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Ficus elastica 'Variegata', photo courtesy of Annie & Jean-Claude Malausa/Bios/Photolibrary
Ficus elastica 'Variegata', photo courtesy of Annie & Jean-Claude Malausa/Bios/Photolibrary

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Zone
Zones 13, 16, 17, 19-24, H1, H2
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Ficus elastica

Rubber Tree
Moraceae
Evergreen, Shrubs, Trees

FICUS

The average gardener would never expect to find the commercial edible fig, small-leafed climbing fig, banyan tree, and potted rubber tree under one heading—but they are classed together because they bear small or large figs (inedible in most species). Ornamental types are discussed here; for sorts grown for tasty fruit, see Fig. Many ornamental species make good houseplants. Generally, they thrive on rich, steadily moist (not wet) soil, frequent light feedings, and bright, indirect light.

Ficus elastica

Native to India andMalaysia. In Hawaii, it is a wide-spreading tree 60–80 ft. tall (up to 100 ft. in damp, tropical forests). On the mainland, it can become a 40-ft. tree in frost-free zones; often seen as a small tree or shrub in shaded patios and garden entrances in cooler part of range. Narrow, leathery dark green leaves are 8–12 in. long. New leaves unfold from rosy pink sheaths that soon wither and drop. Comes back quickly if killed to ground by frost. Good in containers; if potted plant becomes too tall and leggy, you can cut off the top and select a side branch to form a new main shoot. One of the most foolproof indoor plants. Partial or full shade.

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