The rubber plant or by its scientific name Ficus Elastica is a plant that despite its tropical origin, its robust trunk and its great height, is one of the most sought after for interior decoration. Its popularity is due to its beautiful and striking intense green leaves, a characteristic that is capable of brightening up even the most boring environment in your home. Although it is quite easy to grow, there are certain points to take into account, including fertilization. That is why in this post we are going to analyze everything related to fertilizer for rubber plant.
1. What is the best soil for Rubber plant?
Before starting to talk about the main topic of this article, the fertilization of the rubber tree, it is important to know what is the best soil for this type of plant. Although it is not a very demanding plant in terms of the type of soil you are going to use, it is important that you know some tips.
One of the most important points regarding the soil is that it allows it to expand its roots well, and that it also drains excess water. This will allow you to avoid pernicious saturation that puts the health of the plant at risk.
If you have your rubber plant indoors, it is important that you repot it every two years, changing to a new and larger pot. If you don’t want to change the pot, you should prune the roots to allow them more room to expand.
Every time you repot is an excellent time to renew the soil. Whenever you do this type of work, be careful and wear gloves to avoid direct contact with the sap or latex of your rubber tree.
2. Main nutrients for Rubber plant
Although we have just said that rubber plants are not demanding with the soil, the truth is that they need the soil to have certain amounts of nutrients. Although we could mention dozens of nutrients, the truth is that we can summarize them all in the three main nutrients.
When we talk about main nutrients we refer to nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. You may wonder why these nutrients are so important, we will answer quickly:
- Nitrogen: without a doubt this is one of the most important nutrients for most plants. And it is essential for the development of both stems and leaves. If a plant is growing slower than normal, it is very likely that it is lacking nitrogen in the soil.
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus is a nutrient that is present in many important plant processes. Among these processes we can mention photosynthesis, nutrient transport, protein synthesis, carbohydrate decomposition, energy transmission, etc. In a practical way you should know that this nutrient helps the development of roots, generation of fruits, seeds and flowers. It will also help your agapanthus overcome many illnesses.
- Potassium: the third of these nutrients also plays an important role in processes such as photosynthesis, translocation of photosynthesis, protein synthesis, enzyme activation, among others. In summary, we can ensure that it helps the development of strong stems with a good growth rate, as well as increasing resistance to periods of drought and the presence of any disease.
As we will see in the following sections, it will be enough for you to provide these three nutrients during the fertilization process so that your rubber plant is strong and healthy.
2.1 What are NPK values?
You already know something about the nutrients that these plants need, but in the next section we will start talking about fertilizers, and for that you will need to understand what the NPK values are. This will help you find the right fertilizer for your rubber plant.
NPK values are three numbers separated by a hyphen (they have this format 10-15-20). What these three numbers indicate is the concentration of the three main nutrients in a fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium). You will see that on the front of the fertilizer packages you will find these three numbers. That way you will know which one to buy.
Let us understand this concept a little better with a simple example. If you buy a 20-20-20 mix, it indicates that it is a mix that we know as balanced. This is because it has the same concentration of all three nutrients. 20% is nitrogen, 20% is phosphorous, and 20% is potassium. Balanced fertilizers are widely used in rubber plants.
If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.
3. Best fertilizer for Rubber plant
Whenever we are going to put together a fertilization plan for any of the plants in our garden, we will have to choose between dozens or hundreds of different fertilizers. Obviously not all fertilizers will work for you to use in rubber plants, so here I leave you the best fertilizers for these plants.
To simplify and organize this section we will divide the fertilizers into two groups; organic and synthetic fertilizers.
3.1 Organic fertilizer
Organic fertilizers are those that are formed naturally, that is, without the participation of man, or with very little participation. The origin of this type of fertilizers can be mineral, vegetable, animal or mixed.
Among the organic fertilizers that can be useful when fertilizing a rubber plant, we can mention the following:
- Compost: without a doubt this is the organic fertilizer par excellence. If you do it at home it helps you to reuse organic waste, at the same time it is a very complete fertilizer. The problem is that without an analysis it is very difficult to know what nutrients are in it and in what dose.
- Alfalfa flour: Alfalfa flour provides a good balance of the main nutrients; nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, but also magnesium and sulfur. This balance makes it one of the safest fertilizers to use.
- Fish emulsion: it is a natural way of providing a large amount of minerals and vitamins to plants. It has a higher concentration of nitrogen, the NPK values of this fertilizer are usually 4-1-1.
- Manure: it is one of the oldest organic fertilizers, it provides a good amount of nitrogen and organic matter. You have to be very careful when using it and make sure that the manure is fully fermented.
- Espoma Organic 2-2-2 fertilizer: Commercially there are a large number of organic fertilizers that you can use in your rubber plant. As you can see, they are characterized by having a low concentration of nutrients. I particularly recommend this as it is a balanced fertilizer.
3.2 Synthetic Fertilizers
If we said that organic fertilizers were those in which man has almost no participation in their formation, the opposite occurs with synthetic fertilizers. Synthetic fertilizers are artificial nutrients that do not generally form in nature.
In this type of fertilizers, the concentration of nutrients is well known and is generally much higher than the concentration in organic ones. We can recommend the following:
- Southern Ag All-Purpose Fertilizer
- The Andersons PGF Balanced 10-10-10 Fertilizer
- Lebanon Seaboard Corporation Green View No. 40
- Joyful Dirt All-Purpose .
- Jacks All Purpose 20-20-20 Houseplant Fertilizer
The 5 fertilizers that I have just listed are available on Amazon, so it will not be difficult for you to get them. 😉
4. How to fertilize Rubber plant
We already know what type of soil you should use for your rubber plants, what are the main nutrients they need and what fertilizers you can use. It is time to know how you should apply these fertilizers.
Rubber plants do not need large amounts of nutrients, this makes it a very good plant to apply organic fertilizers. Due to the characteristics of these plants they need the same amount of nutrients of the three main nutrients.
You could put together a fertilization plan using organic fertilizers such as compost, fish emulsion, guano, etc. The complicated thing at this point is being able to apply them in a way that complies with a balanced diet of nutrients.
Faced with this problem, my recommendation is that you choose to use a commercial organic fertilizer. This way the concentration of nutrients will not be high and you will be able to control that you apply the nutrients in a balanced way.
Regularly apply a 2-2-2 organic fertilizer and it will cover all of your rubber plant’s nutrient needs. In case you want to use a synthetic fertilizer like a 10-10-10 I recommend that you dilute it at least 50% and apply it less frequently than the instructions recommend.
5. How Often to Fertilize Rubber Trees
There is no single answer to the question of how often a rubber plant should be fertilized, rather it depends on several factors.
First of all it will depend on the type of fertilizer you choose to use. It is not the same to use a liquid fertilizer than a granular one with a slow release of nutrients. One in liquid format should be applied once a month during the spring and summer. While using a slow release will depend on how slowly you release nutrients, one application a year may be enough.
Another important point is how you grow your rubber plant. It is not the same that the cultivation is in a pot than outdoors. In a pot, the plant cannot extend its roots very far to obtain nutrients, so it needs to be fertilized more frequently. In general, it is never necessary to pay if the crop is outdoors, unless the soil is very poor.
Without a doubt, in pot plants the soil you use is key, the more nutrients it has, the less frequently it will be necessary. For example, if you use a potting soil mix, they are sometimes mixed with doses of slow-release fertilizers. Therefore the first 3 or 6 months you will not need to apply any fertilizer.
Therefore summing up. In potted rubber plants, if you use a 2-2-2 type liquid fertilizer, you should apply it once a month in spring and summer. During the fall and winter, if the plant is dormant, you should not fertilize it. Also keep in mind that when you transplant, if you switch to nutrient-rich soil, you could go without fertilizing for several months.
6. Fertilizer Burn Rubber Tree
To end this article, we will leave a video (from the channel Carmela How To ), this will help you see more graphically what we have studied so far. It will certainly be more than good for you. 😉
And with this we have reached the end, I hope I have been clear especially when it comes to using fertilizer for rubber plants. And remember when you talk about fertilization, less is more. Since it is easier to solve problems due to nutrient deficiencies than excess nutrients.
- Fertilizer Application on Immature Rubber – agritrop.cirad.fr
- FERTILIZER RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RUBBER – rrisl.gov.lk
- Nutrient Requirement for Natural Rubber – ipni.net
- Effect of fertilizer and dolomite applications on growth and yield of tapping rubber trees – rdo.psu.ac.th