How to Save a Dying Rubber Tree Plant (5 Easy DIY Steps Explained)

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Is the rubber tree plant you love looking sick and dying? Rubber plants can withstand the conditions of an indoor environment. However, sometimes they may pass away or progressively deteriorate. 

Rubber tree plants are known for their shiny leaves and beautiful looks as household flowers. But things like insufficient light, water, bugs, or changes in the surroundings can cause these hardy plants to die. But How to save a dying rubber tree plant? 

Even though it’s sad to see your once-healthy rubber tree failing, there are things you can do to bring it back to life. In this complete guide, we’ll show you five easy steps you can take yourself to save a dead rubber tree plant and bring it back to life.

Let’s get to the bottom of it!

how to save a dying rubber tree plant

How Do I Know if My Rubber Plant Is Dying?

If you detect the reason for the rubber plant’s death early enough, you can save it.

But first, learn the telltale symptoms of a fading rubber plant. 

Several warning indicators might indicate your rubber plant is in trouble. The following are examples of some of which are most typical: 

Curling Leaves 

Thick, glossy leaves are a hallmark of the rubber plant’s (Ficus elastica) aesthetic. Reasons for rubber plant leaf curling include dry air, insufficient water, pests, and extremes in temperature. 

When a rubber plant’s leaves start to curl, it’s generally a sign that the plant is stressed or growing in an unfavorable environment. Here are some common reasons why rubber plant leaves curl indoors:

  • Overwatering or underwatering may create curled leaves. Wet soil may suffocate or decay roots, curling the leaves. If the plant doesn’t receive enough water, its leaves will curl to retain water in.
  • Rubber plants need water. The plant may curl its leaves to shield itself from drying air, particularly in winter or hot environments. 
  • Rubber plants dislike sudden temperature dips and chilly draughts. Leaves curl to protect themselves in cold weather. 
  • Insufficient or improper lighting may also cause leaves to curl. Rubber plants thrive in bright, indirect light. When stressed, their leaves curl.
  • Spider mites and mealybugs damage rubber plant leaves. Curling leaves protect the plant. Webs, small insects, and white, fluffy material are pests. 

Yellow or Brown leaves

A rubber plant’s health and size determine the quantity of decaying yellow or brown leaves. Many yellow or brown leaves on a rubber plant might be a problem. It may decline if a substantial amount of the rubber plant’s foliage becomes yellow or brown and is not replaced with healthy new growth.

Yellow or brown leaves may be caused by overwatering, underwatering, inappropriate illumination, temperature stress, nutritional shortages, or insect infestations. The leaves of a dying rubber plant may become yellow or brown, dry up, and fall off. The plant’s capacity to photosynthesize and create energy may be disrupted by leaf loss.

Wilting, Drooping Leaves

When the leaves on your rubber plant start to droop and wilt, it’s usually a sign that the plant is sick and may be dead or going into a state of decline. Lack of turgidity is shown by leaves that wilt and fall over. This happens when the plant can’t retain enough water and nutrients to keep its shape and look healthy.

Leaves that are Falling Off 

When many leaves fall at once or all the time, it can be a reason for worry and a sign that you should pay more attention. Several things, including the surroundings, bad care, and plant health problems, can cause this.

Stunted or Disfigured Growth

The hindered or messed up growth can indicate that an indoor rubber plant is in trouble and may die soon. Deeper problems must be fixed when a rubber plant doesn’t grow or grow strangely.

Why is my Rubber Plant Dying? 

The plant is sick if you see the abovementioned symptoms in your rubber tree.

There are many reasons why your rubber plant is possibly dying, such as:

Watering Issues

How a rubber plant is watered can be a major reason for its decline and possible death. Both too much and too little water can be bad for the health and liveliness of a plant.

When caring for rubber plants, people often make the mistake of giving them too much water. When the plant is always given too much water, the roots become soggy, which can lead to root rot. This situation makes it hard for the roots to breathe air, leading to the roots rotting and dying. Because of this, the plant’s health worsens, and it may show signs like yellowing or browning of the leaves, drooping, and a bad smell. The plant could die from getting too much water if nothing is done.

On the other hand, a rubber plant can also die if it gets too much water. When the plant doesn’t get enough water, it becomes dry, which makes the leaves wilt, get hard, and finally fall off. When a plant doesn’t have enough water, it can’t carry out important bodily processes and can’t grow. Long times of being wet can hurt a rubber plant in a way that can’t be fixed. This stunts the plant’s growth and makes it more susceptible to pests and diseases.

Improper Light Conditions

The rubber plant needs certain lighting conditions to grow well as a tropical plant. If these conditions aren’t met, it can hurt the plant’s health.

A rubber plant can often die because it doesn’t get enough light, a common problem. When there isn’t enough light, photosynthesis is hard for the plant. This makes the plant grow weaker, with long stems with fewer leaves that look droopy. If the plant doesn’t get enough light, its leaves can also lose their bright green color and turn white or yellow. If the plant gets too little light, it may weaken over time and finally die.

On the other hand, a rubber plant can also be hurt by too much light. When leaves are in direct sunlight, especially during the hottest parts of the day, they can get burned and scorched. When there is a lot of light and heat, the leaves can get brown spots or patches, dry out, and fall off. This hurts the plant’s ability to make food from light, which can cause it to grow slowly or even die.

Nutrient Deficiencies

A rubber plant’s fall and possible death can be caused partly by insufficient nutrients. These problems happen when the plant isn’t getting enough of the important nutrients it needs for growth and health. Rubber plants need a proper mix of macro and micronutrients to grow well; the lack of these nutrients or an imbalance can hurt the plants.

Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), which are macronutrients, are very important to the rubber plant’s health. Nitrogen is important for green growth and a plant’s general health. Phosphorus helps roots grow and helps plants flower and make fruit. Potassium helps the plant stay healthy, fight off sickness, and control how much water it takes in.

Iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), and other micronutrients are needed in smaller amounts but are just as important. These micronutrients help activate enzymes, make chlorophyll, and participate in other biochemical processes important for a plant’s health.

Poor Drainage

Like many other seedlings, rubber plants need a growing medium that drains well to keep the roots from getting too wet and rotting. When the dirt or potting mix doesn’t let extra water drain well, it creates a situation where the roots get wet and can’t get air.

Too much water around the roots makes it hard for the roots to get enough air, which can lead to drowning and death. Because of this, the roots become weak, rot, and lose their ability to absorb water and nutrients well. This makes it hard for the plant to get enough air and nutrients, which hurts its health and can kill it in the long run.

Root Bound

When a rubber plant’s roots are root bound, they have grown too big for their pot and have grown close together, going in circles instead of spreading out.

As the roots keep growing in a small area, several problems happen. Plants with too close roots have trouble getting the water and nutrients they need. The roots are so close together that they have difficulty getting water and nutrients from the dirt. This makes the plant dry out and get sick. This causes the plant’s growth to slow, its leaves to turn yellow or brown, and its health to worsen.

Pest Infestations

Rubber plants are susceptible to pests, including spider mites, mealybugs, scale insects, and aphids. Pests like these weaken plants by consuming their leaves, sap, or other tissues, ultimately dying plants.

Some symptoms may appear on a rubber plant that pests have attacked. Damage to the leaves from feeding might produce yellowing, patches, or stippling. Slowed development, withering, and leaf loss are all possible outcomes for the plant. 

5 Steps to Save a Dying Rubber Tree Plant 

Even if you take good care of your plants, they can still have problems and start to die. Don’t be sad if you have a dying rubber tree plant. With the right help and care, you can save your plant and bring it back to health. Here are five things you can do to save a rubber tree plant about to die.

Evaluate Watering and Drainage 

Rubber plants can tolerate being overwatered to a certain extent before dying but are far more tolerant of being underwater.

This is fantastic, but if you wait until they’re very dehydrated, they may never get better. The leaves on mine eventually wilted, became papery, and fell off.

Like many houseplants, rubber plants can’t stand having their roots constantly damp. The oversaturation of water kills the roots. Because of this, the whole plant will finally perish.

Symptoms of a rubber plant that has been overwatered include:

  • Yellowing foliage
  • Ugly, black roots
  • Dry, brown stalks
  • Leaf mush
  • Leaves that are prone to dropping
  • Wet ground

At first, you will know if your plant’s roots are rotting once you unpot and examine it. However, when the decay spreads higher, symptoms appear throughout the plant.

Underwatering symptoms include:

  • Leaves that curl
  • The ends of the leaves are dry and brown
  • Leaning stalks
  • Arid ground

The rubber plant needs watering as long as the water is dripping through the drainage hole.

Here’s how to save your dying rubber plant with water:

  • Remove all sources of water and let the soil dry up entirely.
  • To clear the dirt from the plant’s roots, carefully remove the plant from its container.
  • Remove the decaying roots (they will be dark and slimy) and disinfect your scissors often to prevent the spread of disease. Remove any wilted leaves.
  • Allow the roots to air dry for at least a few hours.
  • Use soap and hot water to wash the pot. Get a new pot if this one doesn’t have a drainage hole.
  • Put new, clean soil in the container. Add a couple of containers of perlite as an orchid bark to improve the soil’s drainage.

If the rubber plant has suffered considerable damage from excessive watering, it may be impossible to rescue. If this happens to be the case, just use the healthy stems (those without any rot) for further growth.

Assess Light and Temperature Conditions  

Light is essential for your rubber plant; too little light produces thin, stretched-out stalks, while too much produces leaf burn.

The lighter sections of variegated rubber plants are more explosive than the greener ones because they lack chlorophyll pigment. If the plant is subjected to too much light, you will see browning of these areas initially.

Leaves that have been burned develop a crispy brown color. A damaged leaf cannot recover its usual appearance. Remove any damaged leaves to restore the plant’s look (but never more than a quarter of the total number of leaves at once).

If a rubber plant is placed near a south-facing space or left outside in the scorching sun, it is more prone to suffer sunburn. The plant must be brought back inside since this light is too intense. 

The plant’s pallor indicates that it is exposed to too much light; you should relocate it.

The optimal range for rubber plant growth is between 65 and 85 °F (18 and 30 °C). Do not store at or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). Protecting the rubber plant from draughts and extreme temperatures is also important.

If a plant struggles due to improper temperatures, remove the damaged leaves and continue caring for the plant as usual.

Address Nutrient Deficiencies 

Getting a dead rubber tree plant the nutrients it needs is a very important step. Nutrient shortages or lack of can make the plant weaker, slow its growth, and make it more likely to get sick or be attacked by bugs. Finding and fixing these problems can give the plant the nutrients it needs to improve. Here’s how you can fix the plant’s lack of nutrients and maybe save a dying rubber tree:

Identify the Deficiency: The first step is determining which mineral your rubber tree plant is missing. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), and manganese (Mn) are all things that rubber tree plants often don’t get enough of. There are different signs of each shortage. 

Soil Tests: Do a soil test to determine how much of each chemical is in the earth. Soil testing kits are easy to find at garden centers, or you can send the sample to a lab for a more thorough look. This will tell you a lot about the pH level, the nutrients in the soil, and any problems with the soil. Depending on the data, you can change your plan to solve individual problems.

Fertilization: Once you know which nutrients are missing, you can use focused fertilization to make up for them. Choose a fertilizer that is balanced and made for indoor plants or one that is made for rubber tree plants. In the form of an N-P-K ratio, fertilizers are usually marked with the amounts of the three main nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Choose a fertilizer that has more of the nutrition that is missing.

Adjust pH Levels: The pH level in the soil affects how easily plants can get nutrients. Rubber tree plants like a pH range of about 6.0 to 7.0, which is slightly acidic to neutral. If the pH is too high or too low, it can make it hard for plants to absorb nutrients. Depending on your soil test results, you may need to change the pH level by adding things like sulfur or lime.

Pest and Disease Management 

Pests may cause damage to rubber plants. The plant’s development is stunted, its leaves are discolored, and it loses its leaves because insects are sucking the plant’s sap.

Infestations can propagate to other plants and kill them if not treated quickly.

Some telltale symptoms of a plant with pests are:

  • Abnormally slow or skewed development
  • Substances on leaves that are white or black and fluffy
  • Changes in leaf color
  • Shedding leaves

If you think your plant has been infested, inspect the stem-leaf junctions and the undersides of the leaves.

Here’s what you should do if you’ve got an infestation:

  • Inspect your surrounding vegetation for signs of pests as well. Separate the diseased plants from the rest of the garden in quarantine.
  • Remove any diseased or injured sections of the plant.
  • To remove the pests, give the plant a good soaking in insecticidal soapy water. The plant must be allowed to dry.
  • Use an alcohol-soaked cotton swab to wipe away any leftover insects.
  • Rubbing alcohol or diluted neem oil on the plant and spray it down. 
  • Spray the areas where the leaves join the stem and spray underneath the leaves. Rubbing alcohol may burn a plant’s leaves if the plant is exposed to direct sunlight after being doused.
  • Spray once every few days for a few weeks until all traces of insects have vanished.

Pruning and Repotting 

Pruning and repotting are two important things you need to do to save a dead rubber plant and help it grow back. When you prune, you remove only the damaged, sick, or dead leaves and any that are too close or too long. By trimming, you eliminate parts of the plant that might be using up resources without helping it get better. The rubber plant can put its energy into healthy growth and new shoots because of this process. Also, trimming improves airflow and lets more light into the plant, which can avoid fungus diseases and more stress.

Another important thing to do to save a dead rubber plant is to report it. If the plant suffers from poor airflow or crowded roots, repotting allows you to fix these issues. 

FAQs

Does a rubber plant need sunlight? 

The Rubber Plant grows best in bright but not direct light.

How often should I water my rubber tree plant? 

Rubber plants require watering once a week. 

Can I revive a severely wilted rubber tree plant? 

Rubber plants on their last legs may be saved by repotting an older plant into a larger container.

How do I prevent pest infestations on my rubber tree plant?

You may need to reapply the insecticidal soap spray every few weeks until the rubber plant bugs are eradicated. In most cases, DIY sprays are too strong for indoor plants, so it’s best to use a professional solution instead. 

Final Thoughts 

Leaf discoloration, growth retardation, leaf loss, leaf curling, and wilting are all symptoms of a sick rubber plant. All of these indicate that your houseplant is sick. Your dying rubber plant may be saved if the cause is identified and treated in time. Now that you know how to save a dying rubber tree plant, you can save yours. 

If the plant as a whole is unhealthy, you can still grow new plants from a healthy stem. You can’t rescue the whole plant but you can start a new one from a cutting. Give the rubber plant those things, and it’ll flourish!

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Jack Daniel

I am Jack Daniel, and I have been gardening for more than 20 years now. I believe that with my years of experience, I can help you with backyard ideas and backyard product reviews. So, with the motto to help anyone facing gardening issues or wanting tips on enhancing the beauty of their backyards, I have created Backyard Muse. So, before anything else, I want to welcome you warmly to my site.

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