How to Grow a Rubber Plant Tree

Updated on May 2, 2019
IzzyM profile image

Izzy has been an online writer for over nine years. Her articles often focus on planting and gardening exotic plant species.

rubber tree seeds
rubber tree seeds | Source

If you are lucky enough to obtain some seeds from the Ficus elastica plant, you may wish to try to grow a rubber tree from them.

Most people don't even know a rubber plant produces flowers, never mind seed. Ficus elastica is part of the family Moraceae, which include figs and mulberries.

Like most people, I have grown rubber plants as houseplants all my life, and now that I am living in a Mediterranean climate, I have one growing in the garden. It has never flowered. In fact, I have never seen a flower on a rubber plant.

I've planted some of the seeds. Although they are quite large, I read that it is recommended they are planted on the surface of the soil and kept in a warm place out of the sunshine until they germinate. I have placed mine inside a cut-down plastic bottle with drainage holes on the bottom (to create a mini-greenhouse) outside in a sheltered part of the terrace.

This winter has been particularly cold. Whether they have survived remains to be seen.

fig wasp
fig wasp

The Fig Wasp Pollinates Rubber Plant Flowers

Ficus elastica flowers need a special kind of wasp, an agaonid wasp known as the fig wasp to pollinate them. This wasp is not present everywhere, so if your indoor rubber plant produces flowers, it may have trouble getting pollinated to produce fruit.

The fruit is fig-like, small, and green. The flowers have been described as insignificant as the plant does not need to attract pollinators.

It seems a bit of a strange set up to me, as the fig wasp lays its eggs in the flower which in turn means that they hatch inside the fig, yet seemingly this is the only way this plant can reproduce seed. It is a two-way interdependence, as the fig wasp associated with the Ficus elastica, cannot lay its eggs elsewhere.

Each to their own, I suppose!

ficus elastica - the rubber plant
ficus elastica - the rubber plant | Source

The Rubber Plant

This is a stunning exotic looking houseplant, with its wide glossy elliptical leaves that can grow as large as 14" x 7", especially on younger plants.

It is non-deciduous and so does not lose its leaves in the winter. New leaves are covered with a red capsule which falls off as they unravel.

In USDA zones 9b to 11 they can be grown outside, where they form trees up to 100' high with wide-spreading branches and aerial roots dropping from the main stem and branches. They have buttress roots, which are stabilising roots that many trees have developed when living in poor and rocky soil where they can't penetrate the ground deeply. These roots snake out from the tree in all directions and intertwine with the roots of neighbouring trees to form a stable network for the whole forest.

Like typical rainforest jungle trees, they can tolerate sun or shade, and are not bothered about acidity/alkalinity of the soil or type of soil. They especially like living in tropical climates where it is warm and wet but tolerate drought extremely well. Indoors, they can grow as high as your ceiling and can be safely cut back if they threaten to outgrow your house.

The sap is milky white and can be used to make rubber, although commercially the sap of the para rubber tree is preferred, a different species. Care should be taken when handling the sap, as it is an irritant and can be fatal if ingested.


They can be propagated by either cuttings or air-layering. The latter is where the stem is cut with a knife (while still attached to the parent), then wrapped in sphagnum moss and sealed inside polythene binding until new roots develop.

Cuttings can be taken and placed in a compost/vermiculite mix in a pot inside a plastic bag, well-watered then ignored until you see a new leaf forming.

It is well worth propagating your rubber plants and spreading them throughout the house, as they are on NASA's list of the air-purifying houseplants.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2010 IzzyM


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      19 months ago

      If I were to plant several rubber trees along a fence line for privacy and noise reduction, what spacing would you recommend?

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      The seeds pictured above are not infact ficus elastica seeds but the tree that is farmed for its natural rubber 'Hevea brasiliensis' (also known as the rubber tree).

      Ficus elastica seeds like all ficus seeds are tiny almost eucalyptus like seeds. If you obtain seeds that look like the ones pictured in this article you will absolutely NOT grow the rubber plant pictured (Ficus elastica). Sorry to ruin the party!

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from UK

      Try taking a cutting that includes an ariel root. Always works for me.

    • profile image

      Carl bothamley 

      5 years ago

      I've now tried 5 different ways to grow a plant from cuttings but have failed every time!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i love rubber work

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from UK

      I think you would be better off taking cuttings from existing plants. No-one grows them from seed expert for experimenting.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I am interest in beginning a rubber garden at my village since I have over 10 acres of land. My problem is where can I get rubber seeds for nursery.

      Please I need your help in this regard

      You can reach me on my e-mail:


    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 

      10 years ago

      Hi Izzy - Once again a very interesting, well written hub. I learned so much. To be honest, I really suck at growing house plants, but love plants of all kinds.

      The rubber plant is a very beautiful plant.


    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi my dear IzzyM, all your hubs are very intersting and full of very good info. Thank you for sharing. I have learn a lot with all your work and did rate up all your others hubs. Brilliant.:)Bless you.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)