Variegation is one of the many unique and beautiful traits of this plant. So, what is variegation? When a plant is variegated it means that its leaves or flowers have multiple color zones or regions. This feature usually makes for a stunning houseplant that resembles the paintbrush strokes found on a work of art.
The various colors of the rubber plant tree include light green, dark green, gray, pink, and tan. It's large leaves have a waxy shine that could be mistaken for a fake, plastic houseplant if not for its vibrant colors.
Now, lets talk science. Get excited! Ficus elastica is the scientific name of a species of plant that is part of the fig (ficus) genus and Moraceae family. It has a whole slew of common names including Indian Rubber Bush, Indian Rubber Tree, Rubber Fig, Rubber Bush Rubber Plant and Rubber Tree Plant. In nature, this large tree can grow as tall as 30-40 meters (100-130 feet).
Presenting... Ficus elastica!
Oddly enough, the broad oval green leaves of the Ficus elastica are largest on small, young plants and get smaller as the plant grows bigger. It grows aerial roots that spread out wide to collect nutrients and also help keep the tree from falling over. Believe it or not, in India the roots of Rubber Fig Trees have been guided over gorges to create what is called a living bridge. The next section will cover how the Variegated Rubber Plant originated as a hybrid of Ficus elastica!
Ficus elastica is native to Southeast Asia. It naturally grows in Malaysia, China, Nepal, India, Indonesia, and Burma. It has been introduced to various tropical regions that offer direct sunlight and now thrives in the wild in Hawaii, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, and Florida.
Origins of the Variegated Rubber Tree
Originally, attempts were made to see if the milky white latex of the Ficus elastica could be used to make rubber. This never did become a reality and commercial rubber today is made primarily from a plant called Hevea brasiliensis (confusingly, also referred to as the Rubber Tree).
Ornamental hybrids of Ficus elastica have been widely grown and are sold around the world as beautiful indoor plants that require only minimal plant care. Many of these hybrids are variegated and so it came to be that the Variegated Rubber Tree was born.
Move Over Fiddle Leaf Fig and Monstera, the Rubber Tree Plant is Here to Stay
The Fiddle Leaf Fig is all the rage these days and understandably so. The Monstera, with its corrugated leaves reminiscent of the Amazon, is another hot topic of houseplant enthusiasts. Now, without downgrading either one of these eye catching plants, let's broaden our horizons and make room for the Variegated Rubber Tree.
Like the Fiddle Leaf Fig, the Rubber Tree Plant has those attractive and interesting big oval leaves. However, unlike the Fiddle Leaf, the variegation of the Rubber Tree is next level when it comes to indoor plant decor. It really is a conversation starter just like a piece of art hanging on the wall. And arguably, the Rubber Tree has just as much of a tropical look as the Monstera! So, if you are looking for new plants to add some excitement to your collection, the Variegated Rubber Plant is a great place to start.
The Rubber Tree Plant could be that special pop of color that you've been looking for to complete your living or office space. Whether you're a minimalist looking for a touch of green or a hoarder of indoor plants looking to add to your jungle, the Variegated Rubber Plant has so much to offer.
Why does the Rubber Tree Plant make such a great Houseplant?
This plant has smooth oval leaves that can easily take the edge off sharp corners. It is actually well known in the practice of Feng Shui that a Rubber Tree Plant placed appropriately in a corner can bring luck and good fortune to your space. And who doesn't need a little luck and good fortune?
Light requirements of the Variegated Rubber Tree vs Other Types of Rubber Trees
Rubber Trees, in general, thrive with a medium amount of indirect light. However, the variegated versions of Rubber Trees really prefer a little extra bright light. The variegation will start to fade and dull out if they are placed in low light spaces. Keep in mind that too much direct sunlight can also cause problems. Strong sunshine can burn the leaves and lead to dark spots or brown edges. Often times the best spot for a Variegated Rubber tree is on a window sill!
The Ficus elastica Tineke and Ficus elastica Ruby are two different varieties of the Variegated Rubber Tree. The biggest difference between these two is color! The Tineke has mainly light and dark green leaves with tan or creamy edges. Tineke plants typically have a pink hue to their stems. The Ruby, as its name suggests, features leaves that have pink and even purple or burgundy variegations. The new growth is often a more vibrant pink red color on the Ruby.
Difference between the Ficus elastica Ruby and the Ficus elastica Tineke
Amazingly enough, propagating your mature Rubber Tree Plant is not only possible but highly recommended. This is a great way to grow your plant collection. Even better, you can use propagation to pay it forward. Gifting new plants to friends and family who have undoubtedly complemented your troupe of houseplants is a wonderfully selfless gesture.
The Magic of Propagation
All you need to do is trim a cutting off your plant and repot this mini Rubber Plant in appropriate potting soil, then place in indirect light. Before long you will see new growth and feel the thrill that propagating is known to incite.
Although caring for a Rubber Tree plant is low-key most of the time, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Overwatering is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make! Growers must know that overwatering your indoor plant can lead to the dreaded root rot. Water overload can cause yellowing of the beautiful leaves and eventually can even sadly lead to plant death.
Rubber Plant Care Can Get Tricky at Times
The Rubber Plant is similar to a succulent in that you should only water it when the top layer of soil becomes dry to the touch. The Ficus elastica variegata does best in potting mix with added perlite. One cool hack is to create drainage holes by putting some golf balls or large pebbles in the bottom of the pot.
Does my Rubber Tree require a humidifier close by? How frequently should I be repotting my plant? Will my plant cause skin irritation if I don't wear gloves while handling it? Don't be overwhelmed! These are all really common questions.
Unless You are a Seasoned Botanist, Care Tips are Essential
Check Out Our Comprehensive Care GuideNo need to stress, we've got your back. The best way to get all the answers to these burning questions is to check out our Plant Care Guide! Here you will find the most important tips and guidelines when it comes to caring for your Variegated Rubber Plant.
Our Plant Care Guide will provide information regarding fertilizing your Rubber Tree during it's growing season, instructions on how to prune your plant and ideal room temperature. There is even information on trouble shooting when your plant is suffering from any number of ailments (spider mites, oh no!) or just needs a little pick-me-up. This invaluable resource will make plant care a breeze!