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I Have A Beautiful Rubber Tree Plant That I Repotted…

Karen Asked

I have a beautiful rubber tree plant that I repotted and it was fine. Somehow it toppled over and it partially came out of the pot. We put it back exactly as it was, watered it, and the the plant went into shock. All the leaves but one are bent down like a weeping willow tree. I am heartbroken. What can I do to save it?

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The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Karen: Without having details about the growing conditions of your rubber plant (Ficus elastica) it is difficult to give you specific advice. These plants are generally easy-care if given the proper growing conditions. They prefer medium to low light with consistently moist but never sopping wet soil. There is always a certain amount of stress involved when we repot our house plants. The symptoms you have described seem to be a bit more serious. I would not be too concerned about it falling over. These plants are pretty tough and from what you mentioned this has nothing to do with its droopiness. I am assuming the reason you replanted was because it was rootbound. If you repotted your plant into a container that was more than 2 inches larger than the one it was in originally this could be part of the problem. When we transplant our rootbound plants the general rule of thumb is to not bump it up more than 2 inches. This is because when we water and the ratio of soil to root mass is too much, the roots cannot take up the moisture, so the soil remains wet and can result in root rot. When this happens there is little we can do to save the plant. Good drainage is essential for healthy plants. Watering house plants during the winter months can be tricky since the light levels are so much lower and the plants do not require as much moisture. If this sounds like a possibility the only way to help the plant is to remove it from the container, loosen all of the roots, and remove the ones that are soft and rotted. Replant into a smaller container with dry soil and if it is not already too far gone it will slowly recover.

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