Ficus elastica ruby of the Moraceae family, also known as the variegated Rubber plant, used to be popular for its sap, but today it is well-loved for its beauty.
There are different variegations and colorations of ficus elastica ruby leaves, so you will always find a plant that matches your taste.
The leaves of ficus elastica ruby are its most desirable features, and more people in the hobby are starting to grow this Ficus genus plant.
Learn why you should grow this rubber plant and how you can provide the ideal care in this complete guide.
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- What Is Ficus Elastica Ruby?
- Ficus Elastica Ruby Care Requirements
What Is Ficus Elastica Ruby?
The ficus elastica ruby plant is a beautiful houseplant native to the tropical regions of India and Malaysia. This plant is simply the variegated cultivar of the classic rubber tree, and its leaves come in different colors and varieties ranging from electric pink to ruby red, white and sage green.
Ficus Elastica Ruby Care Requirements
Though the milky sap of ficus elastica ruby plants was originally used in making latex and other rubber products, the plant is becoming more popular as a houseplant as it grows pretty well in pots and can decorate homes, offices, gardens and patios.
Even though ficus elastica ruby plants are easy to grow, you need to get it right especially when it comes to their preference in temperature, water and nutrients. You’d surely want some ficus elastica ruby plants in your home, right?
Continue reading to learn all you need to know about caring for and propagating your rubber plant with ease.
– Soil Requirements
Ficus elastica ruby is a hardy plant that can tolerate various types of potting mixes, but try to go for loose and light potting mixes for your plants. The ficus elastica ruby soil or potting mix should have compost, loam, perlite and vermiculite so that it can be both nutritious and loose.
You can buy a suitable potting mix for your ruby ficus in gardening shops if you cannot make one for yourself. A general indoor potting mix is suitable for these rubber plants. As an extra tip, remember to perforate holes under the pot or container so that excess water can drain off the substrate with ease.
– Water Requirements
Ficus elastica ruby plants love it when the soil or potting mix is consistently moist and not soggy. This means that you should wait until the top 2 to 4 inches of the substrate is dry before you water them again. You may water your ficus elastica ruby plants once a week, but endeavor to increase the rate of watering, especially during the warm summer months.
To help you maintain a consistently moist substrate, remember to amend the ficus elastica ruby substrate with perlite and vermiculite. However, the properties of the substrate do not matter if you fail to water your plants, so make sure that you water the plant regularly.
– Light Requirements
Ficus elastica rubies prefer full sun, but they can also grow in dappled light. Note that the beautiful tri-colored variegation of the plant leaves requires brighter light to emit even more radiance. The more amounts of light you expose your ficus elastica ruby plants to, the more colors their leaves will get.
If you are growing your ficus elastica ruby plants in dappled light, give them at least six hours of sunlight daily. If they are in a location where they can get full sun (especially that of noon), four to six hours of light per day is enough. For indoor plants that grow with artificial light, they should have ten or more hours of artificial light daily.
Also, remember to rotate your ficus elastica ruby plants if you are growing them near a window. Rotate them regularly so that they will not grow in only one direction.
– Humidity Requirements
Ficus elastica rubies are hardy and can tolerate a wide humidity range. You can grow your plants successfully from 40 percent humidity up to 80 percent. Just make sure that the room is not too arid. If the plant needs a higher level of humidity in the room, its leaf edges will turn brown and dry.
To increase the room humidity, you can buy and use a mini humidifier. You can also mist your ficus elastica ruby leaves regularly with water droplets to increase the humidity, but this is a more demanding approach. It would help to grow your plants far from an active source of wind.
– Temperature Requirements
Growing ficus elastica ruby at the right temperature is key to the plant’s survival and can help to prevent a lot of problems that you can face when you are growing this plant. As a tropical plant, ficus elastica ruby needs 60 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth.
Ficus elastica ruby plants are not cold-hardy, so you should avoid cold temperatures. If you are growing your plants outside, you should bring them indoors in mid or late autumn so that they do not die of cold. You can grow them near a window or provide an alternative source of light.
– Fertilizing Requirements
Just like sunlight, every plant needs nutrients to grow. Plants cannot grow quickly or in good health if the available nutrients in the substrate are not enough. This is why you must regularly feed your ficus elastica ruby plants. You should fertilize them regularly (monthly) in the months of spring and summer.
The best fertilizers for ficus elastica ruby are liquid ones. However, you can feed your ficus elastica ruby plants with water-soluble fertilizers. The fertilizer should be suitable for houseplants and rich in potassium and phosphorus.
It is not so advisable to feed your houseplants with organic fertilizer, but there’s no harm in using it.
Ficus elastica ruby is truly a beautiful plant with colorful leaves. To help your ruby plant to retain its beauty, you have to prune it regularly. Pruning your ficus elastica rubies involves cutting dead leaves as well as sick or weak ones. You should also prune the plant to keep it in shape when it grows uncontrollably.
You should use only sterilized tools to prune your ficus elastica ruby so that you can eliminate the chances of several diseases attacking your plant. Note that pruning can also encourage your ficus elastica ruby plants to have a bushy appearance. Pruning a region of the plant stem can encourage division.
– Repotting Your Plants
Sooner or later, your ficus elastica ruby plants will become root-bound and you will need to repot them. You should repot your plants every year or two or whenever you notice that they are root-bound.
You can tell that your ficus elastica rubies are root bound when some roots emerge from the substrate and the plant grows slower than normal.
Repotting your ficus elastica ruby plant is easy, you just need to follow the same procedure explained above for planting it in a new pot. Just make sure that you use a slightly larger pot. While repotting your ficus elastica ruby plants, examine their roots and make sure that they are healthy.
– Suitable Mulch
Mulching is important for plants because it helps to maintain the soil moisture while also protecting your plants from weed competition. You will most likely be growing your ficus elastica ruby as an indoor plant, so you should mulch it with inorganic mulch.
You can mulch your ficus elastica ruby plants with gravel, pebbles, lava rocks and other types of inorganic mulch. If you mulch your plants, reduce your watering rate because mulch helps to store moisture in the substrate.
You should also shift the pot a few inches away from direct sunlight so that the increase in the substrate temperature does not burn your plant roots.
– Ficus Elastica Ruby Leaf Care
The leaves of a ficus elastica ruby plant are very beautiful, so you want them to stay that way. While you should remember to prune your plants occasionally, it would also help to use a slightly damp rag to wipe the leaves to remove specks of dust and pests.
Do not wipe the leaves with a dripping-wet rag and make sure that the leaves are dry in less than one hour after wiping them. Another way to care for your ficus elastica ruby leaves is to mist water droplets on the leaves. Mist them evenly and stop before they start dripping with water.
– Getting Healthy Plants
You can search for healthy ficus elastica ruby plants in a gardening store or nursery. You can tell that a ficus elastica ruby is healthy by how firm its leaves are. Do not collect plants with weak or dying leaves. Also, it would help to go for medium-sized plants and not the tallest or shortest ones.
Take note of the lighting and humidity conditions the ficus elastica ruby plants are exposed to in the store and try to mimic those conditions for your plants when you bring them home. Even though ficus elastica ruby can tolerate a wide range of humidity, you want to introduce them to their new environment slowly.
– How to Plant the Ficus
When you finally get your ficus elastica ruby plants as well as a suitable substrate, you are now ready to plant them. If your ficus elastica ruby plants came with a pot, you can leave them in it for up to a year or until they have become root bound before you repot them.
However, if your ficus elastica ruby plants came in nursery bags, you should buy beautiful well-drained containers or pots and follow the procedure below:
- Ensure that the containers have three or more drainage holes.
- Fill the bottom 4 inches of the container with potting mix.
- Carefully remove your ficus elastica ruby plants from the nursery bags by tearing the bag and carefully removing the roots from the previous substrate.
- Hold a ficus elastica ruby plant as you place it just above the substrate in the container.
- Fill up the container until you cover the ficus elastica ruby roots. However, do not cover the plant root crown.
- Sprinkle water on the substrate or water the plant thoroughly then wait a few hours.
- Your ficus elastica ruby should initially appear weak. When it looks firm again, you can shift the container to a better location with sufficient light.
You are now good to go. Continue reading to know the best conditions to grow ficus elastica ruby in.
If you love your ficus elastica ruby plant, you’d surely want to grow more so that you can fill your garden with them. While you can always go back to the store to purchase more plants, that will be a waste of money as you can propagate your ficus elastica ruby for free.
To propagate your ficus elastica ruby plant, carefully examine the plant and look for areas where you want it to appear bushier. Collect your pruning scissors and cut off at least six inches of stem from your region of choice.
After collecting the cutting, you can dip it in any suitable rooting hormone product to encourage the quick growth of roots.
Plant the ficus elastica ruby cutting in a suitable potting mix and water it regularly. After about four or five weeks, you should see that your ficus elastica ruby cutting will produce new leaves.
When you see this sign of growth, you should wait an extra two or three weeks before transferring the plant to a better location.
You’d agree that ficus elastica ruby is a considerably easy plant to grow, right? Well, even though it is easy to grow, there are a few problems that you must watch out for. Continue reading to find out some rubber plant-related problems and how to solve or avoid them.
– Eating Ficus Elastica Ruby
A lot of people grow ficus elastica ruby indoors and the plants are usually reachable to children and pets. Please note that ficus elastica ruby contains a sap that can irritate the stomach of people and pets.
You should not eat the leaves of your ficus elastica ruby plants and you should not allow your kids and pets to do so.
Even though ficus elastica ruby can tolerate full sun, you should not expose it to too much sun as it can lead to sunburn in the plant. If you notice that the leaves are drying up from the outside or the edges are looking brown, try to reduce the amount of sun that reaches the plant.
Your ficus elastica ruby plant can grow well in four hours of direct sunlight daily or four to six hours of dappled light. Just as insufficient light can kill your plant, too much sunlight can also kill it. With this in mind, try to shade the plant from the afternoon sun in summer.
You may notice that your ficus elastica ruby leaves are becoming dry and falling off even though you did not expose the plant to too much sunlight. If this is the case, you should cut back on the rate at which you fertilize it as too many nutrients in the soil or potting mix is bad for ficus elastica ruby plants.
Only fertilize your ficus elastica ruby plants once a month in their active growing season. If the substrate is rich, especially in organic nutrients, you do not need to fertilize the plant. Always remember that too many nutrients can burn the leaves of your ficus elastica ruby plants.
Are the leaves of Ficus Elastica Ruby stretchy?
Yes, the leaves of Ficus Elastica Ruby are stretchy.
How much water does Ficus Elastica Ruby need?
Ficus Elastica Ruby requires moderate watering, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings.
Can Ficus Elastica Ruby come back after losing its leaves?
Yes, Ficus Elastica Ruby can come back after losing its leaves if given proper care, including adequate watering and light.
Ficus elastica ruby is truly a beautiful plant and it is very easy to care for it. Remembering the plant care requirements is important, so here is the summary of everything you need to know to grow and care for it:
- Do not allow your plant substrate to completely dry out before watering it. The substrate should be consistently moist and you should only water it when the top few inches have become dry.
- Remember to fertilize your plants in the growing season. Use liquid or water-soluble fertilizer for your ficus elastica ruby plants for the best results.
- The optimum temperature to grow your ficus elastica ruby plant is 60 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While you can grow your ficus elastica ruby plants without mulch, it is a good practice to use mulch as it helps to preserve moisture and prevent competition.
- Remember to give your plant dappled to full sunlight. Do not burn your plant leaves with excess sunlight.
Congratulations as you are now a pro in growing and propagating your ficus elastica ruby plants. Make sure to stick to the tips in this guide!