Best Types of Rubber Tree – 9 Stunning Cultivars

Rubber trees are a gorgeous choice if you’re looking for a new houseplant, but so many people don’t know about the types of rubber tree out there! The classic green rubberplant is lovely, but if you’re looking for something a little different you can’t go wrong with any of the ones I’ve included here. They come in so many different colors, patterns and sizes! Whilst they are so varied, all of these Rubber plant varities have waxy, shiny leaves and look so perfect in any home, with any style plus they’re really easy to care for!

Keep reading to find the best 9 choices of Rubber plant or Ficus elastica for your home!

Table of Contents

Red Ruby (Ficus elastica ‘Red Ruby’)

If you’re a fellow fan of colorful houseplants then here’s one for you! The red ruby is a super vibrant version of the Rubber plant as it has elements of white, greens, red, and purple across the leaves. The stems and underside of the leaves are a deep red-pink color. The junior leaves will first grow in as a deep red color and fade into a lighter green-red mix as they age, this makes for even more striking contrast throughout the foliage.

Quick Care Guide for This Plant

Light – This plant can tolerate some low light conditions but the variation will probably fade quite a bit, to keep it the happiest and healthiest it can be you should aim for bright, indirect light.

Watering – Once a week should be the right amount but it depends on the season and conditions around your home. Take care not to splash the foliage too, as this can damage the aesthetic health of the plant.

Plant Hardiness – Best in USDA zone 10-13 but when grown indoors they’re very adaptable.

Soil – Nutrient rich, loose soil is best. Loose soil will have ingredients that make it more chunky like bark and perlite, which helps with drainage. 

red ruby plant with white background

Yellow Gem (Ficus elastica ‘Yellow Gem’)

If you’re a fan of bright colors, and love the pattern on the red ruby then the yellow gem rubber plant will absolutely be your match! These unique ficus have a much brighter center than most other ficus plants, including the variegated ones where the green can be a little dark. They have a lovely golden mottling all around the exterior of the leaves and would look so nice next to other plants.

yellow and green yellow gem plant

Quick Care Guide for This Plant

Light – Bright, indirect light is ideal, too much sun however will cause unattractive brown patches and crispy leaves.

Watering – Again, there’s no schedule for something like this so you have to go with the flow of the plant. Once a week is a good rule of thumb but keep checking the soil to see if it’s dry. Water when the top of the soil begins to dry out.

Plant Hardiness – These Plants are not cold hardy at all, so unless you live somewhere super warm (like California warm) then it’s best to keep these plants safe and inside.

Soil – Well draining, rich soil is ideal, but you can alter a premade soil with chunky bark and fertilizer.

yellow gem rubber tree leaves

Classic Green Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica ‘Robusta’)

The Ficus elastica Robusta is the most common rubber plant grown for personal usage and it’s the one you’ll see the most in a nursery or shop. These guys have shiny, green leaves that are protected with a layer of natural wax. Robusta can grow surprisingly tall (50 to 100 feet tall in the wild!), and can reach a height of around 10 feet tall inside (which is literally double my height!). These guys might be the classic choice but they are by no means boring, and they look fantastic next to big windows or in any corner.

close up of robusta leaves

Quick Care Guide for This Plant

Light –  needs lots of bright, indirect  light, around a foot away from a window.

Watering – dislike having consistently damp feet, so a less frequent but deeper water is ideal compared to lots of water often.

Plant Hardiness – USDA zones 9-11.

Soil – Generally rubber plants are quite non-fussy about what soil they have but they do sometimes appreciate an extra boost of nutrients.

robusta rubber tree with neutral background

Ficus Deocra (Ficus elastica ‘Decora’)

This Ficus was developed as a new cultivar around the 1950s, it boasts wider, glossier, darker leaves than the Robusta and has more attractive foliage patterns. It is particularly popular for the dark color shown on the leaves, which can grow up to a foot long. 

elastica rubber tree in pot and garden

Quick Care Guide for This Plant

Light – Likes bright, indirect light. 

Watering – Approximately once every two or two weeks, but you’ll want to allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering.

Plant Hardiness – USDA zones 9-11.

Soil – Well-draining, loamy soil is best.

elastica leaves among other leaves

Burgundy (Ficus elastica ‘Burgundy’)

As you might guess, the Ficus Burgundy is a cultivar with burgundy and black foliage. With more bright light the foliage will be the most stunning colors! These guys look very similar to the Robusta in terms of size. Growing pattern but have much deeper, richer foliage and are a bit more interesting visually. The Ficus Burgundy can be a little bit tricky to find in stores. In fact it’s advisable to order from a nursery if you’re looking for a specific cultivar that is often confused with other similar looking ones.

leaf budding from burgundy

Quick Care Guide for This Plant

Light – Indirect, filtered light is best. 

Watering – Wait for the top few inches of soil to dry between waterings and pay close attention to what your plant might be in need of.

Plant Hardiness – USDA zones 9-11.

Soil – Well-draining, more acidic than alkaline but still close to neutral (around pH 5.5-7).

burgundy rubber tree close up

Baby Rubber (Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Baby Rubber’)

This plant is not technically in the Ficus genus and isn’t a true rubber plant but is commonly known as the Baby Rubber Plant across the USA. It also goes by American rubber plant or pepper face. This plant is a cute, compact version of the rubber plant, it has vibrant glossy leaves and a more bushy growth than real Ficuses.

baby rubber plant in black pot

Quick Care Guide for This Plant

Light – Most varieties of this plant, including the American Rubber Plant, like medium to bright, indirect light and can be healthy in a shadier spot too. Peperomia plants will get burnt spots and crispy leaves if they get any direct or intense light. 

Watering – Roughly once every two weeks should be enough for the baby rubber plant but bear in mind they’ll need more water during warmer weather.

Plant Hardiness – USDA zones 10-12.

Soil – These plants enjoy a well-draining, loose soil because they are epiphytic.

person holding blue pot with baby rubbers

Tricolor (Ficus elastica ‘Tricolor’)

This awesome cultivar of the rubber plant has leaves with a striking mixture of pinks, greens and a cream. These guys look super similar to the Tineke and can be hard to tell apart. The Tricolor has a gray-green leaf variegated with cream and pink whereas the Tineke is a light and dark green variegation edged with cream. 

tricolor rubber tree in decorative pot

Quick Care Guide for This Plant

Light – As Ficus Tricolor is a motley sort of rubber plant it requires bright light, but you’ve got to take care that the plant is not in bright, intense direct light or it’ll burn

Watering – Water when the top few inches of the soil are dry, avoid having soggy soil but also avoid letting the soil dry out entirely before watering the plant again.

Plant Hardiness – USDA zone 11.

Soil – Most rubber plants will be happy enough in your standard, run of the mill soil mix but you can give it the best shot by adding some perlite, chunky bark and peat.

Tineke (Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’)

The Tineke is one of the most recent developments in rubber plant cultivation. It’s a little more rare/ hard to find in shops compared to some rubber plants like the Tricolor. You’ll often find rubber plants which have been mislabelled as Tineke but are actually the tricolor.  The leaves are various shades of green from lights to darks and is surrounded by creams, white and yellows.

tineke rubber tree on beige background

Quick Care Guide for This Plant

Light – Bright, indirect light is best, bearing in mind that low light conditions will cause some of the variegation to revert to green, and the newer leaves will come out with little to no variation. 

Watering – Avoid watering this plant until the top of the compost is dry to the touch, these plants don’t cope well with soggy feet so make sure you’re tipping out any water that has pooled and can become stagnant.

Plant Hardiness – USDA zones 10-12.

Soil – Ficus Tineke requires a really well draining soil to avoid root rot. So try not to use any oremixed soils that have moisture retaining crystals and gravitate towards chunkier soils. 

tineke with rare pink leaf

Doescheri (Ficus elastica ‘Doescheri’)

If you already have tricolor and Tineke and want something different then maybe the Ficus Doescheri will be for you! It’s got very similar patterns and colors but the leaves are more broad and spread out, where the Tineke is more compact. The Doescheri is better for larger spaces that need a real statement plant to not get lost in the space. 

Quick Care Guide for This Plant

Light –  Bright, indirect light is best, keep a watch on how the variation is changing to decide whether it is getting the right amount of light. If you see the leaves getting darker, that’s a sign they’re not getting enough light, and the plant is trying to compensate by making more chlorophyll. If you see the leaves getting paler, then they are likely getting too much light.

Watering – A once a week watering should suffice fine for this plant, but just be sensible and adjust based on the conditions where you live. If your space has dry air, if you have radiators or AC on and when it’s sunny your plant will need watering more often. If you keep your plant in the bathroom where it is often more humid, then they’ll need less watering.

Plant Hardiness – USDA zones 9-11

Soil – A well-draining all purpose soil mix is fine for a plant like this, but I always recommend adding perlite or orchid mix for extra aeration, which helps prevent root rot.


How long do rubber plants live for?

In the wild these plants can sometimes live for over 100 years, unfortunately when grown as a houseplant they tend to live for around 10-15 years.

Is the rubber tree plant safe?

This plant is by no means dangerous, but can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested in large quantities by cats, dogs or people. They are only considered mildly toxic but it’s important to take care to keep nibbling animals away!

Is a rubber tree a lucky plant?

In Feng Shui practice the rubber tree is good luck as bringing it into the home can also encourage fortune, abundance and wealth. These qualities in Feng Shui are associated with the Southeast corners of the room or property, meaning you should have your rubber plants in those areas of the home.

We Love All Rubbertree Houseplants!

Here at How to Houseplant we think all of the Rubber plant varieties are cool and beautiful in their own ways, so why not just collect them all? But if you don’t have the room for 9 new plants (who does?) then maybe opt for a Tineke or Tricolor for that amazing foliage. You also can’t go wrong with the classic Robusta or the darker twist of Burgundy. The Baby Rubber also has a special place in my heart, it’s just so cute and charming! Whatever you choose, I’m sure you’ll love it. 

Need Help With Your Plants?

Check out this comprehensive guide on 7 Indoor Plants You Can’t Kill to find other houseplant possibilities that aren’t just palms, there’s so many options out there to explore. Also, don’t forget these awesome tools to help with with your gardening conquests!

Let us know what you think, we always love your thoughts and feedback. As always, Happy Growing! 

Photo of author
Katie Riggs
Katie’s love of plants began at a young age, in fact it was the first time she went camping and discovered the medicinal wonders of a dock leaf that the fascination with all things botanical took hold. Spending time in nature and frequently visiting the Kew Gardens, she became obsessed with the diversity of plants you could grow at home. Her favorite things to grow are herbs and vegetables outdoors as well as her prized fiddle leaf fig and calathea orbifolia. Hundreds of mistakes later she has become well versed in how not to kill a houseplant. Her passions now involve sharing her love of nature and all things green to help other people keep their plants happy and healthy.

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