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Rubber Tree Leaves Turning Brown? Here’s Why & Ways To Fix It

Rubber Tree Leaves Turning Brown? Here’s Why & Ways To Fix It

Rubber plants have been everyone’s favorite for decades, thanks to the flexibility they provide. You can have them in various sizes, from small enough to fit on your desk to large enough to touch the ceiling.

In addition, rubber plants look exceptionally beautiful indoors and outdoors alike. However, they do demand care, quite a lot of it. Rubber plant leaves can turn brown if you deprive them of adequate care.

Various factors are responsible for rubber tree leaves turning brown.

Why Do Rubber Tree Leaves Turn Brown?

Watering Issues

Watering your plant in the wrong way is one of the main reasons that can cause brown leaves. For instance, you may not be watering your rubber plant enough if the tips and edges of the leaves have grown brown crispy spots.

Underwatering primarily happens because gardeners know the severe danger of overwatering a plant. They, as a result, overlook the dangers of underwatering the plant.

Also, since the plant’s roots keep replacing the soil, a very rootbound plant may not be getting enough water. When you water rubber trees, apply adequate water to the root ball to drench it well.

In case the peat content in the soil is quite high, you might encounter difficulties in rehydrating it. So, make sure to keep it soaked longer. It’s critical to check the soil if you notice your rubber plant’s leaves are turning brown.

As for overwatering the plant, it promotes lethal root rot, which results in dead, brown leaves in its last stages. In case you notice that the leaves are yellowing, while the tips are becoming brown, it clearly indicates watering issues.

Furthermore, decay pathogens thrive in a soggy, low-oxygen environment, hampering the nutritional value of the soil. So, make sure the medium is never excessively damp.

Root Rot

The leaves may become dead due to root rot, something that most gardeners don’t give much attention to. What’s more? Root rot itself is very hard to detect until it gets too late and its side effects become apparent.

It happens due to a variety of factors, but there are a few things to look for to determine whether the problem that’s turning your rubber plant’s leaves brown is truly root rot or not.

In case you find leaves with brown edges, inspect the rubber trees for brown, mushy, or soft roots. These symptoms point to poor soil conditions. It’s also possible that the soil has a terrible odor, which indicates root rot.

Restricted roots are the primary culprit of root rot, that’s because constricted roots are unable to efficiently absorb the nutritional value from the soil.

Lighting Issues

This is usually a simple problem to identify since its effects are the most apparent. Overexposure to sunlight or even strong artificial rays can cause the leaves to become brown or burn. The simple approach is to keep your rubber plant out of direct sunlight.

If you’re not sure where to put your plant, gather adequate knowledge on rubber plant light requirements.

Also, be aware of seasonal changes. As the sun’s position changes, a west-facing window that receives soft afternoon light could become a scorching hotbox.

The brown blotches and leaves will not grow back, so make sure to securely cut them out. You may want to keep partially damaged foliage to allow the plant to continue producing energy.

Harsh Water

Rubber plant leaves can turn brown due to tap water containing excessive levels of minerals or chemicals, most notably brown leaf patches and brown tips. Unless the condition gets severe, this won’t turn out to be a severe threat to the plant’s survival.

If your tap water is highly mineralized, try watering the plant just with clean or filtered water for a while to see if it makes a difference. If you’re unsure whether or not to use something other than tap water for your plants, seek expert assistance.

In addition to fertilizers, pollutants in the soil (e.g., chemicals) can also accumulate over time and pose a threat to the plant’s health.

If possible, rinse the soil after each watering to remove any lingering pollutants. Simply pour an excessive amount of water into the saucepan, allow it to drain before repeating the process.

Using Too Much or Too Little Fertilizers

Owners tend to unintentionally over-fertilize their rubber plant more often than not. While the plant prefers fertile soil, it’s not a big eater.

Too much fertilizer can burn the plant’s tender roots and create dry, browning foliage; the tips of the leaves are usually the first to exhibit signs of damage. Over time, a buildup of fertilizer residue can have the same effect, causing the leaves to turn brown.

Carefully flushing the soil to dilute the fertilizer salts is the best way to deal with over-fertilization. Wait until you see fresh growth before applying fertilizer.

As for removing over-fertilized soil, you can simply remove it by flushing the pot completely with soft water and exposing it to sunlight. Make sure to keep the proper fertilizer proportion in mind the next time you fertilize your plant.

Although under fertilization can result in brown foliage, undernourished leaves first appear sickly yellow before turning brown. If you determine your plant requires some assistance, keep in mind that a little effort goes a long way.

Make sure to use a water-soluble fertilizer on rubber plants that isn’t hyper-aggressive.

Dilute it in the water to reduce the strength of the fertilizer even further, making it safe for the rubber plant. It’s better to dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength.

Humidity Problems

Rubber plants are native to humid tropical environments, but if regularly watered, they can tolerate a wide range of circumstances. Low humidity, on the other hand, might stress the plant, causing browning on the edges and loss of leaves.

Place pebble-filled water trays nearby if the humidity around the area is low and your plant isn’t looking its best. The rubber plant isn’t one to demand a room humidifier, but it’s often recommended to provide it with one.

A room heater also dehydrates the air in the winter season, making humidifiers much more important for plants in this season. If your plant is having trouble over the winter, it will most likely benefit from some more humidity.

Fungal Infection

A healthy rubber plant is always disease-resistant and it must stay that way, the greatest protection is to ensure that the plant’s environment and care routine are suitable.

The initial signs of disease are usually patches of leaf mottling or discoloration, but if the disease continues, it can undoubtedly produce browning.

A fungal infection is the most prevalent condition, which commonly causes white deposits. This issue is much more prevalent in humid or damp environments.

The majority of fungal infestations aren’t lethal and will respond to a moisture reduction. Often, merely clipping away the infected leaves and being cautious with watering is enough to stop an infection from spreading.

How Do You Fix Brown Leaves on Rubber plants?

Once you determine the primary problem that’s turning your rubber tree leaves brown, take effective steps to fix the problem as soon as possible.

For instance, if the problem is overwatering, you can stop watering the plant and let the soil dry for some time. Wait until the soil is dry to the depth of one inch and water the plant again.

If you think the problem is not visible on the surface, remove the plant from the pot and check for root rot.

The roots of your rubber plant should be white and firm, trim all the brown or black roots, this will effectively help in fixing the problem. Finally, place the plant in a new pot with new and fresh soil.

Should You Cut Brown Leaves Off the rubber plant?

Unfortunately, no matter what you do, you won’t be able to make the brown leaves healthy again. Once the leaves turn brown for any reason, you will lose them forever.

So, cutting down the brown leaves off your rubber plant won’t do much harm to the plant’s overall health. Brown leaves also hamper the elegance of your rubber plant. So, there’s no reason for you to not cut them.


Rubber trees (scientifically named Ficus elastica) sure are one of the most beautiful plants. They, however, aren’t immune to the problem that haunts every plant owner: brown leaves.

If you attentively manage your plant and take good care of it, you may never have to face this issue. Using a good-quality soil mixture is one good way to prevent this issue.

Organic matter combined with cocopeat, perlite, or vermiculite in the garden soil can help the soil retain moisture for longer and will aid in increasing the soil’s general health.

To avoid any buildup on your leaves, keep washing them. Dust the plant to make it look sleek and polished. It will also assist to get rid of any bugs that are bothering your plant.

Additionally, don’t leave the plant idle. Inspect your plant every few days and pay attention to what the signs are telling you before it’s too late.