Ficus elastic, popularly known as rubber tree or rubber plant, is an indoor house plant that has waxy leaves and is huge. Rubber tree plants grow up to 100 feet tall and originate from Southeast Asia.
A domesticated house plant only grows up to a maximum of ten feet tall. Rubber plants also do reasonably well if grown outdoors. They earned the name rubber plant due to their sap, which can be used to create rubber. The leaves have a rubbery and shiny appearance.
Taking care of a rubber plant isn’t that difficult. All you need is balance. A sufficient amount of water and sunlight will keep your plant nice, strong, tall, and happy. Rubber plants have a way of telling you if they require more water and sun. Their leaves will look droopy. Once you notice the droopy leaves, give water, and put the plant out into the sun.
How to Revive a Dying Rubber Plant
If you want your rubber plant to thrive, use these essential caring tips.
Rubber plant trees prefer indirect, bright light that isn’t scorching hot. Avoid placing them under direct sunlight as it can dry the leaves. If you have the plant indoors, keep it near the window that has a sheer curtain, so the light shines through it and onto the plant. If you want the plants to look vibrant, give them more light every day.
Plenty of Water
Rubber tree plants require more water during the summer season. Make sure the soil stays moist and water without drowning it. Wipe the leaves using a damp cloth or keep them nice and moist use a spray to mist the leaves.
Keeping the leaves moist will help them absorb sunlight. A well-draining soil is ideal for the roots of the plants to be comfortable and rot-free.
Rubber plants do well in temperatures ranging between 6-F to 75F. During the winter season, they can survive in colder temperatures like 50F. The temperature needs of the plants involve a good balance, similar to the water and sun needs.
The plant prefers humid and moist air because of its origin being a tropical region. However, it can survive in low humid temperatures. Just make sure the temperature is consistent because volatility will not make the plant happy.
The sap of a rubber plant can be a cause for skin irritation for people. Therefore, wash your hands thoroughly after handling it, especially if you get the sap on you.
The plant can cause mild symptoms like tummy ache to severe ones such as vomiting and diarrhea. Therefore, keep small children and pets away from rubber plants.
Mites, aphids, scales, and mealybugs are all pests that can inhabit your rubber plant. You can remove these bugs from the leaves by wiping them with an insecticidal soap or water solution.
Reviving a Rubber Plant
Rubber plants are typically susceptible to diseases related to overwatering. If you find your plant dying immediately, take action. Here is a guide to successfully reviving a rubber plant.
Most people often wonder how tough it is reviving a rubber plant and wonder if it even possible. The answer is ‘yes,’ it is possible to revive a rubber plant if the problem is caught and resolved in the early stages.
However, before taking steps towards reviving a rubber plant, it is important to understand why it is close to dying in the first place and the signs associated with it. Diagnosing the problem means there is a high chance your plant will revive.
Early Signs of Your Plant Dying
There are several signs that indicate your rubber plant might be dying, such as:
- Saturated Soil
- Leaves losing luster and shine
- Yellow leaves
- Black Spots
- Soil exuding smell
- Stunted growth
- Droopy leaves
Ways of Reviving a Rubber Plant
There are two main steps to revive a rubber plant; the first is the identification of the problem, and the second is resolving it.
We have highlighted a few common problems and their solutions below.
Overwatered rubber plants don’t fare well and could face a lot of issues such as:
- Root Rot
- Shedding of leaves
- Yellow color leaves
- Lots of Pests
As soon as you realize your plant is acting up, do the following:
- Cut off the dying leaves
- Allow it to breath
- Stop watering the plant until the soil dries up
- Don’t go overboard with caring for the plant. Leave it alone.
- Water the plant, but don’t drown the soil.
- Drain the water thoroughly to avoid excess water in the soil.
- Water while keeping the season in mind, such as water more in the summers and less in the winter.
- Mist the leaves to keep them moist.
- Don’t allow the soil to completely dry up in the winter.
- Find out how dry or moist the soil is by sticking your finger or a skewer into the soil and checking the top couple of inches. If it is dry, water it. If it’s moist, let it be.
Underwatered plants starve to death. It is the same way of starving yourself every couple of days until you finally pass away. You can easily save your plant from dying by looking for signs of underwatering.
- Faded leaves
- Lifeless leaves
- Soil completely drying out and pulling away
- Stunted growth
- Immediately water your plant
- Mist the leaves
- Keep a check on the draining system. You don’t want to water your plant in an effort to revive it only to die a few days later because you drowned the soil.
- Water your rubber plant every 5 days, give or take a day or two.
- Avoid drenching the soil
- Water only when the soil gets dried
- For plants that are 3 feet tall, use a couple of cups of water, and, for 6 feet tall plants, use three cups
- Observe your plant and keep it healthy by taking its needs into account.
- Water according to the season
Too Little or Too Much Light
As mentioned earlier, rubber plants prefer indirect but bright sunlight. An adequate amount of light is important for the plant to survive. Here is what you should keep in mind about the lighting requirements of your rubber plant
|Very Little Lighting||Too Much Lighting|
|Leaves get droopy and turn brown||Leaves get droopy|
|Stalks elongate and become thin||Leaves may have a burnt appearance|
The above table will help you determine how your plants are doing and whether or not they need more or less sunlight.
If the plant is not getting enough light and is indoors, keep it near the window. If it is outdoors, find a corner that isn’t too dark or too bright. If the plant is getting too much light, then keep it in the shade.
- You need to keep in mind that balance is key. To make sure your plant doesn’t get damaged, here are some effective and simple steps you can take:
- Keep the plant at a spot where early morning and late afternoon sunlight hits.
- Avoid placing it where mid-day sunlight shines; it will dry out the soil and burn the leaves.
- If you live in an apartment with a west-facing balcony, place your rubber plant there. Your plant will enjoy adequate light.
- Another ideal spot is in front of the window with a sheer curtain
- If your plants are kept outdoors, then keep them under a shade.
Rotting roots are the biggest indication of your plant not doing well. It can happen to even the most experienced gardeners. So don’t panic. You can revive your plant. When you witness your plants acting weird, it means something is wrong. Even if you can’t see the telltale signs of your plant dying, they could be in trouble.
The most obvious signs of root rot are:
- Yellow leaves
- Black spots on leaves
- Leaves looking lackluster and less shiny
- Brown and soft leaves
- Shedding and wilting of leaves
- Damaged roots due to which the plant dies within days
- Curled leaves
- Mushy roots
- Early diagnoses and treatment of your plant is the best solution.
- Inspect the root; if the whole root has become brown and mushy, it may be too late to revive your plant. However, even if a few plant roots are firm, healthy, and white, we may be able to revive the plant.
- Chop the brown and mushy roots. Remember, the brown roots will smell foul and be very slimy. Therefore, wear protective gloves before handling them.
- Remove the soil so that you could eliminate any chance of mold coming back.
- Clean the roots with clean water. Do so under running tepid water. You could use a gentle antibacterial soap to clean any fungal particles and bacteria stuck on the roots.
- Allow the weaker roots to fall off
- After cleaning and pruning the roots, allow them to air dry to get rid of bacteria. Leave them out for 24 hours.
- If you fear the roots over-drying while they are out, then wrap them up with a slightly moist paper.
- Use a dish under the roots to catch excess water.
- Line the plant pot with stone and pebbles before pouring soil into it.
- Terracotta pots are excellent for repotting and are very porous and let out more moisture.
- Replant the roots in healthy soil in a pot with a good drainage system
- Add compost or fertilizer to facilitate plant growth
- Again water but don’t drown the soil
- In order to keep your rubber plant happy and healthy, provide soil that can help it thrive.
- The perfect soil mixture for these types of plants is 20% perlite, 20% cocopeat, and 60% garden soil. Cocopeat helps the soil retain moisture.
- Keep a check on the roots. Inspect frequently to check if your rubber plant is acting out.
- Cut the top stem of the plant to increase growth
- Whenever you use scissors to cut the leaves, sterilize them with three parts water and one part bleach to avoid spreading bacteria and fungus to the soil and other plants.
Infestation of Pests
Your rubber plants are prone to infestation of quite a few different types of pests such as scale insects, thrips, spider mites, mealybugs, etc.
Here are signs of possible pest infestation:
- Speckled leaves
- Leaves shedding
- You’ll see tiny holes on your plant’s leaves. Some pests feed on the cell sap and plant tissue.
- Leaf Blight
Resolving a pest infestation can be a tedious process. However, here are some steps you can take that could help.
- Use insecticides
- If you are not okay with the idea of subjecting your plant and your environment to harmful chemicals, use neem oil diluted with a bit of water and spray the leaves.
- Prune badly affected leaves. This is a great way of ensuring the infection or disease caused by infestation doesn’t spread.
- If you see any bugs, pick them out using gloves, preferably.
- Use a DIY organic and environmentally friendly insecticide by combining half a teaspoon of neem oil with gentle dish soap that is bleach-free and 1 liter of water. Spray the entire plant.
- You can also use Isopropyl alcohol diluted with water and a few drops of neem oil. Take a cotton ball, dip it in the solution, and wipe the leaves. Do it for a couple of weeks.
- Spider mites are visible when the infestation gets severe. Isolate the plant to avoid other plants in the vicinity getting affected.
- Cut off infected branches and leaves.
- Use fertilizers every month during the summer season. Make sure to use fertilizers with high nitrogen content, such as seaweed.
- Add compost two times in one month.
- Spray neem oil solution even if you don’t see any pest infestation. It will ward off any bugs trying to inhabitant your plant. Spray the neem solution at night or in the evening. Spraying the plant during the daytime will affect its daily activities, possibly killing it. The next day after spraying the plant with an insecticide, wash the leaves and sufficiently water it for the following few days.
Rubber plants thrive in stable temperatures. The fluctuations in the temperatures may cause suffering to the plant. The right balance of nutrients, water, sun, and temperature is what allows the plant to be healthy. Here are a few telltale signs of temperature fluctuations.
- Disfigured or discolored leaves.
- Shrunken leaves.
- Brown blotches on older leaves.
- Puckering of younger leaves.
- Resolving the effects of temperature shock is fairly simple.
- Cut off all the badly affected leaves.
- Place your rubber tree plant at a spot where the temperature is above 55F.
- Don’t expose the plant to direct sunlight.
- If the plant has been affected because of a very low temperature, keeping it near a furnace or wood-burning stove will warm it up a bit.
Here are some measures to prevent your plant from dying.
- Keep the plant at an ideal and steady temperature of 55 F.
- Although the plant may tolerate temperatures lower than 39F. If it goes above 80F, then take the plant to a steady environment.
- Place the plant near the window from September all through March. For the rest of the year, move the plant to the east or west window.
- In winter months, burn wood for ideal temperature but keep the plant from direct heat.
Issues with Humidity
As we know by now, rubber plants love humidity. That is how they get their leaves to appear shiny and healthy. The common problem of a plant not getting enough humidity is dried leaves.
- The Solution
- Misting the leaves.
- Moving to a spot where there is plenty of indirect light after watering it.
- Normal levels of humidity in the room the plant is kept.
- In the winter season, change the plant’s position to a more humid area. Colder months tend to dry out the plant faster because of the lack of moisture in the air.
- Place the plants where they will be happy all year round with stable levels of humidity.
- If you feel like the air in the room is too dry, use a humidifier.
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In the right kind of conditions, your rubber plant can grow up to 24 inches. It will have more than one stalk and look beautiful. If you notice some of the outdoor rubber plants leaves erected, it is because they are facing the sun. You can fix it by simply positioning the plant for the leaves to settle down or place the un-erected side under indirect sunlight. I hope this will help you to know how to revive a dying rubber plant.
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.