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House Plants/Sick Rubber Plant


I've have a rubber plant for the past 18 years.  In the summer, I've kept it outside on the deck and it's done great sprouting new leaves and growing all summer vs indoors.  We've had a rainy spring and the pot was full of water.  I noticed it wasn't doing well so I replaced the potting soil and noticed when I did that the old soil had a very sour smell to it.

The roots were very wet, so I was hesitant to give any additional water to it and thought the new potting mix would absorb most the moisture and give the roots a chance to dry out a bit and recover.  It's did okay and was gone for a week.  Before I left I did water it some but when I got home, I noticed some of the leaves were turning yellow and others starting to fold and droop.

I'm at a loss here.  This happened a year or so back and repotting it took care of the issue.  I've given it some root growth hormone yesterday but haven't seen any change.  What else can I do?  I hate to loose it since it was a gift from my mother's funeral.  Please, any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.


Your rubber tree should be in a pot with large drainage holes and a drain tray under it that is easily removed during a rainy season. When it is rainy you should remove it from the drain tray so the water runs right through and does not make to soil so soggy. Soggy soil rots the roots and causes that sour smell and the yellow leaves. It will kill the plant if too many roots rot. Root growth hormone will take a month or 2 to work. It is not a miracle product.

When you do water it you need to empty the drain tray an hour after watering. If you can't lift it to empty the drain tray you can use a turkey baster to suction the excess water out so it is never sitting in a drain tray full of water.

When repotting I mix my own potting soil by buying the cheapest soil I can find at Lowes, Home Depot or any garden center and buying a large bag of perlite. Perlite is a volcanic product that looks like Styrofoam pellets and provides better drainage when mixed with the potting soil.  This will also help prevent root rot and keep your plant happier for a long time. I mix 2 Cool whip bowls of perlite with 3 cool whip bowls of potting soil. That will give you great soil for years. You mix the soil in a bucket or bag before using it, you do not layer it in the pot. If you have more questions feel free to write again. Good luck!


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Darlene K. Kittle


I have been an Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years and I raise around 300 houseplants and bonsai trees a year including tropicals, succulents, and cacti. I have also been a professional plant care person for businesses in the Fort Wayne, IN area and currently professionally care for bonsai trees for my customers.


I am also studying the Japanese art of bonsai with tropical plants and is President of the Fort Wayne, IN Bonsai Club.

Fort Wayne, iN Master Gardeners. President of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club. Allen County Master Gardeners

I am not a hortculturist. I am a Purdue University Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years. I have studied plants on a personal level by growing hundreds of plants annually for the last 35 years. I have also studied under several nationally known American Bonsai experts.

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