Rubber Tree Plants (Ficus elastica) have been a staple in houseplant collections for years, due to their handsome foliage and quick growth. Their aesthetic has made them more popular than ever, prompting more and more people to ask questions about how to care for them and how big they can get.
How big do Rubber Tree Plants get? While outdoor trees in their natural habitat can reach heights of 100 feet, the varieties grown as houseplants tend to stop at six to ten feet tall. Under optimal conditions, the Rubber Tree can grow quickly, putting out about 24 inches of growth in a growing season.
As you can see, if taken care of appropriately, Rubber Tree Plants will reward you with lots of growth that can quickly fill empty spaces in your home. Read on to learn more about how Rubber Trees grow and how you can help them along.
Rubber Trees in the Wild
Ficus elastica is native to South and Southeast Asia, although it’s been naturalized in many different parts of the world. In its native habitat, the Rubber Tree can grow anywhere between 90-150 feet tall, occasionally topping out around 200 feet! They grow a vast array of shallow roots around the base of the trunk (called buttressing roots) to help support the size and weight of the tall trees.
Although cultivated houseplant varieties of the Rubber Tree Plant won’t ever achieve these heights, their native relatives should give you insight into how fast your indoor Rubber Tree might grow.
Rubber Trees as Houseplants
Although technically the same species, we have cultivated different varieties of Ficus elastica that are more suited as indoor plants. While they vary in leaf size, color shades, and growth, they can all be considered to be moderately fast growers and can easily reach heights of six to ten feet tall if you let them.
Many people choose to prune their Rubber Trees to keep them at a manageable size. These plants grow from what is called an apical meristem, which is a type of tissue in the tips of the plant’s new shoots. To keep the plant at a manageable height, these growth tips need to be pruned away regularly.
Like most other plants, Rubber Tree Plants will produce more growth if their needs are met. Lots of bright, indirect light, proper watering, and occasional feedings will keep these plants happy enough to put out new growth.
Are Rubber Trees Fast or Slow Growing?
I’ve already spilled the beans on this throughout the article, but let’s dive a little deeper into how fast-growing Rubber Trees really are.
I am calling Rubber Tree Plants “moderately fast” growers because putting out up to two feet of growth in one season is quite a bit. But believe it or not, there are some plants that can put out more, and many that put out considerably less (I’m looking at you, ZZ Plant), but anything more than a couple of inches is something you are going to notice. Perhaps you’ve already been watching your Rubber Tree outgrow the perfect space you found for it when you first brought it home.
However, to grow that much in one season, the Rubber Tree needs to be set up in optimal conditions. If you’re noticing that your plant hasn’t grown at all since you’ve gotten it, you may want to consider how you’re caring for it. Is the spot you’ve placed it in too dark? Are you overwatering? Underwatering? Has your Rubber Tree received any feedings in your care?
You’ll see the fastest growth comes when you dial in a proper care routine for your Rubber Tree.
Quick Tips for Growing Big Rubber Tree Plants
If you own a Rubber Tree or are reading this article as research before you buy one, you probably have a pretty good understanding that these plants can get large. While some people are interested in keeping them smaller, say for a tabletop or on a dresser, others want to see big gains from their plant.
For those of you in the latter category, here are a few tips to make your Rubber Tree flourish:
One of the easiest things you can do for your Rubber Tree Plant is to give it the proper light exposure it needs to thrive. These plants do great with lots of indirect, bright light. Keep them out of the direct sunlight to avoid burning them, but near enough to a window in a bright room.
Rubber Trees hail from some pretty warm places, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they thrive in temperatures around 70°F and above. Try to keep your plant between 65°F and 75°F, and avoid any big swings in temperature (near drafty doors or AC vents). If your plant gets too cold, its production will slow down or stop altogether.
Watering is another big one. Proper watering optimizes systems throughout the plant, which can all translate to more growth. Only water your Rubber Plant when the top inch of soil is dry. Water deeply, allowing any excess to flow through the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot, and make sure to remove any standing water from the saucer so the plant doesn’t sit in waterlogged soil.
If you want to see more of those big, attractive, glossy leaves, you’ll want to make sure the plant has enough nutrients to produce growth. Use a well-balanced liquid fertilizer, diluted to half strength, to feed your Rubber Tree every few waterings (about once a month). Skip feedings in the winter months, as the plant won’t produce a lot of growth anyway.
Although pruning is a more typical way of keeping your Rubber Tree smaller, I do want to mention that if you remove all the growing tips of your plant, new shoots will begin branching out from the sides of these trimmed stems below the cut you made.
This is a fantastic way to give your Rubber Tree a more robust and full appearance, while controlling for height. If you are looking for a wider, rather than taller, plant, pruning is the way to go.
Rubber Tree Plants will grow surprisingly tall even in the smallest of pots. However, they will eventually reach a point where the roots become too pot-bound, and growth will slow as a result. If you suspect this is happening with your Rubber Tree, all you need to do is pot it up to a larger container, allowing an additional one to two inches on all sides, and growth should resume once the plant gets established in its new digs.
How Long Do Rubber Trees Live?
Like most other houseplants, Rubber Trees have a long life–assuming you are taking proper care of them. By providing everything the plant needs to flourish and thrive, you will be rewarded with many, many years of beautiful growth.
Another cool fact…Rubber Trees in their native habitat live up to 100-years-old, so you can take comfort in the fact that you’ve got yourself a robust, long-living plant species that could potentially outlive you.
Rubber Tree Plants have been many houseplant enthusiasts’ first choice because of their beautiful foliage and vigorous growth. They’re already primed to grow tall, and with a little guidance and TLC from you, they can be transformed into truly stunning statement pieces for your home. Good luck and happy growing!