The Rubber plant(Ficus elastica) is a popular indoor house plant. They are easy to care for and can thrive even in harsh conditions. However, a lot of times, we struggle to keep them thriving. You will notice the leaves are turning yellow and dropping down. And you don’t have the foggiest idea of what is happening and why is your rubber plant drooping?
The primary cause of droopy leaves in the rubber plant is either overwatering or under-watering. Wilting of leaves is usually due to overwatering the plant. Other reasons include too much or insufficient light, poor soil health, temperature fluctuation, or some diseases.
By learning essential care tips and understanding what your plants need, you can regain your plant’s thriving. Here we will help you know the potential problems with your plant and what steps you need to take. So, let’s get right into it.
Table Of Contents
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1. Drooping due to watering issues
Watering can play a big part in your rubber plant being droopy or healthy, and you need to understand how.
When it comes to watering, you need to ensure you don’t leave your rubber plant without water for more than 7 days.
On the other hand, you also need to be aware that you don’t water it too frequently.
Now both of these situations can be potentially bad for our plants. Let us learn more about it in detail.
Overwatering your rubber plant
Overwatering can not only cause drooping, but also it can lead to severe root rot.
This condition is much more severe than you can imagine, and I have been through this with my rubber plant.
An overwatered rubber plant means it is waterlogged, and the roots cannot breathe.
It can also lead to fungal infections with harsh root rot.
The rubber plant does not like standing water and can start dying due to too much water before you even notice.
Even though you have been watering your rubber plant well, you notice that the leaves are drooping and the trunk is becoming soft and brown, which means root rot has set in.
If you examine and see that root rot has set in, you will need to remove the plant from the existing pot.
To get rid of the damaged roots, trim any brown-hued or black roots back with scissors.
The rubber plant roots should be white and firm. Repot the plant in new soil and another pot.
Underwatering your rubber plant
Underwatering is another reason for your rubber plant to be droopy.
In this case, your plant will appear more dry than soft.
You will also notice that the topsoil is completely dry and dusty.
But don’t worry; this condition is not as severe as overwatering.
Revival of your plant, in this case, is much easier, and you just have to water it properly at regular intervals.
Until and unless your plant is completely dry and lifeless due to underwatering, revival should not be a problem.
Fix a watering schedule to water your rubber plant every 4-5 days so that it can start thriving again.
Check the soil every time before watering the plant.
If the topsoil feels completely dry, you can water the plant.
Sometimes it can get difficult for you to assess the situation.
The below table will give you an idea about the signs of over and under-watering:
|Leaves getting dry and Drooping leaves||Brown tips or edges of leaves|
|Pulling away of soil or Dried out soil||Drooping and Yellowing leaves|
|Slow growth||Attracts pest as soil is damp|
|Leaves getting discolored||Root rot|
|Shallow root system||Signs of Edema on top leaves|
How much should one water the plant?
You need to water your rubber plant every 4-5 days.
Although a rubber plant can go without water for 7 days, it is crucial to avoid such stress.
Hence, watering them at regular intervals is essential.
The watering need for rubber plants might vary depending on the situation.
Importance of drainage
A well-draining soil keeps the roots of your rubber plant happy.
This is why you should pay attention to the importance of well-draining soil.
If the drainage is not good, water can accumulate around the roots, causing root rot. This can eventually kill your rubber plant.
Below are some advantages of well-draining soil for the rubber plant:
Prevents waterlogging: Due to poor drainage, water can stand around the roots for a long time. This will prevent the absorption of oxygen by the roots. The roots will suffocate for lack of oxygen and aeration, which can quickly kill the plants.
Prevents root rot: Rubber plants are prone to root rot if left in waterlogged soil for too long. Soil with poor drainage can invite fungal infections to the root, and once it happens, it is tough to revive the plant from such conditions.
Helps with nutrient uptake: If the soil is well-draining, it remains aerated, allowing proper nutrient absorption. On the other hand, if it is waterlogged, absorption will not happen due to compaction, which again suffocates the plant and leads to death.
Enhances growth: Rubber plants grow best in moist but not waterlogged soil. Proper drainage ensures that the soil stays moist without becoming waterlogged, providing the ideal conditions for the plant to grow and thrive.
Also read: How Much Water Do Rubber Plants Need?
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2. Rubber plant drooping due to improper lighting
Rubber plants like bright light and a lot of it, but not direct sunlight.
The rubber plant’s leaves can droop if they are in harsh sun or away from light for more than 2 to 3 days
A brilliant spot ensured by a sheer window decoration is perfect for rubber plants.
Direct sunlight can cause damage and leaf burns, making your plant droopy. So placing it in indirect light might be a good idea.
However, if your window receives a rising or setting sun with medium light, it would be a perfect spot for a rubber plant.
You can tell if your rubber plant needs more light if it gets leggy, its leaves lose their brilliance, and lower leaves tumble off.
It is altogether expected to droop and shed its leaves as climate changes.
However, if you want to change the placement of your rubber plant or move it from outdoors to indoors, you need to help your plant acclimate quickly.
Adding a grow light could help in easy transitioning.
These don’t require much light but do exceptionally well in bright, deviant light.
Some of us keep our rubber plants near a window where they receive partial light filtered through curtains and blinds.
Sometimes you will notice that your rubber plant tilts towards the light source, or more leaves only come out from one side.
Under such circumstances, rotating the pot would be ideal for the steady growth of your rubber plant.
Also read: How Much Light Do Rubber Plants Need?
3. Poor Soil and pot conditions
Soil is another crucial factor on which the health of rubber plants depends. Anything wrong with the soil can make its leaves droopy.
The importance of soil quality
The ideal potting mix for rubber plants would be a mix of 50% garden soil, with 20% perlite and 30% cocopeat. If the soil is not well-draining, it can be a problem, as we discussed earlier. Also, ensure that all the nutrients are available in the soil.
Common soil issues that can cause drooping
Some of the typical soil issues which can cause drooping are mentioned below:
- Soil compaction: If the soil becomes compact, the roots will not get enough space to grow properly. So we must ensure enough aeration and space for the roots to grow.
- pH imbalance: If the soil becomes more acidic, the plant suffers and signals it with droopy leaves.
- Nutrient deficiency: Lack of nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium can also cause a droopy rubber plant.
- Waterlogging: As we already discussed, waterlogging can be fetal for your rubber plant.
Also read: What Kind Of Soil Is Good For Rubber Plants?
Improper pot size
The rubber plant should be potted in an adequately sized pot to grow a 6-foot-tall tree.
You can start with a container between 1-2 gallons.
Ensure that your plant pot has enough drainage holes else you might risk root rot.
Adding a small layer of rocks or pebbles in the bottom aids drainage. You can also palce the pot on a pebble tray.
It will also ensure the soil is not soggy with excess water, as rubber plants enjoy well-drained soil.
4. Insect infestation can lead to drooping leaves in rubber plants
The rubber plant is robust and can tolerate most growing conditions.
However, like the other houseplants, certain insects and diseases can cause the symptom of drooping leaves in rubber plant.
We will discuss some cases of pests and diseases common to rubber plants.
The standard houseplant pests, such as Mealybugs, spiders, Aphids, thrips etc., can affect the rubber plant and make it droopy.
Using some natural pest repellent to eliminate the pest would be great. Even if the pests don’t disappear, you can clear most of them.
Rubber plants are immune to most diseases; however, overwatering is the cause of most of the illnesses in rubber plants.
Hence do not overwater your rubber plant.
Specific home remedies for controlling pests and diseases will be by spraying your rubber plant with garlic/neem spray.
How to use garlic/neem spray?
- Blend 1 tsp of neem oil/liquid garlic concentrate with 1-1.5 liters of water.
- Empty the arrangement into a spray bottle.
- Shower on the rubber plant once every week until the creepy crawlies vanish effectively.
5. Temperature changes can lead to drooping leaves in rubber plants
While considering the maximum temperature, the rubber plants grow in indirect sun and are sensibly dry season receptive.
However, high temperatures can lead to leaf burn in them.
Perfect rubber plant temperature ranges anywhere between 75 to 80°F.
The radiant heat made by sunshine moreover impacts temperature.
If you are keeping your rubber plants on your patio and the temperature goes beyond 80°F, then you need to move them to the shade or indoors.
Inside, plants kept in windows should live in east or north windows – or south windows with a sheer covering – for spread from the glow of the afternoon sun.
If your rubber plants are kept near the window, ensure they are placed on east or north-facing windows.
Avoid south-facing windows as too much light can raise the temperature and cause problems in them.
Suppose you live in colder regions where the temperature goes below average.
In that case, you might need to take some additional steps to ensure that your plants remain healthy.
As the mercury level drops below 40°F, the leaves of your rubber plant will start losing moisture and hydration.
And if the temperature drops below that, the leaves may die out completely.
Thus, it is crucial to maintain the ideal temperature in your home.
A wood-burning stove or furnace could do wonders in such situations.
The best night’s temperature lies in the scope of 60-65°F.
6. Overfertilization can lead to the drooping of rubber plants
One must be careful not to add excess fertilizer to rubber plants.
That might also be the cause of the drooping of the rubber plants.
Fertilizers act as a catalyst for metabolism, and forcing metabolism might cause drooping.
Too much fertilizer can also build up excess salt in the soil, impacting the plant’s health.
Sometimes hard water is also a reason for salt buildup.
It might get tricky when it comes to salt buildup.
In that case, you need to check if there is any white residue on the soil and fix it.
Rubber plants should be fertilized during the spring and early summer and not in the winter when it is dormant.
The house plant fertilizer should do okay for rubber plants. The key to remember is that these plants need small feeding.
Adding a small fertilizer every 40-50 days is ideal for keeping the plant thriving.
To fertilize it, you can scrape off a small layer of topsoil and top it up with vermicompost or other good compost.
Any other household chemical fertilizer will also do the trick.
However, make sure you don’t add a lot of manure.
7. The low humidity level can lead to drooping leaves of rubber plant
Rubber plants love humidity, as you understand that winter has low humidity that causes leaves to droop and fall.
We need to find a way to increase the plants’ moisture in winter. You can do that in various ways, for instance:
- Sprinkle on your plant with some mist water. Don’t mix any chemicals in with the water.
- Stand plants on plate rock that heap up with water but not so much. Must use a large plate or shallow ceramic bowl.
- Place your rubber plant in a wet and moist spot. You can also use a humidifier to keep the humidity level adequate.
However, you must note that if the soil is soggy, it can lead to root rot. So, keep that in mind while watering the plant.
8. Transplant shock can cause your rubber plant to droop
Transplant shock is something that you might not be aware of. But don’t worry. I will explain all about it.
What is transplant shock?
Repotting can also be termed a transplant.
So when you repot your rubber plant, it can remain in shock for a few days before it can settle down in its new pot or a new environment.
The plant can show signs like droopy leaves as a result of shock.
How to prevent transplant shock?
You can follow the following steps to prevent transplant shock:
- Choose spring or early summer to transplant the rubber plant. It is the growing season, and rubber plants can be easily transplanted. It will not feel that much of shock and will thrive well during this time.
- You must prepare healthy and new soil to transplant the rubber plant. Ensuring the nutrients and the pH of the soil to be well balanced.
- Water the plant thoroughly for a day before transplanting it. This will keep the plant hydrated throughout the process of repotting and transplant and will allow ample time for the plant to settle down.
- Handle the plant carefully while transplanting and ensure the roots are not damaged.
- Adequate care is required even after transplantation, so keep an eye on your rubber plant for a week and address any issue if it occurs.
- Don’t expose your plant to harsh sunlight, and maintain adequate humidity levels so that it settles quickly in a week.
How to help a drooping plant recover from transplant shock?
If your plant is in transplant shock, you must provide ample water, humidity, light, and fertilizer so that it recovers as quickly as possible.
You also need to be patient, as the plant will take some time to settle down.
9. Drooping due to aging
A rubber plant can also droop due to its natural aging process.
In that case, you can try pruning and fiddle with its environmental conditions like water, humidity, etc.
Drooping due to aging is a natural process, and that is where you might not be able to revive your rubber plant.
Although rubber trees can grow upto 100 years outdoors but a rubber plant can survive indoors for up to 10 years.
So that is how you can estimate if your rubber plant is dying due to aging.
Few Tips about the Rubber Plant (Know before you grow)
|Common Name||Rubber Plant or Rubber Tree|
|Latin Name||Ficus elastica|
|Color||Dark Green, Maroon, and Yellow, cream edges|
|Insects and Diseases||Mealybugs, Scales insects, Aphids, Whitefly, Root rot|
- Rubber Plants are not self-supporting; the more they build up, the droopier they get. You can keep your rubber plant standing up by using bamboo or dowels.
- Rubber Plants are quick growers, creating as much as 24″ in a season.
- Rubber plants are harmful. They produce a smooth sap when their leaves or stems are broken. This sap contains latex and can be unsafe for animals and individuals.
- Rubber Plants use a lot of nutrients from their soil, so keep some fertilizer in stock for when things get low!
When it comes to drooping rubber plants, watering is a major cause of it. There may also be issues like lousy soil and extreme environmental conditions.
Make sure that your plant is not over or underwatered. Also, ensure adequate fertilization and don’t overdo anything. Try to put your rubber plant at a temperature of 10°C (50°F) to 29°C (85°F). Rubber plants can stay in the dark for 2 to 3 days but not at low temperatures and cold drafts.
As discussed above, one should spray neem oil or garlic on their rubber plant. This helps in keeping the pests away. Move your rubber plant to a good bright spot. In any case, never place the plant near the open window in the frost during the winter.
Why has my rubber plant gone limp?
It is because you might have overwatered your rubber plant. Wilting and yellow leaves of plant will happen in this case, and the leaves will become very soft.
Why is my rubber tree plant bending over?
The taller your rubber plant grows, the danger of it bending over will increase because they are not self-supporting. So you will need to support it with some external support system.
How do I make my rubber plant bushy?
Pruning is the key to making it bushy. So prune it at regular intervals to make it sturdy and bushy.