7 Signs of a Dying Rubber Plant

Do not ignore these signs of a dying Rubber Plant, and take prompt action as soon as you spot them!

Rubber plants are fast growers, but behind every green and thriving plant stands a caring gardener. If you’ve noticed something amiss with your Ficus elastica, that’s why you’re reading this article. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s take a closer look at the Ficus elastica!

Signs of Rubber Plant Dying

1. Yellowing of Leaves

Signs of Rubber Plant Dying - Yellowing of Leaves

This usually begins at the margins and then moves inward. It might not be a matter of concern if only the old leaves are affected, which indicates natural aging. However, if it happens across new and old leaves alike, it points to more serious issues like moisture stress or nutritional deficiencies.

You’re probably giving your rubber plant too much water. Excessive water suffocates the roots, preventing them from absorbing the oxygen and nutrients needed to synthesize chlorophyll. Also, a lack of essential nutrients, particularly nitrogen, can lead to the yellowing of young leaves.

How To Treat?

Let the top inch or two of soil dry out completely before you water again. Always inspect the medium before watering and avoid following a set warming schedule. Make sure that the pot has enough drainage holes that are not blocked by any solid substrate to let extra water escape.

If you haven’t fertilized the plant for long, it is time to feed it with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to quarter strength to avoid salt deposits in the medium.

Tip: Use a moisture meter to get an accurate reading of soil moisture levels. This can help you avoid overwatering or underwatering your plant.

2. Droopy Foliage

Droopy Foliage - Signs of Rubber Plant Dying

Droopy or limp foliage in a rubber plant typically looks lifeless and hangs down from the stems rather than maintaining its usual perky and upright position. This often indicates either a watering issue or environmental stress.

The culprit here is the loss of turgor pressure in the cells, which can result from either over- or underwatering. To identify the exact cause, examine the medium and see if it’s too muddy to touch. If so, you already know the reason. On the other hand, an overly dry or cracky medium narrates a different story.

How To Treat?

Follow a deep watering schedule whenever you find the medium dry to touch, letting the excess water drain out. If the roots are crowded, consider repotting the plant in a bigger pot.

3. Slow or Stunted Growth

Slow or Stunted Growth - Signs of Rubber Plant Dying

Rubber plants are reasonably fast growers, and a delay in their growth becomes quite visible if the new leaves don’t attain their regular size or the plant doesn’t show any new growth in the warmer months. This primarily happens for two reasons—lack of enough sunlight and confinement of the root system for a long time.

Both of these conditions hinder their growth process, leading to a potential shock.

How To Treat?

Move it to a spot with 4-6 hours of bright sunlight. If the south-facing window doesn’t welcome this much light, consider shifting it to the balcony or patio to watch it. Also, check the root system. If it is too cramped with buts coming out of the drainage holes of the upper surface, consider repotting it to a one-size-bigger container.

4. Brown Leaf Edges

Brown Leaf Edges - Signs of Rubber Plant Dying

When the leaves of your rubber plant start showing brown, crispy edges, it usually means the plant is under stress due to insufficient watering or an excess of minerals. This drought stress basically dehydrates the plant, leading to dry, brown tips.

On the other hand, if you use hard water, then excessive salts or fluoride in the water, can accumulate at the edges of the leaves, exacerbating the damage as these areas dry out faster. Having said that, overfertilization can also lead to an accumulation of minerals or salt burn in the medium, manifesting as brown edges in the foliage.

How To Treat?

If your watering is already on point, consider using distilled or RO water for the plant. You can also let the tap water sit overnight and allow the minerals to deposit before using it.

Also, flush the medium thoroughly while watering to filter out the minerals from overfertilization.

5. Foul Smell from the Medium

Foul Smell from the Medium - Signs of Rubber Plant Dying

If you’re catching a whiff of something unpleasant from your rubber plant’s pot, it’s a red flag. This foul smell usually comes from the potting soil and is a tell-tale sign of root rot or fungal infection, often caused by excessive water retention in the medium. This eventually becomes a breeding ground for microbes that’s secretly feasting on the plant root.

How To Treat?

First, cut back on your watering schedule and make sure your plant’s pot has good drainage holes. If the problem has advanced, you’ll need to take the plant out of its pot, trim away the rotted roots, and repot it in fresh, well-draining soil. For mushy leaves, remove the affected foliage to prevent the spread of any disease.

6. Shriveled or Wrinkled Leaves

When the leaves of your plant look more like raisins than lush foliage, it’s a sign of dehydration. This can happen if the plant isn’t receiving enough water, the air around it is too dry, or the roots are damaged and unable to absorb water properly.

How To Treat?

Adjust your watering schedule to ensure the soil remains slightly moist, and consider using a humidity tray or a room humidifier to increase the moisture level in the air. If underwatering isn’t the issue, inspect the roots for damage and repot if necessary.

7. Black or White Spots on the Undersides of the Foliage

Signs of Rubber Plant Dying

Black spots appearing on the undersides of the foliage usually indicate a fungal infection, such as leaf spot disease, which occurs in moist conditions. Alternatively, these spots could result from pest infestations, where insects like aphids and scale suck plant sap and excrete honeydew. This sticky substance encourages sooty mold, presenting as black spots.

On the flip side, white spots signal powdery mildew, which appears as dusty white or gray patches. They result from pests such as mealybugs, which excrete a protective, cotton-like substance around their eggs.

How to Treat?

Wash the leaves gently with a mild soap solution to remove any pests and their residues. After cleaning, prepare an organic neem oil spray. Mix 4-5 drops of neem oil in a liter of water with a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. Mix thoroughly and target the petioles or undersides of the leaves to wipe away any traces of pests on the foliage.

Leave a Comment