How to Care for Rubiaceae

Rubiaceae is the madder or the bedstraw family of the flowering plants, consisting of 611 genera with more than 13,150 species of trees, herbs, lianas, and shrubs. Rubiaceae is the fourth largest angiosperm family. Furthermore, Rubiaceae requires special care.

What Are Rubiaceae?

The plants of the Rubiaceae family include either a single flower or many small flowers. Most of these species are found in tropical areas of the world. A few species are also grown in temperate or sub-tropical areas. In addition, the flowers are entirely bisexual. Many species of Rubiaceae hold economic importance as they are a source of valuable chemical solvents and can also be cultivated as ornaments.


The higher classification of the Rubiaceae family is Gentianales. The members of Gentianales bear simple leaves that are either opposite or whorled. Moreover, the leaves are paired with stipules, small leaflike attachments at the base of leaves.

Appearance and Characteristics

The seed of the Rubiaceae species is either endospermic or winged. Moreover, the leaves of Rubiacea are evergreen and huge in tropical areas. However, they are needlelike in the desert, and the leaves are deciduous in temperate areas. Rubiaceae plants will either bear a single flower or multiple flowers in a cluster. Furthermore, the fruits include berries, capsules, dry fruits, and drupes. Most Rubiaceae plants produce nectar from the epigynous disk located at the bottom of the corolla. Furthermore, the root is a branched tap system, and the stems can be hairy, smooth, woody-branched, or cylindrical. The plant species reproduce mainly through ant pollination.

Quick Summary

  • How to Care For Rubiaceae
  • How and When to Prune
  • Problems With Rubiaceae Plants
  • How to Progage Rubiaceae Plants
  • Why Should You Grow a Rubiaceae
  • Facts About Rubiaceae
  • Common FAQs

How to Care for Rubiaceae

Rubiaceae plants require extensive and unique care. Most of the time, greenhouse conditions are preferred to grow these plants. If cared for properly, they can live for seven years.


Rubiaceae needs an ample amount of sunlight to bear fruit or germinate properly. This is because it is a tropical species. However, ensure the plants are not placed in direct sunlight.


During the flowering season in summer, the plants require watering up to three times a week. Make sure that you do not let the soil dry up. You can water the plant every seven days during the winter season. Again, the soil should not dry out. Also, the water should be warm. If you use cold water, the leaves may turn yellow. You can also add several drops of lemon to the water for irrigation purposes.

Humidity and Temperature

In summer, the plants require a temperature of around 71° to 77° F. During winter, they require a temperature of 57° to 60°F. The humidity in their environment should not go above 60%. You can try spraying water softly on the plant to maintain the humidity.


It is essential to trim the flowers and leaves after they grow to half of their size. Don’t expose the plants and their pots to excess amounts of water, and always maintain the temperature of their environment. Remove any branches that have dried out or grown anomalously. Fertilizer and Soil The suitable soil for Rubiaceae to grow successfully requires a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. Moreover, you will have to mix equal portions of sheat, turf, peat, and sand to prepare the soil. It is essential to allow drainage via a hole at the bottom of the pot. You will require fertilizer every fourteen days between spring and fall. A liquid fertilizer without lime ought to do the job.


You will also need to change the pot size as your plant grows bigger. Once the potted plant reaches a size of 45 cm in diameter, only changing the top layer of the soil will be enough.

Growing in Garden

You will face some difficulties while growing Rubiaceae in gardens. The soil pH may vary and cause stunted growth in plants. In addition, you may face rotting in the root system.

How and When to Prune

Since flowers bloom on new growth, pruning is a great way to fasten up the bloomings on a plant. The plant does not require extensive trimming. However, if you wish to manage the size or the shape of the plant, you can trim it accordingly. Furthermore, cut down the old stems a few inches above the ground. This way, you will not damage the natural shape of the plant. Also, it is vital to keep disinfecting your pruning shears so that there will be no risk of developing diseases.

Problems With Rubiaceae Plants

The plants can fall prey to aphids, spider mites, and scutellum. However, you can apply an insecticide to prevent this. The leaves of young plants are better at absorbing the insecticide than older plants. Moreover, the flower may wither and fall off due to sudden weather changes. Leaf spot diseases are also common in Rubiaceae. If exposed to direct sunlight, the leaves may start turning brown.

How to Propagate Rubiaceae Plants

To propagate the Rubiaceae plants, take a few cuttings in spring. Note, however, that rooting Rubiaceae plants may be a difficult task. Sometimes, the flowers produce dark purple berries. If you notice this happening, clean off the pulp and soak the seed overnight. Once you have planted the seed, fasten a plastic bag over the pot. Then, place the plant at a moderately warm temperature. Remove the bag as soon as the seed starts germinating.

Why Should You Grow A Rubiaceae?

Rubiaceae is a beneficial species. Some staple fruits from Rubiaceae include the African Peach and noni fruit. Moreover, the most economically beneficial genus of the family is Coffea, which produces coffee. In addition, the bark of Cinchona plants is used to derive many drugs, such as quinine, which is an effective treatment for malaria. Kratom plant leaves possess pain-relieving properties.

Facts About Rubiaceae

  1. How big does a Rubiaceae bush get?
A tree or a bush can grow up to at least 3.5 to 8.5 m tall.
  1. What are Rubiacea bushes good for?
They have many economic and aesthetic benefits. The bushes are used for medical purposes and dyes.
  1. Are Rubiaceae poisonous?
Rubiaceae is generally considered a toxic plant that is known to affect insects.
  1. Is Rubiaceae poisonous to pets?
No, Rubiaceae plants are not toxic to dogs, cats, or horses.
  1. How fast do Rubiaceae grow?
The plant starts bearing fruit after three to five years. Most of the Rubiaceae plants live up to seven years. However, the coffee plant can last up to 30 to 40 years.

Common FAQs

  1. How much light do Rubiacea plants need?
Rubiaceae need an adequate amount of sunlight to grow fully. However, direct sunlight can turn the leaves brown.
  1. What is special about Rubiacea plants?
Rubiaceae is the source of quinine, which was the first known drug to eradicate malaria. It is also a source of coffee production, which has significant economic importance.
  1. Are Rubiaceae good indoor plants?
Rubiaceae plants make excellent houseplants. You can quickly grow them indoors with proper care.
  1. Can Rubiacea plants survive in low light?
No, they may wither in low light. Rubiaceae plants generally need sufficient amounts of light.
  1. Why don’t Rubiacea plants grow?
The soil may not be of the proper pH. Another possibility is the plant is infested with spider mites. Using cold water also hinders the growth of Rubiaceae plants.


Rubiaceae is an important madder family that possesses many significant advantages. With proper care and adequate conditions, the plant can thrive. They are beautiful and can be raised inside as houseplants with proper care. You must follow all the guidelines and water your plant as per its need for adequate growth. We wish you the best of luck!

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