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What Is Wrong With My Rubber Plant?

What Is Wrong With My Rubber Plant?

With a hardiness rating scale ranging from 10 to 12, rubber plants are quite hardy. This makes them an excellent choice for indoor gardening, as they can survive in conditions that aren’t suitable for other plant varieties.

However, this doesn’t mean that your rubber plant would never have any problems. Despite their hardiness, rubber plants do need some care. Inadequate care or other factors could lead to a variety of problems for the plant.

Identifying problems from the early signs and resolving them could help you save your rubber plant easily.

Moreover, it would also be easier to fix the issue before it escalates. Hence, staying aware of the problems that could potentially arise and knowing how to resolve them would certainly be helpful.

What is wrong with my rubber plant?

Often, it turns out to be intimidating to determine what’s wrong with your plants, even if something doesn’t quite seem right. For instance, you might notice your rubber plant’s health deteriorating or the leaves drooping.

However, this could occur due to multiple reasons. Unless you know what it is, you can’t do much to help your plant, except experimenting with different solutions.

Here are a few common problems that rubber plant owners face:

Drooping leaves

For most plants, drooping leaves are usually a bad sign. Plants with droopy leaves may even die if you fail to sort out the problem soon. In case the leaves on your rubber plant start to droop, it could be due to a number of potential reasons:

  • Firstly, check the amount of water that your rubber plant is receiving. Too little or too much water can cause problems for a plant, and drooping leaves are a common symptom.
  • The type of water that your rubber plant receives is a factor to consider as well. It is advisable to water your rubber plant consistently with tap water at room temperature.
  • Lack of adequate sunlight could be a reason behind drooping leaves too. Check if your plant’s position is preventing it from receiving enough light.

Unfavorable conditions and improper watering are usually the reasons behind dropping rubber plant leaves.

Curling leaves

You might notice the leaves starting to curl at the edges. Depending on whether the problem exists throughout the entire plant or only a part of it, this could be a result of a pest attack or improper watering.

  • If it is especially the new leaves that are curling up, you likely have a pest problem. Pests tend to attack these new leaves, causing them harm.
  • In case leaves throughout your rubber plant are curling, it could be a result of overwatering. Rather than following a fixed watering schedule, feel the soil and water it only when needed.
  • An uneven distribution of moisture in the soil could be causing leaves to curl. While watering, make sure to spread out the water properly.

In case you are keeping your rubber plant within a closed environment, remember that the humidity levels inside the container are a major factor to consider too.

Brown leaves

Watching the leaves of your rubber plant turn brown can be quite worrisome. Now, this could happen due to several reasons:

  • In case you water your rubber plant excessively in winter, it would result in a phenomenon called edema where the plant keeps drawing water until the leaf cells burst.
  • Leaves turning brown is one of the most visible signs of root rot. Check if the roots of your rubber plant have turned mushy and soft, and if the soil is giving off a bad odor.
  • If the soil is poor in nutrients and you do not fertilize it enough, the leaves may start turning brown due to the lack of nutrition.

You should certainly not overlook brown leaves as a sign of a bigger underlying problem. For instance, rotting roots could cause your plant to die.

Yellow leaves

Rubber plant leaves turning yellow is a cause of concern too. There are three main reasons that result in the yellowing of the leaves:

  • In case you have placed the plant near a window or a doorway, incoming cold air draft can shock the leaves and make them change color.
  • Yellow leaves might also be a sign of powdery mildew attacking your plant. If you notice this fungus on the leaves, either apply a neem oil solution or prune away the infected leaves.
  • Like several of the other problems, overwatering might be the reason behind yellowing leaves as well.

Once you notice yellow leaves on your rubber plant, inspect the plant carefully to determine the cause.

Shedding of leaves

Rubber plants look great particularly when they grow bushy. Shedding of leaves would result in a lack of foliage, which is certainly something that you wouldn’t want. The most probable reasons why your rubber plant might be shedding leaves are:

  • Rubber plants absorb a lot of moisture from the atmosphere and require misting. Not misting your rubber plant can cause it to shed leaves.
  • Overwatering or underwatering a rubber plant is another common reason behind the shedding of the leaves.
  • Draft from heating vents, radiators, and windows could make a rubber plant shed leaves if the plant lies too close by.

By shedding its leaves, a rubber plant simply adjusts to changes in its environment. Hence, the environment around the plant is what determines its leafiness.

Leaves turning brown on the edges

In some cases, only the edges of the leaves turn brown, while the remaining portion stays green. This could be a result of the following problems:

  • Root rot or overwatering can cause the leaf edges to start turning brown. Eventually, these leaves would droop and fall off.
  • Keeping your rubber plant exposed to direct sunlight would cause the leaf edges to burn and turn brown.

Depending on the reason behind the issue, you would have to adjust the watering schedule or move the plant to a shaded area.

The rubber plant turning leggy

The term leggy basically describes a plant that has more stems than leaves. Considering that the foliage of a rubber plant is its main beauty, you wouldn’t usually want a leggy rubber plant. There are a few reasons why your rubber plant might be leggy.

  • Using an excessive quantity of fertilizers or fertilizing the soil too often can shock the rubber plant. This, in turn, would restrict leaf growth.
  • While direct sunlight is harmful to a rubber plant, so is insufficient light. This could make your rubber plant go leggy. Consider providing it with indirect sunlight for at least an hour a day.
  • A rubber plant might become leggy if it receives an unbalanced amount of water and sunlight. Ideally, you should water your rubber plant proportionally to the amount of sunlight it receives.

Propagating a leggy rubber plant is a good idea to control its vertical growth and promote lateral growth.

Brown spots on the leaves

Brown spots appearing on the leaves of your rubber plan could potentially be a sign of a major problem. Here are three main reasons behind this issue:

  • The brown spots might be an indication of bacterial or fungal root rot. Spots arising from fungal rots are darker and start from the plant’s base. Bacterial rot causes lighter spots on the leaves, which then spread from there.
  • An insect infestation could result in brown spots as well. However, in this case, the leaves would also have holes in them.
  • Harsh sunlight can cause sunburn, making brown spots appear on the rubber plant leaves. You may differentiate this from root rots easily, spots from sunburns appear only on the upper surface of the leaves.

Insect infestations and root rots can quickly escalate and cause a plant to die. If you notice brown spots, look into the issue immediately

White spots

Besides the fact that white spots on the leaves make your rubber plant look unsightly, it also indicates major underlying problems like bug attacks. If you notice such spots, it is likely because:

  • Pests have attacked your rubber plant and are drinking the sap from the leaves. This weakens the plant and causes the white spots to appear, besides causing other problems.
  • White molds can cause these spots to appear too. However, they are relatively harmless except for the spots.
  • Spider mites can prove to be a major problem. They feed on rubber plant leaves and cause white molds to appear, resulting in the white spots.

While regular insecticides work well against most pests, spider mites might be hard to remove. You could consider using hydrogen peroxide with water or treating the plant with horticulture oil.

The rubber plant is dying

This is probably the biggest and the most troublesome issue with your rubber plant that you might face. The two most common reasons behind this are:

  • You might have failed to take proper care of the plant, providing it with inadequate water and sunlight for too long.
  • You took care of the rubber plant too well, such as watering it excessively. After all, every plant species has specific ideal conditions.

You could try to save your rubber plant by repotting it and providing it with the perfect environment. If it still fails and the plant dies, you may try to bring it back to life by propagating it.

What are the basic requirements of a rubber plant?

While going through the various problems and their potential causes above, you may have noticed that improper conditions are a reason behind most of the issues.

Hence, it is evident that light, water, soil, and other basic requirements are still crucial for the healthy survival of your rubber plant. Here is what it needs:

1. Light

One of the common mistakes made by rubber plant owners is not providing the plant with adequate light. While it is true that rubber plants require low light conditions, it doesn’t mean that you should shove them into a dark corner of your home.

These plants actually thrive the best when exposed to sunlight, as long as it isn’t direct. Place your rubber plant next to a window, without actually touching the window.

2. Water

You should water your rubber plant thoroughly and regularly, but allow the soil to dry out in between. Try to maintain well-draining soil so that water doesn’t remain stagnant for too long. Overwatering or stagnant water can lead to root rot. Using a soil mix to loosen the soil would help greatly.

3. Pot size

Do not place a rubber plant in a pot that is too large. Excess soil would remain wet for long periods if the roots cannot absorb all the water. If you are repotting a rubber plant, go up by only one pot side at a time.

4. Fertilizers

While rubber plants are hardy and do not need a lot of care, using fertilizers occasionally would help. Just make sure not to fertilize the soil excessively. Use a fertilizer that is comprehensive in terms of nutrients.


Rubber plants do not really need a lot of care, which is why they are so popular. As long as you take care of the basic requirements and lookout for signs of potential issues, your rubber plant should be fine.

If you love these adorable plants around your home, this guide should help you in detecting potential issues with your plant.