Rubber Plant Leaves Turning Brown (Causes and Treatment)


Are your rubber plant leaves turning brown and falling off? Are your rubber plant leaves turning brown on the edges?

It has never happened before and you are not sure what’s causing it! If you want to learn then read on! 

Rubber Plant Leaves are turning brown because of diseases, sunburn, lack of light, temperature stress, pest infestation, fertilizer problem, overwatering, underwatering, and a lot more.

Rubber plant leaves turning brown due to lack of nutrition, overwatering, or underwatering. In addition, direct sun exposure, insect infestation, or diseases can make the leaves turn yellow. You can identify the type and pattern of browning will help you identify and fix the problem.

Let’s discuss some of the possible causes that can help you identify the main reason. 

Causes of Rubber Plant Leaves Turning Yellow

Indoor potted rubber plant leaves turning yellow

You need to identify what’s the specific reason in your case so that you can intervene and consider the right treatment. Here are the possible causes and how to fix them:

Diseases 

It’s possible that your rubber plant leaves are turning brown because of diseases.

A healthy rubber plant would not show any symptoms, but if the leaves are browning then it’s a possible indication of an underlying disease.

Fusarium (a fungus) can even lead to root rot. If you are overwatering the rubber plant then it would provide a suitable environment for the growth of Phytophthora (a pathogen). 

Here are the most common diseases that rubber plant is susceptible:

Cercospora

If you find small brown or black spots appearing on the leaf plates then it is cercospora disease causing this issue.

They completely turn yellow and later on brown when the damage is severe. You should get rid of the infected leaves as soon as you notice the symptom.

Anthracnose

This fungal disease results in rusty stains dark borders. In addition, if there are yellow spots that eventually turn brown, your rubber plant is infected by anthracnose without any further doubt. Slowly the leaves turn brown as the disease spreads. 

Primarily the fungal spores that cause anthracnose to spread through water. So you should avoid watering from the top. Destroy the fallen leaves and cut off the infected leaves immediately.

Botrytis Blight

This fungal disease is caused by Botrytis cinerea fungus. If infested you will see brown and rusty spots on the underside of your rubber plant leaves. 

Severely affected leaves die eventually and fall off the plant. Get rid of the disease by removing damaged leaves and spray with fungicides.

Treatment 

Proper maintenance and care of the rubber tree plants can save them from diseases.

You should keep an eye on your plant and if the leaves appear discolored, try to trim them.

Overwatering can encourage root rot that can lead to the death of roots causing the leaves to turn brown.

Edema 

Edema can develop when the environment for the plant is too humid and there is abundant water in the soil.

In such a situation, the leaves get less chance for the water to transpire and more water starts to accumulate in the leaves of your plant.

If your plant is suffering from this condition then you can see the brown spots on the leaves. 

Treatment 

There should be holes underneath the pot to allow the draining of the excess water.

You can also try relocating your plant to a place with less humidity and start keeping an eye on your watering system especially if the weather is cold. 

Sunburn

When you get a rubber plant, decide the best location in the house. Place it in an ideal location where the sunlight is just right! Otherwise, there are chances of overexposure to sunlight.

When the bright scorching light of the sun falls on the leaves of a rubber plant, it can get a sunburn and the result would be brown leaves. 

Treatment

Avoid overexposure to sunlight immediately. You should find the perfect spot where the plant can receive enough sunlight that’s not causing sunburn.

Indirect sunlight is suitable for rubber plants. Avoid direct sunlight! 

Lack of Light

Placing plants in an area with a lack of light can result in less chlorophyll which is essential for food production.

Lack of chlorophyll can lead to rubber plant leaves turning brown or yellow. 

Treatment

Change the direction of the rubber plant where it can receive more light. You might need to move the plant from its original location during winters.

The ideal location would be near a window where you get morning sunlight from the east direction.

If changing the spot helps then it means that lack of light was the underlying cause of concern. 

Temperature Stress

Rubber plants prefer warm temperatures. The suitable temperature for these plants during the day is 60°F-65°F (15.5℃-18.3℃) and for the night it is 75°F (23.9℃ ) to 80°F (26.7℃ ).

Thus, it’s important that you are keeping the plant where the temperature is suitable for the survival of the plant otherwise the leaves can turn brown. 

Treatment 

Don’t place the plant below 55°F (12.7℃). Also, keep it away from fire. You have to provide optimal conditions for the health and well-being of your rubber plant.

When you are a first-time gardener, you might not know such specifics, but you can learn with time. You should know what temperature is suitable for your plant’s health. 

Pest Infestation

The main pest that you can find indoors on your rubber plant is the white mealy bugs.

You have to keep the bugs away from the plant to save it. Other pests that can affect the rubber plant include scale and spider mites.

A pest infestation can be serious, for example, spider mites are microscopic pests and can form webs at the growing base and tips of the leaves. The leaves can become dry, brown, and can result in the loss of leaves too. 

Spider Mite Infestation

Low humidity and warm weather triggers the infestation of spider mites. They are very tiny little reddish creatures hard to spot on the leaves.

The little culprits suck the juices off the leaves leaving brown spots eventually.

When it attacks too many leaves of your rubber plant it can make the plant suffer a lot.

Also, it multiplies at a rapid speed. So, as soon as you spot spider mites you need to take action to eliminate them. 

Treatment 

I have easy to do DIY homemade treatment for this problem. Garlic solution is very effective against spider mites. The preparation process is simple: 

  • Take two heads of garlic and chop finely. 
  • Now pour with boiling water. 
  • Keep the solution for at least five days without light
  • Now, dilute the solution with water 1:1 and spray on your infested rubber plant.

Thrips Infestation

Thrips are another very small insect-like spider mites. These green-colored and soft-bodied insects damage in the same way as spider mites.

They can multiply rapidly in warm and humid environments. The leaves may turn yellow and gradually brown. 

Treatment 

Spraying neem oil with mild soap water works great against this kind of sucking insects. I found rubbing alcohol is another effective way of eliminating thrips.

In severe cases you need to consider spraying insecticide to save your loving rubber plant.   

Scale Insect

Warm and dry environments are the most favorable environment for scale insects to emerge.

The insects have a hard covering like a shell. Generally, you can find them underside of the leaves.

They just sit down on leaves and feed on them. Brown spots and leaves turning brown are the consequence you see.

Scale insects also excrete some sugar-like liquid known as honeydew. This honeydew attracts other insects and fungal growth.

In this way, your rubber plant leaves may lose the attraction and turn brown.

Treatment 

When the infestation is low you can handpick the insects from leaves. Horticultural oil is proven to be very effective against scale insects.  

Inspect the plant on a regular basis so that you would know there is no infestation to affect the plant. Doing so can help in restricting the bugs from multiplying. 

Fertilizer Problem 

You might not be fertilizing the plants frequently so fertilizer problems can lead to leaves browning too!

The plant needs nutrients for growth and you are supplying it through fertilizer. 

If you are not doing it on time then there are chances that the leaves would change in color! Plus, overdoing it can also lead to leaves turning brown. 

Treatment

Make sure you are providing fertilizers in an adequate quantity. You can use a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer. Do it every two weeks especially during the summer and spring season.

If you are keeping the rubber light in low light or if the light conditions are not adequate in your area then you have to fertilize less often rather than every two weeks.

Understanding the basic requirements can help in providing essential nutrients to the rubber plant. 

Lack of Nutrition 

Lack of nutrition can be a cause of concern. Potassium deficiency in rubber plants can lead to chlorosis. (Source: University of Florida)

When it’s severe the plant would turn brown. The lack of nutrition indicates that you need to add more fertilizer. 

Treatment 

Provide the plants with balanced fertilizer so that they can get the essential nutrients to stay fresh.

Everything in life including rubber plants requires the right nutrients for its growth and maintenance.

You can try mixing ½ tsp of 10-10-10 nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium with 1 gallon of water. You can apply it after a month. 

Poor Air Circulation

Poor air circulation can encourage fungal growth and insect infestation. The result would be some spots on the leaves or the leaves would turn brown.

As mentioned many times, selecting the right spot for the well being of the rubber plant is crucial.

Rubber plants are suitable for air purification, but you have to provide a good spot. 

Treatment

Place the rubber plant in an area where the air circulation is appropriate. It’s possible by opting for the best spot where the plant can achieve moderate sunlight and can survive. 

Humidity

The rubber plant requires average humidity. This plant has the capacity of tolerating the drier air that’s common in the indoor environment.

If humidity is low it can cause the leaves to turn brown. Because of low humidity, the rubber leaves can lose more water because of the transpiration process. 

Treatment

You should be aiming for 25% to 49% of humidity for the rubber plant. You can place water trays near the plant. It’s also possible to place a humidifier near it. 

Overwatering

A sign that indicates that you are overwatering your rubber plant is that the leaves would start turning yellow.

As soon as you notice the sign, start decreasing the amount of water until healthy glossy green leaves appear.

If you keep overwatering eventually the rubber plant leaves would turn brown. 

Treatment

If you are not sure whether overwatering is the main cause, check the roots. If the roots are healthy then you are right! But, if the roots have rotten then you should be serious.

Try to save the remaining of the plant. Wash the roots and place the plant in a well-drained pot with new soil. Stop overwatering!

Underwatering

You can see the sign of under-watering as the leaves would be brown from the tips. You would notice the edges turning brown.

Your plant won’t appear fresh which indicates that it needs more water. The soil would also appear drier. 

Treatment

Your plant needs more water. The leaves are dry and crispy when underwatering is the issue. You can see the soil and it would be dry.

Trying to add more water to soak the soil can help! But, be careful not to overwater the plant. 

Unsuitable Pot

Too small or, conversely, a large pot can also cause yellowing. This problem is solved by selecting a suitable capacity;

Root Rot

This the most dangerous yet common problem for rubber plants as well as other plants.

Wet overwatered soil creates a favorable environment for the fungus. Besides other causal organisms, the fungus is one of the main reasons for root rot.

This disease severely damages the root system and compromises the ability to intake necessary water and micronutrients. As a result you will see stunted growth and discoloration of leaves. 

It is very hard to identify the root rot at very early stages. Because you will not see any visible symptoms above the soil. 

But if you notice your rubber plant is growing slowly and leaves discoloration then you might consider the possibility of root rot.

There will be soggy and moist soil and a rotten smell will come out from the base.

Treatment

It is almost impossible to cure root rot with treatment. But if you are lucky you can save your rubber plant following these steps: 

  • Take out the whole plant of its pot.
  • Check the roots and trim off the infected parts using a clean shear.
  • Wash the roots and the soak it within hydrogen peroxide solution to disinfect completely.
  • Make sure to dry up the roots for two days.
  • Repot into using new soil and pot.

Natural Aging

It’s possible that your plant is simply getting old. It’s a natural process and eventually, the old leaves would die. 

Treatment

You can’t do much about natural aging except that keep the plant’s health in check. If the new leaves are turning brown then it’s a cause of concern. 

Improper care

You are probably keeping him in inappropriate conditions.

placement near batteries and heating devices. As a result of exposure to hot air, foliage suffers, dries up and brownish specks appear on it;

the use of inappropriate feedings or their excessive use. It is preferable to use fertilizers with a high nitrogen content, and feed no more than once every 15 days.

Large amounts of such substances contribute to the development of many diseases and the formation of some deviations in the growth and development of the flower;

excessive watering . When flooded, the tree reacts with the appearance of brown dark spots.

In this case, the grower will be tedious to transplant the flower into a container with new soil.

When transplanting, carefully check the root system and remove the spoiled rotten roots and sprinkle with activated carbon on the sections;

exposure to drafts leads to the appearance of darkening. The tree should be placed in places protected from drafts.

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How to Prevent Rubber Plant Leaves Turning Browning?

There is an old saying, “prevention is better than cure” and it holds true when you are taking care of the rubber plants. To avoid the leaves browning, you can try the following:

Provide Enough Water: Make sure you are providing water that’s enough for the well-being of the plant. Ideally, you can water the plant in 5 days.

But keep an eye on the soil. If it starts feeling dry or if the leaves appear droopy then your plant needs more water. 

  • Make sure there is good drainage.
  • Touch the soil with your finger and see if it’s wet or dry. If the soil feels dry, you can water the plant!
  • Find Perfect Spot For Adequate Lightning: Your plant shouldn’t be overexposed to sunlight. 
  • Place it near the window where direct sunlight doesn’t sunburn it. Also, make sure the spot is receiving enough light and is not completely in the shade. 
  • Trim The Brown Edges: If you are sure of the underlying reason, it’s time to trim the brown edges. Then you can continue taking care of the plant. 
  • Make sure you are providing adequate temperature conditions. Avoid keeping the plant in an area where the temperature is below 55°F.
  • You should also not place the rubber plant near fireplace or heaters. 

Final Words 

You have to provide a suitable environment where your rubber plant can actively survive. If you encounter pests, address the issue as soon as possible.

Ideally, it just requires following the basics and you would be good to go. If everything goes right, you can expect the leaves to be fresh and healthy!

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

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