Ficus Elastica Ruby Care Guide
Ficus elastica Ruby is a variegated version of the Ficus Burgundy. In some, the green is so dark it's almost black, in others the green is more, well, green. Instead of the creamy white variegation of the equally wish-list Ficus Tineke, the variegation on a Ruby varies from a pinky-tinged cream to an almost glowing coral-pink. New growth comes through an intense pinky-orange shade. Light is absolutely the key with these gorgeous girls. We give the Ficus elastica 'Ruby' a 2 out of 5 LTLC Rating, easy care provided a few simple considerations. Full care guide below...
New growth on a Ruby girl, above. This girl's borderline Tineke but she's pinking up pretty fast so was in need of more light and a touch of direct sun. Compare her to the much darker, almost burgundy green leaves on this Ruby babe below from our own personal collection, below. We've seem them even darker than this too.
And another darker Ruby girl whose green bits sit between the two, and variegated edges are more ruby-cream.
Temperature & Light
You may have read that Ficus will tolerate lower light but we definitely wouldn't recommend it for the Ruby. Our Ficus fam all enjoy direct morning sun then bright indirect light for the rest of day. The Ruby especially as she'll reward you with her green becoming darker, and variegation more pinky-orange when she gets plenty of light. Direct light isn't good for too long though, so best to avoid stronger afternoon sun in winter, and keep her out of direct summer sun altogether, or stick to a spot that gets the weaker early morning sun in summer.
Ficus are pretty chill about a range of temperatures. Anywhere between 10 to 29 degrees is all good. Hotter might be a worry. Cooler she can do but don't be caught slipping with over-watering if you're going below 10 degrees often in winter.
Evenly moist is the way to go for these girls. Let them drip dry before returning to their cover pot or saucer, or if you water in situ, tip out any excess after 30 minutes. No wet feet! A good water every one to two weeks is about right but decide based on the soil. We let our girls dry out down to about 5cm (1 to 2 inches). Frequent light fertilising is appreciated in the growing months. In spring and summer we add a half dose of Groconut to the water. Keep in mind those super-sized big leaves need a lot of nutrients, so if yours are in older soil or look like they're lacking a little somethin somethin then give them a balanced NPK feed like Plant Runner to replenish what they take from the soil. Little and often is best for feeding. High humidity isn't a must for Ficus, but still avoid placing them in drafts, or the path of your heat pump or air con.
A well draining soil is ideal, kept lightly, evenly moist to the touch (no boggy wetness for this girl). When it's time for a drink, in summer give your Ruby a good drench when the top 5 or so cms of soil is dry. In winter, also water based on her soil, but instead of a full drench each time, just aim for lightly moist soil each time you water (and again, always let your Ruby dry out in-between).
These girls can get big even in a small pot, so don't feel the need to pot-up too fast. You can just remove the top layer of soil and replenish with fresh new potting mix instead (called top-dressing). If you do prefer to pot up, then standard potting mix is okay, or a 3/4 potting mix, 1/4 perlite or something similarly free-draining. Go easy on the watering for a couple of weeks after repotting to avoid exposing the roots to a sudden increase in water from all that fresh new soil.
Ficus Elastica Tineke Pro Tips & Problem Solving
A common sign of not enough natural light. They can sometimes do this when you first get them, or when you move them to a new spot.
Best to avoid scratching or cutting these girls as like any Ficus they'll drip milky white sap from their leaves or woody stems for a surprisingly long time. That sap is not safe to ingest and can irritate eyes and sensitive skin, so best to pop something down to catch those drips, and wash your hands right away if you get any on you, and you'll be fine.
Ficus aren't the fastest growers, but if we're talking no growth at all the common reasons are low light, or being root bound. Obviously winter is typically a no-grow season, so spring and summer are the times to be concerned if you're not getting any lovely new leaves. If they're getting plenty of indirect bright light, no draughts, not root bound... everything seem fine, it could be they need a boost. Try a feed of a complete fertiliser like Plant Runner to put back what they're missing.
Those huge, almost waxy leaves can be a dust magnet, blocking the leaves from breathing and absorbing light properly. Easy fix. Just wipe them down with a damp cloth every month or so as needed. You can use leaf shine products for a high shine finish.
That's a no sorry. Ficus can be mildly poisonous to pets and to us. That milky sap we told you about above is the reason. It can cause stomach upsets if eaten, and irritate eyes and skin if you don't wash it off pretty quickly, especially if it gets in to a cut. Best kept out of reach of pets and kids. Safe to touch in general, just avoid that milky sap.
LTLC Rating (Love That Leaf Care Rating)
Give her decent light, moderate watering, fertiliser about once a month during spring and summer, and your Ficus Elastica Ruby will reward you with big, pinky-orange camo variegation and deep green leaves all year round. Not exactly Peace Lily or ZZ Plant level easy though, so we give Ruby a 2 out of 5 LTLC Rating.