Rubber plants have become popular among gardeners thanks to their large, shiny leaves. This curiosity leads people to seek ways to care for Rubber plants, promoting faster growth and more leaves.
Rubber plants grow new leaves every 2-4 weeks. Indirect sunlight, consistent moisture, a sound drainage system, and warm and humid conditions encourage fast growth. Observe the plant’s growth patterns to determine the leaf growth frequency.
Light exposure, moisture, drainage, temperature, and humidity all influence the growth rate. This article explores the average growth rate of Rubber plants, the factors, and tips to maintain healthy growth and promote new leaf growth.
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Understanding Rubber Plants Growth Rate
Rubber plants, also called Ficus Elastica, are famous houseplants.
They are low maintenance and have a unique appearance.
If you are a beginner wanting a touch of greenery indoors, a Rubber tree or plant must be on your list.
Rubber plants, reputed for their rapid growth and lush leaves, can transform any dull corner into a green oasis.
But how often will the plant grow new leaves? Let’s understand its growth rate.
Rubber plant’s typical growth rate
To learn how often Rubber plants grow new leaves, you must know their growth rate.
Rubber plants are moderate to fast growers.
They can grow up to 100 feet outdoors, but indoors, they reach 8 to 10 feet if given the right conditions.
Your Rubber plants will reach only 1-2 feet in one season.
The main stem will become thick with time and develop a woody appearance.
Each year, with the optimal growth conditions, the Rubber plant grows by 24 inches.
It can be based on the growing conditions.
For example, you have bought a 10-inch Rubber plant.
If it grows 15 inches yearly, it will reach 4.5 feet within 3 years.
As the plant grows tall, it branches out and grows lateral shoots for bushy Rubber plants.
Rubber plant’s leaf development cycle
Rubber plants grow new leaves occasionally, especially during the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing.
The new leaves unfurl from a point called Apical Meristem.
The leaves will gradually increase as the point grows, contributing to the plant’s overall height and fullness.
With proper care and maintenance, you will notice new leaf growth every 2 to 4 weeks.
Some Rubber plants will grow very few leaves after every couple of weeks.
Others can grow a handful of leaves every year.
It entirely depends on growth factors like light exposure, water, soil, fertilizer, temperature, and humidity.
During the dormancy season, i.e., winter season, you won’t witness any growth in the plant.
It is hibernating and storing energy to grow profusely in the next season.
Factors affecting the growth rate of the Rubber plants
Now you know the growth rate and the leaf development cycle of the Rubber plants.
However, numerous factors determine how often the plant grows new leaves.
While growing the Rubber plants, I have looked closely at what can increase growth and learned about some significant factors that can impact its growth, including leaves.
Learning these factors has helped me create an optimal growth environment, and my Rubber plant grows many leaves too often during the growing seasons.
Let’s have a quick look at the growth factors of the Rubber plant:
Light exposure affecting Rubber plant growth
Light conditions play a crucial role in the growth of the Rubber plant leaves.
Variegated Rubber plants thrive best in bright, indirect light.
Common varieties can tolerate both indirect sunlight and low light conditions.
With indirect sunlight, Rubber plants will grow leaves frequently every few weeks.
They will also grow under low light, but the leaf growth frequency will be slightly less than indirect sunlight.
Excessive sun exposure or low light can stress the plant and reduce leaf growth.
The former causes sunburns, and the latter causes stunted growth.
Leaf orientation can also affect leaf growth. One side of the plant getting proper sunlight will grow too many leaves.
On the contrary, the other side that isn’t getting enough light will have very few leaves.
Finding the right balance of light conditions is essential to promote new growth in the Rubber plants.
One of the easiest things to do for your Rubber plant is to give them adequate light conditions.
Avoid direct sunlight.
A west or south-facing window would work.
If the intensity is high, use sheer curtains or Venetian Blinds to filter the sunlight.
Watering affects the Rubber plant growth rate.
Maintaining consistent soil moisture is essential for the optimal growth rate of the Rubber plants. It encourages new leaves.
Both overwatering and underwatering can reduce the leaf growth.
Overwatering causes root suffocation and decaying, whereas underwatering makes the leaves wilt and fall off.
In such conditions, your Rubber plants will grow leaves less often or stop growing.
Even after providing treatment, don’t expect the plant to produce many new leaves.
It will take time to recover. So, the leaf growth will be lower than average.
Rubber plants enjoy consistently moist soil throughout their growing period.
Water the plant whenever the top few inches of the soil has dried.
Water deeply and slowly, letting it seep into the soil and drain the excess.
Remove standing water from the saucer of your pot.
Try to avoid tap water.
Soil affecting the Rubber plant growth
Rubber plants enjoy growing in soil that drains well while retaining the required moisture.
Clayey soil promotes overwatering and root rot due to its compaction nature.
Sandy soil promotes dehydration for its poor retention qualities.
These soil types can stress the plant.
It won’t grow leaves more often.
The pH level should be 5.5 to 7.0.
Ensure that the pot has drainage holes.
Then, you can witness more leaves.
Fertilization affecting Rubber plant growth
No matter how fertile the soil is, it alone won’t provide all the required nutrients. You need fertilizers.
A Rubber plant grows new leaves every 2-4 weeks.
But without fertilization, the gap between the leaf growth will increase.
You may notice only a few leaf growth within a few weeks or in one growing season.
You must feed your rubber plant every 2-4 weeks throughout the spring and summer using a liquid fertilizer.
Be cautious of over-fertilization.
It can burn the roots and reduce their growth.
Temperature impacting Rubber plant growth rate.
Rubber plants thrive best under warm climates where the temperature ranges between 60-80°F.
Cold drafts and temperatures below 50°F can hinder plant growth and slow down the leaf growth frequency.
The leaf counts in the Rubber plants will be below average.
The same happens when the plant is exposed to extremely high temperatures and full sun.
Keep the Rubber plants away from cold drafts and hot temperatures; you will see leaves every few weeks.
If the plant is in a room with an HVAC unit, keep it at least 10 feet away from the unit.
Close the windows and doors that bring in cold air.
Humidity levels can affect Rubber plant growth
Rubber plants love moderate to high humidity levels.
Arid air will dry out the soil, and the leaves will lose moisture.
Over time, the leaf color turns yellow.
Low humidity levels can increase water loss and slow down the growth of new leaves.
Here is a brief on the humidity levels and leaf conditions in the Rubber plants:
- Humidity below 30% – Slow growth leaf discoloration, and leaf drops
- Humidity levels around 30-50% – Moderate leaf growth and healthy leaves
- Humidity above 50% – Fast growth with many leaves, but risk of pests and diseases if the soil is too damp and clammy.
Proper humidity levels can significantly influence the plant’s health and growth rate.
You must maintain the humidity levels around 50-60% for their best performance and adequate leaf growth.
Dry air due to weather or AC rooms are common.
To adjust the humidity:
- Install a humidifier.
- Put your pot over a tray filled with water and pebbles. It’s the pebble tray method.
- Keep the plant close to the aquarium.
- Group multiple tropical plants. Don’t let the leaves touch each other.
- Install a hygrometer to understand the correct humidity level of the room.
Rubber plant pot size affects its growth (Repotting)
The pot size can also encourage plant growth.
The Rubber plants will grow in the small pots when you bring them home.
But the roots will reach a point where they need more space to grow, or the plant will get root-bound.
A lack of space can hinder plant growth and prevent the growth of new leaves.
To encourage growth, repot your Rubber plant to a pot 1-2 inches bigger than the old one.
If your Rubber plant is relatively healthy and has not suffered any stress till now, it will grow faster.
In that case, you may need a pot 2-4 inches bigger than the old one.
It should give the roots sufficient space to grow and develop enough leaves every few weeks.
Rubber plant repotting should be done at least once a year during the spring and summer when it is actively growing.
Ensure the pot has a proper drainage system to drain the excess moisture.
Rubber plant growth is affected by lack of pruning.
Pruning can also impact the Rubber plant’s growth rate, especially the leaves.
Regular pruning can promote new leaf growth and keep your plant bushy and healthy.
However, a lack of pruning doesn’t increase the leaf growth.
Removing the dead and damaged foliage helps the plant stop wasting energy on these leaves and focus on new growth.
Pruning is an excellent way to make the Rubber plant bushy and more robust than before with a controlled height.
Add pruning to your Rubber plant care tips if you want a comprehensive, tall, and strong Rubber plant.
That’s when you can witness new leaf growth every few weeks.
Understanding Rubber plants (Growth rate in Wild vs. Houseplants)
Now that you know the average growth rate of Rubber plants, factors affecting the growth, and tips to encourage growth, let’s learn a bit about Rubber plant growth indoors and outdoors to understand its requirements.
Rubber plants, also known as Ficus Elastica, originate from Southern and South-eastern Asia.
Now, it also grows in different parts of the world.
In its native land, the Rubber plants can reach about 90 to 150 feet tall.
They have a vast amount of shallow root system at the base of the plant trunk, also called buttressing roots.
These roots support the size and weight of the tall tree.
The houseplant varieties cannot reach this size, but they can inform you about their growth rate and how often the plant grows leaves.
Though the plant can grow in the wild, it is more suitable for indoor gardening.
They vary in leaf size, colors, and growth and can be considered moderately fast growers.
Rubber plants grown as houseplants will reach a height of at least 8 to 10 feet because the indoor conditions are pretty different from the outdoors.
Besides, your house is not the native habitat of the Rubber plant.
No matter how much you try mimicking the growing conditions like its native land, there will always be something less that affects the plant’s growth.
The leaves grow from a tissue in the tips of the plant’s new shoots called apical meristem.
For a compact Rubber plant, you can prune these growth tips regularly.
No matter how different the indoor conditions are from the native habitat, you can frequently encourage fast and new leaves if given the correct requirements.
Indirect sunlight, consistently moist soil with sound drainage, occasional feeding, and warm and humid conditions will keep these plants happy and encourage new growth every few weeks.
Common issues affecting Rubber plant growth and solutions
Whether a beginner or an experienced gardener, you will encounter some issues in your Rubber plant.
These will affect the leaf growth and negatively impact the entire plant’s growth and development.
For a quick overview, I will share some prevalent issues I have witnessed in my Rubber plants.
Rubber plant leaf problems
Gardeners love the big, lush green leaves of the Rubber plant.
But it is heartbreaking to see the leaves turning yellow or brown, wilting, or falling off.
Common reasons for yellowing are overwatering and poor drainage. To fix the issue:
- Water the plant when the top few inches have dried.
- Use sand or perlite to improve drainage.
- Brown leaves in the Rubber plant result from sunburns, fertilizer burns, underwatering, and low humidity. To fix these issues:
- Relocate the plant to a place with indirect sunlight.
- Reduce fertilizer for the time being and flush off the soil.
- If it’s underwatering, make holes in the soil surface and start watering the plant slowly.
- For adjusting humidity levels, install a humidifier, use pebble trays, or group the plants.
If Rubber plant leaves are wilting, it signifies dryness.
Check the soil and water it to see your plant perking up.
Keep the plant away from places receiving cold drafts and temperature fluctuations. Maintain consistently warm weather.
If the Rubber plant leaves are yellowing and falling off, you have kept the plant thirsty for a long time.
In that case, try watering the plant and observe the plant’s behavior.
If you find new growth, your plant can be saved. Otherwise, it will die.
Rubber plant pests and diseases
Let’s learn about some common pests in the Rubber plants:
- Spider mites
- Scale insects
To eliminate these pests:
- Shower your plant to dislodge the pests from their place.
- Use organic pesticides, like neem oil, to kill the pests.
- You can also handpick some bugs or use tweezers to remove them.
- Use homemade insecticide by mixing 1 teaspoon of dish soap with 1-quarter of water.
- Release beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and hoverflies. They will feed on the bugs.
Common diseases are:
- Leaf spot disease
- Root rot
- Powdery mildew
- Leaf curl
To manage the Rubber plant diseases:
- Isolate the plant and remove the damaged leaves.
- For root rot disease, check for the root damage. If the damage is less than 50%, cut the damaged roots, spray some fungicide, and repot your plant to a new pot with a new soil mix.
- Use copper-based fungicide.
- Use homemade recipes. Mix 1 part baking soda with 10 parts water and spray on the infected parts to suppress the pathogens from spreading.
- For powdery mildew, you can also use neem oil.
- Improve watering practices. Maintain consistently moist soil, and always water from the base. Avoid overhead watering.
Recommended Garden Supplies
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Since Rubber plants are famous for their large, lush green leaves, houseplant enthusiasts are always curious to learn how often the Rubber plant grows their leaves and how they can increase the plant’s growth rate.
Several factors will affect the leaf growth rate, like light exposure, watering, soil type, fertilizing, temperature, and humidity.
To encourage new leaf growth more often and improve the growth rate in the Rubber plants, provide indirect sunlight, maintain evenly moist soil, ensure a sound drainage system, repot every 1-2 years, feed every 2-4 weeks during the growing season, maintain warm and humid environment, and prune regularly.
Observing the plant daily helps you detect leaf problems and infestations. Taking immediate action and intervening early can prevent issues from spreading. This helps you maintain your plant’s health and promote rapid growth.
How long do Rubber plants take to reach their mature size?
Rubber plants are big and moderate to fast growers. It can take several years to reach its mature height. It depends on how well its requirements are met. Typically, reaching the mature height can take around 5-10 years.
Is pruning the Rubber plant mandatory?
Pruning is done to keep the Rubber plant in a compact shape. If you want a big plant, you can skip it. However, it is essential to prune the dead and damaged leaves to encourage new leaf growth.
Reference: Rubber plant Wikipedia