If you have noticed that your Rubber Plant’s leaves have started to droop then you are totally correct in thinking that there is something wrong. Usually, if not paired with any other warning signs, it means you have caught the problem early and bringing your Rubber Plant back to full health shouldn’t be too difficult. Luckily, we have figured out exactly why Rubber Plants get droopy leaves so you’ll find out everything you need to know below…
Underwatering often causes drooping Rubber Plant leaves
Like all other houseplants, Rubber Plants need water to survive and consistent underwatering will start to cause a range of issues for your plant; including droopy leaves! Rubber Plants can be forgiving if you forget to water them occasionally, but if the problem goes on for several months you’ll start to notice issues. You want to make sure that the potting mix has time to dry out but that you don’t go for more than 7-10 days without watering during the growth period (and 2-3 weeks during winter).
How do I know if underwatering is the cause of the drooping leaves?
There are a few key indicators you should look for to determine whether underwatering is causing your Rubber Plant’s leaves to droop.
Leaves are dry and crispy
Along with drooping leaves, if the leaves on your Rubber Plant are also very dry, crispy or break easily if touched, then you are probably underwatering your plant. If the problem isn’t caught early enough, the leaves may also turn a light shade of brown.
The potting mix is dry
An easy way to see if the drooping leaves are caused by underwatering is by taking the plant out of its pot and inspecting the potting mix. If the soil feels very dry to touch, almost like dust, and doesn’t stick to your fingers, the roots or the pot then your plant needs more water. You can also try the finger/chopstick and lifting methods to check moisture levels if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.
The soil is coming away from the sides of the pot
This is a great method to be able to tell if your plant is being underwatered just from looking at it. If you start to notice that the soil is compacting and actually coming away from the sides of your pot, then it indicates that you need to increase watering and this may be the cause of the drooping leaves on your Rubber Plant.
Your plant perks up again after watering
Only try this if you have checked the moisture level in the soil first to be sure that you aren’t giving more water to an overwatered plant. If you notice that your plant begins to perk up a little and the leaves are looking slightly less droopy a few hours after watering then this is probably the issue. However, sometimes when the problem has progressed quite far, you won’t notice after just one water.
Use a moisture meter
If you want to make sure that you don’t make any more mistakes with watering then we highly recommend buying a moisture meter. You simply pop them in the soil and it will tell you how much moisture is in the soil so you can be 100% sure you are watering your plants correctly. They are great for every budding plant parent.
How do I fix an underwatered Rubber Plant?
Your first instinct may be to drown your Rubber Plant in water to stop the leaves from drooping. However, if your Rubber Plant’s environment changes very suddenly it can cause your plant to go into shock. Instead, you want to slowly reintroduce watering by giving it a little twice a day for one week. This will slowly dampen the soil and you should start to see your plant returning to full health. In future, make sure to give yourself a better watering routine so you don’t underwater your plant and cause drooping leaves again.
If you want to avoid the issue all together, you can invest in a self-watering pot like this one. We use these all the time as they make watering super easy to deal with, and we don’t have to worry if we’re away from home for a little while!
Overwatering can also cause drooping Rubber Plant leaves
Similarly to underwatering, too much water can actually also make your Rubber Plant’s leaves droop down and it can be a much more worrying issue. Waterlogged soil means the root system on your Rubber Plant will be damaged and your plant won’t be able to get the nutrients it needs. This will cause the leaves on your Rubber Plant to droop down, turn dark brown, soft and they’ll start to fall off too.
You want to make sure that the potting mix has fully dried out before watering again. Rubber Plants are a type of succulent which means they hold water in to help them survive through drought periods. So too much water will cause them to become very soft, limp and droopy.
How do I know if overwatering is the cause of the drooping leaves?
Luckily, a lot of the signs for overwatering are quite different to underwatering so you just need to know what to look out for.
Leaves are soft and mushy
If you notice that the leaves on your Rubber Plant are soft and mushy, as well as droopy, then overwatering is the most probable cause. The leaves may also start to turn quite a dark brown or black if the problem has progressed far.
The potting mix is waterlogged
If you notice the potting mix is soggy and clumpy, overwatering is probably the cause of your Rubber Plant’s drooping leaves.
The potting mix will smell
If you suspect overwatering, we recommend getting up close to your plant and smelling the soil. Waterlogged soil gives off an unpleasant musty and damp smell which is hard to miss.
Use a moisture meter
To be sure that overwatering is the cause, you may also choose to use a moisture meter. These affordable little devices can tell you with certainty how dry or soggy the soil is.
How do I fix an overwatered Rubber Plant?
If you suspect overwatering is the cause of your Rubber Plant’s drooping leaves, then you must act quickly to prevent any more damage. Take your Rubber Plant out of its pot to check if the potting mix is waterlogged. Inspect the root system and trim away any rotten or damaged roots. If the potting mix is soggy, replace it with fresh high-quality mix so that your plant can start to recover. Don’t wait for the potting mix to naturally dry out as this will only cause more damage to the roots/plant. Remove any soft/mushy leaves so your plant can focus its energy on new growth.
Going forward, make sure to only water your Rubber Plant when the potting mix has fully dried out. This will help avoid the problem recurring and help keep your plant happy, healthy and not drooping! You may also want to use a self-watering pot to make sure that your plant only gets the water it needs. They help to avoid both under and overwatering and are definitely worth it to stop your drooping Rubber Plant leaves turn into something more serious. Also great for forgetful waterers or plant parents who love to travel a lot.
Drainage issues can also cause drooping leaves
Sometimes it may not be your watering schedule that is causing your Rubber Plant to have drooping leaves, but poor drainage in the soil and pot. There are a few really easy ways you can help increase the drainage and solve the issue of drooping leaves on your Rubber Plant.
Add perlite into the potting mix
You can very easily increase the amount of drainage in your Rubber Plant’s soil by mixing in a small amount of perlite, this will make it far easier for water to flow through and out of the drainage holes of your pots. Perlite is a lightweight white material that not only helps drainage but it also aids aeration of the soil, giving your plant the oxygen they need. You can get great pre-mixed potting mixes that include perlite like this one, which save a tonne of time and are super convenient!
Ensure your pot has drainage holes
It’s very important that your Rubber Plant’s pot has drainage holes so that any excess water can flow out of the pot into either the planter or the saucer. If there are no drainage holes, it makes it way easier to accidentally overwater and your Rubber Plant will be sat in waterlogged soil.
Another easy step is to add a few small stones or pebbles to the bottom of your pots, this helps in making sure that the drainage holes are never blocked by soil or any loose debris.
Use clay/ terracotta pots
Although clay or terracotta pots can be a little bit more expensive and are breakable, their upsides are much more than just the aesthetic. The clay they’re made of is permeable which means that some of the water in your soil can evaporate through the sides of the pot. This isn’t the case for the plastic pots that most use, which instead hold in all of that moisture. So sometimes it is worth investing a little more to make sure that the roots of your Rubber Plant aren’t sitting in too much moisture as this will help avoid drooping leaves.
Drooping leaves can indicate a lack of sunlight
Although watering issues are the most common causes of drooping leaves on Rubber Plants, not enough sunlight may also be a factor. Rubber Plants need a good amount of bright, indirect light to thrive. Anything less and you may start to notice several issues developing with your plant. Drooping leaves is one of the early signs but if the problem develops you’ll also notice discolouration of the leaves, stunted growth and your plant shedding leaves.
If you suspect a lack of sunlight is causing drooping leaves on your Rubber Plant, then we recommend moving it to a slightly sunnier spot in your home. Keep it away from too much direct sunlight (especially in summer) as this can scorch the leaves. A light monitor can help in diagnosing this as the issue, and if you do find that low light levels are causing the problem then an LED grow light like this one is a great way of supplementing healthy light levels!
Too many salts may cause drooping leaves
If none of the other factors are the cause of your Rubber Plant’s drooping leaves, then over-saturation of salts may be the reason. It is less common than the above but still an important factor to consider.
An issue with salt can be brought about by poor water quality from watering but is most likely from over-feeding/ fertilising your plant. It is a little bit harder to diagnose whether over-fertilisation has caused the drooping leaves on your Rubber Plant because the issue is not always visible, but you may see white bits building up on top of the potting mix. This can indicate salt build-up.
Only feed your Rubber Plant during the growth period of spring and summer. We always recommend feeding at less than the recommended strength suggested in the instructions to reduce the risk of burning. Each and every plant is so different, so we can’t expect one measure to fit all. It depends on the maturity of your plant, the season and your plant’s individual environment to determine how much to fertilise. Hold off feeding your Rubber Plant and wash through or replace the potting mix to reduce the build up of salt which may be impacting the health of your plant’s root system.
These are the key reasons why your Rubber Plant’s leaves might have started to droop down. Issues with watering are the most common causes for this problem so we always recommend starting there and working your way through the list. If you have caught the problem early enough, a quick fix should bring your plant back to full health. However, if the problem has progressed further than just drooping leaves you may need to propagate the healthy parts of your Rubber Plant if you can’t manage to revive it.
To find out more about general care, common problems, propagation advice and our top tips, check out our complete Rubber Plant care guide.