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Rubber trees are great house plants, but exactly how much light do they need? If you live in a house or apartment with limited light, you may be wondering if this plant will work in your space. We've researched for you and have all the answers in this post.
Rubber trees can tolerate low light, though they do best near a bright window that's covered with a window sheer to filter the sunlight. Like most plants, they prefer to have 6-8 hours of decent light each day.
Let's look at the rubber plant and how it will work in your lighting situation. We'll also tell you ways to spot if your rubber tree is telling you it needs more light and if it can live close to a window. So please keep reading to find out more about this great plant.
How Much Light Does A Rubber Tree Need To Thrive?
Rubber trees (Ficus Elastica) are a popular house plant. These small trees do well as potted plants. Because of their tropical origins, they thrive in temperatures between 60 to 85 degrees, which coincides with most home temperatures. They are lovely plants, too, with broad leaves on sturdy stalks. They come in different color varieties as well, which we have pictured for you below.
The Burgundy Rubber Tree has gorgeous deep green leaves with a tint of maroon undertones. Click here for this shippable plant from Amazon.
The Tineke Rubber Tree or Variegated Leaf Rubber Tree is another variation on one of the oldest houseplants available. It has lovely deep green leaves with pale creamy yellow/white edges on each leaf. These types need more light than darker ones. Click here for this potted plant on Amazon.
Whatever your rubber tree variety, it does better in indirect, filtered light, which more closely emulates its native rainforest's understory. Bright direct sunlight will burn its leaves.
What Does Indirect Light Mean When It Comes To Your Rubber Tree?
Indirect light for a plant simply means it needs to be out of the sun's direct rays. In the case of a houseplant, this means you don't want the sun's rays streaming through your window and landing on your plant. Though it loves the light and the warmth, the direct sun can burn up its leaves and cause damage.
So how do you find indirect light in your home? Find the place where you’re considering placing your plant. At the brightest time of the day, usually around noon, hold your hand up and look at the shadow. Strong light will have crisp, well-defined shadows and contrast. Low light will have faint shadows and an unclear outline of your hand.
Another way to figure out how much light there is in a certain spot is to use a light meter for plants. Of course, individual plants are like individual people, and each one will have slightly different needs. Rubber trees are fairly adaptable as long as they're moved slowly from one light situation to another.
Light meters like this will let you know how much light your plant is getting. Low light is from 25FC to 75FC, medium light is 75FC-150FC. Your rubber plant can do fine in both ranges. Click here for this on Amazon.
Perhaps the easiest way to get filtered sunlight for your house plants is by using sheer curtains. Though they provide some privacy for you, they're awesome for letting in filtered light to a room. This is the perfect light amount for your rubber tree plant.
These types of sheers can go behind a pair of more private curtains, which you'll open during the day. You can even open these up a crack as long as you make sure your rubber tree plant is nestled up near the sheer, not the window. Click here to see these sheers on Amazon.
Can Rubber Plants Tolerate Low Light?
Rubber plants are ideal for so many settings because of their adaptability when it comes to light. Though they thrive in bright indirect sunlight, they will survive just fine in lower light. In fact, they make lists of plants that do well in low light and are ideal apartment plants where windows are at a premium.
Remember, if you move them into an area vastly different from where they started, it may shock the plant. So change the light incrementally if you're moving it from one level of light to another. This will keep your rubber tree happy and healthy.
Having a hanging rubber tree plant gives more options as to placement. A hook can go pretty much anywhere in the ceiling if the floor or counter space is limited near the ideal light spot. Simply hang your rubber tree in its perfect light. Click here for this plant on Amazon.
How to tell if my rubber tree needs more light?
If your rubber tree leaves start to fade, droop near the bottom or turn yellow, it's a sign of distress. Other signs of not enough light can be your plant's growth pattern. Is it starting to lean toward the sunlight? That's its way of telling you it would like a little more sun, please. And what an easy fix, simply move it a smidge closer to the source of the light.
Check to see if you have a dark green variety or a variegated variety. The variegated varieties that have stripes of lighter colors in their pattern will need more indirect sunlight than the darker green-leafed varieties. The darker varieties will start to fade to a lighter green without enough sunlight.
If you're struggling to find the perfect spot for your rubber tree to get great light, an easy solution is a grow light. These lights can be set on timers and are super for house plants living in low light environments. Particularly in the winter when the days can be darker and shorter than usual.
Can I put my rubber tree near a window?
Your rubber tree will be happy by a window if you keep a few things in mind. It does not like the direct sun on its leaves and could end up being sunburnt. It loves being by a window that has sheer curtains to give it more indirect light. Keep in mind the change of seasons, though. If your window is drafty and cool air blows in during the winter months, you'll probably want to move your plant away from the draft. The same goes for the temperatures getting above 85 degrees near your window.
But really, if you have a lovely window and can put your rubber tree a few feet away from it but close enough to capture the light, it's an ideal spot.
A sheer, filtering blind with UV protection can be a good cover for a window if you want to protect your houseplants from sun-scald. This comes in many different varieties with varying amounts of sheer coverage. They also provide privacy for you. Click here for this blind on Amazon.
What Happens If My Rubber Tree Gets Too Much Light?
Because rubber trees originated in the rainforest as understory plants, dappled sunlight is their natural proclivity. This means they don't want the sun's rays hitting them directly. If you place your rubber tree too close to the window in your home, the rays could burn it. In plants, this is called sun-scald.
So what does that look like for your rubber tree? First, it could dry out too quickly between waterings from the heat of the sun. Second, the edges of its leaves could start to brown and crisp up from the direct sunlight. It's an easy fix though, simply move it away from the light into a more sheltered part of your home. Trim away the brown edges and give it a good watering.
Getting the lighting right is one of the critical ingredients for keeping your houseplants happy. Rubber trees are pretty easy going and also willing to show you their needs. Once you've found the perfect spot to let it soak up plenty of filtered sunlight, it should provide you beauty for years to come.
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