The rubber plant is easy to grow houseplant. One of the common problems faced by rubber plant growers is long-legged looking plants. They will stretch out looking for sunlight, appearing leggy, the lower part leaves might fall off, making the plant bared from the lower part.
Overfertilization, untimely pruning, improper light sources are some common causes of a leggy rubber plant. The rubber plant becomes leggy as they try to reach out for better lighting. Sometimes overdosing of nitrogen also leads to a leggy rubber plant. Adequate care can prevent it from getting further leggy.
This article has everything you need to know to understand the root causes and easy fixes for your leggy plant. Besides, you will also learn how to prevent your plant from becoming long-legged furthermore.
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Why does my rubber plant become leggy?
Legginess in a plant means the plant has little extra growth and uneven structure, is tall and spindly.
There may be different causes to this problem like improper grooming, inadequate lighting conditions, wrong dosage of fertilizer, and a few other reasons.
Rubber plants are very sturdy houseplants as they are more tolerant as compared to other houseplants.
If you provide adequate care, they can grow up to your ceil height, with beautiful and sturdy leaves. Improper living conditions and not enough pruning can lead to long-legged rubber plants.
Insufficient light may cause the plant to stretch for sunlight to produce essential plant sugars resulting in the overly tall and leggy plant.
If the nutrients given to the plant are more than recommended or fertilizer with high nitrogen is fed, it can speed up the growth making the plant bulky, tall, and weak.
Improper growing conditions can make the plant weak and may even result in the falling of leaves, especially the lower part old leaves, which don’t regrow if shedded.
With the rubber plant, you need to know that they grow very fast, and if not taken proper care, it might get leggy and untidy.
When they drop leaves, they can become leggy, which means there are no leaves on the plant’s lower part.
They do not regrow leaves from the lower part of their stalks, only from the top. So it can be challenging to fix the issue once it passes the early stage.
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How to fix a leggy rubber plant?
Treat your rubber plant as a friend, and they will shower you with all the good vibes you want.
Prevent the problems beforehand through genuine care, proper dosage of fertilizers, pruning stems selectively, pinching off the growing tips, placing them in a sunny spot, and the right temperature are quick fixes for your leggy plant.
To make your leggy and lanky rubber plant appear fuller, we have some easy fixes that will help you keep your plant healthy and compact for a long time.
Fixing the light issue
Rubber plants require plenty of light. So the first thing you need to check is the light source.
You can fix them just by providing them with proper light conditions and keep them thriving and brimming.
Bright indirect light ia crucial for their well being, and by exposing them to light correctly, you can encourage healthy growth.
Otherwise, the plant will use its energy to elongate itself towards the light source resulting in spindly stems on one part and no growth on the other part. This phenomenon is known to be etiolation.
To fix the issue of a leggy plant, you need to move it to a new location with a sunny spot and keep rotating your plant every few weeks so that every part gets its potion of light and grows evenly.
Direction: East-facing window provides soft morning light and late afternoon sun, perfect for your plant.
See, it depends on which part of the world you live in. As far as the plant is getting sufficient indirect bright light, the plant will grow bushier and healthy.
Avoid keeping your plant near a window where direct, scorching light pours over the plant. It will create many issues for you and your plant.
Keeping it near a window with sheer curtains is ideal as it diffuses the light’s intensity, making it a perfect light source. However, make sure you keep your plant a few inches away from the window.
During winters, your plant may not get enough light exposure.
If you reside in a house that doesn’t receive a good light exposure, then to ensure that your plant doesn’t suffer, you can supplement them with grow lights.
They are harmless and readily available in many ranges fulfilling your plant needs.
Also read: How much light do rubber plant needs?
Providing nutrients by adding fertilizers
There are two parts to this problem, over-fertilizing or Insufficient fertilizing.
Stop to find out where you are going wrong and act accordingly. To fix the issue, you need to prove the plant with the right fertilizer along with the right proportion.
The simple instruction is to dilute the fertilizer to half the dosage recommended.
This liquid solution will feed your plant’s entire roots and soil, giving you a flourished and bushier plant.
Organic fertilizer is supreme for your plant. All-purpose houseplant fertilizer is also a good option.
During the winter and fall, fertilizing is not required if you cater to your plant well during summer and spring.
Summer and spring are the growing seasons, so if you feed them every 3-4 weeks during this time, the plant will bloom throughout winter and fall, with even and healthy growth in all parts of the plant. That will also give your plant leaves a stronghold onto its leaves.
Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers. It will fasten the growth resulting in a tall and leggy plant. They need balanced macronutrients to promote the formation of green cells.
Also read: All about fertilizing your rubber plant
Maintaining the room temperature
Temperature and lighting conditions are the first few things you need to fix your long-shanked plant and to maintain the beauty of your plant.
To get you to plant back bushier, you need to check your plant’s area’s temperature.
Provide the plant with the right temperature immediately. It’s okay if you don’t know the plant’s ideal temperature requirement; we are here to help.
The temperature that your rubber plant loves is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit going up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place your plant near a window diffusing the direct light and facilitate the temperature of the space.
During winters, you need to be very cautious. You can use a heat pump or furnace to save your plant, giving them their ideal temperature. It will encourage growth from all parts of the stem, preventing legginess.
Keep your plant away from vents. The hot air can harm the plant. A simple formula you can follow is to provide them with the temperature and humidity that you would like for yourself.
Pruning the rubber plant
Pruning is easy and very useful to keep your plant look even and in shape. Also, it helps the plants to absorb more light.
Pruning the upper part of the leaves and cutting off branches that are making your plant uneven can further fix your leggy plant.
And by continuing pruning from time to time, you can prevent the future from becoming leggy as well.
It will not only help the plant to use its energy to grow bigger leaves but also save plants energy from getting drained to sustain the leggy growth.
Cut the leaves and branches gradually so as not to shock the plant at one go. Make the cut clean as much as you can without digging too far into the bark.
What you would need is a good sterilized pair of scissors, gloves (to safeguard you from the sap that pans out of the plant when you cut it), and start the process.
It’s quite hard to cut so much at once, which you can decide on your own how much you want to cut.
Remove the stems; you can also cut all the upper part of the plant horizontally straight, saving you further need of any cut. You will find in a few weeks your plant growing bushier rather than taller.
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Propagating the plant
Your plant has become leggy, and you don’t want to get rid of those extra inches on the top.
No problem, we have got you a better solution. Propagating the plant is an excellent method to save your plant from legginess without shedding them at all.
Pruning is still required, but you don’t have to let go of those parts. Instead, you can grow dozen of plants from these cuttings.
Cut just below the nodes (where the leaves and the buds grow), cut between two leaves, wash all the cuttings thoroughly, and keep the leaves cuttings in water, placing them in indirect sunlight.
For stem cutting, take a cutting of the stem by cutting the extra inches of the top and propagate it directly in the soil; after a week, the roots will start to grow.
When you cut, be careful from the sap coming out of the cuts; wipe it off with a wet cloth as it is toxic.
Make a soil mix with equal parts of potting soil, peat moss, compost, and perlite. Well-draining and well-aerated soil is suggested.
You have to be a little patient when you are doing this, as it will take some time for the growth from your planted cuttings.
Keep watering (room temperature water) and providing them with required cultural conditions according to the season when you are propagating. Use a larger container to promote growth.
Preferably spring and summer seasons are recommended for propagating procedure.
But if the problem arises in the dormant season, you don’t need to hesitate to propagate your plant.
Just make sure you don’t water it once a month during this time. And don’t panic if your plant is not growing that fast, because in this season the plant growth is relatively slow compared to summer and spring. Mist the plant, especially if the air is too dry.
If you want, you can replant smaller stalks in the planter with the larger ones, in your existing pot from which you took cuttings.
That will simply make the plant appear bushier just by planting, and as it grows further, the plant will be bushier and massive and even as well. It will fill out the lower bared space making the plant bushier.
Also read: Step-by-step rubber plant propagation guide
Re-potting the plant
By repotting, you can fix your plant getting leggy further. The reason for your leggy plant may be the soil mix or root bound, by repotting you can easily facilitate proper growth.
After taking the plant out from the pot, clean the extras from the roots, and change the soil mix completely.
Let the roots sit outside for one day to get fresh air. Now, plant it in another pot of size at least 2 inches larger in diameter than the previous one to avoid roots from getting constricted.
Ensure proper drainage system in the pot lined with pebbles, pumic stones. Prepare another soil mix; this will thrive your plan for a long, long time.
Repot every 2-3 years, varying according to the growth and needs of your plant. It will save you from the extra effort needed to resolve the issues related to your plant.
Also, prune the plant if possible before repotting so that the new growth will make the plant bushier and even.
Also read: How to care for your rubber plant?
Source: Basic Principles of Pruning, Effects of pruning on radial growth, Rapid Propagation System in Ficus elastica, Stress Generation In Aerial Roots Of Ficus Elastica, Growth of rubber plants.
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