The burgundy rubber plant is a selected cultivar of Ficus elastica [FY-kus, ee-LASS-tih-kuh], and a Ficus species from the fig genus, a part of the Moraceae family, Ficeae tribe, and Urostigma subgenus.
This particular plant is quite popular among gardeners interested in using it as a houseplant.
The plant is known for its prolific fleshy burgundy leaves.
Elastic is native to many parts of eastern South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Over the years, it has been naturalized in the West Indies and Sri Lanka along with Florida in the United States of America.
The elastica or decora plant has earned quite a lot of common names including:
- Rubber fig
- Rubber plant
- Rubber tree
- Rubber bush
- Indian rubber tree
- Indian rubber bush
- Burgundy rubber tree
Burgundy Rubber Plant Care
Size & Growth
This cultivar of the Ficus elastica plant is definitely a looker when it comes to rubber trees.
The burgundy-colored leaves are large, about 8” – 12” inches long and around 4” inches wide.
In temperate and tropical climates, the tree can reach up to 40’ feet in height when planted in the ground.
This is proof of a fast growth rate. Indoor plants usually top at 4’ – 6’ feet and pruned to keep them short.
Flowering and Fragrance
The plant is not known for its flowers.
However, like other fig species such as the fiddle leaf fig, the plant needs fig wasps for pollination.
To attract them, they produce insignificant, small ovoid-shape inflorescences called sycones.
These sycones are not very fragrant and have a greenish-yellow hue. They appear in pairs in axils of mature trees’ leaves.
Light & Temperature
Burgundy features rich, deep red foliage, and under lower light levels turns almost purple. The Indian rubber tree plants are hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 through 11.
This means the ideal temperature for burgundy rubber trees is 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C) in the nighttime an around 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C) or more during the day.
In cooler temperatures, the plant is best grown indoors.
As for light requirements, this indoor plant thrives in full direct sunlight.
Low light or indirect light in indoor plants is tolerated but it leads to lighter colored foliage.
On very hot days, bright indirect light is more suitable when the sun is the brightest.
Watering and Feeding
This plant is very sensitive to moisture. It should be watered only when the soil is somewhat dry.
Slowly pour water around the plant and let it run through to the bottom.
Avoid splashing the leaves as it may stain them. Cut back the watering in winter.
Water-soluble and well-balanced plant food specially formulated for houseplants is nutritious for rubber trees.
Do this every couple of months for optimal results. If your plants are in medium light, fertilizing is crucial.
Soil & Transplanting
The plants do their best when planted in well-draining soil with excellent aeration.
This is important for rubber tree plants as poor drainage can lead to various leaf problems.
The optimal mix for a burgundy rubber ficus consists of one part pine bark and one part coarse sand or perlite.
Rubber plants grow at a relatively fast rate.
Every few years, in the early to late summer, repotting is beneficial for the plants.
Use a pot with a drainage hole, a size bigger than the previous one, and add rocks at the bottom.
Mix two parts peat moss and one part potting soil mix with one part sand.
Place the dug up plant gently, spreading the roots and filling the hole.
Water the plant and place direct sunlight with steady room temperatures.
Grooming and Maintenance
Rubber plant care is not exactly very demanding.
You need to prune the tops of the plant every couple of months to remove leggy growth or if it’s too tall for an indoor tree.
Make sure it has bright light or high light.
Another part of caring for a rubber tree involved dusting. The leaves of the tree have a texture which collects dust easily.
Just wipe them off with a moist cloth and it’ll be good as new. Use leaf shining products to maintain a natural shine on the leaves.
More on –> How To Clean Plant Leaves
How to Propagate Ficus Burgundy
Burgundy rubber plants are difficult to propagate but not impossible.
The best way to go about propagating a rubber plant is by stem cuttings.
Take a few stem cuttings, only a few inches long, and place in an area where the sap can dry.
After an hour or so, use a rooting hormone in the potting mix and provide warmth to the bottom of the pot.
Then plant the cuttings in individual pots and let new growth show up.
The ideal temperature for the new plants to grow healthy is between 70° – 75° degrees Fahrenheit (21° – 24° C).
Ficus Elastica Pest or Diseases
The most common problem in rubber trees is the loss of leaves due to overwatering. Excessive water around the roots can cause rot.
Overwatering will lead to yellow leaves with brown spots and wilting.
Some bottom leaves can turn yellow and drop naturally but it’s better to check the soil conditions.
The plant may also be vulnerable to common pests such as mealybugs, scales, and spider mites.
Consult your local garden center or nursery for advice and a non-toxic or DIY solution to rid your Ficus elastica burgundy of these pests.
Toxicity For Pets
The white latex sap in the rubber tree is an irritant for pets’ skin and innards.
If you have cats or dogs in your home, keep the plant away from their reach to avoid and foreseeable problems.
Suggested Burgundy Rubber Plant Uses
The burgundy rubber tree plant is an ornamental plant, used both indoors and outdoors to showcase its unique foliage.
It’s a very popular houseplant, potted in large containers and placed around homes, hotels, and other buildings.
Ornamental hybrids such as Robusta and others with variegated large leaves are favored.
Besides being grown as indoor plants, the rubber tree is also produced by vegetative propagation.
The plant contains a milky white sap called latex. This is extracted and used for manufacturing rubber.
And lastly, the plant is used in India to form living bridges.
In some parts, the roots of the plant are guided over chasms so they interlock and create a bridge.