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Ficus Elastica “Ruby” Care — The Definitive Guide

Ficus Elastica “Ruby” Care — The Definitive Guide

Pretty in pink, the Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ is a striking variegation of the Rubber Tree. It is known simply as the Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’. 

This plant hails from India and Malaysia. It is most commonly grown for its ornamental features. 

The Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ is an evergreen species of tree. When grown in their natural habitat, these trees can reach great heights. 

However, the houseplant varieties of this magnificent species are more manageable in terms of size.

The name ‘Ruby’ relates to the plant’s bright, pinkish-red foliage variegations. Featured on their oval leaves, these unique colors blend beautifully with the varied green colors. 

 

Ficus Elastica ‘Ruby’ Care

Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ needs rich, well-draining soil. Keep its soil evenly moist but only water when the topmost layer has dried. Bright, indirect light is crucial. Humidity is not an issue but temperatures below 60℉ (16℃) are undesirable. Feed your plant monthly from spring to summer.

 

Soil

Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ plants need rich soil that drains freely. Preferred soil pH levels are between 5.0 and 7.0. 

Succulent potting soil or indoor potting soil is recommended. To increase the soil’s drainage properties, simply add sand or perlite into the soil mix. 

Rubber Trees grow best in a free-draining potting mix. The Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ is no different. 

This plant enjoys a moist pot of soil with a pH between 5.0 and 7.0. It is important that your plant’s soil is rich in nutrients, especially when kept as a houseplant. 

Generally, any indoor potting soil mix or succulent plant soil mix will do. If the drainage properties of the soil are not quite right, it can easily be amended. 

Amending your plant’s soil can be done by adding perlite or sand into the mix. 

 

Light

These colorful plants need a lot of light in order for their leaves to remain variegated. Bright, indirect light is a must. 

Partial to full sun exposure is acceptable only for short periods of time. Too much direct sun exposure will burn or scorch its delicate leaves. 

The light requirements of the Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ are one of the most important aspects of care. 

Although they are somewhat adaptable plants, not all levels of light are sufficient for this plant to thrive. 

Without the correct light exposure, the Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’ will not be able to live up to its name. 

Light is important for these plants as it is what encourages the beautiful variegation in their foliage. 

The alternative colors of pinkish to ruby-red on the Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’s leaves are not capable of photosynthesizing. This means that the green portions of the leaves have to take up all the slack! 

This is why these plants need access to quite a bit of light. The parts of the leaves that are able to photosynthesis need all the help they can get!

Bright but indirect light exposure is ideal. Some dappled to full sun exposure is acceptable. 

However, long periods of direct sun exposure should be avoided. The harsh rays of the sun can scorch or burn the delicate leaves of the Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’. 

The less green pigment, or chlorophyll, your plant has, the more sun it will need to keep in tip-top shape. 

 

Watering

Watering your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ is an important part of care. Improper watering can result in fungal issues and root rot

Keep these plants moist but don’t waterlog them. Check the soil moisture before watering. Only water your plant if the top layer of soil has dried out. 

Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ plants like to have a routine when it comes to their watering. They do prefer their soil to be kept evenly moist, however, this does not mean they should be watered daily. 

Soggy or waterlogged soil is a no-go, so your plant’s pot must have holes for drainage

In the summer, depending on your location, you can expect to water your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ once a week. 

Before you water your Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’ it is important that your check the moisture level of its soil. 

To do this, simply push your finger about an inch (2.5 centimeters) into your plant’s soil. If you still feel some moisture in the soil,don’t water it. 

Wait until the top portion of soil has dried out before watering your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ again. 

As temperatures begin to drop heading into winter, reducing your plant’s watering schedule is advisable. In colder weather, your plant’s soil will take slightly longer to dry out. 

It is best to continually keep track of the soil’s moisture level before watering the plant. 

Overwatering these plants is a serious concern and should be taken seriously. Overwatering your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ can lead to various health issues. 

These can include the development of fungal issues and root rot, among other things. 

 

Temperature

Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ plants should be protected from temperatures below 60℉ (16℃). These are not frost-hardy plants and should be kept safe from chilly and warm drafts. 

Average room temperatures of between 70℉ and 77℉ (21℃ and 25℃) are best suited for this tropical plant. 

Natively grown in tropical areas, the Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ is a lover of warm temperatures. Average room temperatures of around 70℉ and 77℉ (21℃ and 25℃) are favorable. 

Ficus Elastica ‘Ruby’ don’t do well in colder temperatures, hence, you should protect them from it. The Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ is also not a frost-hardy plant. 

Acceptable winter temperatures for this plant are between 60℉ and 65℉ (16℃ and 18℃).

These plants are thought to grow best in USDA Hardiness zones 10 to 13b. However, if grown indoors, they can be more adaptable. 

Avoid leaving your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ exposed to drafts. Keep it away from both air-conditioning units as well as heaters. 

Any airflow that hits this plant directly is undesirable. 

 

Humidity

These tropical plants do not worry much about humidity. If the air around your plant is undesirably dry, the edges of your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’s foliage may turn brown. 

Occasional misting should be sufficient to maintain a happy plant. Average humidity levels of 40% to 60% are acceptable. 

The Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’ is not very demanding when it comes to humidity. This lack of interest in humidity is a result of the plant’s thick and rubbery leaves. 

However, in certain locations, your Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’ may benefit from the occasional misting. 

If the air around your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ is uncomfortable dry, it is likely to affect your plant. Browning edges of your plant’s foliage is a key sign of this. 

Misting your Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’ occasionally should resolve this problem. Generally, humidity levels of around 40% to 60% are acceptable for this plant. 

 

Fertilizer

Feed your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ once monthly in the spring and summer seasons. Avoid fertilizing in autumn and winter as the plant does not actively grow and will not use the plant food. 

A general-purpose houseplant fertilizer should be used. Follow the fertilizer’s packaging instructions for application. 

Fertilizing your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ once, monthly is more than enough to make it thrive. 

The best time to feed your Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’ is spring through summer. Avoid fertilizing this plant altogether in the autumn and winter months. 

Your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ does not actively grow during these colder months. When it’s not actively growing it is said to be in dormancy

During this time, it is not able to make use of the nutrients provided through fertilizing. If the fertilizer is not used, it will likely end up burning your plant’s roots. 

Ideally, you should use a general-purpose houseplant fertilizer. It’s recommended to apply the product as stipulated on the packaging. 

 

Growth

When left to grow naturally, the Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ can grow up to 131 feet (40 meters) tall. 

As a common houseplant, however, they tend to grow to 13 feet (4 meters) tall with a 5 foot (1.5 meters) spread. Their leaves have pale to deep green centers that blend out to pinkish-red edges. 

Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ plants are adorned for their uniquely variegated foliage. These plants feature light to deep green, shiny, oval, leaves that blend out to bright pinkish-red edges. 

This flashy coloring grows boldly when the plant is kept in its ideal conditions. On the other hand, if conditions are less than desirable, the color of your Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’ will be rather dull or bland. 

In their natural habitat, Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ trees can grow to breathtaking heights. 

It is not uncommon for ‘wild’ Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’s to grow between 98 feet and 131 feet (30 meters and 40 meters). With this height, their trunk width easily spans to about 6.5 feet (2 meters). 

The variety of Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’, however, is of a much more manageable size. When grown indoors, the Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’ will likely only grow to about 13 feet (4 meters) tall. 

Their overall spread is also minimal compared to their natural growing abilities at only 5 feet (1.5 meters). 

 

Potting

These plants grow well in pots and don’t need frequent repotting. Only repot this plant every two to three years or when its roots become very overgrown and rootbound. 

It is important that the pot you plant your Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’ in has a drainage hole

As these plants are most commonly grown as houseplants, potting and repotting are unavoidable. However, Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’s are not difficult to please in this aspect of care. 

They grow exceptionally well in pots. The most important feature for a pot to have for this plant is a hole for drainage. 

Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’ plants are thought to grow better under slightly cramped conditions. Hence, frequent repotting isn’t as necessary compared to other plants. 

Typically, you should only repot your plant when it has become so rootbound that its roots are overgrown. Or, repot your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ every two to three years. 

 

Pruning

These plants do not need much pruning. Remove damaged, yellowing, or dead leaves as necessary with a pair of sharp, clean, gardening shears. Typically, Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ plants are pruned most often to maintain their shape and size. This plant should only be pruned during its growing season. 

Prune your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ during its growing season, in the spring or summer. Generally, these plants are pruned in order to maintain good shape and size. 

In addition, yellowing, damaged, or dead leaves should be pruned away as necessary. 

When pruning your Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’, it is recommended you use a pair of clean, sharp, garden shears. 

 

Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ Propagation

Propagating the Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ is a simple process. Use a 6 inch (15 centimeter) cutting taken in the spring or summer. Remove the bottom leaves, planting the cutting in moist soil. Resume regular care. Roots should develop within the next two to three weeks.

Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ plants are exceptional growers. This makes them super easy to propagate. 

The best method to use when propagating this plant is stem cuttings. The method is not hard to do, and the results are quite fast. 

The best time to begin propagating your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ is in the spring to summer months. This is when your plant actively grows. 

This is also when you should typically prune your plant. When you prune your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’, instead of discarding the offcuts, use them to propagate your plant! 

Ideally, you should have a cutting about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long with at least two healthy leaves. 

Strip the lower part of the cutting of its bottom set of leaves and insert in moist soil inside a small pot. 

Make sure to take care of the cutting as you would a mature Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’. In about two to three weeks your newly-propagated plant should develop roots!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Common problems with Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’

Common with most houseplants, mealybugs and scale insects are known to pester the Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’. These pests are easily dealt with provided they have not infested your plant. 

Regularly cleaning your plant’s leaves of dust minimizes the risk of these pests calling your plant home. 

Root rot and fungal issues are the most pressing diseases to affect the Rubber Tree ‘Ruby’. These diseases, however, are avoidable. 

The development of fungal issues and root rot is the result of overwatering your plant. With a proper watering schedule, your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ runs no risk of contracting these diseases. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Ficus Elastica ‘Ruby’ Care

 

Is the Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ a toxic plant?

This plant is considered toxic for pets and kids. Hence, you should keep this plant out of their reach. Additionally, prolonged contact with the milky sap from the Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’s leaves may result in skin irritation. 

 

Why are the leaves on my Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ plain?

Plain or dull-looking leaves are a sign that your Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ is not getting enough sun. Move your plant to a spot where it will receive bright, indirect light for as long as possible throughout the day. The more sun your plant gets, the more pronounced its variegation will show through!

 

Conclusion

The Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’ is a tender plant that requires fairly specific care. Although it is not necessarily difficult to care for, it can be quite demanding. 

The right level of light exposure is the most important care aspect of this plant.

However, with patience and determination, these trees will bring the perfect pop of pink into your home!