Variegated Rubber Plant Guide: How to Grow & Take Care of your Plant 

Variegated Rubber houseplant

Who doesn’t want to give their home a rustic yet modern look? The variegated rubber plant or Ficus Elastica Variegata is the perfect indoor plant for this purpose! Native to Southeast Asia and South Asia, this plant is named after its shiny, rubbery, 5 to 12-inch-long, thick leaves. It belongs to the family Moraceae. The height ranges from 30 to 40 feet in the landscape and 100 feet in the native habitat, perfect for filling up those empty corners of your room!

The rubber tree has variegated colors and is available in green, white, red, yellow, cream, and pink tones. Its appealing shades make it the best-suited plant for your home.

Characteristics of Variegated Rubber Plant

Available Colors Red, Green, Yellow, Pink, Cream, White
Indoor Height Range6 To 10 Feet
Natural Height Range30 To 40 Feet
Temperature 16° To 27°C
Confidante PlantsPalms, Schefflera, And Dieffenbachia
Table 1.1 : Characteristics of Variegated Rubber Plant

General Information of Plant

Scientific NameFicus Elastica
Pronunciation FYE-Kuss-Ee-LASS-Tick-Uh
Common Name(S)Variegated Rubber Tree, Or Variegata India Rubber Fig
Family Moraceae
Origin South Asia
Outstanding TreeNone
USDA Hardiness Zone10B Through 11
Invasiveness Invasive
Uses Shades, Indoors, Planter, Highway Median
Availability Native to South Asia And Southeast Asia 
Table 1.2 : General Information of Variegated Rubber Plant

Description of Plant

Crown UniformitySymmetrical 
Crown ShapeOval 
Crown Density Dense 
Growth RateFast 
Table 1.3 : More infomation of Variegated Rubber Plant

Foliage/Leaf Characteristics 

Leaf ArrangementAlternate 
VenationBrochidodromous, Pinnate
PersistenceBroadleaves Evergreen
Blade Length8 To 2 Inches
Fall ColorNo Change
Characteristic Not Showy
Table 1.4 : Foliage/Leaf Characteristics of Variegated Rubber Plant

About the Fruit 

Fruit ShapeRound
Length<5 Inch
Characteristics Not for Wildlife, Not Showy, Fruits A Litter Issue
Table 1.5 : About the Fruit  of Variegated Rubber Plant

Variegated Rubber Plant with books in the shelf.

Tips for Caring of Variegated Rubber Plant

If you’re looking to get a variegated rubber plant, you might find the following tips useful to care for it.

Indirect Light

Variegated rubber plants require plenty of indirect sunlight as direct sunlight will burn the leaves. Keep it in a place where lots of sunshine hits (most probably by the window), and make sure to rotate it often to nourish the rubber plant evenly. Cleaning the plant off any dust particles ensures it gets the glorious sun rays evenly and grows adequately. 

High light settings are the reason behind the gorgeous variegation of the rubber plant, making it famous among other plants. Increasing the brightness will cause more shiny and white to show up on the leaves. To supplement the shine, you can buy a grow light bulb, as it is an easier way to get your plants their private sun. You must know How Much Light Does Your Plant Needs?


Although rubber trees are sturdy in nature, the variegated rubber plant is sensitive to caring. 

The most important aspect of caring for every plant is the watering process. While watering your houseplants, follow exact timings and the correct way to ensure that the plant is getting enough to drink. You must water the plant only when the soil seems dry. The reason is that the roots of the rubber plant are vulnerable to rot, so you need to keep the soil moist but never soggy. Water your plant thoroughly to ensure it comes freely out of the base of the container. 

Most of the houseplants’ issues arise due to the wrong watering process, so if you have just begun house planting and are seeking some help, click here to get more information.


The Ficus plant is tropical and grows well in warmer weather. Although it needs plenty of water, it cannot survive in water for a prolonged period. A high-quality and well-draining potting soil is best suited for the rubber plant. Like draining, aeration is also essential for variegated rubber plants as poor aeration and drainage can cause various leaf problems.

The potting mix for Ficus Elastica contains:

  • One-part pine bark
  • One-part coarse perlite/sand
  • One-part peat moss

Pot for the Plant

When you plan to shop for a pot for your houseplant, make sure it goes with your home decor and also benefits the plant. 

The first thing to consider while selecting a pot/container for an indoor rubber plant is the drainage. A pot needs to drain correctly to avoid water accumulation. As mentioned earlier, Ficus plants cannot bear water for an extended time. 

Secondly, the size of the pot also needs to be kept in mind as the variegated rubber plant can overgrow. In such a situation, you must have a large-sized pot to transfer it so that the plant takes all the nutrients and water evenly.


The variegated Rubber plant adores moisture. A dry environment causes brown spots to appear on variegated edges, which is the most common problem with this tropical plant. Make the surroundings moist for your plants with a humidifier. All tropical plants love humid spaces and grow well in them. Place some other plant companions close to them, or you can mist around daily to ensure humidity.

If you want to know more about Humidity, here is a complete guide on What is High Humidity and How to Increase Humidity for Your Houseplants


Often, the rubber plant grows slowly due to elevated variegation in the leaves, so adding a quality fertilizer can speed up the growth process. The growing season of the Ficus plant is spring through summer, so avoid fertilizing in winter as it can cause spindly growth. Also, keep in mind, never over-fertilize the rubber plant as it can damage it.


The variegated rubber plant is toxic in nature to animals and humans as well. The rubber plant can quickly reach a height of about 10 feet indoor, and you have to cut it to a desirable length. With each cut, a sticky white sap seeps from the plant, which is toxic. Keep your pets and children aside from this plant until the white sap stops flowing out of the pruning cut. It can cause dermatitis that irritates the skin, so be cautious and never forget to wear gloves before pruning or propagating the plant. 

Common Issues of the Variegated Rubber Plant

A close up of Variegated Rubber Plant


The variegated rubber plant is susceptible to Aphids, Mealybugs, Spider Mites, and Sap Feeders, all of which feed on the plant’s sap and make the leaves look stipple.

It would be great if you have a keen eye on your houseplant for these pests as they can damage the whole plant. Early detection can help in damage control and save your plants. Any unchecked feeding can lead to unattractiveness and ultimately the falling of leaves. Soil drench such as liquid insecticides and Horticultural soaps can effectively prevent these pests and cure the damage. Make sure to read the label directions properly to ensure correct usage. 


The variegated rubber plant can get diseases, including pathogens that grow well in waterlogged soil. Various fungal pathogens like Phytophthora species lead to root rot and cause the yellowing of leaves. Nematodes also cause the yellowing of the leaf veins and eventually kill the plant. Penn State Extension reported that no cure is available for this disease, and the infected plants are of no use.  Therefore, you need to discard them.

Why does variegated rubber plant Make Good Houseplants?

Variegated Rubber Plant getting some air

The variegated rubber plant is related to the banyan tree. While in its original habitat can grow to 100 feet in height, it can grow to a controllable size of 6 to 10 feet in a pot. Rubber is one of the best plants to grow indoors. Below are few benefits that make this plant the best ornamental houseplant.

Lower Cost 

In a decorative pot, you can grow the variegated rubber plant quickly. It is inexpensive and propagates the plant by cuttings. You can have multiple samples of cuttings to grow rubber plants for your home and your office. It also makes an excellent gift for your friends and family in a beautiful decorative pot.

Low Maintenance

The rubber plant is adaptable and can survive in low light and shade. It just needs bright but indirect sunlight and requires a negligible number of fertilizers or not at all. If your plant is in well-suited soil, it won’t need any other supplements for a longer duration. 

No Allergies 

Most houseplants cause allergies due to pollen grains. But the variegated rubber plant does not produce any pollen, so no allergic complications are associated with it. That makes it a perfect choice for home, office, and even hospitals.

Absorbs Air Pollutants

Variegated rubber plant contains aesthetically large leaves, and this property makes it stand out from other houseplants. The plates with a large surface area make them helpful in absorbing all the air pollutants in the home. 

Colorful Foliage 

The waxy foliage of the variegated rubber plant slips when you touch it. It is easy for you to clean the leaves by wiping. This feature makes the rubber plant a great indoor plant. The glossy green shade of the leaves gets all the viewer’s attention. 


Is Ficus elastica an indoor plant?

Ficus elastica is one of the most popular and easiest indoor plants to grow. Despite its name, it is actually a type of fig tree. It is commonly known as the rubber plant due to its unique leaves which resemble rubber.

Where should I place a rubber plant in my house?

You can keep your rubber plant near a window with a sheer curtain to give it just the right amount of sunlight. If your rubber plant begins to droop, move it to a sunnier location.

How long do rubber plants live?

The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is a houseplant that’s popular for its long, snakelike leaves that drape down from its branches. With the right care, a rubber tree houseplant can live for 10 years or more.

Wrap up

The variegated rubber plant is the best houseplant to decor your home. Not only is it a low-maintenance plant, but it can also easily be handled by people who are new to gardening. Although it does have a few risks due to its sap, proper care and precautions can keep you safe. So, add a splash of color to your house; get the variegated rubber plant!

Written by Chris Buckland

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