Ficus Elastica (FY-kus ee-LASS-tih-kuh) is known as the Rubber Plant or Rubber Tree Plant. This popular ornamental houseplant is well known for its broad, attractive shiny leaves.
In addition, rubber plants do well in a stable location that provides low to moderate light and protection from drafts and cold temperatures. If all of these conditions are met but experience problems with falling Rubber Plant leaves, you may be guilty of overwatering, which can cause excessive leaf drop.
When these conditions are met, the leaves just need a bit of maintenance with a damp sponge or soft cloth to remove dust from the leaves.
NOTE: A pest infestation can also cause leaves to fall. Understand that it is quite normal for a few bottom leaves to age, yellow, and fall.
In this article, we will explore why a Rubber Plant’s leaves might fall off and provide tips to help you cope with this problem. Read on to learn more.
Five Reasons And Fixes For Falling Rubber Tree Leaves
Rapid leaf loss is always alarming in a houseplant. So what can you do if your Rubber Tree suddenly starts losing leaves?
Begin by thinking about your care habits and asking yourself these five questions.
1. Has The Light Level Changed Recently?
Very often, when you move your Ficus Elastica from one place to another, the sudden change in light levels will spur leaf drop.
If you typically let your plant enjoy spring and summer outdoors, transition it from indoors to outdoors and back very gradually. This will lessen shock and leaf drop, but it probably won’t eliminate it.
A little leaf drop at the change of seasons is normal.
2. Is The Rubber Plant Infested With Pests?
If your plant is overwatered or otherwise compromised, it will be more likely to attract pests, such as scale bugs.
These pests also have greater access to your plant if it is summer outdoors. When pests move in, leaf drops may ensue.
Before bringing your Rubber Plant in from the outdoors, examine it carefully and remove any hitchhikers. Then, spray it proactively with a neem oil solution and wipe the leaves and stems clean.
You can add a few drops of neem oil to the water you use to wipe the leaves regularly. This will help combat potential pest infestation and impart a nice shine to the leaves.
3. Are The Humidity Levels High Enough?
Remember that Ficus Elastica is a tropical plant that grows in the jungle in nature. Therefore, it needs high levels of humidity.
You can supply this by placing your plant’s container on a pebble tray with a little water at the bottom or using a humidifier.
Misting also contributes to humidity but is not as effective, and wet leaves can lead to fungal problems.
4. Is My Plant Exposed To A Draft?
Your Rubber Plant will thrive in a setting that is sheltered and consistently warm. Frequent hot or cold drafts will disturb it.
If your plant is near a window, door, heat vent, or air conditioner, the draft may be causing it to drop leaves.
Move your plant to an area where it will not be subjected to wind and temperature changes.
Note that it may protest by dropping more leaves when you move it. Be patient and keep it in its new setting.
If it is properly protected and gets the right amount of light, humidity, and warmth, it should begin to produce new growth within a couple of weeks.
5. Am I Giving My Plant Too Much Of A Good Thing?
Overwatering or excessive fertilizing can cause leaf drop. Instead, employ a soak-and-dry watering system.
Only water when the top couple of inches of your Rubber Tree’s soil is dry. Then water thoroughly and ensure your plant is not left in water.
Provide a half dose of a good quality, general-purpose houseplant fertilizer early in the spring and once in mid-summer.
Reduce watering in the winter, and do not fertilize in the winter.
Provide Your Rubber Plant With Consistent Care
The Ficus elastica comes from Southeast Asia, where it can grow to be a 50-foot-tall tree. When you grow it in your home, it will naturally experience rather stunted growth.
Even so, with consistent, careful care, your Rubber Plant can grow into an impressive Rubber Tree.
Be sure to provide high humidity and daytime temperatures of about 80° degrees Fahrenheit (or higher). You should not let the temperature drop below 65° degrees Fahrenheit at night.
Although Rubber Trees can do well in low lighting, bright, indirect lighting is always better.
Set your plant up in an area a few feet away from a window so that it gets ample light without being subject to the harsh, burning rays of the sun.
A setting away from windows or doors will also help protect the plant from excessive heat or chill that might come through even a closed aperture. This sort of setting will also protect your plant from wind and drafts.
Although these tropical plants do like consistently moist soil, they are better off slightly underwatered than overwatered.
Overwatering leads to fungal infection and root rot which can cause leaf loss and, eventually, plant death.
Never let your plants’ soil become bone dry, but do allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before providing a thorough watering.