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Rubber Plant Winter Care: In 7 Simple Steps!

Even if you grow Rubber plants well, keeping them healthy in winter can be a challenge. If you struggle with this, you’re not alone. Many gardeners struggle due to cold drafts and short days of winter. 

In winter, care for your Rubber plant by adjusting its basic needs: give it some direct sunlight, water less often, increase humidity, provide warmth, and skip fertilization. Keep an eye out for pests and diseases, as this is the time when they are prone to infestations.

In this article, I will provide winter care tips for the Rubber plant, helping it easily overcome the cold. So, stick to the end to learn winter care tips and how to tackle common issues in rubber plants. 

Rubber Plant placement (2)

I have done my best to address all of your concerns in the article below. However, if you still have any questions or are confused about the article, you can receive personalized one-on-one assistance from me by leaving a comment below. I will respond to your comment within a few hours.

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Rubber plant care in winter 

Rubber plants thrive in warm and humid climates. 

They don’t like cold weather and go dormant in winter. 

During dormancy, Rubber plants need less care than in active growth. 

However, winter care for the Rubber plant is needed to keep it warm and healthy throughout the dark months. 

I sometimes receive questions about how to identify dormancy when the temperature drops. 

Observing the plant as temperature drops should help you identify the signs of dormancy. 

Dormancy is triggered by changes in light, temperature, and humidity. 

In winter, the sunlight duration reduces due to shorter days. 

Sun intensity, temperature, and humidity also decrease. 

But these issues can also arise if you don’t meet the requirements correctly during their active season. 

But that is a manmade mistake, and winter dormancy is natural. 

Signs of Rubber plant dormancy include: 

  • Yellow leaves
  • Leaves falling off the plant 
  • Slower or stunted growth 
  • Very few new shoots and leaves 
  • Not responding to fertilizer 

When the temperature drops below 50°F, and you notice these signs, begin your winter care routine. 

Now, let’s jump to the Rubber plant winter care tips:  

Rubber plant temperature requirements in winter 

Rubber plants enjoy warm temperatures that range between 60-80°F. 

It can also tolerate up to 55°F but will start suffering once it goes beyond 50°F.

Avoid doors or windows from which cold air enters your room and reaches the plant.

Place the plant in a room with a moderate or warm temperature. 

If the indoor temperature falls below 50°F, use heat lamps or mats to raise it for your Rubber plants. 

Place the plant in a room with a heating system, ensuring an average temperature. 

Keep it at least 10-15 feet away from the system’s air vent. 

Winter lighting conditions for Rubber plants 

Even though the plant stays dormant, it still requires its basic needs in winter, with sunlight being one of them. 

It also helps in keeping the plant warm. 

As days become shorter, the Rubber plant can’t receive enough light duration. 

The intensity also reduces. 

The south-facing window offers maximum light in summer. 

However, this direction may still benefit Rubber plants during the day as intensity decreases. 

Keep your plant in this direction 1-2 feet away. 

You can expose the plant to some direct sunlight due to low intensity, but be sure to check before doing so. 

Rubber plants like indirect or dappled sun. 

Take your plant away from the window when the sun sets to prevent cold drafts.

Also, avoid open windows if drafts persist during the day. Use grow lights; personally, I recommend a full-spectrum LED light. 

Winter watering for Rubber plants 

Rubber Plant watering

During winter, many houseplant gardeners overwater their Rubber plants, sticking to the same routine as in spring and summer. 

Winter is not their active season. 

As it goes dormant, the plant will reduce absorbing moisture like the spring and summer. 

However, a consistent moisture level is needed; it’s a basic need. 

Therefore, you must cut back watering. 

I suggest checking the moisture level daily instead of following any routine. 

Whenever the top few inches feel dry, water the plant. 

I noticed that the soil takes a lot of time to dry. 

Based on experiments, I recommend deep but infrequent watering while monitoring moisture levels. 

It allows the soil to dry out enough between waterings. 

If you have a routine, water the Rubber plant every 7 to 14 days. 

Regardless of your schedule, always check the moisture before watering. 

Keeping the plant warm aids in faster soil drying. 

To prevent overwatering, use well-drained soil for your Rubber plants. 

Rubber plant winter humidity levels 

Rubber plants, native to tropical regions, require high humidity.

In winter, when the humidity drops and the air becomes dry, the plant’s health can be affected.

Transpiration decreases, leaves dry out, and may wilt, brown, and drop off the plant. 

To understand the accurate humidity levels, use a hygrometer

Around 50-60% should be maintained. 

If humidity is low, adjust it by misting, installing humidifiers, using pebble tray methods, placing plants near aquariums, and grouping them. 

You can shift your plant to rooms with naturally high humidity, such as the kitchen, bathroom, or basement. 

Rubber plant fertilizer in winter 

In winter, Rubber plants stop growing, conserve energy, and prioritize maintaining leaves over new growth. 

Due to this natural slow growth, reduce or stop feeding the plant. 

It won’t accept any fertilizer you apply. 

Continuing to feed your plant may lead to over-fertilization

This can lead to salt accumulation, root burning, hindered nutrient and moisture uptake, and various issues. 

Some people don’t allow the Rubber plant to enter dormancy by properly meeting all its requirements. 

In this situation, you can use fertilizers, but in smaller amounts and less frequently than during active months. 

Use balanced liquid fertilizers (2-2-2 NPK) in small amounts with a light dosage by diluting it to half the strength. 

Apply this every 4 to 6 weeks. 

If you don’t feel confident enough, skip it. 

Since Rubber plants are not high feeders, it won’t hurt your plant. 

It’s a safe and beneficial approach. 

Keeping warm temperatures, high humidity, proper moisture levels, and sunlight will suffice. 

They won’t require any feeding. 

Mulching the Rubber plants in winter 

Consider mulching the soil for your Rubber plant, especially in colder zones.

Mulching keeps the soil moist, reducing the need for frequent watering and preventing overwatering mistakes.

In the colder zones, room temperature also starts dropping. 

Mulching prevents the temperature from reaching the roots and causing shock. 

With mulching, your plant can stay safe throughout the winter. 

Rubber plant frost protection 

Frost protection is required if your Rubber plant is growing outdoors or on an open balcony. 

I have seen one of my friends growing their Rubber plants on the balcony during the winter. 

It was because of the sunlight that provided some warmth. 

In such cases, the easiest thing you can do is bring your houseplant inside whenever the temperature starts dropping below 50°F. 

The plant might be able to survive the frost as long as the temperature doesn’t drop below 32°F, but it will become weak. 

Once the temperature drops this low and stays for a few hours, your plant will receive frost damage. 

So, the best decision is to bring it inside once the temperature drops below 50°F. 

Rubber plant’s common issues in winter

Rubber Plant removing damaged leaves

Winter comes with various challenges when it comes to caring for the Rubber plants. 

Rubber plant cold damage 

Even after following the winter care, your Rubber might receive some cold drafts by mistake. 

Last winter, my friend grew Ficus Elastica on her balcony for some warmth from the direct sunlight in the morning and forgot to remove it. 

It stayed there the whole night. 

The temperature went too low suddenly, and her plant received frost damage. 

Since she was new to growing houseplants, she asked me how to save it, and here’s what I recommended to her: 

  • Begin with checking the leaves. When the plant receives frost damage, the cells get damaged, and the leaves wilt and become brown or black. It’s not concerning because, with proper care, the plant can grow new leaves and return. Prune these affected leaves from the plant, especially the entirely brown or black leaves.  
  • Check the stems by scrapping some outer layers. If you find the inner part green, there is no need to worry. With proper care, you can bring the plant back to health. 
  • Inspect the roots. If they are in good shape, return your plant to the pot. If you find any brown or mushy roots, remove them and put your plant back in the pot. If the entire root has become brown, black, or mushy, throw away the plant. 

Once you have removed the damaged parts, it is time to give it some warmth and keep the temperature around 65-85°F: 

  • Put your plant in a sunny (indirect sunlight) location. South-facing windows can work. It might help in warming the plant. Avoid if cold air enters, and try other ways. 
  • Place a heat lamp a few inches away from the plant. 
  • Place your plant in a room with a heating system, with a temperature between 65-85°F. Maintain at least 10-15 feet between the plant and the system. 
  • Maintain proper humidity. It can help the plant to recover faster. 
  • Add some mulch on the soil surface. It will keep the soil and roots warm and stop cold weather from reaching and damaging them. 

Keep your plant inside once you feel your region’s temperature is dropping. 

Avoid proximity to open windows and air vents. 

Following these steps can help in quick recovery from cold damage

Rubber plant pests 

Though these plants are hardy and low maintenance, they become prone to pests more during the winter. 

Common pests in Rubber plants include aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. 

Some thrive in moist conditions, while others prefer dry conditions.

The soil takes a long time to dry out in the winter due to the cold. 

When you overwater, aphids, mealybugs, and scales reach out to your plant and start staying. 

Bugs like aphids, scale insects, and mealybugs suck the plant sap and stress the plant, leading to yellowing, curling, deformation, and defoliation. 

Spider mites, on the other hand, enjoy dry weather conditions. 

If the humidity goes too low, these bugs might reach your plant and live there. 

You can identify the infestation by web-like structures. 

Over time, the leaves turn yellow and start falling off. 

To eliminate pests and prevent them from reoccurrence, follow the following steps: 

  • Isolate the plant and remove the infected leaves. 
  • Spray neem oil on the infected areas. 
  • Release natural predators. 
  • Use insecticidal soaps. 
  • Use a cotton swab dipped with rubbing alcohol and wipe the infected areas. 
  • Let the plant have enough sunlight. 
  • Mist regularly to keep the leaves clean and adjust humidity. During regular misting, add some neem oil and spray it on the leaves every two weeks in winter. 
  • Inspect your plant regularly. It will inform you about the issues earlier, and you can take immediate steps to prevent spreading. 

Rubber plant diseases 

Common diseases your Rubber plant might encounter in winter are: 

Root rot 

Since the soil dries out very slowly in winter, cutting back watering is recommended. 

But some growers overwater by mistake. 

If it continues, the soil remains wet for too long. 

Pathogens start attacking and decaying the roots. 

You can save the plant, but there is less chance, and the work is challenging. 

First, you have to do an emergency repotting during the winter. 

Since winter is its dormant season, the plant may not respond well to this change or recover faster. 

Secondly, notice the damage level. You can’t save your plant if it is over 40-50%. 

But if only a few roots have been damaged, revival is possible. 

Take out the plant, remove the maximum amount of soil from the root portion, and observe the roots closely. 

The good roots are white and firm, whereas the decayed roots are brown, mushy, and smelly. 

Remove the decayed roots, and apply some fungicide so the fungus doesn’t spread. 

Now, use new potting soil and a new pot. 

The old ones have been infected, so better you discard them. 

Use well-drained soil that drains the excess water while retaining the required moisture. 

Provide bright indirect sunlight, ensure consistently moist soil, and provide warm temperature and average humidity levels. 

Don’t fertilize. Be patient and wait. 

Inspect your plant regularly to see if there are any signs of recovery. 

If there is any new growth, the plant will be back. 

Continue caring for it, and don’t stress it with anything. 

Leaf spot disease 

Various fungal infections can lead to leaf spot diseases, resulting in brown or yellow leaves with black spots covering the surface. 

Most of these diseases result from water accumulating on the leaf surface and lack of air circulation. 

To remedy this, isolate your plant, remove the infected leaves, and apply some fungicides. 

To prevent the disease, avoid overhead watering, improve air circulation, and don’t let moisture sit on the leaves. 

Check the plant regularly. 

If the leaves seem wet, pat them dry with a dry cloth. 

If you have misted or showered your plant for cleaning, the water should dry out by the end of the day. 

Monitoring and observing the Rubber plant during winter 

Rubber Plant tall and healthy

During the winter, you must monitor your plant regularly. 

Check how it is behaving, whether the leaves are displaying any signs, or if there are any signs of pests and diseases. 

When you see any signs, detect the reason and fix it. 

Maintain adequate light, temperature, and humidity, avoid fertilizing, and cut back watering. 

Daily observation and quick intervention whenever you notice any issues can stop it from spreading and keep your plant healthy.  

Don’t panic if you don’t see your plant showing any growth. 

Since it is their dormancy season, it is expected to witness slow or no growth. 

Routine pruning, propagation, and repotting should be done only in spring or summer. 

Except for that, you can prune the dead and damaged leaves during the winter. 

If your plant has gone so bad that you must throw it away, try finding some good parts and cut them for propagation. 

Final thoughts 

Since the Rubber plants go dormant in winter, they need fewer requirements. However, extra care and attention are still needed to keep the plant healthy throughout the winter. 

Provide adequate sunlight, water the plant less often, provide warm temperatures around 65-85°F and adjust the humidity levels by keeping it around 50-60%. 

Don’t fertilize the plant during winter; check out for pests and diseases. Keep monitoring the plant every day. Take immediate steps if you find any concerning symptoms in your plant, like yellow or brown leaves or defoliation. 

Avoid any stress because the plant will take a lot of time to recover in winter. With extra care and maintenance, your Rubber plant will continue thriving and add greenery to your indoor space all winter. 

How frequently should I water my Rubber plants in winter? 

If you are following any schedule, you can water the plant every 7 to 14 days. Instead of following any schedule, water the plant whenever the top 2-4 inches have dried.

Should I still rotate my Rubber plants when exposed to light in winter?

Continue rotating the plant even during winter. It ensures that all sides are getting enough light and warmth. Ensure the sunlight is not intense, and cold drafts don’t enter from the window and reach your plant.

Reference: Ficus Elastica 

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