Rubber plant leaves drooping is not something normal. And it is not something you should let the plant solve on its own.
Instead, once you see droopy or wilting leaves, immediately investigate and narrow down the possible root cause of the problem.
In most cases, it is due to the plant’s living environment. After all, it is used to living in the forest. And your home’s environmental conditions are very different from that in tropical jungles.
Why are your rubber plant leaves drooping? The most common causes including underwatering and lack of humidity.
Although, overwatering, incorrect lighting, nutrient deficiencies and others forms of stress can cause this as well. Therefore, it is important to narrow down the actual cause by eliminating the others.
Why Is My Rubber Plant Leaves Drooping?
Lack of Moisture Causes the Rubber Plant Wilting
Underwatering or lack of water is usually the main cause of rubber plant leaves drooping.
That’s because plants are 90% water.
As such, lack of water means that there won’t be enough moisture moving from the roots through the stems and to the leaves of the plant.
Similarly, plants can only absorb nutrients from the soil when the soil is moist.
As such, the lack of moisture and nutrients result in a wilting and droopy rubber plant.
Also, what many people don’t know is that water is what keeps plants up. That’s because the flow and presence of sufficient water is what fills the stems.
Additionally, what keeps stems upright is the turgor pressure or pressure caused by water which pushes the cells against that plant’s cell walls. This is what keeps stems firm.
Therefore, lack of water means less content to fill the stems. Similarly, low turgor pressure means a wilting and drooping rubber plant.
Avoid letting the soil go completely dry.
Once the top 2 inches of soil has completely dried, you wan water. Since the plant likes the soil to be kept moist, you can likewise wait until the soil is halfway dry.
But avoid letting the entire root ball go dry, especially for long periods of time.
Make sure to adjust your watering schedule as it will need regular watering when the weather gets hot during the summer.
Waterlogged Soil Can Lead to Root Rot
On the other hand, overwatering and waterlogged soil are likewise no-no’s.
Both can lead to rubber plant leaves drooping and wilting as well.
However, this is more serious.
That cause overwatering due to watering the plant too frequently or waterlogged soil can eventually kill it.
The rubber plant is a tropical plant. And while it likes moist soil, it cannot tolerate soggy or wet soil.
Overwatering and waterlogged soil will drown the roots in water. This causes them to suffocate. And when this happens, rubber plant leaves start drooping.
That’s because the roots in their suffocated state won’t be able to efficiently absorb water and nutrients.
So, the plant ends up underwatered and deficient in nutrition.
In addition to droopy leaves, you’ll also see them turn yellow. After a while, the leaves will get mushy and fall off.
Something you’ll also notice is edema or swelling of the leaves due to holding too much moisture. In most cases there will be blisters or small white spots on the surface as well.
Cut down on water. Only water the plant when the top 2 inches of soil has dried. Never do so before that.
If you do, each time you add water, you’ll be loading the roots ups with more moisture.
After a while, they will drown due to the excess liquid.
In addition to allowing part of the soil to dry between waterings, make sure to use well-draining soil.
Soil with good drainage will ensure that excess water gets drained out quickly. In doing so, even in times when you happen to overwater the plant, the soil will bail you out.
It will drain excess water to keep the roots dry and away from wet feet.
Finally, use a pot with drainage holes.
This way, the excess liquid can drip out. If not, the water will just pool at the bottom of the pot.
And soon enough it will keep too much of the bottom soil wet.
If the soil is already overwatered or there is waterlogging, you’ll be able to tell as it will be wet and soggy. Also, it will stay wet many days after you’ve watered.
If this is the case, repot the plant in dry soil.
Make sure the new soil is well-draining and the pot has drainage holes.
Alternatively, you can keep the plant in the same pot. Then speed up the drying process.
You can do so by using a garden fork or something similar. The goal is to poke deep holes into the soil to allow air to get in.
This will aerate the soil. And it will speed up drying as well.
Leave the plant in bright, indirect sun as well in a warm spot with good air circulation. This will likewise speed up the drying process.
Both insufficient light and excess light both can cause rubber plant leaves to droop as well.
I’ll start with the former
Lack of light can cause a wilted or droopy rubber plant because plants rely on photosynthesis to grow, develop and stay healthy.
More importantly, photosynthesis is what allows the plant to make it own food from the light it collects through the leaves.
This food it will use as energy to support growth and development.
Therefore, lack of light means less energy. As a result, the rubber plant will droop and become weak.
On the other hand, excess light can burn its leaves.
That’s because the rubber plant lives under the shade of the huge trees in the jungle. So, it cannot tolerate strong or intense sun that’s direct.
Instead, it prefers medium to bright, indirect sunlight.
Direct sunlight exposure for more than 4 hours a day will turn its leaves yellow, then brown. They can get scorched as well.
Once this happens, the leaves will cease to function and droop.
Additionally, the intense rays of the sun bring heat which can dehydrate the leaves. The increased evaporation due to transpiration also depletes the plant’s water stores.
So, even if scorching does not occur, the leaves can get dry and begin to droop or wilt as well due to water loss from the heat.
Keep the plant in medium to bright, indirect light indoors. Outdoors, keep it in partial shade.
Avoid strong or harsh direct sunlight. Similarly, full sun is a no-no.
If your rubber plant is positioned in very low light or even a dark corner, move it to a brighter location.
Avoid too much or too little light.
Once you have it in a well-lit location with no direct sunlight, it will recover and perk up.
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Temperature is Too Low
The rubber plant is a tropical plant. Therefore, it prefers moderate to warm temperatures.
Ideally, keep the plant between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is where the plant feels comfortable. And it will grow happily here without any issues.
However, avoid the cold. It is not frost hardy. Nor can it withstand low temperatures.
If left in temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, it will begin to struggle. You’ll see its growth slow down.
And once temperatures drop under 50 degrees, you’ll see the rubber plant leaves droop and wilt.
Therefore, watch out for cold temperatures. This can happen during winter. And it can happen during nighttime as some place experience big drops in temperature compared to daytime.
Make sure to check the temperature levels where the plant is kept.
You can use a digital thermometer to do this. Don’t forget to check both daytime and nighttime temperatures.
Keep the plant warm in the winters as well. You can place the pot in a heat mat to keep soil temperature from getting cold.
Outdoors, the plant becomes even more susceptible to temperature changes.
It does well outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11. That’s because the weather stays relatively warm and sunny all year round in these areas.
But anywhere colder, make sure to bring the plant indoors once temperature drops around mid fall.
Bottom line, keep the plant in moderate to warm temperatures.
Choose spots where the temperature does not go below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Be Careful of Cold Drafts and Breezes
In addition to cold temperature, there’s also cold draft and breezes can cause droopy rubber plant leaves as well.
These are more hidden cold temperature dangers since it is easy to miss them.
Anything that can push cold air in can make the plant’s leaves droop or even drop off.
Avoid placing the plant near open windows or doors where cold drafts can suddenly come in and give the plant a chill.
Don’t place your rubber plant near air conditioners or appliances that can push cold air the direction of the plant as well.
While good airflow is very important, make sure that the air is not cold or chilly.
Excess Heat or High Temperatures
Heat is often less of a problem compared to the cold. That’s because the rubber plant is a tropical plant.
So, it is used to warm and even hot weather.
However, while the plant will survive the heat and high temperatures, it can experience drooping because if water loss.
Excess heat will cause the leaves to lose more water than normal. Its rate of transpiration increases alongside temperature.
And the higher the temperature the more moisture escapes through transpiration.
As a result, there’s less water to fill the stems and the turgor pressure also drops due to lack of water. Thus, you get a droopy rubber plant.
Move the plant away from very hot temperatures.
Again, the rubber plant itself can tolerate this especially when well-hydrated. Unfortunately, you cannot sit around checking the soil and leaves then keep watering the plant once it needs water.
That’s just not practical.
So, move the plant to where the temperature stays between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Avoid any direct source of heat as well including stoves, fireplaces, heaters, radiators, ovens and anything the gets hot or produces a lot of heat.
In most cases, low humidity or lack of humidity is what causes rubber plant leaves to droop.
Since the plant is native to the tropical regions of the world, it not only likes warm weather but also lots of humidity.
Ideal humidity for the rubber plant is 50% and above.
Although, it will be happy as long as humidity is kept between 40% and 50%. This is what you want to try to aim for indoors.
Rubber plant leaves drooping happens due to dry air or lack of humidity.
And you’ll see leaves turn brown and crispy on their edges and tips. The longer humidity stays low the more leaves will turn brown and droop.
How high or low humidity is in your home largely depends on where you live.
Note that outdoor humidity is almost always higher than indoor humidity. So, don’t assume the weatherman’s humidity forecast as what your home will have.
A lot will depend on the microclimate of your home as well.
If your home experiences low humidity, a hygrometer helps a lot. That’s because it instantly tells you the humidity at any given place and time.
So, you known when to increase humidity.
You can mist the plant or place it on a pebble tray. Similarly, you can move the rubber plant to the bathroom or get a humidifier.
Rubber plants don’t need a lot of fertilizer. That’s because they live in tropical forest soil which is not very rich in nutrients.
But while it does not need a whole lot of nutrients, it still needs some.
Nitrogen will keep the leaves healthy in addition to growing properly. Potassium and phosphorus as just as important.
And micronutrients also help keep it healthy.
When the plant lacks any of these nutrients, especially, the essentials (NPK), you’ll see rubber plant leaves start drooping among other things.
It growth will also slow down. And its leaves will not only be fewer but also smaller.
These are the more obvious symptoms.
As such, it is important to feed the plant periodically.
Use an all-purpose fertilizer and feed your rubber plant once a month during spring and summer. This is when it is actively growing.
And it will need the nutrients to grow during this period.
Dilute the dose by half the recommended amount in the product label.
Avoid overfertilizing the plant as this will create a host of other problems more serious that droopy leaves.
Don’t feed the plant during fall and winter as it will not grow much during the cold weather.