Ask a Question forum: Rubber tree help

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Australia
Marcoge
Dec 23, 2017 11:24 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?
Thumb of 2017-12-24/Marcoge/748148

Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
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Christine
Dec 24, 2017 6:46 AM CST
What kind of soil did you use? It looks very dense to my old eyes, I always add perlite to potting mix. Since you already went ahead and re-potted it I'd wait a few days and see how your RT handles the shock of being moved, I wish you'd have taken a pic of the roots, that would have helped us. There are very helpful members here to help you.
Welcome! To The Forums
N. Ohio (Zone 5b)
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Tisha
Dec 24, 2017 11:20 AM CST
Marcoge,
I don`t see where the water drains out of the bottom of the new pot.
Do you?

Tisha
Australia
Marcoge
Dec 24, 2017 2:53 PM CST
Christine said:What kind of soil did you use? It looks very dense to my old eyes, I always add perlite to potting mix. Since you already went ahead and re-potted it I'd wait a few days and see how your RT handles the shock of being moved, I wish you'd have taken a pic of the roots, that would have helped us. There are very helpful members here to help you.
Welcome! To The Forums


It's general potting mix, so should I water it? There is no drainage in the pot as well I reused the pot it was in.


N. Ohio (Zone 5b)
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Tisha
Dec 24, 2017 3:08 PM CST
@Marcoge, Smiling
Wait!
Try this first.
Place a paper towel on the top of the soil .
Lightly press on the paper towel with your fingers.
Do you see water finger prints on the p.t.?
If the paper is wet DO NOT WATER .
Tell us what you are seeing, please.

Tisha
Australia
Marcoge
Dec 24, 2017 3:37 PM CST
Tisha said:@Marcoge, Smiling
Wait!
Try this first.
Place a paper towel on the top of the soil .
Lightly press on the paper towel with your fingers.
Do you see water finger prints on the p.t.?
If the paper is wet DO NOT WATER .
Tell us what you are seeing, please.

No finger prints, if the plant is starting to die is there anything I can do to save it?


Tisha


N. Ohio (Zone 5b)
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Tisha
Dec 24, 2017 3:45 PM CST
Good. It`s not swimming in water.
Now, stick your finger into the soil as deep as your first knuckle. Remove finger.
Is the tip of the finger damp? moist? wet? or dry?

Tisha

Australia
Marcoge
Dec 24, 2017 4:27 PM CST
Tisha said:Good. It`s not swimming in water.
Now, stick your finger into the soil as deep as your first knuckle. Remove finger.
Is the tip of the finger damp? moist? wet? or dry?

Tisha


Finger is damp

N. Ohio (Zone 5b)
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Tisha
Dec 24, 2017 5:14 PM CST
@Marcoge,
GOOD!
DO NOT water at this time.
I think your decorator pot is the problem. No holes. I understand you like the decorator pot, and you will still be able to use it IF you change it`s set up.
You`ll need to find a slightly smaller plastic pot, with holes, that will fit into your fancy pot.
@Christine, @Turbosaurus, @WillC,
Is the soil to wet to repot at this point? WHAT TYPE OF SOIL SHOULD BE USED?
@Marcoge,
Because of the holidays we may need to wait for some additional advice about switching it to the liner/inner pot.
Still, do not water for now.
Don`t give up on it yet.
Let`s grab a bite to eat and check back a little later. Crossing Fingers!

Tisha

[Last edited by Tisha - Dec 24, 2017 9:50 PM (+)]
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Australia
Marcoge
Dec 24, 2017 5:38 PM CST
Tisha said:@Marcoge,
GOOD!
DO NOT water at this time.
I think your decorator pot is the problem. No holes. I understand you like the decorator pot, and you will still be able to use it IF you change it`s set up.
You`ll need to find a slightly smaller plastic pot, with holes, that will fit into your fancy pot.
@Christine, @Turbosaurus, @WillC,
Is the soil to wet to repot at this point?
@Marcoge,
Because of the holidays we may need to wait for some additional advice about switching it to the liner/inner pot.
Still, do not water for now.
Don`t give up on it yet.
Let`s grab a bite to eat and check back a little later. Crossing Fingers!

Tisha


Thanks will keep you posted
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Dec 24, 2017 5:44 PM CST
Down here in south Florida, people grow them as small trees in their yards. Soil here in the vast majority of places is very sandy.
A potting soil may be too dense, holding too much water. Combine that with a pot that has little or no drainage may be compounding the problem.
I grow one rubber plant in my lanai down here in 50% shade roughly. Soil is 2/3 potting soil and 1/3 sand. Plant seems happy and is growing well. Container is a glazed ceramic pot with a 2" drainage hole. I placed a large piece of broken clay pot over the hole in order to make sure that it drains properly. When the rainy season hits, 40" in four months, I visually inspect all of my containers to make sure that they are draining.
Wet soggy conditions are murder on a lot of tropicals!
"Our children are the messages we send to a time that we will never see."
N. Ohio (Zone 5b)
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Tisha
Dec 24, 2017 6:28 PM CST
@BigBill,
The decorator pot should be empty to be drilled, Right?
Plus, the addition of the hole will require a saucer underneath to catch water overflow, correct?
@Macoge,
Looks like you`ll have several options to choose from concerning the dec. pt.
Let`s wait till someone chimes in about the question of `can we repot now`.

Tisha
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Orchid Nut!
Region: United States of America Echinacea Hostas Clematis Region: Michigan Adeniums
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BigBill
Dec 24, 2017 7:31 PM CST
Depends on what type of pot, whether or not it even can be drilled. Easier to use a plastic or clay pot within a decorator pot. Or buy one with drainage hole already there.
"Our children are the messages we send to a time that we will never see."
N. Ohio (Zone 5b)
Bookworm The WITWIT Badge Moon Gardener Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Native Plants and Wildflowers Roses
Vermiculture Frogs and Toads Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Tisha
Dec 24, 2017 8:02 PM CST
@BigBill
"Easier to use a plastic or clay pot within a decorator pot."
That`s the option we`re looking at now.
After we find out if the r.t. is ok to work with.
I don`t know if the roots/soil are ;
to wet to move.
or
to wet and need to be moved asap.

Tisha
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Orchid Nut!
Region: United States of America Echinacea Hostas Clematis Region: Michigan Adeniums
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Dahlias
BigBill
Dec 24, 2017 9:32 PM CST
Any time you have too wet I would repot immediately. Keep plant under watered for a couple of months.
Fertilize slightly to promote root growth. I use slow release Dynamite in the red plastic container. With an 8" pot I would sprinkler a teaspoon full on top of the soil and it will watered into the soil over time.
Since rubber trees get large, my preference has been clay.
Also keep them shaded with perhaps a bright location without much in the way of direct sun. The sun may cause stress that the weekend root system can't handle. Sun causes increased demand for water.
"Our children are the messages we send to a time that we will never see."
Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
Charter ATP Member Region: United States of America Deer Region: New York Birds Cat Lover
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Christine
Dec 26, 2017 7:28 AM CST
If and thats a big If you decide to re-pot it, be extremely careful lifting it out of the pot, try not to damage any roots.. Let us know what you decide to do
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Dec 26, 2017 2:01 PM CST
If you removed most of the original soil, then it will be a very long time for the new soil to dry out.

For now, I suggest that you remove all loose soil from the top surface that is not in immediate contact with the roots. That excess soil on top serves no purpose and is like a mulch and is keeping air from penetrating into the root zone.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Orchid Nut!
Region: United States of America Echinacea Hostas Clematis Region: Michigan Adeniums
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Dahlias
BigBill
Dec 27, 2017 3:23 PM CST
Oh, I just that saw thatsaucer part to your question Tisha. I am sorry not to have seen it sooner. If you have an overwatered plant of any kind, rubber tree or whatever. Saucers might not be advisable unless you modify them.
Otherwise too much water can sit in the saucer and it might lead you right back to too much water, too much moisture. In Home Depot I have purchased either full or half sheets of "egg crate". It is plastic formulated into 2' by 4' sheets featuring 1/2 inch openings. These openings are 1/2 inch square.
I have cut it up with tin snips or angle cut pliers into flat pieces that I Place in a saucer. For example in a 12" round saucer I would cut a 9" or 10" square out of the "egg crate". Then I lay the egg crate inside the saucer to elevate the pot up and away from the water caught by the saucer. This keeps the soil in the pot from "wicking" up extra water.
Plastic egg crate is normally seen inside fluorescent light fixtures on a ceiling. It looks like cross hatching kind of to dress up a fluorescent fixture if you will. I have had a good deal of success using it for several applications over the years.
"Our children are the messages we send to a time that we will never see."
Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Jan 1, 2018 6:51 PM CST
Im not that picky about when to repot-
If there is a problem- like having a very deep pot without holes so you can never tell how damp it is deep down, I'd repot right away... who's to say it will dry out before MORE root rot- and I've pulled plants where the soil has gotten s compacted that the center was bone dry and only the top and sides were soaking up water. If you pull it you can poke around a little and really find out what the problem is.

Do you know what the pot is made out of? Make sure you use the right drill bit for your material. You would need a saucer under it IF you drill the pot and then something to keep the pot off the saucer... I might not do that... (drill it)
You have two options- but this guy a new pot, and get yourself a nice new plant for this one- only leave he new plant in its pot to sit INSIDE this pretty one, and prop it off the bottom, so this pretty pot will act like your saucer. IF this tree isn't really rootbound- tight to the sides of the pot- the other thing you could do is find a cheap black plastic pot (I've gone to my local nursery to buy one, and they just gave it to me.) that will fit inside yours, move the tree to the plastic pot then prop it up off the bottom of this pretty pot- I throw in a handfull of soda pop or water bottle caps on the bottom- they give you a nice 1/2 + margin of error, just make sure you check it every once in a while to make sure you haven't exceded that space, if you have just dump the water out. .

Repot it right away is my tip, either is something about as wide, but not quite as deep as this one (that's why the cheap plastic are great- they're easy to cut down with a pair of kitchen scisors if they are too high). Then I would return to a normal watering schedule- I wouldn't underwater- that's a dangerous suggestion...

The reason its so hard to tell the difference between overwatering and underwatering is they both result in a dried out plant- underwatering becasue there's nothing to take up, overwatering becasue the roots rots and there's no pathway for the water to travel up
I wouldn't recommend deliberately under-watering to offset overwatering. It doesn't really work that way. You want to really poke your finger in there to check- right down to cover the second knuckle.

As for potting medium, I prefer something with a lot of peat for indoor plants- because I'd rather be cautious and check my plants often than have to deal with all that draining water that pours through with sand - messy and in my house in winter it gets so dry I'd have to water constantly. Due to time constraints, I'm more likely to not water for ten days than water every 3. Id go with plain vanilla indoor potting soil anyway- unless you really know what you're doing and how plants respond to your specific environment it's more work to fiddle with mixing than just adjust to whats in the bag.

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