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Most of us are familiar with the rubber plant, a stunning, dark burgundy-colored tree that grows tall and luscious in tons of homes. But, if you're someone who loves color, it may not be for you. Thankfully, its cousin, ficus Tineke (otherwise known as the variegated rubber tree) is a beautiful pink, green, and white plant that instantly adds a pop of color to any landscape. The best part? It's totally beginner-friendly and easy to care for.
- Botanical Name: Ficus elastica Tineke
- Common Name: Variegated rubber tree, ruby rubber tree
- Plant Type: Tree
- Mature Size: 50 feet tall (outdoors), 2 to 10 feet tall (indoors)
- Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
- Soil Type: Well-draining potting mix
- Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5
- Toxicity: Toxic
Ficus Tineke Plant Care
Thankfully, the ficus Tineke is a relatively low-maintenance houseplant. If you give it the correct placement and water, chances are, it will thrive.
That being said, always be sure to check the soil moisture with your finger or a soil probe before giving it a drink, as the tree hates to have soggy roots. When it's time to water, the top two to three inches should be relatively dry. This means you should water it just about once a week, but every plant is different.
The plant gets its gorgeous colors from living in bright lighting conditions. Too much light, like sun from a south- or west-facing window, can actually scorch the leaves, so be sure to place it a couple of feet away from the window to keep that from happening.
Placing it directly in an east-facing window is great. The more light it gets, the better the chances are that the leaves will hang on to their pink and ruby hues.
The cream-colored patches on the leaves mean there's less chlorophyll in them. Less chlorophyll = more light needed for photosynthesis.
Best Growing Conditions for Ficus Tineke Plants
While they can somewhat tolerate low-light conditions, ficus Tineke tends to lose its pink and ruby coloring when they aren't exposed to bright light. Because of the variegation in their leaf color, they don't have as much chlorophyll in their leaves as other plants. This can make it difficult for them to photosynthesize if they don't have enough light. Plus, they're less likely to produce new growth in low-light conditions.
Ficus tineke plants like having slightly moist soil, but it's always better to under-water than overwater. Giving your plant too much water can cause root rot, which can be hard to fix.
Avoid getting water on the leaves when you give your plant a drink, as it can stain the leaves.
To keep your plant looking its best, don't forget to dust the leaves with a microfiber cloth and turn it periodically. This will ensure the leaves get the light they need and that they get it on all of their leaves.
Ficus Tineke Varieties
Technically, the ficus tineke is a variety of ficus elastica, or the rubber plant. While a traditional ficus elastica burgundy has dark, almost purple leaves, other varieties come in a ton of different colors.
If you prefer the darker leaves of the ficus elastica burgundy, perhaps try the decora cultivar (which has wider leaves) or the black prince cultivar, which leaves are almost black in color. The sophia variety has broad green leaves if that's the color way you prefer.
The varieties with variegated leaves (tineke, ruby, and Doescheri) all look quite similar, only varying slightly in color.
How to Propagate Your Ficus Tineke Plant
Much like other ficus varieties, the Tineke is rather easy to propagate. If you prefer using water as your propagation method, simply take a cutting of the plant from the main stem. Be sure to use a sharp, clean blade to make the cut, and take a section that has at least three or four leaves. After that, place the stem in water and watch roots grow. When the roots are two to three inches long, it should be ready to plant in soil.
You can also choose to propagate the Tineke by sticking a stem straight into the soil. Just make sure it gets plenty of humidity as it acclimates to its new home. Doing this can be as easy as keeping a humidifier nearby or placing a large plastic bag over the top of the plant to keep moisture in.
Common Growing Problems
Normally, a ficus Tineke will give you hints as to what is wrong with its leaves. Yellowing leaves may mean you've overwatered, so check the soil to see if it feels too wet or soggy. On the flip side, if your leaves are crispy and have brown spots, it may be too dry or getting too much sun exposure. A ficus elastica will let you know it needs a drink when its leaves get a little droopy and sad-looking.
If your leaves are losing their variegation in color, try moving the plant closer to a light source. Often, the leaves will become more green and plain in color if not receiving enough light.
Also, as always, keep an eye out for tiny pests that may be hiding out under your plant's leaves. If something is feeding on them, you might notice funny spots on the leaves or rapidly dropping leaves.
Potting and Repotting Your Ficus Tineke Plant
Ficus plants tend to grow slow and steady, so it all depends on the size of your plant and how quickly it's growing. If you notice roots coming out of the bottom or top of your pot, or if the soil is really pulling away from the sides of your pot, it may be time to put your plant in a new home.
Make sure not to place your plant in a vessel that's too big though—anything more than two inches wider in diameter than the original pot may shock your plant. It's kind of like going from a fish tank into the ocean—it's overwhelming.
When you repot, be sure to use a potting medium that drains well and isn't super clumpy. These plants don't like having soggy roots.