How to Grow and Care for Ficus Shivereana

ficus shivereana in tan ceramic pot in white room

The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak

Ficus shivereana (Ficus elastica 'Shivereana') is a hybrid rubber plant known for its colorful, variegated foliage. This rare houseplant is native to the jungles of Southeast Asia. Its neon green or yellow leaves are splashed with speckles of darker green, and new growth is often pink as it emerges. Ficus shivereana isn't as adaptable and hardy as Ficus elastica, but it can grow well indoors in cooler climates with the proper care and conditions. Note that ficus shivereana is toxic to pets.

 Common Name:  Ficus shivereana, variegated rubber plant
 Botanical Name:   Ficus elastica 'Shivereana'
 Family:   Moraceae
 Plant Type:   Evergreen, Shrub
Mature Size:   6 ft. tall (indoors), 60 ft. tall (outdoors)
Sun Exposure:    Partial
 Soil Type:   Well-drained
 Soil pH:  Acidic 
Hardiness Zones:  10-12 (USDA) 
Native Area:   Southeast Asia
 Toxicity:   Toxic to dogs, cats, and horses

Ficus Shivereana Care

  • Give this plant medium to bright indirect light.
  • Plant ficus shivereana in well-drained potting soil.
  • Water ficus shivereana when the top half of the soil has dried out.
  • Feed this plant once per month with diluted houseplant fertilizer during the growing season.
  • Ficus shivereana can be more sensitive to being moved or neglected than regular rubber plants.
Overhead closeup showing striations on leaves of a ficus shivereana

The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak

Head on view of a ficus shivereana plant on a table

The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak

Closeup showing a new leaf unfurling on a ficus shivereana

The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak

Overhead view of a ficus shivereana plant

The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak


Put ficus shivereana in a place that receives medium to bright indirect light but not direct sunlight. Brighter light will help this plant maintain its colorful variegation.


Use a light, well-drained potting mix for ficus shivereana. Lighten up a basic potting mix with a few handfuls of perlite or orchid bark to enhance drainage.


Instead of watering on a set schedule, check your ficus shivereana's soil moisture regularly to determine when the plant needs water. Water when the top half of the soil has dried out and allow water to flow out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the plant. Check drip trays to make sure the plant isn't sitting in water, which can lead to root rot. Note that you'll need to water more frequently during the spring and summer than in the winter when the plant grows more slowly.

Temperature and Humidity

Like many other tropical plants, ficus shivereana grows best with at least 50% humidity. Keep it close to other tropicals to create a more humid microclimate, or run a humidifier nearby if your space is particularly dry. Ficus shivereana will do well in temperatures between around 60 to 80 degrees.


Ficus shivereana is not a heavy feeder, but the plant will grow more quickly with a nutrient boost from fertilizer. Feed this plant with a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength once per month during the spring and summer. Stop fertilizing in fall and winter.

Types of Ficus Shivereana

Ficus shivereana is sometimes known as Ficus elastica 'Shivereana Moonshine' or moonshine ficus. These different names all refer to the same plant.


Though ficus shivereana grows more slowly than a standard rubber plant, it can grow up to six feet tall indoors. If it begins to outgrow your space, you can prune back up to 25 percent of the growth at once. It's best to prune during the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing, but you can remove the occasional dead or damaged leaf as it appears.

Propagating Ficus Shivereana

You can propagate a healthy, mature ficus shivereana in water or in soil. You'll have the most success propagating in spring and summer. Here's how to do it.

How to Propagate Ficus Shivereana in Water

You'll need gardening gloves, a small glass or jar, sterilized scissors or pruners, and water.

  1. Take a cutting from a stem tip, making sure the cutting has at least one leaf and a node. Make the cut just below the node.
  2. Leave the cuttings out for a day or so to allow the cut to callus over.
  3. Place the cutting in the glass. Add enough water so that the nodes are submerged but the leaves are above the water line.
  4. Put the cutting in a warm place with bright, indirect light. Add water as needed to keep the node submerged.
  5. The cutting is ready to pot up in soil when it has several roots that are at least an inch long, which can take up to three months.

How to Propagate Ficus Shivereana in Soil

You'll need sterilized shears, gardening gloves, a small plant pot, potting soil, and a clear plastic bag.

  1. Take a stem tip cutting from the mother plant. Cut just below a node and ensure that each cutting has at least one leaf and one node.
  2. Allow the cutting to callus over for about 24 hours.
  3. Fill the plant pot with potting soil and moisten it well. Use your finger to poke a hole a few inches into the soil surface.
  4. Plant the cutting in the soil so that the node is below the soil line.
  5. Put the cutting in a warm spot that gets bright, indirect light. Put a clear plastic bag over the cutting to help hold in humidity. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.
  6. Rooting can take three months or more. You can tug gently on the cutting and if you feel resistance, that means roots have grown. New leaf growth is a sign to pot up the cutting and care for it as usual.

Potting and Repotting Ficus Shivereana

It's recommended to repot ficus shivereana annually or when the aerial portions of the plant have doubled in size. Roots growing out of the holes in the bottom of the pot are another sign that it's time to repot. Use a ceramic, plastic, or terracotta pot that's one size larger than the previous pot. Switch out the old potting mix for fresh soil.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases 

Keep an eye out for common houseplant pests like aphids, spider mites, and scale on your ficus shivereana. If you spot pests, act quickly to remove them and prevent an infestation. Dab away pests with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol or remove them with horticultural soap.

Common Problems With Ficus Shivereana

Ficus shivereana is relatively simple to grow with basic care and the proper conditions, but you'll want to watch out for these common plant problems.

Brown Spots on Leaves

If you notice light brown, dry-looking spots on the leaves of your ficus shivereana, that could be sunburn from too much direct light. If your plant is in a place with direct sunlight, move it further from the light source or filter the light with a sheer curtain.

Curling Leaves

Both too much and too little water can cause ficus shivereana's leaves to curl. Check the soil moisture and consider how often you've been watering. If the soil is dry, give the plant a deep watering. If the soil is wet and you've been watering pretty frequently, cut back on watering to allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. In both cases, water when the top half of the soil has dried out going forward.

  • Is ficus shivereana rare?

    Ficus shivereana is less common than other varieties of Ficus elastica, but it's becoming more available. You can purchase it online and from specialty plant shops.

  • Are ficus shivereana and ficus moonshine the same plant?

    Yes. Ficus shivereana and ficus moonshine are different names for the same plant.

  • Can ficus shivereana grow indoors?

    Yes, ficus shivereana grows well as a houseplant with the proper care and conditions.

Article Sources
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