Rubber Plant troubles!

Spokane, WA(Zone 5b)

I've had this Rubber Plant for over 3 1/2 years, maybe more. It started as a small plant that I bought in a nursery. It only wants to grow up, lose it's leaves on the bottom, only produce small leaves, etc. I grew one years ago which thrived. I have absolutely no idea what I am doing wrong! I'd like to see it branch out, and get larger leaves.

What could I do to make this plant more attractive?

Thumbnail by Karrie20x
Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Is it getting enough light?

San Antonio, TX

I had my variegated rubber tree inside at the beginning of winter but it started to loose too many leaves so i took it out to my "wanna b greenhouse". I think it was too warm inside and it wasnt getting enough humidity. After it joined my other plants it perked up plenty and is now putting on more leaves even at this time of year. This pic is of when i first got it......i need to update all my pics

Thumbnail by Anaid
Spokane, WA(Zone 5b)

Light? It gets "some". I have a Hoya that is doing fantastic. The Plant Files led me to belive that it didn't require much light. I'll try giving it more light unless someone else pops up with something else.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Keep in mind that indoor light isn't nearly as intense as being out in the sunshine--even if a plant is listed in Plant Files as liking some shade, that doesn't necessarily mean it'll do well in a low-light situation indoors. And to be fair, the plant is healthy, so you could keep it where you have it, but if you want to see better growth, more bushiness, etc, giving it more light could definitely help.

Spokane, WA(Zone 5b)

I moved it in a window to see if it helps. The only windows I have in my apartment face the East.

Davenport, IA

Karrie20x, how deep is the planter that you have it in? It doesn't look very deep in the picture. Maybe that could have something to do with it.

Spokane, WA(Zone 5b)

It is plenty deep - the pic was taken from up above so it looks small.

I don't like the legginess of it and wonder how to propagate it to start over.

(Zone 1)

You can cut the top off, root that part and the original plant should start branching out.

Central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Hi Karrie20x, I had this green rubber tree for 10 years. There are actually three plants in the pot. It gets medium light indoors year round, because it is too heavy to move outdoors in summer. It looks OK, but always loosing lower leaves especially in winter. Note smaller size of new leaves, this is because it doesn't get enough sun. It branches especially from lower part, but I don't remember when it started to branch.
I have another one, which is variegated and small enough for south windowsill. It gets a lot of direct sun, and it is doing much better and grows faster too. So if you want a nice plant, give as much sun as possible, move outdoors in summer, and you can also add couple more plants in same pot, if you find them in stores.

Central, NJ(Zone 6b)

OK, trying again to post a picture.

Thumbnail by bagel_k
Central, NJ(Zone 6b)

And this is a variegated one. I had it for about year and a half, and had to repot it three times already, it really loves south window and grows very fast.

Thumbnail by bagel_k
Spokane, WA(Zone 5b)

Can I cut off the top and just stick it in water to root? Is there a special way to root this plant? It wasn't in my propagation book.

Central, NJ(Zone 6b)

If it were my plant, I'd wait till spring/warmer weather. If you put it outside (in shade at first), it might start branching and grow more compact all by itself. If you decide to cut the top off, it will more likely to root in warmer weather. I don't think it will root in water though. You can cut top with few leaves, then dust the end with rooting hormone (or any fungicide) and put it in a well draining, moist potting mix. Then cover the cutting & pot with clear plastic to keep moisture level high. Open it once in a while if there is too much condensation. Keep in bright light, but no direct sun. It should grow new root within couple weeks. There is also air-layering method, see here,,HGTV_3611_1382837,00.html .

Spokane, WA(Zone 5b)

I can not put it outside, where I currently live. I live in a large apartment building that doesn't have decks. All I have is my east facing windows. I will soon be getting some grow lights, and maybe put it near them when I get them.

Pilot Mound, IA

This is a picture of my rubber plant. Last summer I air layered the top two feet because it was looking leggy like yours. Then I cut the stem back to four leave nodes and repotted it with new soil using the same pot. In about three weeks I had started to see new growth which was around the begining of September by the middle of october it was as big as this picture I took today. It is dormant right now because of winter but I'm sure when spring comes it will grow into a bushy plant. I would suggest this spring if you want a more compact plant that you do the same and as a bonus you can increase your supply of plants because when the branches are taller you can air layer them. One tip if you do cut the stem back is not to over water it because when there are no leaves to use the water it will rot if too wet. Another tip that I learned, to pervent the droping of leaves is to keep the soil moist, not wet, all through the growing season. Let it almost dry out between watering during the dormant season. looking at your plant I can see that your leaves are slightly curling at the edges my was doing the same and I read that this was because of dry air. I found that a weekly shower with my hand held shower head improved it health making it look better. Make sure you let the water drain out of the pot so you don't get root rot. I hope this infomation helps.

Thumbnail by hort_enthusias
Spokane, WA(Zone 5b)

Thanks for the tips! I do have a very dry apartment because of the type of heat I have. I also live in a dry climate, so opening the windows, unless it's raining, doesn't do very much good. I was wondering why they were curling! Thanks again!

Smiths Grove, KY

I've the same problem I got this Rubber Plant when my brother in law passed away last fall. This is the first one I've ever tried to grow. I keep it in front of my french doors, but it still looses it's leaves. I'm very worried about it. I've been reading all these posts and I want to know how to go about air layering it, thats probable what I need to do. I don't water it much, and it gets a lot of sun or light. So any help any one can give me please.

Oviedo, FL(Zone 9b)

You can prune rubber plants. I resuscitated a seriously bald one in an office that I water plants in. It had about 6-8 really skinny bald canes. I pruned them in stages, doing the next batch when i got sprouts on the previous ones. It took a little while but between pruning and watering, it is now a luxuriously lush plant. If you take bits of paper towel and stick them on the ends of the branches right after you prune, it will keep the white rubber sap from dripping on your rug. when the paper towel has dried out in a day or two, you can remove the temporary band aids and won't have any sap damage to your floor or carpet. It is important to keep them watered correctly. They need a thorough watering each time you do it and none in between. Remember, they come from the jungle, not the desert.
Good luck,


This is a really good tread that should help the person with the original question.
Here is a little reinforcement for all of the above responses. Yes it is a plant that will do well in highly organic planting soil. The cuttings will grow in the same organic planting soil. No special hormones are needed. The cutting should have about three inches of stripped stem with three leaves at the top. (two out one up). Root in medium light not much if any sunlight. The best time to do this is when your knife is sharp. What ever you determine is your early spring urge to grow period would be the absolute best time.

Spokane, WA(Zone 5b)

Yes! VERY helpful! Thank you! Will make sure to save this to my favorites so that when I am ready and "motivated" I will have this to look at! (I have fibromyalgia and have recently started a med that makes me want to take too many naps - and not want to do anything).

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