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Rubber plants or Ficus Elastica is a tropical plant with sturdy and shiny leaves. Sometimes many growers ignore the fact that rubber plants also need attention occasionally at least. Rubber plants can suffer from root rot if completely ignored, sloping towards the end of their life.
Overwatering is the most common reason to root rot in a rubber plant. Apart from that, a fungus attack in the soil can also lead to root rot. Yellow and black spots on foliage, droopy leaves, leaves discoloration, slow growth, and mushy roots are some common signs of root rot in a rubber plant
Rubber plants being tough and hardy is a beginner-friendly plant with an easy-care routine. Since your rubber plants are on the verge of dying, we still have some hope for you left in our hearts.
Root rot can happen to anyone; even the most experienced growers might face this dilemma.
Root rot is demoralizing for any owner, but there is always a chance to get back your plant healthy. We, in the following sections, will help you to understand
- The signs signaling your rubber plants are suffering.
- The root causes of the root rot in your rubber plant.
- The right way to help your plant fight root rot and get back to life.
- Easy tips to keep your rubber plant healthy in the future.
Let us read further to understand and work on the same.
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Causes of root rot in the rubber plant
Root rot in rubber plants can be caused mainly due to overwatering, cool weather, too much splashing water, too much humidity, contaminated tools, heavy soil, soggy soil, improper drainage system, etc.
Misting too much over the plant affects the cells of the rubber plants leaves burst due to excess water, and turn yellow and brown.
When you overwatered your rubber plant, you will find fungal spores in the roots multiply and spread rapidly in the roots due to soggy soil.
Poorly draining soil doesn’t allow water and air to flow freely in the soil and roots. That suffocates the soil, and the roots and damp soil will give birth to the fungus and lead to root rot.
A poor drainage system also keeps the soil soggy for a long time as the excess water is not draining efficiently and inviting root rot.
Another reason could be pathogens (the infectious agent); they colonize the plant’s living tissues to feed themselves with nutrients; thus, weakening the plant.
The pathogens penetrate and colonize the rubber plant’s root system and tissues after that degrading the rubber plant’s cell structures.
They affect the defense mechanism of your rubber plant to fight back.
Sometimes there is a possibility that your rubber plant was already suffering from root rot when you brought them home. So, you need to check the same while buying one.
Also read: What’s wrong with my rubber plant?
10 Signs of root rot in rubber plant
Root rot in Ficus Elastica can be identified through many signs:
- Yellow and black spots on foliage
- Galls on the foliage
- Leaf drop
- Lifeless leaves and branches
- Twig dieback
- Dark gray-colored leaves
- Slow growth
- Wilting leaves
- Mushy roots
Discoloration and dead leaves indicate severe conditions suffering under the plant.
The roots are not healthy, making it harder for them to absorb nutrients and produce oxygen. They will look healthy on the outside though. The growth of the rubber plant eventually slows down.
Wilting and droopy leaves show initial stages of root rot, but if your leaves are dropping and seem weak, you need to check the roots.
Yellow and black spots on the rubber plant foliage are highly due to root rot and overwatered. Because the leaves tissue will not be able to absorb light and nutrients to its full capacity.
Root rot rapidly makes the leaves weak and dull, followed by the falling of leaves.
If you dig deeper, you will find soft brown, decayed, and mushy roots. Root rot affects the roots when you ignore it for a long time; the effect can be seen on the plant foliage.
If your plant was thriving all these years and for some reason, you find your plant is not acting right or let’s just say not growing, especially in the growing season. It could be a root rot indication.
Detecting root in the early stages of it’s development is quite tricky. The root system is already affected, and you will not be able to tell because the foliage will look healthy in the initial stages.
When you see the rotting symptoms generally, it’s too late to treat your rubber plant as the infection has spread largely and lead to plant death imminent.
Usually, the roots and soil support root rot due to continuous improper cultural conditions and inappropriate care, especially wrong watering schedules.
If root rot in rubber plants left untreated may damage the entire plant making it hard to revive your rubber plant once again into life. When your rubber plant is affected due to root rot, it will prevent the roots from absorbing water.
Plant owners tend to water their rubber plants relatively more during rot due to this condition. This is also a sign of root rot.
How to save rubber plants from root rot?
When your signs of root rot in your rubber plant, follow the following guide to bring them back to life:
Prune the damaged leaves completely, but more than 50% of the foliage stops there.
Pruning will help in many things, increase the air circulation in the foliage and reduce the humidity levels. It will also help to weigh down the roots’ pressure to provide sufficient nutrients to the entire plant.
Roots are already weak and suffering, pruning will help a lot.
Now repotting needs to be done. Take out your rubber plant from the pot. Remove and dispose of the soil thoroughly.
Now trim the roots that are slimy brown and soft. Weak roots will fall on their own; let them shed.
Dip the root system of your rubber plant in fungicide safe for your plant for a few hours to kill and avoid further spread of fungus in the roots.
Now let the roots sit in the air for one whole day to increase the air circulation and get rid of any leftover fungus in the roots.
Repot the plant in another pot with a well-draining potting soil mix. It is recommended to go for terracotta or ceramic pots for rubber plants.
They help absorb the excess water rapidly, preventing sogginess in the soil and the roots, mainly helping to keep your rubber plant healthy and maintain a healthy environment.
A good drainage system must be ensured, and watering at the right time is very important. Don’t fertilize after repotting for a few weeks.
How to prevent root rot in rubber plants?
As we all have heard, prevention is better than cure. So we go by this saying to keep your rubber plant flourishing.
To prevent root rot or any other issues, you need to keep inspecting your rubber plant and spend quality time with them every few days. This will allow you to understand your child-like plant.
Check the drainage system and fix it if it’s poor. If the potting soil is not well-draining and heavy mixes some sand, this will facilitate water and airflow.
Allow the soil to dry between watering. Check the soil by using your finger into the soil to check the moistness of the soil.
If you feel your plant asks for more water than usual, check the cultural conditions and the roots immediately.
Dispose all the fallen leaves and dirt to prevent any fungal spores that might affect your rubber plant.
Mist around the plant, but don’t do it too often. The excess moisture will burst and absorb into the leaves and will support fungal growth.
If you prefer bottom watering, remove the water tray after an hour to avoid overwatering.
Keep pruning and giving an excellent cut to your rubber plant to improve air circulation and a good shape. This will also help the roots and soil to support the entire plant easily.
Always sanitize your scissors before pruning your plants.
Tips to keep your rubber plant thriving
Rubber plants are easy to care and stay happy in harsh conditions too. We are here to help you to keep your rubber plant healthy with very easy to remember and effective tips:
Check your rubber plant as soon as you got them home from nurseries or online. You should have a high index of suspicion for root rot, which means periodically checking your plants if everything’s okay.
Just in case of babies, you need to react instantly when you feel something kosher in your rubber plant.
Rubber plants love light, just in case you are not giving them enough light does give a check. Bright indirect light supports the growth of your rubber plant to a large extent.
The light should not be direct and burning to your plant. Shield your plant from the direct sun using curtains and shades.
Water your rubber plant only when the soil is dry, as we told before. If you feel the soil is drying too fast by checking from the top, check the soil’s bottom to make sure the soil is thoroughly dry.
Don’t keep the soil soggy this will reduce the soil’s oxygen level and the roots causing root rot and other diseases.
Pruning and misting should not be ignored as it seems a pretty small act, but it helps your rubber plant in many aspects.
Keep your rubber plant in an area with adequate ventilation. Don’t club with too many plants. You may also occasionally keep your rubber plant away from the group to facilitate air circulation.
Moderate humidity levels, high-temperature levels are ideal for your rubber plants. Use a humidifier to maintain humidity in the air.
When the temperature goes down, keep your rubber plant near the furnace or heater but in a distance. Your plant may not feel the direct heat during winters.
During summers, since the temperature levels are already high, check on the humidity levels.
Fertilize every month with nutrients rich fertilizer best for your rubber plant. Follow the instructions, dilute the fertilizer with water, and feed your plant. This will evenly spread the fertilizer in the soil and roots and help them to absorb nutrients efficiently.
If root rot has progressed badly and it’s hard to recover your rubber plant back to life. Look for a healthy and firm stem and take a cutting off 4-6 inches below the leaf node. Using a light potting medium plant, the cutting of your rubber plant.
If root rot has not spread in your rubber plant, you may correct your care routines and maintain required cultural conditions, and your plant may revive back in no time.
Also read: How to save a dying rubber plant?