The Ficus ruby is the perfect plant to add a colorful pizzazz to your home. Its pink leaves will definitely catch the eye of anyone who happens to be in the same room as them.
It is a very easy plant to care for and propagate. Read our complete guide for the best tips and tricks from experts.
- What Is Ficus Ruby?
- Ficus Ruby Care
What Is Ficus Ruby?
Ficus ruby is a variegated plant native to Southeast Asia, more specifically India and Malaysia, whose leaves have a soft texture and pretty pink variegations. They also have deep red veins producing a rubbery, latex-like substance. This plant is also known as ficus elastica.
Ficus Ruby Care
Ficus ruby plant care involves giving it loads of filtered sunshine and maintaining temperatures between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Use soil that is both well-draining and moisture-retentive. Fertilize every week and keep humidity levels above 50 percent.
Read more about its care requirements in detail below.
– Water Requirements
Ficus ruby watering needs are simple. Allow three inches of the soil to become dry, then water using lukewarm distilled water. Make sure that you do not overwater or underwater this plant, as these would cause negative effects to its health.
– How Often To Water This Plant
Water your plant once a week during summertime. Only water the plant once or twice a month during the fall and wintertime. The best time to water this plant is when the top three inches of the soil dries up.
How can you tell if the soil has dried up? Dig your finger into the soil. If it comes out dry all the way, then it’s time to water your plant.
A moisture meter is a tool that will tell you how much moisture there is in your soil. It is a very accurate and useful tool, but it can be a bit expensive.
– What Type of Water To Use
The safest water to use for this plant is distilled water, as it is free from any mineral and salt content that is often harmful to the plant. You can also use filtered water or rainwater.
If you are using municipal water, then you need to have it checked by a laboratory. Send a sample to the one nearest to you. They will send you back a report so that you can find out if it is safe enough for your plant.
The water you use should be lukewarm only; never use cold water. Allow normal water to get back to room temperature. This will also allow time for the chlorine in the water to evaporate.
– Light Requirements
The ruby ficus plant needs indirect bright light to grow. Make sure not to place it under direct sunlight, especially during the summer afternoon hours. Read all about its light needs in the upcoming sections.
– Growing Ficus Elastica Ruby Outdoors
We suggest putting this plant in a shaded location outdoors. It can be in a patio or under an umbrella. You can also place it under the shade of a larger tree. Take note that the chances of the plant getting sunburnt is higher outdoors.
– Growing Ruby Rubber Plant Indoors
This plant is best kept indoors. Choose a brightly lit room for it. You can place it as near the windows as possible as long as direct sunlight doesn’t fall on it.
If you have decided to keep it near a window, make sure to cover the window using curtains. The north-facing window doesn’t need to be covered as this window receives only indirect light anyways.
– Growing Ruby Plant Using Grow Lights
If you cannot provide adequate light to this plant indoors, then you need to use artificial grow lights. These lights need to be turned on for twice the duration of natural light. Turn them on for at least 12 to 13 hours each day.
You can choose either fluorescent or LED lights as grow lights, but we recommend using a combination of both. Fluorescent grow lights are more effective, whereas LED lights save more energy and are also cheaper.
– Temperature Requirements
Maintaining temperatures between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is an important part of elastica ruby care. This plant is a bit sensitive to changes in temperature. In fact, temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit will send it into cold shock and it might stop growing.
Below are some tips on how to protect your plant from cold shock:
- For an outdoor plant, the best option is to move it indoors as soon as temperatures start plummeting.
- It is also important to protect the plant that is kept inside. Keep it well away from air conditioners, vents and open windows at night.
- When this plant is moved from one location to another, it will take at least one whole month to adjust, so don’t worry. Just be consistent with your care regime and your plant will bounce back to health.
– Humidity Requirements
Your variegated rubber tree needs at least 40 to 50 percent humidity to survive. You can increase the humidity levels as much as you want. It will only grow better under higher air moisture levels.
A hygrometer is an instrument used to measure humidity. We recommend all plant parents keep this useful tool at home.
Want to learn some easy methods of improving humidity around these plants? We have you covered!
- Buy a humidifier. Sure, it is a bit expensive and needs to be turned on all the time, but it will maintain absolutely accurate humidity levels.
- Mist your plant lightly every three or four days. Always mist in the morning, as misting in the evening often leads to the development of root rot. This is because enough water doesn’t evaporate before nighttime.
- Move similar plants close together. This creates a sort of greenhouse environment.
- Fill a tray with water and pebbles, and balance your pot on top of the pebbles. The evaporating water from the tray will increase humidity around your ficus elastica ruby significantly.
– Fertilizing Requirements
Your rubber house plant needs to be fertilized on a weekly basis, and this regime should be carried out from spring until late summer. In the fall, decrease the frequency of fertilizing to only once per month.
Use a phosphorus-rich fertilizer. Phosphorus not only helps elastica grow but it also keeps insects away. A slow-release fertilizer in the form of pellets can be buried in the soil. They continue to release nutrients for months.
If you are using a liquid fertilizer, take care of two things. Firstly, don’t forget to dilute it to one-third of its recommended strength. Secondly, always water the roots of the plant before applying it. These practices will go a long way in preventing chemical burns.
– Soil Requirements
Ficus ruby soil needs to be able to drain quickly. It also should be rich in organic nutrients, and bonus points if it has strong moisture retention.
Ideally, we recommend using one part ordinary potting mix, one part perlite, and one part peat. You can substitute peat with sphagnum moss.
Pruning your plants not only makes them look healthier, but it also aids in the overall growth of the plant. When you decide to do it, make sure to prune your Ficus ruby plant above the nodes of its leaves.
Ficus ruby propagation can be carried out via stem cuttings in water or soil or by using seeds.
Learn the step-by-step process for all three methods in this section.
– Stem Cuttings in Water
Here is how you can propagate your ficus ruby using stem cuttings in water:
- The first step is to select the right stem for taking a cutting. It should neither be too old nor too young. It also needs to be free of diseases and pests.
- Cut off 4 to 5 inches of stem by using a clean and sterile knife to do so. Make an oblique incision immediately below a leaf node. Your cutting should also have one leaf attached to it.
- Allow it to dry for a while someplace dark and dry. This drying should go on for 2 to 3 days, then apply rooting hormone to the site of the incision.
- Take a jar and fill it with water, only filling up half of the jar. Submerge the stem cutting in it. The leaf should be above the surface of the water.
- Take your jar someplace bright and humid. Keep changing its water every other week.
- In a few weeks, new roots and shoots will grow from your cutting. When these roots grow three to four inches long, you can transfer it to the soil.
– Stem Cuttings in the Soil
Follow these steps for a successful soil propagation using stem cuttings:
- Again, follow the same instructions for taking the perfect stem cutting for your propagation.
- For this type of propagation, you will need a slightly larger-sized stem cutting. It should be about 8 to 9 inches long. Two or more leaves must be present in the cutting.
- Take a smaller-sized pot at first. A six-inch diameter pot is most suitable. Fill it with the appropriate soil, and it’s better to use the same soil as the parent pot.
- Keep the pot in a warm, humid place. Keep the soil moist for the first few weeks. In a couple of weeks, your plant will have established its new roots.
Here is how to propagate this plant using seeds:
- Propagating a variegated rubber plant through seeds is never easy. Make sure you obtain high-quality seeds from an authentic source.
- Buy a seedling tray and fill it with an appropriate nutrient medium.
- Moisten this nutrient medium by sprinkling some water on it, then take the seeds and press them one by one into the medium. There should be a distance of at least 2 inches between each seed.
- Keep your seedling tray in a piece where there is plenty of indirect sunlight. The seeds also need lots of humidity. You can cover it with a transparent wrap to increase humidity.
- Seeds take a long time to germinate. It might be months before you can see baby roots and shoots growing. After the roots have emerged, take each tiny plantlet and bury it in small pots.
Common problems with the rubber tree are overwatering, which leads to root rot, and pests that lead to leaf drops. Your plant might also suffer from leaf discoloration as a result of over or underwatering. Find out more in the section below.
– Root Rot
Overwatering causes your plant to suffer from fungal root rot. The plant will begin to smell funny, and rot spots will appear on the leaves and the stems of the plant.
If the disease is only beginning, then you can still save the plant. Uproot it from its old pot and repot in new soil and pot. Use fungicide, but the most important thing to do is to improve the drainage of the pot.
A lot of times, your plant will sadly be beyond salvage. In that case, you must dispose of it properly by burning the infected pot and the soil. These things must never be reused or recycled.
Mealybugs, aphids and spider mites are the most common bugs to attack this plant. These bugs love to feed on the sap of the plant. Signs of pest attacks include leaf yellowing, drooping and eventually, exfoliation.
Here is how to get rid of these annoying bugs:
- Try to manually remove as many pests as possible. The best way is to wash the plant thoroughly with soap and water.
- Apply a strong insecticide, and make sure to properly follow the instructions on the label.
- If you want to use a natural method, then we recommend using neem oil. Apply a few drops of neem oil to the insect colonies and leaves. In a few weeks, you will see a marked improvement.
– Leaves Discoloration
Your rubber plant might turn yellow or brown at times. There are three main reasons for this: overwatering, underwatering, or low light conditions.
Learn more about this below.
– Leaves Turning Yellow Due To Overwatering
Overwatering is most probably the primary reason why your ficus elastica indoor plants might be suffering from leaf yellowing. Along with yellowing, these leaves will also be swollen with extra water. Even your pot will feel heavier upon lifting.
You need to immediately improve the watering regime for your plants. Don’t water unless the soil’s surface dries up, and make sure that the drainage of the soil and the pot are suitable.
If your plants have begun to emanate a foul odor, then this means that root rot has already begun. You must treat your plant accordingly.
– Leaves Turning Yellow Due To Low Light
When the rubber tree is grown as an indoor plant, it might suffer from low light-induced yellowing of leaves. In such a case, the leaves will lose their pretty pink color and their classic elasticity. Their food-making ability is negatively impaired as well.
Move your plant near a window and place a curtain over it to protect it from sunburn. Sometimes, the windows in your house aren’t providing enough light. Consider getting artificial grow lights in such a situation.
– Leaf Edges Turning Brown Due To Underwatering
Occasionally, you might notice the pink foliage of your rubber plant turning brown around the edges. The main cause for this is underwatering. The leaves will also appear dry and wrinkly.
You need to start watering the plant more often if you notice this. Don’t ever let the soil dry all the way through. The ruby ficus plant can tolerate short spells of droughts, but don’t make this a habit.
This plant is often confused with the Ficus tineke because both of these plants are types of the Ficus elastica, aka the rubber plant. The main difference between the Ficus Ruby and the Ficus Tineke Ruby is the type of variegations on their leaves.
The variegations in the leaves of Ficus tineke are either green or cream and yellow in color, whereas the leaves of the ruby plant are pink or bright coral in color.
In addition, ficus elastica tineke is a relatively common plant. You will find it almost everywhere these days. On the other hand, the ruby plant is a newer variety, so it is not available that easily.
Let’s take a look at a brief summary of the care guide for this plant:
- Ficus elastica is pink variegated species of the rubber genus. It has gorgeous coral or pink-colored leaves. Its care needs are very simple and straightforward. Keep it in a bright but shaded location where they get plenty of indirect sunlight.
- Maintain temperatures between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep away from accidental dips in temperature, as this plant cannot tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make the ideal soil by mixing one part potting mix, one part peat, and one part perlite. You can add in one part of sand for additional drainage. Humidity levels should be above 50 percent maximum.
- The easiest way for you to propagate this plant is by using stem cuttings. You can propagate these cuttings in either water or soil, as seed propagation is comparatively difficult and time-consuming.
Ruby fiscus is a plant that will reward you big time for even the tiniest bit of attention that you give it, so make sure it is well-fed and watered regularly. Why don’t you order one today and get to it right away?
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