Last Updated on November 16, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
The Variegated rubber plant or Ficus elastica variegata, as it’s also known, is used to warm tropical climates as it’s native to South and Southeast Asia.
It has beautiful, shiny, colorful leaves that really stand out in your home. The leaves are thick and have an almost rubbery look and feel, which is where it gets its name.
The name also comes from the white latex that runs through the plant’s leaves, which was once used to make rubber. Nowadays, they light up your home with their beautiful colors and lush, thick leaves.
The Variegated rubber tree is part of the Mulberry (Moraceae) plant family, and these are mostly tropical or subtropical trees and shrubs. You will find over 37 genera and 1100 species throughout the world. There are so many different variations around that you’re sure to find one to suit your home.
When grown outdoors, Variegated rubber trees can grow to between 35 feet, and a whopping 100 feet tall, and they spread out quite broad across the floor. Luckily they don’t grow that big when kept indoors but will grow to around six to ten feet.
We’ll let you know all you need to know about the Variegated rubber tree. This includes caring for the plants in your home and the issues you may face. We’ll also let you know how to propagate your Variegated rubber tree, allowing you to share your beautiful plant with your family and friends.
The topics we’ll cover in this guide are:
- Variegated Rubber Plant Varieties
- How To Care for a Variegated Rubber Tree
- Repotting Your Variegated rubber plant
- How to Prune Your Variegated Rubber Plant
- How to Propagate Your Variegated Rubber Plant
- Issues With Your Variegated Rubber Trees
Variegated Rubber Plant Varieties
There are many varieties of variegated rubber plants available, some of which are only suitable for growing outdoors in a tropical climate.
The most popular varieties to be grown as houseplants are:
Burgundy rubber tree: This type of variegated rubber tree has dark reddish leaves.
Doescheri: The leaves of this variety of variegated rubber tree are splashed with different colors, such as green, gray-green, creamy yellow, or white.
Tricolor (Pink rubber tree): This variegated rubber tree has gray-green leaves that are variegated with cream and pink. This is also known as a pink rubber tree.
Tineke: The leaves of this variegated rubber tree are light and dark green with a creamy white edge.
All rubber trees are relatively easy to care for. However, the variegated types, such as the pink rubber trees, and other varieties with splashes of different color need lots of indirect light. This light will help to keep their colors vibrant and healthy looking.
How To Care for a Variegated Rubber Tree
Variegated rubber plants are relatively easy to care for, and they grow pretty well in many different conditions. The simplicity of the plant care makes them an excellent gift for someone just starting with houseplants, as it’s easy to keep the Variegated rubber tree alive and looking good.
The stunning colors of the pink rubber tree make it an ideal gift to brighten up any home.
Potting and Soil
When you’re growing your Variegated rubber tree as an indoor plant, you need lots of drainage in the plant’s pot and plenty of room for the roots to grow. With this in mind, choose a slightly larger container to give it a chance to grow.
The best soil that you could choose for your Variegated rubber tree would be a houseplant potting soil. The potting mix is lighter than outdoor topsoil and is generally pest-free. It also offers nutrients that help your plant grow that it would ordinarily get from the soil in its native country. You can increase the drainage for your plant by adding perlite and some bark chips to the soil.
The Variegated rubber tree is relatively easy to care for, but it’s susceptible to over or under-watering. The amount of water you give is an essential element of the plant’s care and should be treated as such.
You should never overwater the plant, checking that the top two inches of soil are dry before watering. It can affect its chances of disease and pests if not watered correctly.
The soil needs to be well drained so that any excess water can easily run out of the pot. Soggy soil can cause a disease known as root rot and these plants are susceptible to this, so you need to be careful.
This kind of rubber tree is a slow grower. However, you can increase this slightly and improve the overall health of your plant by adding a good quality liquid houseplant fertilizer.
The fertilizer should be added to the plant during the growing seasons of spring, through to summer only. Don’t feed the plant during the dormant months of winter, as this will do more damage than good.
Your variegated plants love very bright indirect light, and this will promote growth and have them looking their best. Be careful to not place the plant in direct sunlight as this will burn its leaves.
The bright indirect light keeps the vibrant, variegated colors on the leaves, especially those of pink rubber trees. The pink rubber tree leaf colors will fade when placed in the shade.
The Variegated rubber plants can also grow in partial shade and will survive with a lower light level. However, they will grow very more slowly and will produce smaller leaves when given less light. If you start to see your plant’s beautiful colors fade, treat it to brighter natural light.
Temperature and Humidity
The Variegated rubber tree enjoys humid conditions and will suffer if its surroundings are too dry. If the air in your home isn’t humid, try spraying the leaves with water in a mist sprayer. The water will have a significant effect and will keep the plant moist.
You can increase the humidity levels further by adding a humidifier, or you could even try grouping it with other plants to boost the moisture that’s produced.
The ideal temperature for your plant would be between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They will still grow in lower temperatures than this, but they shouldn’t be close to any doors, vents or cold air drafts. The room needs to be naturally warm, so also keep them away from any heating or cooling appliances that may damage them or dry them out.
Repotting Your Variegated rubber plant
You should repot your plant in spring only, as it will just be starting to grow then and will recover from the move quickly. The Variegated rubber plants like to be slightly root bound, so you should only repot them when their roots fill the pot.
Your container needs to have lots of drainage holes to prevent overwatering, as a shortage of drainage will hold the water in the pot. Your plant should be healthy when repotting, and you shouldn’t try to move a plant that’s shedding its leaves.
Repotting a plant that’s in an unhealthy condition may make the problem worse and could cause permanent damage.
How to Prune Your Variegated Rubber Plant
The rubber tree plants are resilient to pruning, which can be done at any time of the year. However, the best time to prune these plants, especially the variegated varieties, such as pink rubber plants, would be late spring or early summer.
You need to have clean, sharp shears before starting your pruning. Remember that the plant will grow back stronger and healthier after a good prune. Pruning should begin just above a node, where the leaf is attached to the stem or where another stem branches off.
When pruning you can remove between a third up to half of the plant’s leaves, be careful not to prune too much. An over-pruned plant not only doesn’t look good but could cause lasting damage.
How to Propagate Your Variegated Rubber Plant
Propagating your Variegated rubber tree is a simple and straightforward procedure that can be done while pruning. As you’re pruning the plant, don’t throw away the cuttings. You can use these to grow more plants, spreading the love of Variegated rubber trees with your family and friends.
The first thing you should do is make sure that you have a suitable cutting to use. The ideal cutting is around six inches long and has at least two sets of leaves on it. The bottom set of leaves are then removed, and the stem planted into moist potting soil with good drainage.
The cutting should be covered with clear plastic or a glass jar, being careful not to touch the leaves with the covering. Your new rubber plant will then start to grow, giving you juvenile plants for all the family. Propagation can be done with all rubber plants, and the variegated varieties, especially the pink rubber tree, make an ideal gift.
Issues With Your Variegated Rubber Trees
Your Variegated rubber tree is relatively easy to look after and is resistant to many conditions. However, you will find that there are still threats to your plant’s health, as we will share with you.
Your rubber plant has thick meaty leaves that can be appealing to pests such as fungus gnats, spider mites, and mealybugs. These will generally lay their eggs on a new leaf as this has lots of energy and chlorophyll development.
Part of your routine should include wiping down your plant’s leaves regularly. While doing this, check if you can see any pests, holes in your leaves or a sticky substance that indicates a pest presence. If you do spot any of these, try using a strong blast of water in the first instance to dislodge them. If this doesn’t work, try neem oil sprayed all over the leaves.
Prevention is better than a cure, so make sure that you look after your plant correctly. A strong, healthy plant is far less susceptible to pests than a weak plant.
You’ll find that many of the problems with a Variegated rubber tree are caused by too much water. The main one of these would be root rot. This problem can be diagnosed by mushy roots and dark, wet peeling bark towards the soil’s surface. If your plant’s leaves become brown, this can be a sign of overwatering, and you should lay off for a while.
If the leaves are light brown and crispy, on the other hand, your plant needs water. It’s a fine balance between not enough water and overwatering. Once you find the right balance, your plant will be healthy and robust, with stunningly bright, vibrant leaves.
This plant is toxic to both humans and animals if ingested. With this in mind, you’ll need to be careful to keep the plant out of reach if you have children or pets. The last thing you want is them eating the plant and becoming sick.
The milky sap from the Variegated rubber tree can also irritate the skin. You should wear gloves when pruning so that you don’t get any of the plant sap on you.
Variegated rubber trees are stunningly beautiful plants that are relatively easy to look after in your home. They come in all kinds of colors and will brighten up any room.
You need to be careful with the positioning of the plant if you have children or pets in your home. The plant is toxic if ingested, and the sap is known to cause skin irritation, which you want to avoid at all costs.
The Variegated rubber tree needs very little care, but it prefers to be positioned in a brightly lit area away from the direct sun. The natural bright light will keep the colors on the plant looking vibrant, which is one of its distinguishing features.
We hope you enjoyed our guide and you’re now ready to fill your home with different varieties of Variegated rubber trees. The beautiful colors and thick, shiny leaves will brighten up any room and add a smile to your face.