Rubber plants (Ficus elastica) are easy to take care of and do very well, even if they are neglected for a few days. However, it does need one thing in the right place, and that is watering. Overwatering or under-watering can limit the growth of the plant. So today, let us learn about how much water does a rubber plant need?
It is ideal to underwater your rubber plant than to overwater it. Watering your rubber plant every 5-6 days would be perfect. Make sure you water them thoroughly when you do, so that water reaches every root of the plant. Frequent watering is needed during the growing season than during the rest of the time.
The rubber plant is tolerant of underwatering, which means that even if we water the plant once a week, it won’t die.
However, underwatering is not suggested for the rubber plant.
Watering your plant depends on factors like weather, humidity, ventilation, size of the pot, etc.
We shall discuss it later in the article, so make sure you read it till the end.
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How often should you water a rubber plant?
Rubber plants need to be watered every 5-7 days. However, it depends on many factors like the size of the plant, temperature, sunlight, pot size, and more. So, we need to keep everything in mind while watering out plants.
The rubber plant is tolerant to underwatering and can go without watering them enough. However, this does not mean that we put our plants through stress.
Rubber plants are mid-range plants, which means that they are neither succulent nor tender plants. Keeping this in mind, we should flush the soil with abundant water.
The source of nutrients in the plants comes from the water that is provided. Thus, providing the plant with little water results in lesser nutrients being absorbed by the plants.
The key to not overwatering the plant is to take good care of the drainage system.
Drainage holes provide sifting through the extra water. Extra water will come out with extra salt that will help with changing the level of salt.
The rubber plant should be given water at room temperature only. If the water is cold, please let it come down to room temperature first.
Droopy leaves are sometimes caused if we water the plant with too hot or too cold water.
The soil may similarly have a moist, bad smell if root rot has assaulted the plant. Exactly when you see these symptoms, the rubber plant needs help.
Let us learn more about the different factors affecting the water needs of the rubber plant.
|Plant Size||Water Needs|
|1-4 Feet||Every 3-5 Days|
|5-10 Feet||Every 7-14 Days|
The rubber plant can grow anywhere between 6-10 feet if cared for properly. The water needs of a plant will also depend upon the size of the plant.
When you plant a new plant, they are smaller in size, and thus their water requirement is more as they can retain less.
However, as they grow in size, you need not water them regularly as they have a good water retention capability.
Often times people keep the water supply constant not realizing that their plants might not need that much water as they grow older.
Temperature of the room
|More than 65°F||Every 3-5 Days|
|Less than 65°F||Every 7-14 Days|
The rubber plant can thrive in various temperatures. The range is from anywhere between 60-85°F (15-28°C). However, based on the temperature, the need for water shall vary.
If the temperature is raised, the leaves may lose their appearance.
If you keep your rubber plants in your patio and the temperature goes beyond 80°F, you need to move them in 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 afternoon sun’s glow.
Your plant will also need more water during the summer month as water evaporates quickly.
During the winter, the rubber plant can grow at a very low temperature of 4°C(39°F), but the humidity and the watering should be perfect.
Without the right watering and humidity level, we might kill the plant during the winters, and one might not want that to happen.
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.
One need to water their plant less frequently when the temperature goes below 65°F.
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Humidity level in the room
|Humidity level||Water Needs|
|Low humidity||Every 3-5 Days|
|High humidity||Every 7-14 Days|
The rubber plant can thrive through rough patches. It can survive in the best of conditions and will support you through the worst.
Winters are the rough patch for your rubber plant, as winters observe less humidity.
With the help of a few methods, we can help increase the moisture during the winter season. Some of the ways are;
- The sprinkling of rubber plants with mist water. Note: Please do not add any chemicals in the water.
- Make sure to use large plates or ceramic bowls wherein the water can be heaped. Water should be showered but not too much.
- During the winters, check for the windows. The cold draft can turn your rubber plants drooping. The use of a humidifier can also maintain the humidity level.
Beware of root rot, and to identify root rot, frequently check the soil. The soil shouldn’t be soggy.
Thus, if the humidity level is low, then your plant will need more water, and if it is high, it shall do well less water.
Type of pot
|Type of pot||Water Needs|
|Terracotta/Concrete pots||Every 3-5 Days|
|Ceramic/Plastic/Metal pot||Every 7-14 Days|
The rubber plant in its home region can grow up to 100 feet, but when grown in a pot, the rubber plant’s size is restricted to 6-10 feet.
With tinier pots also the rubber plant can grow big.
Before choosing the pot, one should see what type of person one is, which means, does one care for the plant and water them regularly, or we tend to forget.
If you often water a lot, you should consider terracotta pots or pots made out of concrete.
The use of porous pots is because these types of pots will absorb the moisture away from the soil faster than a ceramic pot.
If you don’t water your rubber plant enough or tend to forget to water the plants, or maybe one is out on vacation from time to time, then we should use pots made out of ceramic or glass glazed tor we can also go for a metal pot.
With the help of ceramic or glass pots, the soil remains moist for a longer period.
The rubber plant is a mid-range plant. It is not succulent, and it’s not completely a tender plant that likes a good drainage system and does not like root rots.
The rubber plant loves the moisture a lot, so to keep the humidity stable in the rubber plant, we can add pebbles beneath the pot, in a tray, and fill the tray with water. This will help the plant to get moisture from the tray.
Size of the pot
|Pot size||Water need|
|Smaller pot||Every 3-5 Days|
|Larger Pot||Every 7-14 Days|
While watering the rubber plant, it can get tricky. Remember, the rubber plant is a tropical plant and can be watered in 2-3 days, or around 8-12 apart, depending on the pot’s size.
A plant in a 4-inch pot tends to dry faster than the plant in an 8-inch pot. So, one must be conscious and aware of the watering schedule.
The water should be allowed to pass through roughly 2-3 times.
The ideal size of the pot should be a minimum of 6-inch when your plant is small. Please make sure that your pot has at least one drainage hole, and we should also add a piece of stone or gravel for easy drainage.
|Spring and Summer||Every 3-5 Days|
|Fall and Winter||Every 7-14 Days|
When looking at the season, we must consider that the temperature should be above 55°F for your plant to thrive.
Spring and Summer are known to be the growing months; hence do not expect growth for the pot-bound plants during the winter season.
Your rubber plant will need regular watering during the summer and less frequent watering during the winter months.
Placement of the Rubber plant should be near the South window from September to March and move to the East or West window for the rest of the year.
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.
How to tell if rubber plant needs water?
With few signs, it is clear that your plant needs water, and for this, we should firstly know our plant and the soil, light, and water conditions that the plant requires.
With this information, it should be perfectly fine for one to begin.
Dryness of soil
One thing to keep in mind for thriving your Rubber plant is to water them only when the soil is dry.
If the Rubber plant is watered frequently, then the plant may get root rot.
Root rot issues are prone to Rubber plants, and hence the dryness of the soil must be checked.
The first rule of thumb is to Feel the Soil. Moisture is the key to having a beautiful plant because if the soil is too dry, the plant will starve to death, and if the soil is too wet, the plant is going to drown.
By getting your moisture right, we can check with different soil types and other types of light levels.
Also Read: What Kind Of Soil Is Good For Rubber Plants?
Checking soil from drainage holes
You can’t just pat the soil’s surface because sometimes it might be dry on the top, but down underneath where the roots are, it’s going to be wet, and that’s what you need to find out.
One way to do this is by grabbing a spoon and digging down into the soil where your plant is, and you pull up some soil, and you feel it. It would be best if you pinched it between your fingers.
You can also drill a larger drainage hold and use a stick to check the moisture level at the bottom of the pot.
Need not worry about hurting the roots while doing the process. Roots are like leaves and then grow back.
The soil should feel soft and nice, and if the soil is cold, then it says that there is a bit of moisture in the soil.
When you scrape it and squeeze, it will stick together a little, but it’ll all fall apart if you let it fall.
When the soil doesn’t stick together too much, but it’s soft and cold, that’s the ideal way the soil should feel when you water the plant again.
Remember, your Rubber plant is not succulent, and the soil should not remain completely dry when you feel it by digging way down to the roots.
Signs of leaves wilting
Droopy leaves can mean a whole lot of things, and to check the reason behind the droopy leaves, we should check what’s required for the plant.
If you have had plants, you might have probably killed them once in a while. They just die, and trust me; I have been there.
Some of the common signs of an unhealthy plant are droopy or wilting leaves, dry brown leaf edges, yellow leaves, or leaves falling off.
Some other signs would be the plants that are stretching, slow growth, and maybe fungus on the soil.
First and foremost, we should check if the plant is being under or over-watered. Remember, it all depends on the need of the plant.
Secondly, we should see if the plant is getting enough sun. Light conditions are critical and may cause the leaves to wilt.
Lastly, we should also check the water that we are using. We should always water the rubber plant with tap water, and the water should be at room temperature. If you have soft water, use the water from the tap, else use a filter.
Also Read: How To Save A Dying Rubber Plant?
Using a moisture meter
One of the best tools one can use is a moisture meter. Essentially, a moisture meter is a tool that is used to stick into the soil of your plant, and it will tell you how much moisture is in the soil.
It comes in handy if you are scared of overwatering your plant and if it is exceptionally bigger. You can order it online or get a hand it from the Walmart store.
There are three features in a moisture meter that indicate the moisture, the light, and the pH level. The pH is to check the soil’s acidity, and the light meter is to know the light level that your plant is getting.
Remember, never leave the moisture meter into the soil, and take it out after each use. It will not measure the soil correctly.
When the moisture meter shows completely dry, then is the time to consider watering your rubber plant.
How to water a rubber plant?
Once you have checked that the soil is dry and ready for watering, you can use a Watering Can and thoroughly drench the soil.
You can let excess water run out of the drainage hole. The excess water will also remove the excessive salt and nutrient present in the soil.
Before watering a rubber plant, the most crucial step is to check if the plant has a perfect drainage system.
If the drainage system is not good enough, the excess water may sit at the bottom of the pot resulting in root rot.
Remember, only water the rubber plant when the soil is dry enough.
Under-watering & Over-watering of rubber plant
|The edges of leaves show brown tips||The discoloration of the leaves|
|Leaves turn yellowish in color and are drooping||The plant experiences a slow growth|
|Moisture from the damp soil attracts pest||The soil is dried out and is pulled away|
|The most common issue for rubber plants is the root rot||Because the soil is dried the leaves experience the same dry nature along with a shallow root system|
|The top leaves show the signs of Edema||Drooping leaves are common when underwatered|
Over and under-watering have similar signs that are contracting or shrinking.
One might often get confused about the reason behind it. However, we will simplify the symptoms.
The reason behind droopy leaves in a rubber plant is as under-watering. If the soil is dry and your rubber plant goes limp and gets overwhelming in the wake of watering.
Overwatering is when the soil is wet or soaked, and plant leaves hanging. Yellow and generous concealed tones in like way show the overwatering.
One can tell that the rubber plant is getting a considerable amount of water by examining it closely.
A concealed hanging leaves show the plant is being over-watered. The leaves may get sensitive and soft. The soil may become soaked when the plant can’t hold any more water.