The Ultimate Care Guide for the Ficus Tineke (Variegated Ficus)

The Ultimate Care Guide for the Ficus Tineke (Variegated Ficus)

Ficus Tineke in Gold Pot

Navigating the world of a new houseplant can be challenging so I put together this ultimate care guide for the ficus tineke to help your plant grow, flourish and thrive in your home.

What is the Ficus Tineke

The Ficus Tineke is a cousin to the ever popular Rubber Tree Plant. It has beautiful large variegated (multicolored) leaves that are a similar shape to the is cousin. This care guide for the Ficus Tineke will give you all the best information to keep your plant happy and health. Other common names for this popular plant are Ficus elastica tineke, rubber tree, rubber bush or rubber fig.

This plant originated in Southeast Asia and now calls tropical climates around the world home. The Ficus Tineke plants comes from the family of Moraceae plants which is quite large with over 40 genre and 100 different species. This plant is so popular because it is so easy to grow and a bold beautiful addition to any home.

It is also gets confused with the actual rubber tree that was used to produce rubber, this plant, as well as its cousin, are not that plant

What type of light does the Ficus Tineke need?

Graphic showing bright indirect light versus direct light.

The Ficus Tineke does best with bright indirect sunlight. It can do well in a variety of lighting conditions but you won’t see optimal growth with direct light, low light or other lighting variations.

Placing the plant in a window area where the sun rises such as an east-facing window, is best because it will give it the bright light it needs.  If it must be in a window area with direct sunlight such as a west facing window, it is recommended to move it back from the window a few feet so it is not getting multiple hours of direct sunlight.

You can also filter the light it receives by adding curtains of some kind to reduce the amount of direct light on its leaves. To much light directly on the leaves can cause burning. The ficus tineke can do well in low light areas for short periods of time (think one week or two) but for best results needs bright indirect light.

What type of soil should does the Ficus Tineke need?

The Ficus Tineke can grow well with almost any houseplant potting soil mix. These plants really are a beginner plant and you could even get away with using any kind of lightweight indoor or outdoor potting mix. I prefer to use indoor because they are typically formulated a bit lighter and have more amendments to assist in ideal drainage. It’s almost always a good idea to add compost to your plants reguarly but its not necessary to do anything different to the top layer of soil. An average potting mix will serve you well for quite a while.

You’ll also want to use a pot that has drainage holes and allows the water to drain out versus sit at the bottom of the pot. This will allow excess water to move away from the roots and reduce the chances your plant develops root rot.

Another soil specific thing to be aware of is to keep the soil loose and do not pack it down around the plants stalk and roots. This is often a beginners mistake but a good reminder for us all that plants roots need room to breathe, grow and absorb the nutrients. Keeping the soil loose also allows it drain better.

Since as we water the soil naturally, overtime, will compact and get more dense it’s a good idea to replant your ficus tineke every 1-2 years with fresh soil to keep the conditions ideal.

How much water does the Ficus Tineke plant need?

Watering can pouring water

The Ficus Tineke needs an average amount of water (soaking till water drains out the bottom), about one to two times a week. Another good indicator is to water when the top inch or two of soil feels completely dry. Remember this a plant typically found in tropical regions meaning it’ll may require more water than some of your other houseplant varieties. With that being said you can over water your plant which can cause a whole host of issues including rot root, brown tips on leaves and brown spots.

As with all plants you’ll need to find what works best for your plant. You live in a different house, with different temperatures, humidity levels, and air circulation than me so your plant needs are specific to that environment. On average it’s best to water when the top inch of soil feels dry. For my this is about once or twice a week. I like to lean on the side of under watering so I would say more often I water once a week as this is always an easier schedule for me to remember.

There are some reviews out there that say their plant loves to have moist soil so they never let it dry completely, so this is something you’ll get to experiment with and figure out what works best for you!

What helps the Ficus Tineke grow more?

Proper care in regards to water, light, fertilization and soil needs will help your plant grow to its fullest, tallest self. If just one of these points aren’t being hit your ficus tineke can really stay stalled at the same size for quite some time. 

If you are caring for your new plant well and giving it all the right conditions then you can expect it to grow upwards of 2 full feet in just one calendar year, which is pretty amazing growth for an indoor plant.

Remember to move your plant to a larger pot periodically to give the roots of the plant enough room to produce new growth and support new leaves.

How can I fix the humidity for my plants?

There are a few easy humidity fixes that will keep your plants happy. A humidifier placed near your plants that increases the overall humidity in a room is a popular fix to the common problems of low humidity.

You can also use a pebble tray. This is another simple fix that involves you placing the a tray of pebbles filled with water beneath the plant. As the water evaporates it releases humidity into the air around your plant that is placed on it.

The last humidity fix is a bit more labor intensive than the first two is a spray bottle. You can simple spray around your rubber tree plants every few days to keep the environment moist

Is there a growing season for the Ficus Tineke?

Yes, the Ficus Tineke naturally becomes dormant in the colder winter months and produces new growth in the warmer summer months. As long as you keep it indoors in the winter and at a relatively stable temperature it will be fine all winter. Most growth will be seen in the warmer summer months when warm temperatures are above 55 degrees.

You can reduce the amount of fertilizer you give it in the winter as well because it won’t be seeking active new growth at this time. The best time to fertilize your Ficus Tineke is in the summer months.

What type of pot does the Ficus Tineke need?

The Ficus Tineke does well with any type of pot. Whatever is in your budget and matches you’ll aesthetic style is perfect. There is some evidence that plants typically do better in ceramic pots due to moisture retention but this aspect is easily overcome with good potting soil and regular monitoring of soil moisture.

The size of pot will be a direct correlation to how large you want your plant to grow. If you want a little rubber tree plant then keep it in a smaller pot and if you want it to grow really big then continue to move it up a few pot sizes as it grows bigger. It’s important to allow the roots of the plants room to grow and expand if you’re wanting your Ficus Tineke to be extra big. Generally a 10 inch pot will allow your plant to reach about 24 inches in height.

What type of fertilizer does the Ficus Tineke need?

The Ficus Tineke needs a very light houseplant fertilizer for optimal growth. A fertilizer that is heavy with its of nutrients can cause the plant to grow tall too fast and produce less leaves. I like the fertilizer from Elm Dirt Store called Plant Juice. Plant Juice is a light fertilizer with a .05 .01 .01 nutrient profile and its organic which I appreciate. It also has great reviews with over 750+ 5 star reviews.

Buy Plant Juice on Amazon

What common problems can the Ficus Tineke have?

Plant with wilted dying leaves

Why is my Ficus Tineke is dropping leaves?

The Ficus Tineke typically drops leaves due to under watering. Leaf drop is one of the most common issues people have and thankfully easily remedied by monitoring the moisture level of the soil on a regular basis. The recommendation is to not let the soil dry out complete in-between waterings. Check soil moisture by sticking your finger directly into the soil, when the top 1-2 inches feels pretty dry go ahead and water your plant.

Why are the leaves turning brown on my Ficus Tineke?

The Ficus Tineke leaves can turn brown when it is exposed to constant, frequent direct sunlight. The best remedy for the leaves turning brown is to move your plant to a place that has bright indirect light. You’ll also need to cut the brown leaves off at the base of the stalk as they cannot heal or grow back.

Why are the leaves turning yellow on my Ficus Tineke?

Yellow leaves on the Ficus Tineke typically due to overwatering or too cold temperatures. Too much water is an easy fix that you can remedy by monitoring how much water you give you plant. The soil should not be constantly wet or constantly dry, you want to water it when the top 1-2 inches of soil has dried out.

The too cool temperatures is also an obvious fix, consider moving your plant to an area of your home that is typically kept warmer and away from air vents that could be drafty.

What are the different Ficus Tineke varieties?

There are quite a few ficus varieties. The most popular varieties are the variegated rubber tree plant, burgundy, ruby and black leaf varieties. The varieties make this one colorful houseplant because you can find so many different colors and leaf patterns. Most varieties are are super easy to care for and have similar needs to the original or standard version.

Is the Ficus Tineke toxic?

Yes the Ficus Tineke is toxic, to both humans and pets. It can cause minor to moderate skin irritations if the juice from leaves comes in contact. It can also be poisonous if ingested. It’s important to keep the plant out of reach of pets and children.

Where to buy the Ficus Tineke?

I think its always best to buy local whenever possible. The 3 nurseries in my area are focused on landscaping and common houseplants only so getting something a bit more specialized like a Ficus Tineke is unlikely. 

Ordering online is the next best bet. I have an amazon membership so I like to utilize that when possible. I also like that small businesses are on Amazon so I can still support small business in that way.

A great small business on Amazon for plants is called Rooted. They sell lots of varieties, and have great reviews! They also have great prices which is a bonus!

Etsy is my second favorite place to buy plants. I’ve had some hit or miss experiences on there but all sellers have also remedied any problems I’ve experienced and Etsy will back you up if for some reason a seller doesn’t do the right thing. 

Be sure to check the size for your purchase. A picture can show a large lush plant and what you get is a start plant or 2, 3 inch pot which isn’t bad but small!

If you’re interested in other growing some other houseplants be sure to check you my houseplants page.