Ficus Tineke Houseplant Guide: All About The Variegated Rubber Plant

ficus tineke potted

A variegated cultivar of the traditional rubber tree, the Ficus Tineke is a gorgeous and colorful houseplant. With hues of light green, cream, and even some pink, this indoor plant makes a soft but striking statement. The Ficus Tineke is moderately simple to care for, just make sure to provide bright light and water consistently. 

Scientific Name: Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’

Common Names: Tineke, Variegated Rubber Tree, Ficus elastica variegata 

Origin: Plant parents descend from Southeast Asia— specifically, Himalayas, Malaysia, Indonesia 

ficus elastica variegata

About:

Ficus elastica Tineke features waxy, smooth, ovate leaves with hues of olive and cream. With tree-like growth, this indoor plant typically starts as a compact tabletop plant and grows upwards, filling out into a grand floor plant. The natural, soft colors make this plant perfect for any style or design of home. 

The rubber tree was (perhaps unsurprisingly) utilized to make rubber products centuries ago. The plant produces a milky, latex substance which was the key ingredient of the rubber. This substance is excreted by the plant when a leaf or stem breaks and it is considered mildly toxic. Avoid getting it on your skin, in the eyes, or ingesting as it is an irritant. 

Indoors this plant will grow to heights of 5-6 feet, but outdoors this plant can get enormous. The traditional rubber plants (within the same genus as the Tineke) are also referred to as ‘strangler plants’ or you may also know them as Banyan trees. These plants grow out of control, taking over any surrounding plants (aka strangling), and are even banned as an invasive species in some parts of the world. The elastica subspecies tends to stay more controlled, and indoors, this plant will stay very manageable in its contained space. 

Ficus elastica Tineke in kitchen

Buy Online:  Ficus elastica Tineke— 6 Inch

Indoor Care:  

Sun 

Preferring bright, indirect light, the Ficus Tineke will thrive and show the best colors under this condition. You’ll know if it’s getting too little light as new leaves will display faded colors and overall growth will subside. Keep in mind that too much sun is also not good— keep the Tineke away from harsh, direct sunlight as it can burn the leaves (especially the lighter cream parts of the leaf). 

Water

When it comes to watering, the Ficus Tineke is unique because it does enjoy a consistent schedule unlike other houseplants. Specifically, you’ll want to water this indoor plant once the top 1-2 inches of soil becomes dry to the touch. Depending on your home environment that could mean anywhere from once a week to once every two weeks. Once you figure out what makes your plant happy, stick to that same routine until the season drastically changes (the plant will require less water in winter and more in summer). 

Looking for signs of over or under watering? If you’ve over watered, the plant will likely display yellowing leaves or brown spots may form on the leaves. On the other hand, if you underwater, the plant will experience leaf loss as leaves one by one will loosen and fall off. Keep in mind though that it is natural for leaves located lower on the stem to drop over time (especially as growth becomes larger and taller). The plant simply needs to expend more energy on newer growth. 

ficus elastica tineke houseplant

Fertilizer:

During the active growing season of spring-summer, the Ficus Tineke will absolutely need some food in order to continue growing. We recommend fertilizing once a month with an indoor plant fertilizer. There are many different kinds, but we tend to prefer a granular mixture. Always follow the instructions on the box or bag carefully and err on the side of less is more. Depending on the type, too much fertilizer can burn the leaves and cause irreparable plant damage. When the weather starts getting cool in the fall, cut back and eventually stop supplementing with fertilizer. Winter weather typically means the plant will experience slowed to no growth (which is very normal), and therefore extra nutrients will be unnecessary (and can even be harmful). 

Repotting:

Ficus Tineke will want to be repotted about once every two years. This plant enjoys being slightly pot bound, so it’s important to wait until the right moment to move it to a larger home. If the soil is not retaining any moisture when you water (and it’s leaking straight through the bottom holes) then it’s most likely time to repot. 

When repotting, remember that you’ll need a loose and well-draining potting mix. As for the pot, only go up a size that’s about 2 inches larger in diameter than the current pot. This helps support healthy and prosperous growth for the plant as too large of a pot and too much room can actually hinder the plant. Repotting is important to allow the roots to continually grow, and fresh soil rejuvenates the plant!

ficus elastica tineke closeup

Extra Care:

Ficus Tineke may benefit from extra moisture in the air. Since the rubber tree is native to forests of Asia, it is accustomed to higher humidity and temperatures. Likewise, this plant may want an extra dose of humidity and will not tolerate temperature extremes. Keep the climate neutral (never below 55 degrees) and this plant will be happiest. 

Pests

While quite resistant, the Ficus Tineke can experience common houseplant pests. Most notably, spider mites and mealybugs tend to be the biggest nuisance with this plant. Always check regularly for pests, and eradicate as soon as possible. 

Toxicity:  Considered toxic if ingested by humans, cats, and dogs. 

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