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Variegated Rubber Plant Complete Care Guide For Beginners

The variegated rubber plants are one of my most favorite indoor plants at the moment because they are so gorgeous. As you can see, the coloration of this houseplant is not only beautiful but also elegant. It makes an incredible complement in most room décor, especially the minimalist ones. So if you plan to get one of these, I am here with the complete care guide for variegated rubber plant. I include every piece of information that you need to know about this foliage, so feel free to check them out.

1. What Is A Variegated Rubber Plant?

Variegated rubber plant aka Ficus Elastica Variegata stands out beautifully among other rubber plants due to its leaf color. The plant is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia, and it gets its name from its rubbery and thick leaves. Its leaves have shades of cream, green, pink, red, and yellow in random patterns, so no two variegated rubber plants look the same. A variegated rubber plant can grow up to 30 to 45 feet and spread up to 30 feet outdoors. If you keep it indoors, it only grows to be around 6 to 10 feet tall. Variegated rubber plants add an elegant touch to every home and room settings, and taking care of them is fairly easy. It is also among the most trendy houseplants these days, its beauty is simply second to none.

2. Variegated Rubber Plant Basic Care Tips

It is necessary to know basic care tips for your variegated rubber plants both before and after you get them. The basic care tips involve common things that you should provide them regularly to help with their growth. When you give them all the things they need, your beautiful plant will flourish healthily for you. The tips below are easy and simple to follow, so let’s check them out and see what they are.

2.1. Fertilizer

The best time to feed fertilizer to your variegated rubber plant is during the growing season which is spring and summer. Look for a quality houseplant fertilizer because this type is healthy and safe for the plant. Note that this plant is a slow grower due to the high variegation in the leaves. With proper and sufficient fertilization, you will be able to naturally increase the growth of the plant. However, do not over-fertilize the plant because it can lead to diseases or pests. Also, you should always read the instruction to ensure proper feeding. This type of plant will only need fertilizer during their growing seasons, and fertilization once every month is enough. You should avoid giving fertilizer to the plant during cooler months because it can lead to spindly growth. Proper fertilization means healthy growth, and both you and the plant will be happy.

2.2. Humidity

Because it loves humidity, you want to make sure that there is enough of that in the room. Without sufficient humidity, brown spots will start to appear on the leaf edges of the plant. If the environment of your room is too dry, then get a humidifier to fix the problem. Another method is to mist them daily in order to increase the humidity around the plant. You can also open the window on a sunny and windy day to let some fresh natural in sometimes. When there is enough humidity, the plants will also grow beautifully which you can tell by the appearance of their leaves.

2.3. Light

This plant likes well-lit spots with indirect sunlight, so it can thrive in many areas of the house. Just like other variegated plants out there, this one also prefers to stay from direct sunlight. This is because direct sunlight can burn their leaves, causing the beautiful colorations to fade or turn yellow. Another thing is that you should avoid putting the pot of this rubber plant in the shade. Doing so will lose the variegated markings on their leaves, and you don’t want that to happen. The perfect place for this plant should be a sunny spot but with a sheer curtain to shield. But if you see its leaves begin to drop or lose color, that means the plant needs more light. You can reposition it or remove the curtain so that it can absorb the sunlight that it needs.

2.4. Pruning

Just like other potted plants, you can also prune your variegated rubber plant to maintain its shape and size. Regular pruning and trimming also keep them looking neat and tidy, especially in indoor space. Another benefit of pruning is that it encourages the plant to develop more side shoots. Along with that, it also helps to reduce the demand for the plant to develop a larger root system too. This part is important because roots are in a confined space in a pot, and large roots can be a problem. You can prune and trim your variegated rubber plant once in a while, especially when it gets too tall. Simply cut off the top to your desired height using clean and sharp scissors or shears. It is completely safe, and it is necessary to shape the plants when it outgrows the pot or space.

2.5. Soil

The best soil for variegated rubber plants is a quality well-draining houseplant soil mixture, and an all-purpose mix will also do. Because it is susceptible to overwatering, these two types of soil can help mitigate the problem. You want the soil to drain all the water away so that it won’t sit in soggy soil. Remember that damp and soggy soil can cause root rots, and that is not a good thing for the plant. Well-draining soil does not only provide proper draining but also aeration to the roots and the entire plants. And this is exactly what you should look for if you want your plant to grow healthily. High-quality soil can prevent many diseases and problems, and you should not overlook this part.

2.6. Temperature

A suitable temperature for this type of plant is in a range between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This is actually a common room temperature, but the AC that you use can make things different. If the plant is in the room with you, make sure that the temperature is not too cold or hot. At the same time, don’t keep it too close to any AC or heat vents. This can affect their health greatly which can result in fading or unhealthy appearances on the plant.

2.7. Watering

Before you let it drink, make sure to check the soil first. If the top 1 or 2 inches of the soil is dry, then it is a good time to water it. When watering, do it thoroughly and make sure that the water can drain from the plant through the draining holes. The important things to remember are to avoid getting the leaves wet and letting the plant sit in water. These two can affect the growth and health of plants, leading to damages and diseases that can kill them. You should water your variegated rubber plant every 5 to 7 days in summer, or when the leaves look wilted. As for the winter months, watering it every 10 to 14 days will do.

3. Variegated Rubber Plant Common Problems

Image Source: garden.org

As a pretty plant, it is not difficult to notice when there are problems with it. The appealing appearance of the plant will start to change, and that is when you know there is something wrong. However, there are some common problems with variegated rubber plants that you should know about. I describe each of them briefly below, so take a look and see if your plant has any.

3.1. Brown Edges

When you underwater your variegated rubber plant, brown edges will start to appear on the leaves. It is also a common problem because we often forget to water the plant since they don’t require daily watering. To avoid that from happening, you can give your plant a little extra water during your busy days or weeks. Check the soil and see if it is dry enough to receive a little water. That way, you won’t have to worry that the plant will die from dehydration when you are busy. Another reason for brown edges could be from root rot due to damp and soggy soil. The only solution is to check to see which problem it is. Dry soil means underwater and soggy soil means root rot, simple as that.

3.2. Brown Spots

Things are different when there are brown spots on the leaves instead of brown edges. This is probably the most common thing that happens on most variegated rubber plants out there. It could be dry edges on the leaves or damages in the middle of the leaves. Brown spots or dry tips occur when the plant is sitting under direct sunlight that scorches its leaves. Such unsightly appearances should be treated immediately, and repositioning is the only solution.

3.3. Dull Leaves

When you notice that the leaves of the plant become dull, it could be the infestation from spider mites or thrips. Dull leaves are the result of losing nutrients because the pests feed by sucking their cells or sap. This is why you should regularly check the leaves and the base of the plants for bugs or insects. Pests like spider mites and thrips multiply fast, so you should be able to detect them early. That way, you will also be able to save your plants on time as well. There are a few ways that you can get rid of spider mites and thrips in the videos below.

3.4. Mushy Stems

You know it is overwatering when things get mushy, and too much water can always lead to root rot. The moment you notice a funky smell or mushy stems on the plant, it is time to take action. If things are mild, then you can just stop watering your plants for a while until the soil is dry. In case the conditions are serious, then you will need to repot the plants to a new home. When repotting, make sure to remove the rotting roots and change the soil. Then avoid overwatering them again or the same issue will occur once more.

4. Variegated Rubber Plant – FAQs:

4.1. Do rubber plants need direct sunlight?

No, they don’t. All rubber plants don’t need direct sunlight, and they actually prefer to be away from direct sunlight. This is because it can burn their leaves, causing damages and fading to the leaves. Bright indirect light will do, so it is advisable to stick to that.

4.2. How much sun does a variegated rubber plant need?

A variegated rubber plant needs bright indirect sun, and it can stay in that condition all day every day. As long as you provide it with bright indirect sun, there is nothing that you need to do. You should also rotate the plant so that all parts can receive equal light to aid their growth.

4.3. How do you take care of a variegated rubber tree?

Besides the basic needs of the plants, you should also know some useful maintenance habits for them. There are a few common maintenance mistakes that you should avoid to keep your pretty greens happy. Those easy things to do include:

  • Regularly dust their leaves to remove the accumulation that may attract bugs.
  • Keep the plant away from air conditioner vents and fireplaces because they don’t do well in extreme temperatures.
  • Choose a pot with proper draining holes so that the excess water can leave. Damp soil is bad for this type of plant because it can lead to root rots and other diseases.
  • Check the windows during the winter months because cold drafts can make your plant droop. This is also when you need a humidifier to maintain a balanced and healthy environment for it.

4.4. How quickly does a variegated rubber plant grow?

This type of plant tends to grow fast during its growing season under proper care and sufficient fertilization. The indoor ones can gain up to 24 inches or more in height each growing season. As for the outdoor variegated rubber plants, their maximum height is between 50 to 100 feet. This may take over 10 years to reach this height, but it looks magnificently beautiful.

4.5. How do you propagate a variegated rubber plant?

You can propagate your variegated rubber plant when it is big and healthy. The best time to propagate them is from early spring to late summer. What you will need are a gallon zip-top bag, paper towels, rooting hormone powder, sharp pruners, a small pot, and well-draining potting soil. To propagate a variegated rubber plant, follow the steps below:

  1. Pick a healthy stem that is between 8 to 10 inches long, and tip cuttings are the best.
  2. Make the cut about halfway up the stem, wear gloves if you have allergic reactions.
  3. Trim the cutting to remove the bottom leaves, you don’t need the leaves at the bottom.
  4. Put the cutting in a pot of moistened potting soil, and place the whole pot in a plastic bag.
  5. Regularly water the plant and keep it warm until it grows strong enough to move to a larger pot.

You can also propagate it in water, and the video below will show you how to do it.

4.6. Is a variegated rubber plant toxic?

Yes, it is. All rubber plants and trees can be toxic to your pets upon consumption and ingestion. So make sure to keep it out of reach of your curious pets, and always keep a close watch. Humans may also be allergic to the sap of the tree, so handle the plant carefully if you have allergic reactions. If you break off a stem, a milky white substance which is the toxic part will ooze out. So be extra careful when you prune or trim your variegated rubber plant.

Final Words

Variegated rubber plants are perfect to have when it comes to adding color and life to the space. Its beautiful and unique colorations make it one of the most gorgeous indoor plants to have. You can also display it outdoors sometimes when the weather is nice and warm. Since it is also easy to care for, growing one in the room is simply great. With all the tips above, I am sure that you will be able to plant one with ease. In case you have any doubts or questions, I am always here to help you out.

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