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Variegated Rubber Plant Care — Top Tips!

Variegated Rubber Plant Care — Top Tips!

Rubber plants share a long history due to their wonderful uses and benefits for the environment and people. 

Despite more advanced rubber-making methods today, the traditional approach is still used in villages and forests to produce latex. 

This latex is formed as a white sticky substance on prominent veins of the plants and is further used to make gloves, rubber bands, chewing gums, mattresses, balloons, and much more. 

Due to its beautiful coloring and substantial size, this plant is a great choice to brighten up your living space. 

Whether it is an empty corner or a dark spot in the house, this plant is a perfect choice to bring some natural colors into your home. 

The plant has large soft leaves with a velvety texture, and the midrib is usually bright red, with a few plants having pink or light red midribs. 

Native to Southern Asia, this plant can reach a great height of about 60 meters in the open, whereas when kept inside the house, it can go up to six to ten meters tall. 

The botanical name of this plant is Ficus Elastica (the word ‘elastica’ referring to its elastic nature and uses). 

 

 

Variegated Rubber Plant Care

Make sure to keep a Variegated Rubber dry in between waterings. Use coarse sand, peat moss, and pine bark as an optimal potting mix. Variegated rubber plants thrive in lots of indirect light and aren’t picky about the humidity levels. A humidity of 40-50% is sufficient.  The temperature should be between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 21 degrees Celsius). Feed them with a high-phosphorus fertilizer once weekly for optimum growth.

 

Soil

As Ficus Elastica, more commonly known as a variegated rubber plant, cannot stay in waterlogged soil for extended hours, it is better to find a pot with large drainage holes at the bottom to ensure that the soil is not wet for a long time. 

Also, the material used in the potting mix should be considered thoroughly as a poor mixture of ordinary soil will lead to many leaf problems.

If you want to assemble the right potting mix at home, you will need to get coarse sand, sphagnum (also known as peat moss), and pine bark. 

Make equal portions of all three depending upon your pot size and give it a good mix. Transfer the mixture to your plant pot and start planting your rubber tree. 

On the contrary, if you want to buy the right potting mix, go for a well-draining soil mix that provides the best aeration. 

 

Temperature

If you are taking care of Ficus Elastica, controlling temperature is what you need to do your best. 

This plant is extremely susceptible to changes in temperature and can not tolerate drastic temperature changes in times of relocation of the plant. 

Always make sure that you adjust the plant temperature slowly and gradually. This process will take many days, a month at most, but it is only for the best growth of your plant. 

If shifted to a colder environment suddenly, it will show signs of drooping leaves and stained ends. 

The optimal temperature for a variegated rubber plant is 60 Fahrenheit to 70 Fahrenheit (15 to 21 degrees Celsius). 

Also, avoid placing the plant in a colder environment than the range given above, as the growth is likely to be stunted in colder temperatures. 

 

Light

Provide lots of bright indirect light for variegated rubber plants. 

However, always keep in mind that the light needs to be indirect as direct exposure to sunlight will rapidly burn the leaves. 

You can place this plant near your window or even inside the window, provided that the sunlight does not hit the pot directly. Covering the pot with a thin fabric should do well in this case. 

However, in other instances in which you do not want to keep it inside the window, you can place it in a spot in the room where the sunlight is not obstructed by any other object and can reach its bright-colored leaves. 

In cases where you can not find the perfect spot for your variegated rubber plant, you can also purchase ‘grow lights‘ to support its growth.

All you need to do is switch on the bulb for about fifteen to sixteen hours a day in breaks. Do not be tempted to switch on the bulb 24/7 as it would be lethal for the plant and burn the luscious leaves. 

It is also recommended to wipe the leaves gently every day to sweep off any accumulated dust. 

Otherwise, the dust can create a layer of dirty molecules on the surface of the leaves and make it less likely for them to absorb the light effectively.

 

Water

The variegated rubber plant is very susceptible to soggy soil in the bottom of the pot, which later causes rotting of the root. 

This can be extremely bad as rotten roots will eventually deteriorate the whole plant and remove its lush bright color. 

To avoid that, check the upper part of the plant soil, about two inches to three inches, and see if it is still wet. If yes, be patient and allow the soil to absorb the remaining water. 

Water the rubber plant only when you find the soil’s top 3 inches to be dry. You can do this by simply inserting one of your fingers vertically in the soil and checking for moisture. 

An expensive yet useful way to check this is the use of a moisture meter.

Used in many industries and businesses, this small and significant tool helps to check the moisture level in packaged foods, preserved cans, and plant pots, of course. 

This will help you measure the level of water present in the soil at any given and also check precisely when it needs water. 

 

Humidity

A humidity of 40-50% is sufficient for variegated rubber plants.

There is no limit when it comes to humidity requirements for these plants.

All species of rubber plants thrive in humid environments but they do not need humidity to thrive as other tropical plants.

 

Fertilizer

While fertilizers are available in a number of options these days, you need to consider all options before getting your hands on one particular fertilizer. 

You should fertilize your plant once a week and not more than that, as excess fertilizing can also lead to adverse effects for the colorful and delicate leaves. 

Choose a slow-release fertilizer high in phosphorus, which will help enhance the leaves’ growth and prevent the plant from any pests or insects. 

 

Propagating

Once your plant starts to get messy with large leaves pouring all over the sides of the pot, it becomes important to propagate the plant to ensure proper growth. 

To propagate your ficus elastica, you will need a nicely cut stem. Choose the one that is about eight to ten inches long and cut at an angle. 

Trim the stem cutting to eliminate any baby leaves and then repot in a plastic bag containing the right potting mix for your plant. 

Make sure you are now using the old potting mix from your previous pot. Place the trimmed stem in the plastic bag and rest for a few days so that new roots can extend in the soil. 

Do not forget to water the plant generously when placed in the plastic bag. 

Remove the plastic bag and transfer it to the new pot once you see roots from the bottom of the bag; this indicates that a strong network of roots has been built to support your plant in the pot.

 

Pruning

Since the roots of your rubber plant are limited to a container of a particular size and the network of leaves above the roots is quite high and large, you need to make sure that the roots are well-equipped to support the plant health. 

To do this, prune the plant every once in a while to achieve the desired size to enhance proper growth. 

 

Common Problems for Variegated Rubber Plants

 

Pests

Many pests such as bugs and spider mites can infect your plant and make holes in the edges of the leaves. 

Spider mites

However, the good news is these are easy to treat. All you need to do is clean the leaves with a soft cloth dipped in warm water and soap solution.

Thrips are yet another endangering pest for the plants. Not only do they cause discoloration and wilting, but they can also be the reason for your plant dying completely. 

Thrips

Clean your plant once every two weeks to reduce the chances of thrips infecting your plant. 

 

Cercospora

Cercospora

Ficus Elastica is also very vulnerable to Cercospora, a fungus belonging to the ascomycete species. 

This fungus appears as tiny irregular spots with purple borders and further leads to large holes in leaves.  

 

Rotten Roots

Rotten roots are a common consequence when taking care of variegated rubber plants. 

Remember that root rot is one of the most common reasons leading to the death of the plant, and therefore, you need to be extra cautious if your plant shows signs of root rot

Some of the common symptoms of root rot are excess watering, slimy discharge from the midrib of the leaves, extremely moist and mushy soil, and bright soil color. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Variegated Rubber Plant

 

Should I keep this plant away from my pets?

Since the leaves release a white milky substance called latex, it can cause skin irritation and difficulty breathing for your pet. Therefore, the best solution is to keep it away from the pets.

 

Are there any other types of rubber plants?

The rubber plants have many names, each with variations in their colors, uses, and benefits. One of the most common rubber plants is Variegated Burgundy which has a dark red big leaf. Another type of rubber plant is Ruby which produces a pink shade in all leaves, giving it a very nice look. 

 

I don’t want to prune my variegated rubber plant as I love the large leaves reaching the roof of my living room. What should I do?

Bigger leaves mean more chances of insects and root rot. Also, as the plant grows, it loses its capacity to produce new shoots. Therefore, it is best to prune the leaves every once in a while as it allows the plant to grow more new sprouts and maintain their bright colors.

 

Why is my plant limping?

There can be many reasons as to why your plant is limping. The presence of occasional pests and excessive watering are some of the common reasons for limping plants. If taken good care at an early stage, your plant will revive its strength. 

 

Should I mist my Variegated Rubber Plant?

Variegated Rubber Plants thrive on higher levels of humidity. To increase the humidity level inside the house, you can use a pebble tray and place it under the bottom of the pot. You can purchase a humidifier to make sure your plant’s growing in the right conditions. 

 

What’s the best watering frequency for a Variegated Rubber Plant?

Make sure that you do not water the plant too frequently, as this will lead to rotten roots in no time. Therefore, to take good care and ensure the right growth for your plant, water it only when the soil is dry to touch.

 

Conclusion

This plant requires little attention and gives your house an appealing look with its bright red veins and prominent faded edges. 

With an affordable price and a few requirements, this plant can be an excellent choice to begin your planting journey.