Rubber plants are well-known indoor plants that are easy to look after and perfect for new indoor plant growers. However, like all plants, they can have problems from time to time. Many people experience droopy leaves on their rubber plants. So, why do rubber plant leaves droop?
The common reasons for rubber plant leaves drooping are underwatering, overwatering, poorly drained soil, insufficient light, overuse of fertilizer, and sudden temperature changes.
We’re going to discuss these causes in more detail and what you can do about them.
If your rubber plant isn’t getting enough water, the leaves will droop, the edges of the leaves will turn brown and dry, and eventually, the leaves will dry and drop off.
Therefore, it’s important that your plant receives adequate amounts of water to sustain its healthy growth and appearance.
- Test the moisture content of the soil regularly and water the plant when the top inch or two is dry.
- Give your plant a deep soak every time you water it.
- Add some water-holding crystals to the soil mixture to ensure that the soil doesn’t dry out too quickly.
Just as underwatering can be a problem, so can overwatering. Essentially, overwatering will starve the plant of nutrients because the roots are being suffocated by the lack of air in the soil.
Overwatering can result in drooping leaves that turn yellow and look as if they’re wilting. This can also lead to fungal diseases such as root and stem rot.
- Always test the moisture level in the soil before you water your rubber plant. The top one or two inches of the soil should be dry before you add any more water.
- Make sure that the pot has adequate drainage holes so excess water can freely drain away.
- If there is a saucer under your plant that collects the water, empty this consistently so that the roots of the plant aren’t sitting in water constantly.
- When applying water, take the plant outside or over to the sink or basin and water deeply. Let all the excess water drain away before returning the plant to its original position.
- Make sure that the pot is not too big for the plant, as this can result in too much moisture in the soil that the roots cannot take up.
Poorly Drained Soil
If your rubber plant is showing signs of overwatering, it could be because the soil is not able to drain freely. This causes waterlogging and can result in the suffocation of the roots of the plant.
In a well-structured soil that is able to drain freely, there are tiny pockets of air in between the soil particles. When the soil becomes waterlogged, these air pockets fill with water, and there is no space left for the air. Healthy plant roots need air, water, and nutrients to be able to support the growing plant.
Therefore, if the soil becomes waterlogged, the roots are starved of air and will suffocate. This results in the roots being unable to supply the plant with all that it needs to stay healthy.
- Take the plant out of the pot and remove as much of the soggy soil from around the roots as you can.
- Fill your pot with a good quality potting mix that has a nice open structure.
- Make sure that the pot has plenty of drainage holes so that excess water can drain away freely.
- Repot your rubber plant into the new soil and don’t water for a couple of days to allow the roots to dry out a little.
- After a couple of days, check the moisture level in the soil and only water if the top one or two inches of the soil are dry.
- Don’t allow the pot to sit in a saucer of water constantly. Empty out the saucer after you’ve watered the plant.
Even though rubber plants are ideal for growing indoors, they do need an adequate amount of bright light to thrive and remain healthy. This should consist of indirect sunlight to avoid leaf scorch.
- Move your plant to a brighter spot where the plant can get plenty of indirect sunlight.
- Placing your plant near a bright window rather than a dark corner of the room will keep it happy and healthy.
- During winter, if your home is fairly dark and not much light enters through the windows, it might be a good idea to invest in a grow light that you can place directly above your rubber plant to ensure that it gets the light that it needs. Make sure that you place it high enough above the plant so that the leaves don’t get scorched.
Overuse of Fertilizer
In pot-grown plants, overuse of fertilizer can cause a build-up of salts in the soil. This can usually be seen as a build-up of white particles appearing on the top layer of the soil.
- Only feed your rubber plant once every six months with a slow-release fertilizer in spring and fall.
- If you notice a build-up of salts in the soil, repot your plant with a new good quality potting mix.
- When you water, make sure that you water deeply so that the excess drains out of the bottom of the pot. This ensures that any excess salts are washed away.
Bear in mind that a total lack of fertilizer can also cause your rubber plant leaves to droop, so don’t omit giving your plant a feed a couple of times a year.
Sudden Changes in Temperature
Rubber plants originate from tropical regions. Therefore, they prefer warm temperatures of around 60 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 24 degrees Celsius). Your rubber plant leaves will start to droop if the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
There’s a scientific explanation for this, and it has to do with the water pressure in the air. You see when the air temperature drops this also causes a drop in the water pressure. It is this water pressure that supports the turgidity of the leaves. Therefore, when the temperature drops too low, there is not enough humidity in the air to support the leaves, and so they start to droop.
You’ll find that in colder temperatures, both the windows and the floor in your home will be extremely cold too. As mentioned, rubber plants really don’t like cold temperatures and need to be protected from these as they can be fatal for the plant.
- While there’s nothing that you can do about outside temperatures, you can regulate the temperature in your home. Make sure that you keep your rubber plant in the warmest room of the house.
- You can also place a nice thick mat under your plant in order to insulate it from the cold floor.
- Make sure that your rubber plant is not exposed to constant drafts by keeping it a distance away from drafty windows or doors.
- Keep your plant away from strong air flows of any type. That includes fans that blow out hot air as well. This type of airflow dries out the air and can also cause damage to the leaves.
- If you can’t keep an even and warm temperature in your home or the room where your rubber plant is situated, invest in a grow light that will provide not only bright light but warmth as well.
But it’s not just cold temperatures that can cause a problem for your rubber plant. Sudden high temperatures can cause heat stress in your plant. When this happens, moisture will evaporate from the leaves of your plant faster than it can be replenished by the roots.
As the water pressure in the leaves drops, they lose their turgidity and start to droop.
- Ensure your plant is getting enough water when temperatures are hot.
- Increase the humidity around the plant by misting the leaves regularly.
- Keep your rubber plant out of direct sunlight.
Lack of Humidity
As we’ve already learned, rubber plants are from the tropics. This means that they are most happy when they grow in warm temperatures with high humidity. There needs to be enough moisture in the air to support the leaves so that they don’t droop.
- Increase the humidity around your plant by using a humidifier.
- You can also provide some extra humidity by misting your plant on a regular basis. Do this, especially when the air inside your home is warm and dry.
- Another way to add humidity around your plant is to place saucers of water nearby. The water will evaporate slowly into the air.
- One method that many indoor plant growers use is to fill a flat tray with small pebbles or rocks. They then almost cover the rocks with water and place the pot plant on top of the rocks. This method increase humidity but keeps the plant roots out of the water.
Common Houseplant Pests
Apart from all of the above causes, an attack from pests can also result in the leaves of your rubber plant drooping. There are many common houseplant pests that will happily attack your plant and cause problems, such as leaves drooping.
Here are some of the most common ones and how to get rid of them:
These sap-sucking insects will normally appear as bumpy brown spots on the stems and leaves of the plant. They will suck the sap out of your plant and this causes the leaves to droop.
- For a small infestation, you can simply wipe the scale off the plant using a damp cloth.
- Alternatively, you can dab the pests with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
- For a heavier infestation, spray the entire plant with a mixture of water and insecticidal soap.
Mealybugs look like small pieces of cotton wool on your plant. Like scale insects, these pests will suck the sap out of your plant and cause the leaves to droop.
- Use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol or neem oil and apply this to the pests.
- You can also spray the entire plant with a mixture of water and neem oil or insecticidal soap.
Spider mites are not actually insects but are part of the arachnid family. They are so tiny that it’s difficult to spot them with the naked eye. What you will notice though, is a collection of small silky webs usually on the undersides of the leaves. Spider mites feed on the leaves and cause necrotic spots that will eventually join and kill the entire leaf.
- Spider mites can be controlled by spraying the plant with a mixture of water and insecticidal soap or neem oil. You should continue this until you’re sure that all of the mites have been destroyed.
Nematodes live in the soil and feed on the roots of the plant. As the roots are damaged, they cannot supply the plant with the water and nutrients that it needs and this causes the leaves to droop.
- The best solution to this problem is to repot your plant into some clean soil.
- Remove the plant from the pot and gently wash all of the soil from the roots.
- Clean and sterilize the pot using a bleach solution.
- Fill the pot with fresh, good quality potting mix and repot the plant. You might want to add some nematicide to the potting mix in case there are any nematodes still hiding within the roots.
Your Rubber Plant has Become Pot-Bound
There comes a time in every plant’s life when it needs to be planted into a larger pot. If your rubber plant has become pot-bound, the roots will start to grow round and round at the bottom of the pot. This means that they’re unable to perform the function that they’re designed for apart from providing stability to the plant.
When new roots have nowhere to go, they can’t absorb water and nutrients from the soil and transport this upward into the green parts of the plant. This means the plant is not getting enough nutrients or water and hence, the leaves will droop.
- It’s time to repot your plant into a larger pot, but don’t go too large.
- Choose a pot that is around 1 to 2 sizes larger than the current pot and ensure that it has plenty of drainage holes.
- Fill the bottom of the pot with good quality potting mix.
- Take the plant out of its current pot and carefully inspect the root system.
- If any of the roots are circling, you can gently tease these loose and trim them back a little to ensure that they can sit freely in the new pot.
- Place the plant into the new pot spreading the roots out as much as possible.
- Fill the rest of the pot with the more potting mix and firm down gently.
- Water deeply so that the soil settles around the roots.