How To Save a Dying Rubber Plant (11 Causes and Solutions)

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Rubber plants (Ficus elastica) are attractive, large indoor plants that are popular for their ease of care.

However, like all plants, they can sometimes experience problems.

If your rubber plant is dying, don’t despair!

In most cases, it is possible to revive a dying rubber plant and return it to good health.

The first step is to identify the cause of the problem.

There are many possible reasons why a rubber plant might be dying, ranging from environmental stressors to pests and diseases.

Once you have identified the cause, you can take steps to address it and save your plant.

Here are 11 possible causes of a dying rubber plant, along with solutions for each one.

Why Is My Rubber Plant Dying?

There are many possible reasons for a rubber plant to start dying.

The most common causes are listed below, along with solutions for each one.

1. Too Much Water

Overwatering is one of the most common reasons for a rubber plant to die.

Rubber plants are native to tropical regions and prefer high humidity.

However, they cannot tolerate sitting in water.

If the roots of your rubber plant are constantly wet, they won’t be able to get the oxygen they need to survive.

This can lead to root rot, which will eventually kill the plant.

How To Tell If You’re Overwatering Your Rubber Plant

There are a few telltale signs that you’re overwatering your rubber plant.

If you see any of the following, it’s a good idea to cut back on watering:

  • Waterlogged soil that never seems to dry out
  • Yellow or wilting leaves
  • Brown or black leaves
  • Soft or mushy stems
  • Mold or mildew on the plant
  • Black or brown roots

How To Save an Overwatered Rubber Plant

If you think you may have overwatered your rubber plant, it’s essential to take action immediately.

First, stop watering the plant and let the soil dry out completely.

Next, check the roots of the plant.

You will need to remove them if they are soft, mushy, or black.

Cut away any affected roots with a sharp knife to avoid harming the healthy roots.

Once you have removed the affected roots, replant your rubber plant in fresh soil.

Be sure to water it only when the top inch of soil is dry.

2. Not Enough Water

While overwatering is a common problem, underwatering is also a common cause of death for rubber plants.

These plants prefer to be kept moist, so if the soil is allowed to dry out completely for too long, the plant will start to suffer.

Plants need water to carry nutrients from the soil to the leaves, so if the roots are dry, the leaves will start to yellow and wilt.

Eventually, the plant will die.

How To Tell If You’re Underwatering Your Rubber Plant

There are a few key signs that you’re not watering your rubber plant enough.

If you see any of the following, it’s a good indication that you need to water your plant:

  • Dry, crumbly soil
  • Yellow or wilting leaves
  • Droopy leaves
  • Brown tips on the leaves
  • Slow growth

How To Save an Underwatered Rubber Plant

If you think your rubber plant is not getting enough water, the best thing to do is to water it thoroughly.

Allow the water to seep down to the roots, and be sure to empty any drainage tray afterward.

Rubber plants need to be watered once a week, but you may need to water more frequently if the temperature is high or the air is dry.

3. Too Much Sunlight

Rubber plants need bright indirect light to thrive.

The leaves will turn yellow and brown if exposed to direct sunlight.

In some cases, the leaves will even get sunburned and peel.

If your rubber plant is getting too much sun, the leaves can get damaged, and the plant can start to die.

How To Tell If Your Rubber Plant Is Getting Too Much Sunlight

There are a few key signs that your rubber plant is getting too much sunlight.

If you see any of the following, it’s a good indication that you need to move your plant:

  • Yellow or brown leaves
  • Sunburned leaves
  • Wrinkled, crispy leaves
  • Leaves that are starting to peel or blister
  • Leaves falling off the plant
  • Brown patches on the leaves

How To Save a Rubber Plant That Is Getting Too Much Sunlight

If you think your rubber plant is getting too much sun, the best thing to do is to move it to a new location.

Choose a spot that gets indirect sunlight, and be sure to acclimate your plant to the new location slowly.

An east- or west-facing window is a good option. This will give your plant the bright light it needs without exposing it to direct sunlight.

4. Not Enough Light

As we mentioned, rubber plants need bright indirect light to thrive.

If they do not get enough light, the rubber plant leaves will turn yellow and brown.

Plants need sunlight to produce food through photosynthesis, so if they are not getting enough light, they will start to die.

How To Tell If Your Rubber Plant Is Not Getting Enough Light

There are a few key signs that your rubber plant is not getting enough light.

If you see any of the following, it’s a good indication that you need to move your plant:

  • Pale green or yellow leaves
  • Leaves that are falling off the plant
  • Small, stunted leaves
  • Slow growth
  • The plant is leaning toward the light

How To Save a Rubber Plant That Is Not Getting Enough Light

If you think your rubber plant is not getting enough light, the best thing to do is to move it to a new location.

Choose a spot that gets bright indirect light, and be sure to acclimate your plant to the new location slowly.

An east- or west-facing window is a good option. This will give your plant the bright light it needs without exposing it to direct sunlight.

If you don’t have a spot that gets enough light, you can also use grow lights to give your plant the light it needs.

5. Poor Drainage

Rubber plants need well-drained potting soil to thrive.

They also need a pot with a drainage hole to allow excess water to escape.

If the pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, or if the soil is too dense, the roots won’t be able to get the oxygen they need, and the plant will start to die.

How To Tell If Your Rubber Plant Has Poor Drainage

There are a few key signs that your rubber plant has poor drainage.

If you see any of the following, it’s a good indication that you need to repot your plant:

  • Waterlogged soil
  • Mushy, rotting roots
  • Yellow or brown leaves
  • Drooping leaves
  • Leaves falling off the plant
  • Slow growth

How To Save a Rubber Plant With Poor Drainage

If you think your rubber plant has poor drainage, the best thing to do is to repot it.

Choose a pot that has a drainage hole and use a well-drained potting mix.

If you don’t have a pot with a drainage hole, you can drill one yourself.

To improve drainage, you can also add some perlite or vermiculite to the potting mix.

6. Nutrient Deficiency

Rubber plants need a balance of nutrients to thrive.

They need nitrogen for growth, phosphorus for flowering, and potassium for overall health.

If the plant is not getting enough of one of these nutrients, it will start to die.

How To Tell If Your Rubber Plant Has a Nutrient Deficiency

There are a few key signs that your rubber plant has a nutrient deficiency.

If you see any of the following, it’s a good indication that you need to fertilize your plant:

  • Yellow leaves
  • Brown leaves
  • Leaves falling off the plant
  • Slow growth

How To Save a Rubber Plant With a Nutrient Deficiency

If you think your rubber plant has a nutrient deficiency, the best thing to do is to fertilize it.

Choose a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

You can add some compost to the potting mix to provide extra nutrients.

7. Root-Bound

Rubber plants need room to grow.

When they are root-bound, the roots start to choke each other, and the plant can no longer get the nutrients it needs.

The plant will start to die if it is not replanted in a larger pot.

How To Tell If Your Rubber Plant Is Root-Bound

There are a few key signs that your rubber plant is root-bound.

If you see any of the following, it’s a good indication that you need to replant your plant:

  • Roots growing out of the drainage hole
  • Roots coming out of the pot
  • A mass of roots on the surface of the potting mix
  • Slow growth
  • Wilting leaves
  • Curling leaves

How To Save a Root-Bound Rubber Plant

If you think your rubber plant is root-bound, the best thing to do is to replant it in a larger pot.

Choose a pot two or three times the size of the current pot.

You need to loosen up the roots before replanting.

Trim off any roots that are damaged or dead.

Then replant the plant in the new pot with fresh potting mix.

8. Temperature Stress

Rubber plants like warm temperatures.

They can tolerate a wide range of temperatures but prefer to be in the range of 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the temperature gets too cold or too hot, the plant will start to stress and die.

How To Tell If Your Rubber Plant Is Under Temperature Stress

There are a few key signs that your rubber plant is under temperature stress.

If you see any of the following, it’s a good indication that the temperature is too cold or too hot:

  • Yellow leaves
  • Brown leaves
  • Leaves falling off the plant
  • Slow growth
  • Wilting leaves

How To Save a Rubber Plant From Temperature Stress

If you think your rubber plant is under temperature stress, moving it to a location with more moderate temperatures is best.

Ensure the plant is not in direct sunlight and the room is well-ventilated.

If the temperature is too cold, you can use a space heater to raise the temperature.

If the temperature is too hot, you can use a fan to cool the plant down.

9. Overfertilizing

Rubber plants need nutrients to thrive, but too much of a good thing can be harmful.

If you overfertilize your plant, the roots will start to burn, and the plant will begin to die.

When the roots are damaged, the plant can no longer get the nutrients it needs, and it will start to wilt and die.

How To Tell If You Are Overfertilizing Your Rubber Plant

There are a few key signs that you are overfertilizing your rubber plant.

If you see any of the following, it’s a good indication that you need to stop fertilizing your plant:

  • Yellow leaves
  • Brown leaf tips
  • Leaves falling off the plant
  • Wilting leaves
  • Slow growth
  • Root rot

How To Save an Overfertilized Rubber Plant

If you think you are overfertilizing your rubber plant, the best thing to do is to flush the potting mix with water.

Do this by watering the plant until the water runs out of the drainage hole.

You will need to do this a few times to remove all the fertilizer from the potting mix.

After you have flushed the potting mix, stop fertilizing your plant for a few months.

When you start fertilizing again, only use half of the recommended amount and only fertilize every other month during the growing season.

10. Pest Infestation

Rubber plants are susceptible to various pests, including aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs.

Aphids are small, green insects that suck the sap out of the plant.

Spider mites are tiny spiders that spin webs on the plant.

Mealybugs are white, fuzzy insects that feed on the plant’s sap.

Pest infestations can damage the plant and kill it.

How To Tell If Your Rubber Plant Has a Pest Infestation

There are a few key signs that your rubber plant has a pest infestation.

If you see any of the following, it’s a good indication that you have a pest problem:

  • Yellow leaves
  • Brown leaves
  • Webbing on the plant
  • White, fuzzy insects on the plant
  • Holes in the leaves
  • Leaves falling off the plant
  • Sticky leaves

How To Save a Rubber Plant From Pests

If you think your rubber plant has a pest infestation, the best thing to do is to isolate the plant from other plants.

This will prevent the pests from spreading.

Then you need to remove the pests from the plant.

You can do this by hand. To remove spider mites, wipe them off with a damp cloth.

To remove aphids, spray them off with water.

To remove mealybugs, wipe them off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

After you have removed the pests, you need to treat the plant with a natural pesticide.

There are a variety of natural pesticides that you can use, including neem oil and insecticidal soap.

You can also make your own pesticide by mixing 1 part rubbing alcohol with 9 parts water.

Spray the plant with the pesticide every week for 3 weeks.

11. Diseases

Rubber plants are susceptible to various diseases, including root rot, leaf spot, and stem rot.

Root rot is a fungal disease that attacks the plant’s roots.

Leaf spot is a fungal disease that attacks the plant’s leaves.

Stem rot is a fungal disease that attacks the plant’s stem.

Diseases can be caused by several factors, including overwatering, insufficient light, and pests.

If not treated, diseases can kill the plant.

How To Tell If Your Rubber Plant Has a Disease

There are a few key signs that your rubber plant has a disease.

If you see any of the following, it’s a good indication that you have a disease problem:

How To Save a Rubber Plant From Diseases

If you think your rubber plant has a disease, the best thing to do is to isolate the plant from other plants.

This will prevent the disease from spreading.

Then you need to remove the affected parts of the plant.

For root rot, remove the affected roots and repot the plant in a fresh potting mix.

For leaf spot, remove the affected leaves and dispose of them.

For stem rot, remove the affected stem and dispose of it.

After you have removed the affected parts of the plant, you need to treat the plant with a fungicide.

There are a variety of fungicides that you can use, including neem oil and sulfur.

You can also make your own fungicide by mixing 1 part baking soda with 9 parts water.

Spray the plant with the fungicide every week for 3 weeks.

Final Thoughts

If your rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is dying, taking action quickly is crucial.

Several things can cause a rubber plant to die, including overwatering, insufficient light, and pests.

The best way to save a dying rubber plant is to identify the problem and take corrective action.

With proper care, your indoor plant will soon be back to its healthy self.