Ficus Tineke Rubber Plant Care Guide

ficus tineke rubber plant
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With its towering height, deep pink stem and stunning variegated leaves, Ficus Tineke is a plant that introduces drama and color to any houseplant lover’s home.

Ficus Tineke is a rubber plant that goes by various names. It may also be known as a variegated rubber tree, Ficus Elastica or the India rubber fig. The great news is that it’s pretty easy to nurture – even for a total houseplant novice! As one of the best houseplants for beginners, this variegated rubber plant requires minimal care yet it radiates with so much glory.

This Ficus Tineke plant care guide shares with you what I’ve learned about growing the beautiful houseplant at home. Continue reading to find out all my insider tips and plant care know-how. 

About Ficus Tineke

Ficus Tineke’s attractions include its deep green leaves dappled with a pretty shade of cream around the edges. The stem and veins vary in color from a light, soft pink to a deep, dramatic burgundy. 

Like the Stromanthe Triostar, every rubber plant Tineke looks a little different from the next, so every single specimen is unique. As it can grow up to ten feet tall when cultivated indoors, this isn’t any shrinking violet! Yep, Ficus Tineke is a gorgeous-looking plant that no one can fail to notice. 

This guide will ensure your very own Ficus Elastica is a houseplant to be truly proud of. Covered is how to care for yours, including sunlight, watering, common problems, humidity, temperature and much more. If you want to cultivate the prettiest plant possible, then this guide is for you!

ficus tineke - variegated rubber plant care

Ficus Tineke Facts

Origin

Rubber plants originate in Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and India – hence the name Indian rubber tree. Ficus Tineke is a member of the Moraceae family

Size

Ficus Tineke can grow up to ten feet tall when kept indoors. Some plants will stay as small as two feet, though, so yours could end up anywhere in-between. This is nothing compared to its outdoor growing pattern, which can see this tree reach an impressive height of up to 50 feet!

Growth

Ficus Elastica grows around 24 inches (or 60 centimeters) per year. With this houseplant, growth tends to be a case of slow and steady wins the race. 

Flowering

Your variegated rubber tree is unlikely to flower when kept indoors. If you’re lucky enough for that to happen, the blooms will be white.  I’ve had mine indoors for a year now and it hasn’t grown any flower at all.

ficus tineke care - variegated rubber plant

Ficus Tineke Care

Sunlight

If you want your Ficus Tineke to benefit fully from sunlight, then it’s a good idea to dust its leaves carefully using a soft, lightly dampened microfiber cloth. A little weekly polish like this will also make sure your plant looks its very best!

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As with a lot of other houseplants it’s also a great idea to turn your plant periodically. This is because the leaves will naturally want to reach out in the direction of the sun. Turning it regularly therefore results in a more even growth pattern. 

In an ideal world, your plant would love to be kept in indirect sunlight by an east-facing window. In real life, though, this isn’t always possible. About a meter (or two feet) from a west or south facing window is also pretty good. Too close to either of those might mean the leaves get scorched. 

As this rubber plant does need sunlight for its pink and red colors to develop fully, a north facing spot isn’t the best choice. It does need to soak up some of those UV rays, so that the darker green parts of the foliage can set to work effectively. 

Temperature

The ideal temperature range for your Ficus Elastica is between about 60℉ (or 15 ℃) and 80℉ (or 27 ℃). Depending on where you live this shouldn’t be too hard to achieve, as it’s a pretty broad spectrum. 

Do make sure you keep your plant away from sources of heat such as a radiator and any air vents, drafty areas or air-con units in your home. 

Humidity

Ficus Tineke tends to thrive in medium humidity. If your home’s drier than average, you might need a plant humidifier to keep it healthy.  I keep mine in my bedroom where my humidifier is and switch it on during the day.

Watering

Ficus Tineke doesn’t do well if you’re overly generous with the watering can, so do take care not to give it a drink too often. Weekly is often about right, but the best rule of (green) thumb is to water it when the top layer of soil feels dry. You might need to leave it for a few more days. 

So what happens if you overwater it? Well it can develop root rot, which can be a tricky issue to fix. When it comes to this variegated rubber plant, prevention is so much better than cure! Yucky little fungus gnats may also be a problem when this plant is overwatered. 

One thing we’ve noticed is that the leaves can become stained if you let them get wet during watering. It’s a bit like the watermarks that can happen when you place a glass or mug onto a wooden surface. So do try to get the soil wet, rather than the foliage, if you don’t want this to spoil the look of your plant. 

You can water less frequently in winter – again the dryness of the soil is the best guide.  I always use my plant moisture meter to make sure I’m watering only when needed.

ficus tineke - variegated rubber plant

Feeding

The warmer half of the year is when you need to feed this type of rubber tree. Use a houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength about once per month. 

Potting

When you first bring it into your home, pot this Indian rubber tree in well-draining soil. Also make sure you use a container with drainage holes. This way excess moisture can escape easily, rather than causing root rot. 

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Once the roots begin to peek out from the bottom of the pot, it’s time to find a bigger one. This visible guide is another good reason in favor of always using a container with holes in it! A pot that’s a couple of inches larger than the previous one is perfect, and re-pot in spring if you can. 

Unlike Tradescantia Nanouk, Ficus Tineke should normally manage about a year in its first pot – but do keep an eye out for protruding roots just in case!

Pests

The kind of pests typically posing a problem for this Indian rubber plant include aphids, mealybugs and spider mites. Houseplant scale (which is a bug) or diseases like Anthracnose can also be an issue. 

Trimming

You can prune Ficus Elastica if you want to achieve a particular shape. No pruning should result in a tall, thin plant, while trimming can help produce a more rounded appearance. 

If your plant grows roots above soil level, don’t worry as this is normal for this species! It’s safe to trim these away carefully to tidy it, without doing any harm. 

Soil

The best kind of soil for your Ficus Tineke is a potting blend with good drainage. This helps prevent that soggy, rotten root problem from happening. Soil with some bark, perlite or peat in the mix is a good choice. 

Propagation

If you’re wondering how to propagate Ficus Tineke, then you should know that the best time to do this is during spring. New plants can be created from cuttings, or via air layering. This process may take a few months, so you might well need to be patient!

Air layering 

Air layering is a clever technique where new root growth is encouraged while the stem being propagated remains attached to the plant. It starts with picking a healthy-looking stem, then making a clean, sharp cut. You should only slice about a third of the way through the stem, and ideally about 15 centimeters (or 6 inches) from the top of it.    

The cut is then dressed with sphagnum moss to keep it moist. You may also add rooting hormone to speed things up, though that shouldn’t be necessary unless you are in a real hurry. After several months – ta da! You can pot the new roots, leaving the ball of moss in place, into a new pot. 

Cutting

Alternatively, take a cutting. This should also be about 6 inches (or 15 centimeters) from the top of a healthy stem, and directly above a leaf knot. Add rooting hormone before planting it, then place the small pot inside an almost-fully sealed Ziploc bag. 

After about two months the roots should’ve grown, so you can remove the bag. Leaves might take another few months to appear from that point. 

Safety

Here’s the bad news: Ficus TIneke is toxic to both animals and humans. Though unless you plan to munch on the foliage, that’s not really a problem. Just keep any small kids or pets who like to put everything into their mouths well away from it! 

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ficus tineke - variegated rubber plant with a new leaf

Common issues with Ficus Tineke

As is common with houseplants, Ficus Tineke’s foliage will usually be first to alter you to a problem. Look out for leaves that are yellowing, spotted, dry or dull in color. 

Sunlight

Crispy leaves with brown spots are a sure sign your plant is suffering from overexposure. Try placing it further away from the window, or move it to an east-facing one if that’s an option. 

If the leaf colors aren’t as bright, varied and attractive as before, your plant may be craving more sunlight. In this case try placing it nearer to the window. 

Water

A clear sign of overwatering is often yellowing foliage. Check the soil isn’t too soggy, and increase the intervals between watering accordingly to solve this issue. 

Temperature

This plant can tolerate quite a wide temperature range of between 60℉ (or 15 ℃) and 80℉ (or 27 ℃) or more. The temperature should thus only be a threat if it becomes very cold indoors – such as while you’re away and there’s no heating on. 

The Growth Cycle

Like most houseplants, Ficus Tineke mostly grows during spring and summer, and is more-or-less dormant once winter sets in.  

House Plant Pests

Look out for little pests that might be lurking. Spots or leaf drop can be a sign of an infestation. 

ficus tineke - variegated rubber plant leaf

Ficus Tineke FAQs

How often should I water my Ficus Tineke?

Most Ficus Tineke plants should be watered about once a week – or less. The important thing is to avoid overwatering as it can cause root rot. If the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch, then that’s the best indicator that your plant needs more moisture. Never water damp soil. 

Does Ficus Tineke need bright light?

Bright but indirect sunlight is best for Ficus Tineke. Too much light can scorch the foliage, while too little may mean duller colors and less variation. An east-facing window is the ideal spot – or try placing it a bit further from a west or south facing one. 

Are Ficus Tineke fast growing?

Ficus Tineke grows about 24 inches (or 60 centimeters) each year. A healthy specimen may end up anywhere between two and ten feet tall. One new leaf per month during the spring and summer growth season equals a pretty average rate of growth. 

ficus tineke - variegated rubber plant

Final Thoughts on Ficus Tineke Care

Ficus Tineke is a great plant – even for rookie green-fingered types. One of these beautiful rubber trees that’s well cared-for will always attract compliments. It’s also simple to look after as long as you keep an eye on things.

We love this Indian rubber tree and highly recommend cultivating your own one. It’s guaranteed to add color and drama to any living space! I place mine on a plant shelf above my bed and it adds such a nice pop of color.

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