Variegated Rubber Plants: A Colorful Addition to Your Indoor Jungle

The Rubber Plant, scientifically known as Ficus elastica, has long been a favorite among houseplant enthusiasts due to its low maintenance, wide availability, and the vast array of stunning cultivars now on the market. No longer limited to plain green varieties, the Rubber Plant now comes in various eye-catching variegated options. In this article, we will explore 11 beautiful variegated rubber plant varieties that will add a touch of vibrancy to your indoor jungle.

Naturalized Worldwide: From Nepal to Your Living Room

Originally native to regions spanning from Nepal to China and Malaysia, the Ficus elastica has spread and become naturalized in many subtropical and tropical locations across the globe. From my own travels, I have encountered these plants flourishing in California, Mexico, Europe, and beyond.

A Kaleidoscope of Variegation: 11 Popular Rubber Plant Varieties

To make this guide more comprehensive, let’s split it into two sections: variegated rubber plant varieties and green rubber plant varieties.

Variegated Rubber Plant Varieties with Captivating Colors

  1. Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’: Undoubtedly one of the most visually appealing rubber plant varieties, ‘Tineke’ boasts distinctive variegated foliage in shades of green, cream, and even hints of pink in its younger leaves. Advertised as the “variegated rubber tree,” this cultivar also features lovely pink sheaths. Note that sufficient light is crucial to maintain its vibrant variegation.

  2. Ficus elastica ‘Doescherii’: This variegated rubber plant variety stands out with its narrow foliage adorned with captivating patterns of green, yellow, white, and grey. To add further intrigue, it showcases pink midribs.

  3. Ficus elastica ‘Ruby’: Prepare to be mesmerized by the ‘Ruby’ cultivar, with its leaves boasting vibrant reddish-pink tones, complemented by shades of cream and green. As the leaves mature, they mellow into dark green and cream with hints of pink.

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Differences between ‘Tineke’ and ‘Ruby’: While both varieties display pretty pink new leaves, ‘Tineke’ loses its pink coloration as it matures, retaining its green and cream hues. On the other hand, ‘Ruby’ maintains its pinkish-red color, even on mature leaves. Additionally, ‘Tineke’ features greenish sheaths with a faint pink color, while ‘Ruby’ showcases bold pink sheaths. Furthermore, ‘Ruby’ tends to be more expensive than the widely available ‘Tineke’.

  1. Ficus elastica ‘Belize’ or ‘Red Ruby’: This dazzling variety exhibits oval, leathery leaves with striking variegation in shades of green, cream, and pink. The immature leaves feature more pronounced reddish-pink hues, which gradually fade into green and cream as they mature.

Tips for Thriving Variegated Rubber Plants

If you decide to bring home a variegated rubber plant, such as ‘Tineke,’ ‘Doescherii,’ ‘Ruby,’ ‘Belize,’ or any other variegated variety, consider the following tips for their optimal growth:

  • Variegated types require more light compared to non-variegated varieties. Insufficient light will result in faded foliage colors and reduced growth rates. Aim for a few hours of direct sunlight daily for your variegated rubber plants (non-variegated plants will also benefit from this!).
  • Acclimate your variegated rubber plant slowly to increased light levels. Sudden exposure to intense sunlight can lead to leaf burn. Gradually increase the plant’s sun exposure until it is fully acclimated. Contrary to popular belief, variegated rubber plants can handle direct sun; they just need proper acclimation to avoid foliage damage.

Green Rubber Plant Varieties: Classic Beauties

While variegated rubber plant varieties steal the spotlight with their visual impact, the plain green varieties possess their own charm and are generally easier to care for.

  1. Ficus elastica: The standard species of rubber plant, Ficus elastica, is a classic houseplant known for its ease of care and large, leathery leaves. Commonly referred to as the Rubber Fig or Indian Rubber Bush, Ficus elastica can grow up to towering heights of 100 feet in its natural habitat. The plant thrives in spots receiving ample direct sunlight but can also adapt to low light conditions near a window.

  2. Ficus elastica ‘Decora’: This gorgeous variety derives its name from its decorative foliage. With nearly 12-inch long leaves, ‘Decora’ fills any room with rich hues of emerald green and occasional pops of red from the sheaths. Introduced as a cultivar around 1950, ‘Decora’ boasts a more attractive growth habit compared to the plain Ficus elastica species. The leaves are broader and glossier, transitioning from a stunning bronze color in their early stages to a lustrous emerald green.

  3. Ficus elastica ‘Burgundy’: With its exotic appeal, ‘Burgundy’ goes by various names, including Ficus elastica ‘Abidjan’ and Ficus elastica ‘Black Prince’. The leaves begin as a deep crimson color, then darken to a rich green that almost appears black. The sheaths add another dimension of visual interest with their striking red hue.

  4. Ficus elastica ‘Robusta’: This more compact form of the rubber tree resembles the ‘Decora’ cultivar. However, ‘Robusta’ stands out with its compact growth habit and more freely branching nature.

  5. Ficus elastica ‘Melany’: For those seeking a compact rubber plant variety, ‘Melany’ fits the bill. It features narrow and smaller leaves compared to other rubber plant varieties. The pinkish sheaths beautifully protect the new leaves.

  6. Ficus elastica ‘Chloe’: ‘Chloe’ showcases shiny, huge olive green leaves contrasting beautifully with pink sheaths on emerging leaves.

  7. Ficus elastica ‘Sophia’: Similar to the ‘Robusta’ cultivar, ‘Sophia’ is a compact variety of rubber plant with smaller and rounder leaves.

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Expand Your Knowledge with Related Resources

If you’re looking for an amazing potting mix tailored for your Ficus plants, check out the Rainforest Soil Blend from Ames Farm Center. It’s a fantastic mix that you can use straight from the bag. Plus, you’ll receive a 10% discount at checkout when using my link.

For comprehensive rubber plant care details, and to address common issues that plant enthusiasts encounter with rubber plants, don’t miss my informative rubber plant care post. It’s a valuable resource that you won’t want to overlook.

If you yearn for a bushier rubber plant, head over to my blog post on how to make a rubber plant bushy. You’ll discover that achieving fuller foliage is easier than you think!

And lastly, explore the best potting mixes to use for your rubber plants, so you can provide them with the ideal growing medium.

I hope you found this guide to rubber plant varieties enjoyable and insightful. Do you have any rubber plants in your collection? Feel free to share your favorite varieties in the comments below. Happy gardening!