Ficus Elastica ‘Tineke’
This recent arrival on the British pot-plant scene stands out among all other Rubber Plants, since its broad leaves are richly marked with pale cream and there is an almost grey-green centre to each leaf. Most variegated plants grow more slowly than their all-green relatives, and this makes Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’ ideal in smaller homes. Like all Rubber Plants, this cultivar will tolerate many difficult growing conditions, and it is a good plant to choose for those tricky corners of the home. Use this plant on stairways, in draughty hallways or in the further recesses of the living room; as a variegated cultivar, Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’ needs good, but indirect, light to maintain the rich leaf colours.
This Rubber Plant will withstand temperatures to 10°C (50°F) and up to 29°C (85°F): if theis kept dry, the plant will survive to nearly freezing. However, the optimum temperature is around 18°C (65°F).
Grow Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’ out of direct sunlight: it will thrive in light shade, in the reflected light from a pale-coloured wall, or in the light provided by a North-facing window.
Water this plant thoroughly, then allow the surface of the compost to dry out before giving another thorough watering; always use tepid water and do not over-water. In Winter, reduce the amount of water given to keep the plant ticking over.
The Rubber Plant will grow in dry air and with a minimal level of humidity; if the average temperature is in excess of 25°C (77°F), regular misting is recommended.
During the growing season, feed this plant every fortnight with a proprietary houseplant food: larger specimens can be given a monthly half-strength feed to keep them in growth without causing excessive size.
Repot this Rubber Plant into a loam-based, free-draining compost when the plant’s growth appears to have stabilized: it prefers the roots to be crowded. As an alternative, large plants can be top-dressed in Spring.
Rescue very large plants by the propagation method known as air, creating a new Rubber Plant. Then cut the parent plant down to about 30cm (12in), repot it, and a bushy plant should be the result.
Red Spider Mite causes mottling of the upper leaf surfaces, with the characteristic webbing beneath: keep humidity levels high to deter this pest. Few insecticides on the domestic market are effective against RSM, and a badly-affected plant may have to be discarded.
Scale (small brown discs on the undersides of the leaves) and Mealy Bugs, covered in a cotton-wool-like substance, can be removed with a cotton bud and methylated spirit.