The Red Ficus: How to care for your Ficus elastica Ruby
The Ficus elastica ruby is an attractive, rose-tinted variety of the Ficus elastica. Just like the more common Ficus elastica, the ruby Ficus elastica have glossy ovate leaves and a vertical growth habit. The only difference is that their leaves are marked in red, dark pink, and cream. The vividness of the red varies between plants.
The ruby Ficus looks so impressive that you might suspect it requires advanced gardening skills but this is far from the case. Read on for how to keep your ruby Ficus happy.
A ficus elastica ruby with pale pink and cream markings https://twitter.com/laurclinn/status/1362949883972390914
TEMPERATURE, POSITION, AND LIGHTING
The best way to keep your ruby Ficus looking its finest is by getting the lighting conditions right. While the ordinary Ficus elastica appreciates shaded spaces, you need to give your ruby elastica much more sun.
Your Ficus ruby will be happiest in an area flooded with bright but indirect light. Direct light will scorch the leaves but keep it too dark and the red markings will fade. Not only will you end up with a much less dramatic-looking plant, it will also start to drop its leaves. A south-facing window is fine as long as you have net curtains to moderate the light. West and east-facing windows are best.
The temperature range of most indoor spaces will suit the ruby Ficus. It needs anywhere between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Never let temperatures drop below 60.
Like all tropical plants with large glossy leaves, the ruby Ficus will attract dust. Wipe your plant clean regularly with our houseplant leaf cleaner made from sustainable plant fiber.
Keep the soil always slightly moist (not waterlogged) and never let it dry out completely. Using a suitable soil mix will help maintain the right level of moisture – read on this below.
When you water, run the soil under a tap for 30 seconds. Then place the pot on a dry surface for half an hour so that any excess moisture drips out.
This plant prefers relatively high humidity. Here are tips for keeping the air around your plant moist.
- Place a group of plants on a tray of pebbles with water halfway up the depth of the pebbles. Make sure the bottom of the pot doesn't touch the water as this will make the soil too soggy. The idea behind the pebble tray is that the pebbles give a larger surface area for water to evaporate off of. Grouping plants together also increases humidity in their immediate surroundings.
- Mist with a bottle spray several times a day. If you have a busy schedule and are likely to forget, opt for the pebble tray.
- Get a humidifier. This is one of the most effective ways of raising air humidity, especially if you have a large number of humid-loving plants indoors.
During the spring and summer, fertilize your ruby Ficus every six weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer. A balanced fertilizer is one that contains phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen in an equal proportion. Don’t add too much as your soil should give your plant some of its essential nutrients. It can be a good idea to dilute the fertilizer more than the manufactuer’s instructions tell you to as over-feeding your plant can be more harmful than under-feeding. Don’t fertilize during winter.
The Ficus elastica’s natural habitat is rainforest undergrowth. Here, the soil is made up of decayed organisms and is rich in nutrients. Recreate this habitat for your plant by providing a soil that is heavy in organic matter. But you also need to make sure the soil doesn’t get too heavy and retain excess moisture. Keep your soil well-draining by adding looser, coarser material. This will keep the soil mixture full of air pockets.
The best soil mix for your ruby Ficus elastica is one part coco chips or pine bark, one part perlite, and one part houseplant potting soil.
How often you give your ruby Ficus a bigger pot will depend on how fast it is growing. You can estimate whether it needs a bigger pot by eye – if the plant is getting much wider than the pot, it may be time for an upgrade.
The Ficus elastica does not like to be rootbound so make sure you keep an eye on this. You can check whether its roots have outgrown the pot by removing the plant and seeing whether there are lots of roots wrapped around the soil. You should aim to upgrade the pot before you reach this point.
Spring or summer is the best time to repot. The plant will be actively growing during this time, meaning that it can easily repair any tissue damage that happens during the pot transfer.
The ficus elastica ruby can come in a darker red https://twitter.com/ErikaMonika123/status/1388795044786688000/photo/2
The Ficus has a vertical growth habit. This means that it tends to be taller than it is wide. Once your plant reaches the desired height, you can prevent more vertical growth by pruning the top of the plant. Prune off any branches that might be emerging from the main trunk.
If you do want a bushy wider plant, you should focus on encouraging any branches emerging from the main trunk to branch into further smaller branches. Prune any branches emerging from the main trunk just above one of its growth nodes. This will simulate more branches. Eventually, you will achieve a wider more voluminous plant.