Ficus Burgundy: All You Need To Know About The Burgundy Rubber Tree

Ficus Elastica ‘Burgundy’ is a striking houseplant that will make an interesting focal point in any room.

As long as you give it plenty of warmth, light, and water, it is a perennial plant with deep green leaves, featuring hints of red and maroon, finished with a glossy sheen.

While this plant can reach 100 feet high in its native habitat, it’s more likely to reach between 2 and 8 feet tall.

It’s a perfect plant for beginners and looks gorgeous.

Interested in growing your own ‘Burgundy’ plant, but don’t know where to start? Maybe you have one already, but you’re not sure how to take care of it, or your Ficus plant is looking less than healthy.

In any case, here’s everything you need to know about this lovely plant.

At A Glance: What You Should Know About Ficus Elastica ‘Burgundy’

Part of the Ficus genus, Ficus elastica ‘Burgundy’ is a leafy tropical plant that’s grown as a houseplant.

It comes from the tropical rainforests in South and Southeast Asia and will tolerate most indoor conditions.

You can prune it to keep it smaller if you like, and while it is a young plant, you could even wire it to train it into a different shape.

It needs minimal support, so it’s a good option if you want a taller plant that doesn’t require a lot from you.

However, this is not a plant you can leave to its own devices. Like most Ficus plants, it’s sensitive to the amount of water you give it.

Give it too little water, and you’ll find it will drop leaves in protest. Water it too often and this plant rots quickly.

A Note On Toxicity

It’s worth mentioning that any Ficus elastica variety, including ‘Burgundy’, is toxic to people and pets, so it may not be a good idea if you have a home with pets or children.

The sap – which is where the common name comes from, as it is latex – is an irritant, and it will also cause damage to your carpet or furnishings if it comes into contact.

Ficus Elastica Burgundy Plant Care

Sunlight And Position

Some direct sunlight for any Ficus elastica variety is beneficial (see also 11 Rubber Plant Varieties To Try), but don’t overdo it.

Morning sunlight is best, such as an Eastern-facing window, avoiding any sun scorch damage to the leaves.

If you give this plant too dark a position, this will cause leggy growth, and it may cause the variegation to fade, too. 

It will also mean that the plant will be more vulnerable to pests and disease, especially root rot.

Try to keep this plant away from anything that changes the temperature dramatically, such as drafts or sources of heat.

Ideal Compost For Rubber Tree Plants

While some plant websites will tell you that rubber tree plants are happy in any sort of compost, this is not true (See also Rubber Plant Care Guide). Not for long, anyway.

Ficus elastica needs very sharp drainage in the way of compost, otherwise, the roots can rot very quickly.

You can achieve this very easily. Grab a houseplant compost mix, or an all-purpose compost, and add perlite and orchid bark to the mix.

It doesn’t need to be exact, but around two parts compost, one part perlite, and one part orchid bark will do the trick.

Mix it up thoroughly, and this will give your plant everything it needs, so it will thrive.

When To Water Ficus Elastica Burgundy

While there is a delicate balance to be had when it comes to watering Ficus elastica plants, one thing you should not do is buy a moisture meter.

These are grossly inaccurate at best and are a waste of money and time. You already have everything you need to gauge the moisture levels in the soil: your eyes and your hands. And you have them with you all the time!

Make a habit of checking the soil every four or five days to see if the plant needs watering, as while you don’t want to water the plant too much, letting it dry out will lead to the leaves falling from the plant pretty quickly.

Aim to water your Ficus elastica burgundy when the top quarter of the soil has dried out. 

You’ll notice that in fall and winter, you’ll probably have to water the plant less often as it goes dormant. Do not allow the plant to dry out completely!

As this is a leafy tropical plant, only water it with room temperature water to avoid shocking the roots, and always water all the soil you can reach, tipping out any excess that collects in the bottom of the pot.

How To Propagate Ficus Elastica

Fancy making more plants from your Ficus elastica burgundy? It’s not difficult, and won’t take long to start the process.

You can either do this through air layering or taking stem cuttings. Always wear gloves if you’re planning on pruning or propagating your plant, and wash your hands afterward, as you don’t want the latex to come into contact with your skin or your eyes.

Air layering is the easiest of the two, as once you cut the plant it will have already formed roots, so it has a better chance of survival.

Should You Prune A Rubber Tree?

It’s a good idea to prune a rubber tree occasionally, especially if the growth has gotten leggy, if you want to promote a denser growth habit, or if it’s outgrowing its current space.

Use sharp secateurs to prune your plant, making sure that you clean the blades afterward with hot soapy water, and don’t take the plant back to more than a third of its total size.

Growing Ficus Elastica Burgundy: Problems To Watch Out For

While this plant is very easy to grow, there are a few problems you might encounter when growing a Ficus elastica burgundy.

One of the most common problems is leaf drop. This can happen when an aspect of the growing conditions changes dramatically, more than the plant can cope with, such as fully drying out, or the temperature dropping suddenly.

You may also see yellow or browning leaves, which is usually a problem caused by a moisture imbalance, or too much sunlight.

Root rot can occur in Ficus plants when the soil takes too long to dry out. 

In terms of pests, you may see spider mites, scale, thrips, or fungus gnats. Catching pests early is the second-best way to treat your plant, after keeping it as healthy as possible.

Take a look at the leaves every time you check the soil to see if the plant needs watering. This includes the underside of the leaves, as pests can make their home there, too.

Use a good-quality horticultural soap to help shift the pests from the plant, combining this with rinsing off the leaves with room temperature water. Rinse the leaves every week or so, until you see no more signs of pests.

Things To Consider When Growing Ficus Elastica Burgundy

How Much Sunlight Is Too Much?

Prolonged direct sunlight indoors, such as afternoon sunlight in a Southern-facing window is more than this plant can cope with. 

Aim to give your Ficus plant morning sunlight, which is very gentle, but still provides your plant with all the energy it needs for healthy growth. 

Keep the plant within a few feet of a window to stop the plant from getting leggy, too.

Should You Grow Rubber Trees Inside Or Outside?

If you live in USDA zones 10 through 12, you can grow this plant outdoors all year round in dappled sunlight.

Otherwise, keep your Ficus elastica burgundy as a houseplant.

When Should You Repot Ficus Elastica?

Only repot your Ficus elastica plant when the roots start to emerge from the drainage holes of the pot, and the growth has slowed down.

You’ll need to go one size upward in terms of pot size, using fresh soil. 

Make sure you tease some of the roots to encourage the plant to use the fresh compost.

Final Thoughts

Ficus elastica ‘Burgundy’ makes an instant statement in any room, and it helps that it is easy to grow, as long as you get the conditions right.

The deep green leaves with hints of maroon and red are perfect for adding a tropical vibe to any room, but make sure that you only water the plant when it needs it, and it gets plenty of light and warmth.

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