Struggling to keep my rubber tree plant growing.

by Steve Calvert
(The Woodlands, Tx.)

I've had a rubber tree plant for about 18 months and after over watering, not enough sunlight at times and lack of fertilizer I am wondering if there is any hope of nursing it to a full and beautiful tree.

I have never fertilized it because after losing so many leaves from lack of water and sunlight I would kill it if I made a mistake with the wrong fertilizer.

I bought a 10-10-10 granule fertilizer but have not used it yet.

I added a plant light to keep it inside rather than back and forth outside when the temperature changes here in Texas.

I spray it with water daily and rotate it under the light.

It's starting to grow new stems at the bottom which is encouraging but the stalks are all thin and weak so I use sticks to help them to grow straight and hopefully get thicker.

Any advise??

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I was sure I answered your question
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

But it's disappeared. So here it is again.

So, just because you have a grow light, doesn't mean it's getting enough light. They need light to hit every leaf surface, not just the top two or three. This is why daylight is best. Not full sun though, especially if the plant isn't used to it.

The leaf on the bottom of the stem that's turning yellow is totally normal. The older leaves will gradually fall off, as they age. This is not a problem.

The best fertilizer to use is actually worm castings tea. Then you can feed it weakly, weekly. Meaning a really diluted solution once a week.

Find out more about making worm castings tea.

Stop overwatering it, this won't help. It also probably doesn't do much good to continually spray it with water, unless the air in your home is extremely dry. Spray it once a month or so to remove dust if needed.

What you might want to do is think about repotting it, into better soil. Ficus like the type of soil with leaf mold or compost in (not manure based compost) as they originated in jungles where this would be the type of soil they've evolved in.

If you can put it outside when the weather warms up and there is no chance of cold temperatures, it's best to leave it there. Moving it causes leaf drop on Ficus, so the less you move it, the better.

In time, this will be a nice big healthy plant; be patient!

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