Also known as Butcher’s broom, Ruscus aculeatus is one of the most resilient houseplant species. If you’re a new plant parent and are just getting into the groove of caring for houseplants, this tough-to-kill plant should be one of your first choices.
From tolerating low light conditions to sparse water requirements, the Ruscus aculeatus has got all the abilities to perform as a forever houseplant.
Grow it in containers or on the ground. This plant will vivify any living space or landscape, and it’s got tons of medicinal uses.
Ruscus Aculeatus Care
Ruscus aculeatus will grow in a range of soil types if it drains well. It’ll grow well in deep shade or light shade, and soil should be kept consistently moist and watered as soon as the top few inches get dry. Ideal growing temperatures are 55-85°F (12-30°C). Ruscus has no special humidity needs.
The tough Ruscus aculeatus plant can tolerate a wide range of soil types from sandy to clayey and thrive on poor soils. When planting this species in pots, use well-draining soil as this plant will not tolerate saturated soils. It can grow equally well in acidic, neutral, or basic soils.
If there is a patch in your garden where most plants find it hard to grow well, try growing Ruscus on it, and you are sure to see it thrive. This plant is known for its tolerance of infertile soils.
While this plant can even be grown in regular dug-up garden soil, it will not do well if the soil gets compacted and blocks drainage. As long as there is adequate drainage, the Ruscus plant will grow well.
When it comes to soil pH, you can just dig a hole up anywhere and plant a Ruscus because it is indifferent to acidic, neutral, or alkaline soil and can grow equally well.
These plants can also grow in highly alkaline soils. If you know a patch where no plant manages to survive because of the high basicity, Ruscus is here for the rescue.
To enable your Ruscus plant to bloom and fruit well, it is recommended to use soil rich in organic matter.
Although you can use regular houseplant mix for this plant, adding a few parts of sand and organic compost to potting soil is a good combination for these plants.
Ruscus aculeatus has minimal light requirements and will grow well in deep shade or light shade. It naturally grows under the woodland canopy or in the midst of hedgerows and will need only 2-5 hours of indirect light every day. You can place this plant in a relatively darker corner of your room.
Ruscus aculeatus or the Butcher’s broom has got deep green foliage and stems. The deep green color signifies that this plant has got high amounts of chlorophyll packed into it.
When a plant has more chlorophyll, it needs less light to produce the same amount of energy to grow. When it comes to Ruscus, this plant has acclimatized to thrive under the deep shade of dense forests or hedgerows.
You can place this plant indoors in a spot that gets no more than 2 hours of direct sunlight or 4 hours of indirect sunlight per day.
If you have a Snake plant, the Ruscus can be placed next to it because the two have similar light requirements.
Protect your Ruscus from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. Although this tough plant will not wilt easily, the tips of its foliage may turn brown and crisp.
Ruscus aculeatus requires standard amounts of water. This means the soil should be kept consistently moist and watered as soon as the top few inches get dry. It can tolerate droughts well and is also resistant to over-watering to some extent.
While most easy to care for houseplants require minimal water and will die if over-watered, Ruscus is unique in this matter.
This plant is easy to care for. Although it requires average amounts of water, it can tolerate both underwatering and overwatering, to some extent.
Ruscus is quite a tough plant and will not show any signs of distress even if it has not been watered for days. When it finally shows wilting foliage, by then, the plant has suffered a lot of damage.
So better not wait too long to water this plant and keep checking its soil for moisture.
You can easily build separate schedules for winter and summer by checking the soil moisture for a couple of weeks, and you’re good to go.
However, do not follow your schedule as hard and fast law. Watering sessions always must be adjusted in case of very hot and dry conditions or cool and rainy days.
Compared to other usual houseplants, Ruscus aculeatus can tolerate low temperatures well. While ideal growing temperatures are from 55-85°F (12-30°C), this plant can tolerate cool temperatures as low as 39°F(4°C)! The native European plant can be grown outside year-round in USDA zones 7b and up.
Tropical heat can get a bit too much for this plant that does well in temperate conditions.
If you live in a hot and humid climate, protect this plant from the intense heat by bringing it indoors or giving it a shaded, windy spot.
Although the Ruscus plant can tolerate pretty low temperatures, it is not to be left outside in the frost or if it snows in your area. Bring it inside to overwinter.
Overwintering a Ruscus is as easy as it gets. Just give it any spot near a window, and it is sure to do well.
Ruscus aculeatus does not have any specific humidity requirements and can do well regardless. It grows in the Mediterranean environment naturally, where humidity levels fluctuate all year. This plant will tolerate humidity levels anywhere from 10-70%. High humidity may lead to fungal infections.
Ruscus has no specific humidity requirements and is used to pretty low humidity levels.
When you bring it indoors to overwinter, this plant will not need a humidifier or other humidity sources, unlike most houseplants.
Make sure to give this plant good ventilation. Poor ventilation coupled with improper watering practices can encourage fungal growths on the foliage.
Ruscus does not necessarily require fertilization. However, young plants can be fertilized with high-phosphorous fertilizer to encourage swift toot growth and establishment. Mature plants can be fertilized yearly to boost blooms and fruiting.
The Butcher’s broom plant is used to growing in not so fertile lands and will not need fertilization. However, if you must make sure you are using a balanced formula.
Young plants need high phosphorous content to establish themselves and grow healthily.
Moreover, make sure you don’t overfertilize the plant with high nitrogen content. Highly nitrogenous fertilizer will encourage vigorous vegetation and will suppress blooms.
Ruscus aculeatus is a perennial shrub and grows in neat, tightly formed groups. They can grow 2-3 feet tall when planted in the ground. New plants grow as suckers and will cover a considerable amount of land in little time. It will grow up to 2 feet tall in pots.
One of the most remarkable features of the Ruscus aculeatus, which also makes it a unique specimen, is that its leaves are not actually leaves!
The leaf-like structures we see growing out of the main stems are actually called cladodes and are flattened versions of plant stems.
So, the other most surprising thing about this plant is that the flowers that appear to be blooming out of the center of its leaves are actually blooming out of flattened, leaf-like stems.
The actual leaves are very small and cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Ruscus produces bright red fruits from the axils of the cladodes in late summer give the plant a flamboyant look.
The bright red-berried along with deep or dark green upright foliage gives this plant an unreal look.
Although they reproduce and fill an area quickly, the Butcher’s broom plant itself is not a very fast grower.
With only a few inches of height growth every year, this species grows in neat, closely packed mounds.
Plant your Ruscus in a medium-sized pot to allow it to grow to a good height and produce new suckers. Pots made of any material can be used. Clay pots are recommended, however, for better plant health. The pot must have adequate drainage.
As a houseplant, the Ruscus plant looks good in chic, smart-looking pots. Concrete pots are also a good option.
Regardless of the pot type you choose, it is essential to maintain adequate drainage. Place a layer of small rocks or pebbles at the bottom layer of the pot before putting the plant inside.
With a slow grower such as a Ruscus plant, pruning is not a very important factor. The plant naturally grows in a neat mound and will not grow out of its pot. So, while pruning to cut back to shape is not really a thing with Ruscus, you will have to clean out dead plant matter every now and then.
One or two stems in a clutch of Ruscus plants tend to die for some reason every year. Dead plant matter invites fungi and other pathogens, so it is better to cut out such stems from the base.
Ruscus Aculeatus Plant Propagation
Ruscus plants naturally reproduce through seed as well as vegetatively. They can easily be propagated by plant division. Young suckering plants can be separated from the group once it has developed its root system. Propagation is best done in early spring.
Ruscus propagation is best done in early spring, which gives the separated baby plants enough time to establish themselves before temperatures rise.
Take the root ball out of the pot and examine the root structure by slowly raking off the soil. You will soon start differentiating the root structures of the central mound from new suckers.
Gently start tugging on the stems you want to separate as the roots untangle. Pulling the tangled roots apart at once will lead to severe root damage.
Once separated, plant the baby plants in a new pot and cover their roots with houseplant potting mix. Gently dab on the sides of the soil to eliminate air pockets.
Keep the baby pots in a well-shaded and warm place to encourage the plant to establish themselves quickly.
Common Problems with Ruscus Aculeatus
Ruscus Aculeatus is a tough plant and is not susceptible to typical diseases or pest infestations. It stands firm in the face of severe conditions and can tolerate droughts as well as excess water.
This plant is toxic if ingested, which is why Ruscus can be grown easily without being eaten up by deer or other herbivores.
Make sure no livestock munches on this ornamental plant as most parts of the plant are toxic. Moreover, this plant is severely poisonous to cats.
Ruscus Aculeatus is surely one of the easiest plants to grow, whether as a houseplant or landscape decoration. It tolerates cold conditions well, so you don’t have to worry a lot about it in the winter.
Its rare anatomical features and beautiful color contrasts make it a treat to grow.
Also, you can also take advantage of its herbal properties with the right medicinal knowledge.
Frequently Asked Questions about Ruscus Aculeatus
How can I use Ruscus Aculeatus medicinally?
Any plant should only be used for its medicinal properties only after extensive research. To give an overview, only the underground parts of the Ruscus Aculeatus plant, the roots, and rhizomes are used for their herbal properties after being dried.
Why does Ruscus Aculeatus have brown tips on foliage?
Brown, crisp tips may appear on Ruscus Aculeatus cladodes because of over-watering or exposure to extreme sunlight. Check on the soil for signs of excessive moisture or move the plant to a heavy shade. If a cladode is heavily damaged, it can be pruned off.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.