Dying Rubber Plant - Knowledgebase Question

Everett, WA
Question by schirmbath
December 12, 1999
My rubber plant was given to me about 8 months ago. It was then extremely healthy and full of leaves and about 2.5 feet tall. It has been in the same place in my apartment... near the western sun, which I know is not the best and near the sliding glass door where most light is available. I have heard that drafts may be a hazard. My question is what is killing my plant. It is down to 3 leaves, all the leaves either turn brown but not dry, or yellow and fall off. I don't think I've been overwatering it, I usually water less than once a week, but mist the leaves daily.
Is it the draft from the open door, the light direction, or the watering schedule that is hurting my plant?
What can be done to save my plant. I have moved it to the kitchen with eastern sun, but it doesn't seem to help.
it is not root bound, as it rests in a very large pot.


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Answer from NGA
December 12, 1999

0

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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