The Ruscus plant is a hardy and robust houseplant that grows in a range of environments. What makes this plant a favorite is that it can grow under several conditions, thus making it a favorite among beginner gardeners.
In this article, we are going to list out all the information that you require to care for, grow and propagate the plant. Our experts list out tips and tricks to include this blooming and attractive foliage in your home and garden space, so read on ahead.
- What Is Ruscus Plant?
- Ruscus Plant Care
What Is Ruscus Plant?
The Ruscus plant is a robust and resilient house plant that can survive in a range of environments. This is a deer resisdent shrub that grows tiny round and red fruits. On the other hand, this plant is known for its medicinal properties.
Ruscus Plant Care
Ruscus aculeatus produces flat leaf-like stems called cladodes along with blooms and tiny round bright red fruits in clusters that appear from the axis of the stem.
To retain this foliage, the plant requires well-draining acidic soil, low light conditions, moderate humidity and medium temperature. Read the section below where we touch upon each of the care aspects in greater detail so that you can grow this plant in a hassle-free manner.
– Water Requirements
This plant requires consistently moist soil thus regular watering is necessary to keep the top few inches of the soil moistened at all times. It can tolerate moderate levels of drought and at the same time, a reasonable level of overwatering. This is what makes it easy to care for as the plant is not easily stressed and can survive in different conditions.
That said, it is still advisable to not let the soil go dry for days or let the roots sit in water for a long time. Both these conditions over time can hamper the health of the plant, making the leaves wilt, turn brittle or even result in fungal disease or root rot. Thus, maintain a watering schedule as per the season and the climatic zone you are growing the plant in.
– Light Requirements
The plant does not require bright light to grow and does well even under low light conditions. So you would not have an issue even if you are growing them in dark indoor corners, on semi-closed patios, or on balconies. Remember that the foliage comes with a dark green leaf shade which signifies that it already has enough chlorophyll thereby not requiring a lot of light to produce energy and photosynthesis.
All it requires is two to five hours of indirect partial light every day and the plant is good to go. Never overexpose the plant to direct sunlight as this can make the tips of the leaf and stems turn brown and brittle.
– Soil Requirements
The plant can be grown in a range of soils such as sandy, clayey or loamy soils. However, the ideal mix that will ensure vibrant foliage, adequate blooms, and healthy fruits, is well-draining, not saturated, and with a pH between 6.0 to 7.0.
Ensure the pot or container the plant is placed in has proper drainage holes without any blockage, to permit free flow out of water. You could mix in organic compost along with the potting soil to increase the nutrient content of the plant; however, this will help it to boost the production of blooms and fruits as well.
– Temperature Requirements
The plant thrives in moderate to low-temperature conditions between 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It manages to sustain its foliage to a large extent under low-temperature conditions, even producing blooms and fruits.
However, remember that it will not tolerate overexposure to high temperatures as the intense heat will put it under stress conditions, leading to the foliage turning brittle and the tips of the leaves brown.
Move the Ruscus plant indoors when the weather outside is hot and sultry or place it under a shaded and well-ventilated spot. Also, avoid placing it in extreme frost or snow conditions, instead move them under artificial grow lights to provide them with some warmth and light.
– Humidity Requirements
The plant does not require much humidity to grow and levels anywhere between 10 percent to 70 percent are ideal. High humidity conditions should be avoided as this could lead to fungal infections and root rot.
If you are growing your plant indoors or are in a zone with excess humidity in the air, place it in a well-ventilated spot, such as near a window, as poor air circulation can be disastrous.
However, keep in mind that you can always mist the plant, for its ideal humidity range to be achieved, in addition to investing in a humidifier, that is, of course, if you live in an area where the humidity is low in range.
– Fertilizer Requirements
The plant, also known as Butcher’s Bloom, does not require much fertilizer use however as it produces blooms a diluted formula rich in phosphorus is ideal. Use an NPK-based formula to encourage blooms and fruiting and to keep the foliage vibrant and dark green.
Avoid fertilizing in the winters as this could lead to salt build-up in the roots. The plant anyway does not require much energy as it enters a dormant phase in the season. The ideal season to fertilize the plant is during the active growing phase of spring and summer months when the climate outside is warm too.
The plant is a slow grower and thus does not require much pruning; however, regular pruning helps to keep it in shape and neat.
Clean out all decayed and dead leaves with the help of sterile garden pruners or knives to prevent the risk of fungi and other pathogens that can infect the plant. You may begin by cutting the stem from the base moving away and slowly upward from the outside.
It is important to keep in mind that pruning the dead leaves or the leaves that are not very healthy, will give your plant some room to grow out new ones. When the dead ones are present, the new ones will not have the freedom to grow out in a healthy way, because they will be blocked by the rest.
The Ruscus aculeatus can be easily propagated by using plant division or through seeds. The process is very easy to understand and with just basic gardening skills and a few tools, you can grow your own nascent Ruscus. Read the below section where our experts list out the complete propagation process in a step-by-step manner.
– Through Division
If you were wondering about how to grow Ruscus from cuttings, then this section will give you the easiest way out. Use plant division to get your new plant in a hassle-free manner. You will require the following tools to propagate the plant so keep them handy to enable you to make your job easier. Sterile garden pruners.
Always sterilize tools with a diluted solution of isopropyl alcohol to prevent the spread of bacterial and fungal infections. Well-draining potting soil, a pot or container with proper drainage holes.
The best way is to adapt the method of plant division where you take a section of a mother plant and help it to grow on its own. Pick a healthy mother plant and slowly pull it off the soil. Shake all of the extra soil from the roots and separate a section of the plant with the roots intact with the help of sterile pruners.
Plant this in a new pot filled with a well-draining potting mix. Keep it in a shaded and warm spot and over the next couple of weeks, this cut section will develop its foliage sprouting juvenile leaves and stems.
The ideal time to propagate this plant is in early summer when the weather is moderately warm for the plant to establish healthy roots. Avoid hot peak summer months as well as extremely cold winter months when the plant will struggle to cope with the external environment and climate.
The plant may be tough with robust foliage however it is still susceptible to a couple of problems. In the section below, we cover each of these common challenges that you may encounter while growing the plant and some quick-fix solutions to tackle them.
– Browning of Cladodes
The flat leaf-like stems of the plant known as the cladodes may often turn brown when subject to stress. This stress could be due to overwatering or overexposure of the plant to direct sunlight.
The plant is hardy and can tolerate drought conditions to a large extent, however it is advisable to prevent overwatering. Excessive water in the soil can prevent the roots from taking in adequate oxygen from the soils thereby leading to the browning of foliage, especially at the tips.
Check if the soil of the Rescus plants is well-draining and if the container or pot the plant is placed in has proper drainage holes. Moreover, overexposure to direct sunlight can also hamper health.
Under harsh sunlight and heat, the dark green foliage struggles to cope thus resulting in the browning of tips. Move the plant to a well-ventilated and shaded location and you will find it regains its health in no time.
– Bacterial Leaf Spots
Bacterial leaf spots in the ruscus are most commonly caused by Pseudomonas andropogonis and the classic symptoms of this condition are black or brown lesions or watery spots on the stems. They commonly are found along leaf margins from where the bacteria typically enter the plant and the infection makes the stems droop and bear a wilted look.
Additionally, you may also spot yellow margins along the lesions. One of the main causes for this bacterial infection to occur all over the foliage is if you have been over-watering the plant or exposing it to high humidity, placing it in a dingy corner without any ventilation.
Such damp and crowded conditions put the plant under stress and make the soil and foliage a perfect breeding ground for infection. The first and the most important thing to do as soon as you spot the symptoms is to snip away the affected sections before they spread to other sections of the plant.
Trimming out stems is in fact the most effective means of doing damage control before the plant gets infected totally, so pick out all sections individually that bear lesions and are a threat to the plant.
Note that in this case, you must reduce the humidity around the plant and also scale back on the watering to prevent aggravation of bacterial growth; moreover, it is advisable to reduce crowding and increase air circulation around the plant. Schedule watering during the morning hours so that the foliage has more time to dry out completely.
– Wilting of Foliage
Do you notice the dark green foliage of the Ruscus wilting and looking limp? In this case, do give your watering schedule a relook.
Much as the plant is hardy and robust and capable of adapting to a range of environments, underwatering the plant and letting the soil go bone dry for several days can drastically hamper its health. The plant can indeed tolerate a certain level of drought conditions, however, letting it stay this way for days is not a good practice.
The plant prefers to thrive in soil that is consistent and lightly moist at all times. This will aid the roots to take in adequate levels of oxygen from the soil to keep the foliage thriving and going strong.
Water the plant twice a week or increase the frequency if you are growing it in a hot and dry zone. Also, scale back during the colder months when the plant conserves energy as excess moisture levels too can be a disaster to its health.
– Root Rot
Root rot occurs if your ruscus has been allowed to sit in water for a long time. With excess water at the roots, there are lower levels of oxygen that penetrate from the soil, thereby leading to root rot. The plant will show tendencies of wilting and may even emit a foul smell. Scale back on the watering as soon as you suspect root rot.
Transplant it into fresh potting soil that is light and well-draining. Before you move it, snip away all blackened sections of the root. Remember to monitor the watering schedule to keep the soil lightly moist at all times. This should prevent and tackle root rot effectively.
– Leaves Turning Yellow
The two most common reasons why your plant leaves are turning yellow are nutrition deficiency and overwatering. We have already discussed in the above sections how important it is to water right, despite the plant being robust.
Remember to maintain a schedule as per the season and zone you are in to keep the soil lightly moist to ensure the foliage always bears a dark green shade. Nutrition deficiency can occur if the plant goes low in magnesium.
You will notice the veins remaining green, however, the core of the leaf life stems turns yellow. Additionally, an iron and Sulfur deficiency too can turn the foliage yellow throughout.
Tackle the condition by using a well-balanced liquid formula, especially during the active growing phase. In addition, you could also mix organic compost in the potting mix which will increase the nutrient composition of the soil.
– Is the Ruscus Plant Toxic?
Yes, the Ruscus plant is toxic if accidentally ingested. It is especially poisonous to cats. If consumed they can result in severe digestive disorders or a condition called hemolysis where there is a rupture of red blood cells. Thus keep the plant away from pets and children.
Do note, that the plant does have medicinal properties, but this is just the underground parts of the rhizome.
Now that you have read how easily you can grow this Ruscus, you can confidently include it in your home or garden space.
Let us summarize all that we have learned in the section below.
- The Ruscus plant is a robust and sturdy plant with flat leaf-like stems, attractive blooms, and small round fruits that occur in clusters.
- The plant thrives well in well-draining soil with low temperatures, partial light, and low humidity. It is not a fussy plant and thus can survive in a range of environmental conditions.
- The plant has a slow growth rate thus you do not have to prune it regularly to keep it in shape. Snip stems occasionally, to ensure it is pest and disease free and to remove dead and decayed sections of the foliage.
- Fertilize it occasionally with an NPK formula to boost foliage and produce more blooms. The plant does not have too many challenges while growing but just ensure you water it right and place it in a well-ventilated spot.
- Propagate the plant using plant division with just a few basic tools and gardening skills. You can also propagate through seeds however this process is far slower than plant division.
After having read this one-stop guide on the Ruscus, you surely are motivated to grow this tough-to-kill foliage. So bring it right into your garden and let it charm you every season throughout the year.
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