Ask a Question forum: Rubber plant looks dead, but has a little new growth at ends

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Plantkiller
May 15, 2017 8:12 PM CST
I totally neglected a rubber plant and figured it was a goner but I see new tiny leaves at the end of otherwise dead looking stalks. Can I eke life out of the thing? What could I do with the two long stalks that look dead except for the very tips to give this thing a chance?
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[Last edited by Plantkiller - May 17, 2017 5:51 AM (+)]
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Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
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Christine
May 16, 2017 6:21 AM CST
Welcome! Can you post pictures? That would be a big help in answering your questions Smiling
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
May 16, 2017 8:39 AM CST
I'd cut those couple tips off a few inches, and try rooting them.
But ! Before you do that. Send us a pic. I'll help us give you guidance on what to do with rest of plant. Thumbs up
Dont be shy ! We've all killed and seen lots of struggling plants.
😎😎😎
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
May 16, 2017 11:07 AM CST
Hello Plantkiller, when you post your photo, please tell us as well:

1)how long you have had the plant
2)what kind of soil it is growing in - did you use regular potting soil, or did you use garden soil etc.
3)describe the container if grown in a container like is it glazed or not, with drainage holes or not
4)was the plant ever repotted since you got it or not
5)what orientation of light is it getting.
6)did you attempt giving fertilizer while plant was showing distress?

If you can also update where your general location is on your profile, to help us further give growing tips appropriate to your location.

Plantkiller
May 17, 2017 5:59 AM CST
I added a pic to the original post Crying It spent much of it's life in a western-facing window that got a few hours of fairly direct light (between buildings) each day. This is Brooklyn, garden-level apartment so all our light is fairly indirect.

When the leaves started to really drop I moved it away from that windows to the center of the room and it keeps declining. Tried fertilizer then, and it just kept declining.

Eventually my mother in law said it looked pretty bad and the stalks with no leaves are totally spongy and dry, so I figured at least I was keeping my toddler alive, if not my plants, and called it a day. But maybe the spring weather inspired a new leaf?

Plantkiller
May 17, 2017 6:02 AM CST
Oh, to answer more questions - repotted as soon as I got it, plastic pot with a drainage tray. I kept the same soil it came with be at some point the roots seemed to be emerging so I topped it off with some regular run off the mill potting soil from home Depot.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
May 17, 2017 10:23 AM CST
Hello Plantkiller, thanks for uploading the photo and answering the questions.
The plant still has potential to improve growth, it is doing new leaves so that is a bit reassuring.
Suggestions for you to do:
1) Repot to a new well draining regular potting soil, and add perlite or pumice to help in drainage. It may have suffered fertilizer burn when it was fertilized before when it was already in distress. Never fertilizer a plant in winter, or when it is showing distress. Typically I would just recommend you flush out the the soil under the sink, but I think it is due for a general repot and best to change to a new potting soil altogether.

2) Trim off any dead stems. Keep the ones still alive and leafing. Check some of the leafless stems, cut a few nodes down to see if it still fresh inside stem. It may just try to make new leaves under cut off point.

3) Do not fertilize yet for now, allow the plant to recover. Wait patiently for more new growth.

4) Position your plant near your window as you do now. It is okay with bright indirect light. Putting it way too indoors will further weaken it.

5) As with most houseplants, water the container thoroughly till water drains out, don't let it sit in water. Allow some dry out time before next watering. The plant prefers to be on the moist side but not in too soggy conditions. I remember my mom-in-law's rubber plant, was quietly in a patio corner with lots of eastern sun, gets occasional rainshowers and one of the roots has escaped and went to the main drain, that showed me just how thirsty the tree is.
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
May 17, 2017 10:37 AM CST
Oh my Plant Killer 😮 So far ! It sounds like your really trying to live up to your name. Butt !!! You told me one thing, that tells me you are trying to save it. You got it out of that direct, hot, afternoon sun. Thumbs up
Two on left, in pic look ok, trying to grow, dont know about others. Couldnt see them well, right side of pic cut off.
I would make two seperate plants out of the two on the left. Of course your choice.
Ok, now..... THE low down.
Get her out of the soil she came in.
Use some good quality, well draining soil mix.
Check water requirements. Spongy and dry stems, dosent sound right.
Shes probaby root-bound.
It sounds to me, that you put her in new pot and added soil on top. Roots grow down, not up. If your going to leave her as is and shes root-bound. Rough up root ball so new roots can break into new soil. Let me know what you decide to do. Thumbs up I tip my hat to you.
😎😎😎


Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
May 20, 2017 5:29 PM CST
The primary problem is inadequate light because of the nearby buildings that block out far more light than you realize. Moving it away from the window has aggravated the problem. When a plant does not get sufficient light, nothing else you do will make much difference. Larger pots, more water, soil and fertilizer are not substitutes for light.

If you can find a sunnier location for it, then you can rejuvenate it by cutting back the leggy stems to a height several inches above the soil. New growth always comes in at the tops of the stems. So if you don't prune, you will always have those leggy, bare lower stems even as you improve the light and get healthy new growth.

If that is the only location you have for a plant, then I suggest you replace it with a low light plant such as a Dracaena 'Janet Craig,' Peace Lily or Corn Plant.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
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Plantkiller
May 22, 2017 1:00 PM CST
I cut the dead stalks (there were about 5-6) and they were fully dead. Hollow, dry, spongy.

For the remaining two stalks that are bare but for the leaves at the end, it sounds like I should repot in well draining soil and move back to the sunniest location I can find.

Could still use clarification on pruning. The only thing to prune would be the end where the leaves are - is that going to kill them?
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
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tarev
May 22, 2017 1:07 PM CST
I would just keep those leaves there, they are already new growth, plant needs to make its food too through photosynthesis.

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