) can be carried out all year round. The usual pruning length for shoots is about 15 cm.

One of the most common pruning mistakes is the removal of the top of the bush. Usually, it does not lead to active branching, but only to the awakening of one of the upper stem buds. For greater effect, it is necessary to remove at least 5 internodes. The removal of the smallest and weakest shoots also helps to create a more elegant crown. In this case, the plant will give all its strength to the rest. After any pruning, it is necessary to carefully wipe off the escaping juice: this will help to disinfect the wound. A month after pruning, you can feed the ficus with a complex mineral composition to strengthen its immunity.

If the bush stretches up too quickly, its upper part can be cut off, rooted and planted in the same pot. Having several plants in one container allows you to create a more lush bush. When the maximum permissible height is reached, the trimming is repeated. But it is recommended to do this only in early spring – another period will not contribute to the awakening of the lateral buds. A sharp and disinfected instrument is used to trim the ficus. The juice escaping from the slices must be washed off under running water.

Branching can be stimulated in the following way. The top of a young and flexible enough plant is tilted as much as possible and tied with a string. The bud on the bent trunk, located closest to the top, then wakes up and forms a shoot. When this happens, the top is untied. The creation of punctures on the trunk will help to activate the lateral shoots – they will slow down the development of the upper part of the ficus. They are done starting from the top of the head and moving downward. The depth should be about a third of the trunk diameter.

If several ficuses grow in one pot at once, they must be periodically turned to the light in different directions. This allows each stem to be shaped evenly. Otherwise, they all begin to reach for the window, changing their position.

Reproduction methods for ficus elastica

Reproduction methods for ficus elastica

Cuttings

The easiest way to propagate ficus elastica is to use cuttings. To do this, use the top or part of the stem of a plant up to 15 cm long, cutting it off at an angle. All foliage is cut off from the cutting, leaving only two upper plates. After that, you should hold it under running water to wash off all the juice that comes out. A container of water is used for rooting the cuttings. The leaves remaining on it are rolled up with a tube and fixed with an ficus elastica band – this allows you to reduce the evaporation of moisture. You can immediately plant the cuttings in the soil, covering them with a transparent bag to create the effect of a greenhouse. Periodically, the bag must be removed for airing.

Cuttings of green-leaved elastica usually take root rather quickly – after that, fresh leaves begin to appear on them. Later they are planted in their own pots or planted with the mother plant. Variegated varieties require additional stimulation. Sections of such cuttings must be treated with a growth stimulant, and then placed in greenhouses heated from below. But even after such procedures, their rooting is still not guaranteed.

With air layering

Due to the fact that cuttings of variegated varieties take root very poorly, it is recommended to propagate them using air layers. To do this, an incision is made on the trunk of the mother ficus to a depth of 1/3 of its diameter. A match or thin stick is inserted into it to create a small gap. The place of the cut is wrapped in wet moss, and wrapped on top with a transparent film, securing the structure with tape. After a while, the roots will begin to peep through the film. After their appearance, the shelter is removed, the shoot is cut below the level of the old incision and planted in its own pot.

Using a sheet

The effectiveness of leaf propagation of elastica has not yet been confirmed. A ficus leaf with a shank, placed in water, really gives roots, but after planting in the substrate it remains an ordinary leaf due to the absence of growth points on it. After a while, it will simply die off. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as a “blind leaf”.

Pests and diseases of ficus elastica

Pests and diseases of ficus elastica

Pests

Elastica has sufficient immunity to most of the known flower diseases or pests. But sometimes scale insects, thrips, worms or spider mites can settle on a ficus.

  • Signs of a spider mite are small dark specks appearing on the leaves. After that, they start to turn yellow and then fall off. Ticks usually appear in hot and dry conditions. To get rid of them, the plant can be thoroughly washed. In addition, the ficus should be treated with a solution of tobacco dust. The foliage of the plant is washed with it. For cooking, use 4 tbsp. spoons of dust mixed with a liter of slightly soapy water. After 2 hours after treatment, the foliage is washed again, but with clean water. The treatment can be repeated after 10 days. Strong lesions are treated with Actellik or another similar agent.
  • Scabbard can be distinguished by sticky patches on foliage. The pests themselves resemble dark growths. Before processing, they must be collected by hand, wiping well the foliage and stems with cotton swabs. Then the aerial part of the plant is treated with a tobacco-soap mixture, to which a little kerosene or denatured alcohol was added. An insecticide can be used.
  • Mealybugs leave a cotton-like discharge. If they appear on a ficus, its green part is wiped with a swab soaked in ethanol or formic alcohol. Then the bush can be treated with onion or garlic tincture mixed with soapy water. The medicine is left for several hours, and then thoroughly washed off with warm water.
  • Thrips are most often brought into the house with new plants. A ficus purchased in a store should be kept separate from other plants for some time. It will be difficult to notice the pests themselves, but the foliage of the infected bush will be covered with tiny dark dots. Such ficus is treated with an insecticide.

As a rule, pests settle on bushes with dirty foliage, so keeping the ficus clean will contribute to its health.

Diseases and possible difficulties

Diseases and possible difficulties of ficus elastica ficus

Some problems with ficus elastica can be caused by mistakes in caring for it. Timely identification and subsequent adjustment will help to correct them.

  • Slow growth rates are usually associated with a lack of light, a lack of fertilizer, or a pot that is too tight. Changing conditions is usually beneficial.
  • Flying elastica foliage can also be a natural process. The lower leaves of the bush fall off as they age. If not only the lower, but also other plates fly around, then there may be several reasons. These include overdrying or constant waterlogging of the substrate, lack of lighting, cold drafts or significant temperature changes.
  • Yellowing of leavescan also be natural. Otherwise, it is often caused by an excess of nutrients. If the substrate in which the ficus grows is oversaturated with fertilizers, it is recommended to rinse it. To do this, an amount of water equal to three volumes of the pot itself is poured into the container with the plant. After such washing, the elastica begins to be fed only at the 9th week. Another possible cause of these leaf problems is an oversized pot. Only a transplant into a smaller container will help to fix it. Yellowing can also be caused by soil salinity. In this case, the ficus will have to be transplanted into fresh soil. Sometimes yellowing becomes a consequence of the development of putrefactive processes. Usually root rot has a characteristic odor that can be used to recognize its presence. The affected bush is pulled out of the ground, cleaned and its roots are examined. Sore areas are cut off process and move the bush to fresh soil. But with strong lesions, such actions will no longer help.

The benefits and harms of ficus elastica

The benefits and harms of ficus elastica

Ficus elastica has a lot of useful properties. This plant is able not only to saturate the air with oxygen, but also to clean it from gasoline, phenol and other harmful impurities. Ficus converts them into amino acid and sugar.

The rubber-bearing ficus is also popular in esotericism. In Ayurveda, such a plant is considered a fighter against anxiety and anger and an assistant in cleansing the energy space of an apartment. According to the teachings of feng shui, ficus is able to bring a certain positive impact to different parts of the house. In India, ficus is considered an excellent ally for childless couples looking to have a child. But in other countries there is also the opposite opinion, according to which the ficus, on the contrary, should not be kept in the house of young couples.

Ficus elastica is used not only in production, but also in medicine. Its juice and leaves become the basis for healing agents that help with mastopathy and in the prevention of cancer. Juice compresses can help treat sciatica, arthritis, osteochondrosis, and even hemorrhoids. But self-medication, of course, should not be dealt with. Contact with juice may result in irritation. In addition, asthmatics should not start elastica: the plant is capable of releasing rubber into the air, which can lead to suffocation.

Comments

  1. M

    Maria on December 2021

    Tell me in the middle of summer I tried to grow ficus elastica from a leaf. I put it in water, constantly adding it. And then the joy he took root. By the end of the summer, I planted it in the ground. I water it regularly. I am still waiting for him to grow. Tell me what’s wrong ???

    1. O

      Olivia on December 2021

      It takes a long time to grow. My offspring did not grow for half a year, probably gaining strength))), and then began to release one sheet of paper once a week. Now he is 3.5 years old and about 1 m high, and only now the processes have begun to emerge.

  2. D

    Debbie on March 2021

    it has been standing for a long time. I had two leaves all winter … and in the spring it began to grow … and until autumn it grew 60 cm high …. and for the third month now it has been standing still

    1. D

      Diana on March 2021

      I read on the Internet, they rest in the winter, they don’t grow, but in the summer they start to grow. I also put two leaves and one pruning in the water to give roots. I’m waiting, pruning should give roots, but the leaves are still a question … sometimes they give sometimes no.

  3. S

    Sharon on February 2021

    Good night, my ficus grows but drops the leaves, do not tell me why. Thanks in advance

    1. K

      Kathleen on February 2021

      It is likely that there is not enough light for him. I also had leaves falling off. At the same time, they did not turn yellow, did not hurt, the lower ones simply fell off. I moved it to a bright place and since then not a single leaf has fallen.

  4. H

    Helen on February 2021

    How to plant it one by one in a pot, otherwise I bought two in one pot. What’s the best?

    1. A

      Anna on February 2021

      It is necessary to divide, otherwise, there will not be enough space for them.

    B

    Brenda on February 2021

    The sprout is planted directly in the ground and covered with a jar, and the jar is sprayed and your ficus will take root within two weeks

  5. E

    Eva on January 2020

    My ficus survived the opening of the tops three times, I wanted it to bush – to give branches of shoots. But all the time the growth went away, now to the left, now to the right, one branch at a time. In the early spring of this year, I again cut a decent inch. And lo and behold! Three branches, at the very bottom of the bud. And she divided the cuttings in half and put them in water – after two months they gave roots. You can plant.
    Ficus reacts to pruning only in spring. The rest of the time is a long wait.

  6. N

    Nicole on January 2020

    I have a ficus just over a meter in height and has two branches, like a slingshot. I tried to bend both branches in different directions, following the instructions from the Internet. It was scary, it would suddenly break. As long as it stands and everything is in order. She tightened the branches with satin ribbons so that the stalks would not be strongly pressed. It is a pity that I can not attach photos. Let’s see if the kidneys wake up in those places that are now higher than the tops.

  7. E

    Emma on August 2019

    Do not throw banana skins soak 24 hours and water it is very beneficial for the ficus and will grow before our eyes

  8. S

    Samantha on August 2019

    I have two ficuses at home, about the same age, they are already a year old. The problem is that, as I brought them from the store, they cost so much, nothing grows on any one. What do they want, I don’t know, I do everything as written, but there is no result

  9. R

    Rachel on June 2019

    Try to pour it with vodka, 1 tablespoon of vodka for 1 liter of water, ficuses love it

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