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9 Reasons Your Rubber Plant Is Not Growing (+What To Do)

Rubber plants, or Ficus Elastica, are moderate to fast growers. They grow 24 inches every year. But if your Rubber plant is not growing or struggling to grow at its average speed, it is having some problems that are not allowing it to grow correctly. Let’s see what the problem is. 

If your Rubber plants are not growing, the reasons could be dormancy, inadequate sunlight, improper watering, poor soil, low humidity, nutrient deficiency, temperature fluctuations, pests, and rootbound. Since there are several reasons, diagnose correctly and then take steps to fix them. 

Are you struggling with something similar? This article is all you need as we will explore all the reasons stopping your Rubber plant from growing. The plant can flourish again within a few weeks with extra care and maintenance. 

Rubber Plant placement

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.

Please note: Simplify Plants is reader-supported. Some links in the post are affiliate links and I get a commission from purchases made through links in the post.

1. The Rubber plant is not growing due to dormancy

One of the most common reasons is dormancy. 

Rubber plants grow best in warm temperatures ranging between 65-85°F. 

The plant’s metabolic process will reduce as the temperature begins to reduce in the fall. 

The cold temperature and low light levels force the plant to stop growing as winter arrives and the temperature falls below 50-55°F. 

It rests and concentrates on the improvement of the roots and internal structures. 

That’s the nature of the plant. 

A few years back, I got a question from one of my readers with a photo of his plant. 

The plant looked fine; it only had a few yellow leaves. 

So, I kept asking him several questions about what care he has been keeping. 

Everything looked fine. And then I asked him about the season, he said it’s winter, and temperatures are below 50°F. 

I informed him about dormancy. 

In dormancy, you cannot do anything except wait for the spring and summer. 

Once the weather warms up, your plant will start growing again. 

You can resume your regular caring routine. 

Just try to keep it safe from cold outside winds entering from open doors and windows. 

You have other issues if it is not the dormancy period. 

2. The Rubber plant is not growing due to lighting issues

Once you have ruled out dormancy, check the light exposure for your Rubber plants. 

Rubber plants need 6-8 hours of sunlight for adequate growth and development. 

In the wild, the Rubber plant grows faster to capture the indirect sunlight from the thick canopy. 

Indoors, they can’t grow that fast, but they will quickly reach the ideal height if they receive a good amount of sunlight. 

Insufficient sunlight doesn’t allow the plant to grow at its average speed. It also affects photosynthesis and chlorophyll. 

Over time, the plant will stop growing, and the leaves will become yellow, brown, droopy, and leggy as they try to reach the light source. 

If you see any of these signs, check the light levels and immediately shift the plant to a location with bright indirect sunlight. 

An east-facing window provides the best indirect sunlight. 

If you have placed the plant near a south-facing window, put up sheer curtains or Venetian blinds to filter the direct sun exposure. 

For a west-facing window, put up the filter at noon. 

Remember to acclimate your plant to avoid sunburns. 

3. The Rubber plant is not growing due to watering problems

Rubber Plant watering (2)

Both overwatering and underwatering can hinder your Rubber plants’ growth.

Rubber plant not growing due to Underwatering. 

The plant cannot absorb proper moisture or nutrients underwater without moist soil. 

As a result, it lacks moisture and nutrients and stops growing. 

Other signs of underwatering are yellow leaves, dry leaves, wilting, and hard soil. 

Watering the plant again will solve the issue. 

You can also make some holes to let the moisture seep through to reach the roots and saturate the soil properly. 

You must provide 1 inch of water weekly throughout the spring and summer. 

Allow the top few inches to dry before watering. 

Rubber plant not growing due to Overwatering and root rot 

The above results without watering are expected. 

But how does overwatering do the same thing? 

Too much moisture suffocates roots, deprives them of oxygen, and hinders nutrient absorption. 

Therefore, the plant cannot absorb moisture and nutrients properly and stop growing. 

You will notice yellowing, defoliation, wet soil, and stunted growth. 

If you have overwatered, stop watering, shift your plant to a bright location, and improve airflow to allow the soil to dry out. 

Water only when the soil’s top few inches have dried. 

Follow this method before every watering session, especially in winter, because the plant absorbs moisture very slowly due to dormancy. 

If you don’t act quickly, you might get root rot

If roots get affected, your plant stops growing and ends up dying. 

Take out the plant and check the condition of the roots. 

If it’s beyond survival, collect healthy cuttings for propagation and discard the plant. 

If there is a chance of revival, remove the rotten roots, apply some fungicide, let it be for some time, and repot the plant to a new pot with new soil. 

4. The rubber plant is not growing due to soil-related factors

If watering is not the issue, the soil is the problem. 

A bad-quality soil mix will have the same issues as overwatering and underwatering. How? Let’s understand. 

Soil with poor drainage will not drain excess water; instead, it remains stagnant. 

Like overwatering, the excess water will suffocate the roots and hinder moisture and nutrient uptake, leading to yellowing, defoliation, and stunted growth. 

If the condition continues, you might also get to face root rot

On the contrary, soil with poor retention qualities will drain moisture and nutrients faster, much before the plant can absorb it. 

As a result, they remain dehydrated, don’t receive enough nutrients, and stop growing. 

Another thing to consider is the pH level. 

Excessive acidic or alkaline soil creates an imbalance in the nutrient level. 

The nutrients cannot be released properly. 

Even fertilizing doesn’t help, and the plant stops growing for lack of nutrition. 

To fix all these issues, you need to adjust the soil by the following steps: 

Add perlite, vermiculite, or coarse sand to the soil mix to fix poor drainage. 

For poor retention, add peat moss or organic matter. 

To correct the pH level, add sulfur to lower the pH and lime to increase the pH level. 

To avoid all these issues at once, use the right soil mix, for example, equal parts of peat moss, pine bark, and perlite or coarse sand. 

You can use African violet potting mix as it is slightly acidic and ideal for Rubber plants. 

5. The Rubber plant is not growing due to humidity problems

Humidifier for rubber plants

Sometimes, humidity levels can also stop the plant’s growth. 

Rubber plants receive around 70-80% humidity levels in their native land. 

Indoors, high humidity can be uncomfortable for humans. 

But some amount of humidity is needed. 

Therefore, 50-60% would be ideal. 

If the humidity level around the Rubber plant is relatively lower, the plant may stop growing. 

You may think that frequent watering will solve the issue, but that will only give rise to overwatering. 

Along with consistently moist soil, moisture must also be present in the surrounding air for the plant to grow quickly. 

Check the humidity levels in your room using a hygrometer

If humidity levels are low, adjust them by installing humidifiers, misting, placing the pot on pebble trays, or grouping multiple plants. 

6. The Rubber plant is not growing due to temperature fluctuations

Rubber plants not growing during cold weather are natural. 

Cold reduces the plant’s metabolic process and goes dormant. 

But besides these, you must also check for the drafts from open windows, balconies, ACs, and heating systems. Here’s why: 

  • You keep closing and opening the windows. 
  • You take your plant outside for sunlight and bring it inside in the evening. 
  • You turn the devices on and off and increase or decrease the temperature at your convenience. 

 While these steps keep the plant warm and avoid cold drafts, these sudden changes and fluctuations can stress the plant, and it will stop growing. 

I made this mistake when I was a beginner. 

It was extremely hot, and I kept the plant in an AC room. 

It was fine for some days, and then it stopped growing. 

After researching and discussing with some of my expert houseplant enthusiant friends, I learned the issue. 

Here’s what I do now: 

  • I keep the plant inside, not on the balcony. 
  • It stays in a room with average room temperature and good sunlight. 
  • I let it go dormant in winter because it’s good. 
  • If the temperature becomes too cold indoors, I use heat lamps or heat maps to keep it slightly warm. 
  • I keep the plant near the window for sunlight during the spring and summer but relocate it somewhere else without the risk of cold drafts. 
  • I rarely change the location unless necessary. 
  • I sometimes remove my plant from the open windows during hot drafts in summer. I prefer keeping it near windowsills with closed glasses. 
  • If the sunlight is too much, I put up sheer curtains.  
  • I avoid keeping the plant in rooms with HVACs. 

7. The Rubber plant is not growing due to fertilization challenges

Rubber plants are not heavy feeders, but monthly fertilization helps them thrive and stay strong. 

The plant needs nutrients and moisture to utilize its food through photosynthesis and encourage new growth. 

The primary nutrients it needs to keep growing at its best are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

Some micronutrients required are calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and copper. 

Soil depletes over time, and that’s when fertilizers help out. 

These nutrients are provided through fertilization. 

If you don’t fertilize, the plant will find it hardener to use the food and create new growth. Ultimately, it will stop growing. 

If your plant is not growing, and you have ruled out the above issues, recall the last time you fed the plant. 

You know the answer behind the issue if it’s been a year. 

To fix the issue, begin with a quick boost of fertilizer with a balanced liquid fertilizer with 10-10-10 NPK. 

Use it for a few weeks, and your plant will soon grow. 

If you want to continue with the liquid food, use it every 2-4 weeks. 

If you wish to use a slow-release fertilizer after your plant has started growing, feed the plant every 4-6 weeks. 

8. The Rubber plant is not growing due to pest problems

Aphids on houseplant

Rubber plants are not prone to pest infestations, unless you make favorable conditions for bugs. 

Common pests that can attack your Rubber plants are aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. 

They suck the plant sap from the leaves and stems and weaken the plant so badly that it stops growing out of excessive stress. 

If you don’t check your plant’s condition regularly, these bugs can cause immense damage to your plant and even kill it. 

You will also notice yellowing, defoliation, and deformed leaves, along with stunted growth. 

If you see these signs, check your plant very well. Use a flashlight to check every corner of the plant. 

Once you have confirmed the issue, here’s what you need to do: 

  • Isolate your plant and remove the damaged leaves. 
  • Spray some neem oil on the infected areas, concentrating on the underside of the leaves. 
  • Use tweezers to pick up scale insects from the plant. 
  • Dip a cotton ball into rubbing alcohol and wipe the suspected areas, mainly under the leaves. 
  • Release natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings. They will munch on the bugs and kill them. 
  • If the infestation is severe, use chemical insecticides or pesticides
  • You can also use systemic pesticides. The plant will absorb it, and when the bugs try sucking the sap, they will ingest the pesticide and die. 

Once you have provided the treatment, observe how your plant behaves. 

It has been saved if it shows signs of recovery and new growth. 

9. The Rubber plant is not growing due to root-bound 

Rubber plants are moderate to fast growers. 

They can reach about 8-10 feet indoors and grow around 24 inches yearly. 

The roots will need more space to keep growing flexibly without any issues. 

As the roots develop and spread, the pot becomes smaller for them. 

That’s why you must repot your plant every 1-2 years to give the roots more room to spread. 

If you don’t change the pot, the roots will begin to curl and grow in a circular motion. 

As time passes, the roots become too compact and find it difficult to transfer the moisture and nutrients to other plant parts. 

As a result, the plant will stop growing. 

The best solution for this problem is to keep checking how the plant grows in its existing pot and then repot the plant as soon as you see the signs of rootbound. 

The common signs of a rootbound plant are roots coming out of drainage holes, growing in a circular motion, and coming out from the pot edges and soil surface. 

Remember that repotting must be done in the early spring or summer. 

Repotting can stress the plant due to the sudden change in its growing environment. 

As the plant starts growing actively in the spring and summer, it can recover faster from the shock. 

After repotting, provide all the requirements correctly, except feeding. 

Fertilizing should begin after you notice new growth. 

Once your plant settles, it will start growing again. 

10. Rubber plant care tips for a healthy and fast growth  

Rubber Plant tall and healthy

Here are some care tips and requirements to follow for the Rubber plant’s good health and growth: 

  • Provide ample (6-8 hours) of bright indirect sunlight to the Rubber plants. 
  • Water the plant once a week during the spring and summer and every 2-3 weeks in winter. Allow the top few inches to dry out before every watering session. 
  • Use well-drained soil for the Rubber plants. Follow our soil article to learn about the ideal soil types and potting mixes. 
  • Fertilize the plant every 2-4 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer or every 4-6 weeks if you use a slow-release fertilizer. 
  • The temperature around the Rubber plants should be around 65-85°F. Low temperature in winter and dormancy is natural. You have nothing to do here. Please protect it from drafts and fluctuations. 
  • The humidity levels should be around 50-60%. 
  • Prune your Rubber plant every 1-2 months in the spring or summer. Trim off only ⅓rd part in one session. 
  • Repot the plant every 1-2 years during the early spring or summer. 
  • Check out for pests and diseases and take immediate action to stop the problem from spreading and stressing the plant too much. Using neem oil every 15 days can keep infestations at bay. 

Final thoughts 

Rubber plants are low-maintenance plants and moderate to fast growers. It won’t stop growing unless something is seriously wrong with the plant. Rubber plants not growing during the winter are normal because they go dormant in winter. Except for this, if the plant stops growing, it has some problems. 

Common reasons are improper watering, inadequate sunlight, wrong soil type, low humidity, temperature fluctuations, lack of nutrients, pest issues, and a rootbound plant. Since so many reasons are responsible for the Rubber plant not growing, you must find out the real cause and solve it. 

You can either troubleshoot one by one and rule out each cause, or identify the exact issues from some specific signs and then solve it. Follow the care tips I have shared to prevent your plant from stunted growth and keep it healthy in the long run. 

How often should I prune my Rubber plants? 

Pruning encourages fast and bushy growth in Rubber plants. You can prune the plant every 1-2 months during the spring or summer. Remove only 30% in one session.

What should I do with the discolored leaves? 

You can cut off these discolored leaves as they will not become green. Besides, the plant will focus on new growth instead of wasting energy reviving these discolored leaves.

Reference: Rubber plant Wikipedia 

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