Ruscus hypophyllum or Florida Ruscus is a tropical evergreen species of the Asparagaceae family that was previously classified in the Liliaceae family due to the similarity of its leaves to lilies. This plant is widely grown for commercial purposes as its foliage cuttings are used for decorations.
The glossy green, oval-shaped leaves of this plant beautify a room and add a greeny-nature touch indoors. It is a low-maintenance shrub that can easily be grown as a houseplant. Let’s learn more about the features and care needs of this exquisite species.
Florida Ruscus Common Names
- Butcher’s Broom
- Holland/Israeli Ruscus
Florida Ruscus Classification
- Family: Asparagaceae
- Subfamily: Nolinoideae
- Genus: Ruscus
About the Genus Ruscus
Ruscus is a genus of 6 flowering species native to Europe, Southwest Asia, Africa, and Macaronesia. All of these plants are evergreen perennial shrubs with small, scale-like leaves.
Origin and Distribution
This plant was originally discovered in Northwest Africa. It is native to Florida, Israel, and the Middle East, where it is grown abundantly for commercial purposes.
Florida Ruscus Features
Foliage and Stem
The foliage cuttings of this plant are popular due to its glossy-green ovate leaves that grow on erect branches. In reality, these leaves are stem modifications, known as cladodes.
Florida Ruscus Flowers
Florida Ruscus blooms in summer and produces star-shaped white-colored flowers that grow in the center of cladodes. These flowers have violet to purple centers.
This plant produces bright red berries as a fruit from summers to early autumn that are 5-10 millimeters in diameter. This only happens if you have a dioecious species or two monoecious species. These fruits are not edible.
This pretty plant is an evergreen species. Its foliage remains functional throughout the year. This plant does not lose or sheds all leaves during autumn. Instead, it sheds leaves randomly once they are old enough.
Florida Ruscus Height
This plant can grow as high as 3 feet and 3 inches tall. All of its branches grow straight and erect, thus contributing more to its height than to its volume.
If grown in proper well-draining soil, this plant becomes tolerant to drought and easily survives the days of low water availability. This is done by retaining water in stems and leaves.
Ruscus hypophyllum grows at a slow rate. Its growth rate depends on its growing conditions. If you provide it with all the ideal growing conditions, it will grow at a moderate growth rate and produce more stems.
The USDA plant hardiness growth zones recommended for this plant are 7 through 9.
This plant is not pet-friendly; it is a toxic species. If its foliage is ingested in large amounts, it will cause severe stomach cramps. This is why nibbling pets and children must be kept away from this poisonous species.
Normally, this plant is grown in abundance for commercial purposes, but can also be grown as a houseplant because it has a lesser number of care requirements. It is a low-maintenance, easy-to-care plant that does not fuss about anything when grown inside a home.
As days shorten and temperature drops in winters, this plant goes dormant. It has stunted growth during its dormancy period. This is why no fertilization is needed in this period. You should also cut down its watering frequency during these days.
Florida Ruscus Care
The care requirement for Butcher’s Broom or Florida Ruscus is child’s play. Its care includes watering it once a week in winters and thrice a week in summers. The ideal humidity level is 40-50%, and the temperature range is 21°C to 30°C. This plant must be fertilized every two months.
This beautiful plant is tolerant of wet and dry conditions equally. As it is a drought-tolerant plant, it does not require heavy watering. It should be watered once every week in winters and three times a week in summers.
If you are growing just the cut stem of Florida Ruscus in a vase, you will have to fill the vase with water to a level below its leaves. The water must be changed regularly so that no bacterial growth contaminates the water. If any leaves are submerged in water, they will rot eventually. This is why you should remove all the bottom leaves before putting the stems in a vase.
You can grow this plant in all soil types, acidic, neutral, or alkaline. It would be best if it is grown in neutral soil with a pH of 7.2. For its growing medium, you can either use a peat-based potting mix or a sand mix. The sand mix is not recommended if you want the best results of this plant’s growth. This is because the sand mix has a lesser moisture-retaining capacity. You can also use a mixture of both these growing media.
Florida Ruscus produces the most number of stems if it is grown in partial shade. It can also tolerate full shade or low light conditions, but direct sunlight is not preferable. As it can grow pretty well in shady corners, you can grow it in any part of your home, from your bedroom to your basement.
If you want to grow this plant outdoors, you will have to protect its foliage from the direct sun. It can be done by covering the plant with a shade cloth if it is growing in the direction of the direct sun.
Florida Ruscus Temperature Tolerance
This plant should be grown at an average room temperature ranging from 21°C to 30°C. In spring and autumn, the normal room temperature stays in this range. But in mid-winters and mid-summers, it exceeds or decreases towards temperature extremes. This is when you will have to place its pot in a spot where the temperature stays warm for its optimum growth.
But that does not mean this plant is not tolerant of frosts or extreme heat. It has high resistance to frosts and tropical summers. Although, its growth rate and health may be affected to some extent during these days.
Florida Ruscus is an easy-to-care houseplant as it can tolerate and survive a wide range of growing conditions. When it comes to humidity, it can do well in high, medium, or low humidity. The ideal humidity level is 40-50%. This is where its foliage appears the greenest, fullest, and freshest.
If the humidity level in your home is around 10-30%, you can regulate it by installing a humidifier in your room. Also, if you place this plant over a pebble tray, the moisture level around it will increase, increasing the humidity. Grouping this plant with other houseplants also increases the humidity level.
It should be fertilized once every two months, from March to September. There is no need to fertilize this plant in autumn or winters. You should use the regular houseplant fertilizer for this plant that has a balanced amount of all macro and micronutrients, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
You should never add the fertilizer directly from the packet to the soil; it should be first diluted to half its strength. You should add two tbsp of fertilizer to a gallon of water to dilute it.
Grooming and Pruning
There is actually no need for pruning when it comes to the attractive appearance of this plant. It looks good with fuller foliage. But, you still have to remove the old and dead leaves from time to time to save this plant from the burden of saving already dead foliage.
You should prune the plant as soon as the growing season starts. Good, sharp gardening shears are perfect for trimming the old branches and yellow leaves. Disinfecting the shears before using them on the plant is an important step that must never be avoided.
Florida Ruscus Repotting
As soon as this plant increases to twice its height, move it to a new pot. This should be done every year in the months of active growth. All you have to do is use a new pot, which is 1-2 inches bigger than the previous one, fill it with fresh potting mix, and move the Florida Ruscus into it.
Renewing soil every time you re-pot the plant is important for nutrient supply. As this plant takes up all the minerals and nutrients from the soil in a year, it needs a fresh supply in the coming months.
Florida Ruscus Propagation
Florida Ruscus or butcher’s broom is a beautiful houseplant whose stems are also used for decorative purposes, in garlands, and in bouquets. This is why its propagation is always a great choice. You can make your own home collection of this plant if you know the basics of how to propagate it. This plant is propagated by the division method. The best time to propagate it is when you are repotting it. If you are unaware of the method, we are here to help you. Here is how the propagation of Florida Ruscus is done.
- Remove the plant from its pot.
- Shake off excess soil.
- Remove any damaged rhizomes.
- Untangle the roots using your fingers.
- Divide 1/3rd part of the plant that has some healthy rhizomes attached to its roots.
- Place both parts in separate pots with fresh potting mix.
- Water the plant and place it in a well-lit spot.
Common Diseases and Pest Problems
Florida Ruscus Diseases
Bacterial blight and fungal leaf spot are two common diseases of Ruscus Ruscus hypophyllum.
- Bacterial Blight: If you notice any reddish-brown, water-soaked spots on the foliage of this plant, know that this plant has caught bacterial leaf spots or blight. In such a case, try to keep the foliage as dry as possible. Do not mist the plant at all.
- Fungal Leaf Spot: Irregular necrotic, fluid-filled spots indicate the plant has been affected by fungal leaf spot. This disease must be avoided by avoiding overwatering and wet foliage.
If your plant gets infected by any such diseases, remove the affected parts before the infection spreads to the healthy parts.
Scales and aphids are two common pests of this plant. If you mist the plant occasionally and keep the foliage wet, your plant becomes more susceptible to such pests. You can get rid of these by rubbing neem oil or bactericidal soap on its foliage.
If you want to decorate your home with beautiful green plants, Florida Ruscus should be on top of your plant list. It is a lovely easy-to-care species that can be grown indoors as well as outdoors. You can also grow its stems in a vase for decorating your side tables or tabletops.