Houseplants forum: Rubber Tree help!

Views: 1073, Replies: 7 » Jump to the end
Montreal QC (Zone 4b)
sarahbee
Jun 17, 2017 3:00 PM CST
Hi everyone!

I recently picked up this lovely (but neglected) rubber tree for a deal from my local florist. At the florist it was under fluorescent light and looked like heck. When I got it, it was covered with up to a half a centimetre of dust on the leaves! The pot was easily 10 pounds heavier than it should have been, as it was totally drenched in water. I wiped it down and put it in a sunnier room to enjoy some recovery time.

Overall it has been doing okay since coming into my apartment, however has dropped about 4 leaves and this is what is happening to some of the remaining ones! Does anyone have some advice for me? Is it residual from the overwatering? Am I dealing with root rot? Does it need repotting?

My guess is that I shocked it in many ways with the travel, the dusting, the sunnier room and letting it dry out a bit.

Currently it is by an east facing window with indirect light during the day. As I'm in an apartment, the only other window it could be by is north-west facing with lots of hot afternoon sun. Based on my research of rubber trees I think this is the best choice for me, however let me know if you believe otherwise!

Any help is extremely appreciated!!! Thank You!

Thumb of 2017-06-17/sarahbee/6b2279


Thumb of 2017-06-17/sarahbee/109d98


Thumb of 2017-06-17/sarahbee/6d9a24


Thumb of 2017-06-17/sarahbee/f52b4c


Thumb of 2017-06-17/sarahbee/0ffb24
[Last edited by sarahbee - Jun 17, 2017 3:05 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1477244 (1)
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Herbs Annuals Hummingbirder Butterflies Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
Birds Cat Lover Houseplants Garden Sages
Image
gasrocks
Jun 17, 2017 3:03 PM CST
Myself, I'd give up on the plant as a whole. Take a stem cutting from the top and root that. Gene
Name: Holly
South Central Pa
Charter ATP Member Greenhouse Region: Mid-Atlantic I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pennsylvania Tropicals
Ponds Hummingbirder Birds Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level
Image
HollyAnnS
Jun 17, 2017 3:07 PM CST
If it was mine I would let it go bone dry and then start watering it again. You could up pot it and take a look at the roots to see how they look. Gene's idea of doing a cutting is a good idea as well. I can tell you that I had a rubber tree that got serious frostbite when the heater in the GH went out just one small tip still green and it recovered beautifully. I would remove all damaged leaves no matter what you do.
Life is Great! Holly
Please visit me and learn more about My Life on the Water a Personal Journey Thread in the MidAtlanticMusings Cubit.
http://cubits.org/MidAtlanticM...
Montreal QC (Zone 4b)
sarahbee
Jun 17, 2017 4:38 PM CST
HollyAnnS said:If it was mine I would let it go bone dry and then start watering it again. You could up pot it and take a look at the roots to see how they look. Gene's idea of doing a cutting is a good idea as well. I can tell you that I had a rubber tree that got serious frostbite when the heater in the GH went out just one small tip still green and it recovered beautifully. I would remove all damaged leaves no matter what you do.


Thanks HollyAnnS! I think I will end up doing a few cuttings and definitely investigate the soil. I'm glad to hear that yours recovered! It is such a beautiful plant when it is healthy.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Jun 18, 2017 7:23 PM CST
There has been limited damage to some of the leaves, but otherwise, your Ficus elastica looks healthy. The leaf damage was doubtless caused by the poor care it received at the florist. It was probably neglected and the soil allowed to get so dry that some of the leaves developed the dry patches. The brown patches will never re-green so you can either trim off those patches or the entire leaf - just to make it look nicer.

It appears to be in the right sized pot and root rot is not a likely problem. Keep it in that pot and in the east window that should be completely uncovered throughout the daylight hours. Water it thoroughly as soon as the top half-inch of soil feels dry. Although the damaged leaves will not recover, I think you will be rewarded with healthy new growth coming in at the tops of the stems. Leave the roots alone and don't try to do too much because it is in pretty good shape overall.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
purpleinopp
Jun 20, 2017 12:59 PM CST
If the pot was full of water, it must not have a drain hole in the bottom. If that is the case, that's a tricky growing situation because adding too much water can make plants ill, and be fatal.

It doesn't look like it will not live, but I would not call that a healthy plant or establish as a goal for another specimen to look like that one. Examples of robustly healthy Ficus elastica:



The foliage of any plant can only reflect the health of the roots, and at some point, if you want an increase in the overall above-soil mass of the plant, the roots will need room to form a bigger mass to support the increased foliage. If the root ball can slide out of the pot intact, the roots have run out of room to grow, and likely tangled into an unhealthy spiral/pancake at the bottom, AKA rootbound, potbound. No plant likes to be rootbound. What is necessary for plants to stay alive is for their roots to not rot, which can happen so easily in a pot with dense soils, like ground dirt, or bagged mixes of predominantly tiny particles of peat, (or to simply shrivel from simply never getting any water.) Having very little soil around the roots would make the soil dry more quickly, and for even the most dedicated plant-overwaterers to not rot the roots of their plants. This is not ideal, since most non-cactus plants are stressed by dry conditions, it's just a way of coping with soil that has little air in it when moist.

Negative experiences in regard to potting-up, where an undisturbed root ball is placed into a bigger pot with more soil around it, vs. doing a repotting, as described below, can give rise to old wives' tales about plants not liking to be repotted/disturbed. Potting-up a root-bound plant that has roots surrounding the outside root ball often lead to this negative experience because those roots had adapted to accessing oxygen around the outside of the root ball and surrounding them with more dense, soggy-but-airless potting soil will likely lead to suffocation.

The reason bonsai masters are able to keep potted entities alive for hundreds of years is because they care for the roots by trimming them and changing the soil. A plant grows from the roots-up, so if the roots are not healthy, gorgeous foliage will decline &/or no flowers can form. When you unpot a plant and find a pancake of roots at the bottom, chopping that off will give roots a chance to grow normally again for a while and will make removing the old soil easier.

Roots need oxygen & moisture at the same time to function. Just air = shriveling. Just moisture = suffocation & rotting. Either will cause root death and dessicated foliage because the roots have been unable to deliver moisture. Having to let soil dry, as if ones' tropical jungle plant was a cactus, is an unnecessarily stressful coping mechanism for non-desert dwelling plants in soil without enough oxygen for the roots to stay healthy when it is moist and can lead to premature loss of older leaves and in extreme cases, dry shriveled roots/dead plant.

The ability of roots to be able to function properly depends greatly on the soil structure/texture, which can change over time. Potting soil tends to be very dense, mostly peat, with very little air in it. Any kind of organic ingredients decompose into smaller bits over time, and roots fill air spaces over time as they grow through soil. Replacing soil periodically is usually necessary to keep plants healthy because of these reasons. A more porous, chunky, airy soil (like cactus/palm, if one is buying bagged,) can have more air in it even when it is moist because there is space between the particles. When there are tiny particles of any kind in a pot, such as peat, sand, silt, clay, they filter into all of the tiny spaces in a pot, eliminating the air. "Overwatering" is the label and manifestation when roots have suffocated and/or rotted, combo of both. Over time, organic bits decompose into smaller bits, so even the "best" soil, if it has organic components, will need to be replaced when this happens. The speed at which this happens depends on many variables, but on average, about 1-3 years.


👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Australia
Marcoge
Dec 23, 2017 7:35 PM CST
Hi Guys,

My partner has over watered my rubber tree. Overall the plant looks ok. Took out the soil and put new soil in but the roots did look pretty bad. I don't want this plant to die it's over 70 years old and just wondering if anyone had any tips on trying to save it. I am now scared to water it, how long should I wait to water it again and how will I know if it will be ok?
[Last edited by Marcoge - Dec 23, 2017 7:49 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1607450 (7)
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Dec 24, 2017 11:45 AM CST
Replacing wet soil is not the answer because it often does more harm than good. That being said, here is what I would suggest you do now.

Carefully unpot the plant and remove any loose soil, not in direct contact with the roots being careful not to damage the tiny root hairs. Cut away any roots that are dead, soft or mushy. Move the remaining rootball into the SMALLEST pot that it will fit into snugly. Use a peat-based potting mix that has added perlite mixed throughout.

The purpose of the small pot and porous potting mix is that if the roots are to recover, they will need regular infusions of oxygen around them. Large pots and heavy soils prevent that from happening.

When you water, add just enough so that the top inch of soil feels dry again in about 1 week. You will have to experiment a bit to get the right amount.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Houseplants forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Member Login:

Username:

Password:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by EscondidoCal and is called "Daylily & Lantana"