The Q&A Archives: Rubber Plant

Question: I bought a rubber tree approximately 2 months ago
and all of the leaves have fallen off except for at the top of the branches. Is this normal? If not what can I do to stop it? For now I have it sitting outside.

Answer: The behavior you describe is not at all natural for a rubber tree! Rubber trees (Ficus elastica) do best with little light and very little water. They don't like wet feet. Let the soil dry out between waterings.

They do best when slightly pot-bound and should only be repotted every 2-3 years. You can use regular potting soil but a soil mix for cactus would be a good choice as well (because it will drain well).

You might try it in a location that's less bright - maybe it's getting a little too much hot sun.

Finally, if your water is extremely high in salts, it can build up in the soil quickly and destroy plant roots. Always flush plants with a slow and deep watering at least once a month to "leach" out these salts past the root zone. Let the water run out of the pot for several minutes. Good luck!

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