Is It Normal for a Rubber Plant To Lose Its Leaves?

Rubber plants are super low-maintenance plants that make for gorgeous home decoration. However, because they are so low-maintenance, you may be kicking yourself if you notice your rubber plant dropping leaves. Don’t worry—this is usually a typical process for your plant.  

It is normal for a rubber plant to lose leaves, but excessive leaf loss may indicate a deeper issue. Dropped leaves may signify that you are overwatering your rubber plant. Otherwise, there may be issues with the nutrient density in the soil, amount of sunlight, or even the temperature. 

Rubber plants drop leaves when they are stressed by too much (or too little) water, poor lighting, insufficient nutrients, or cold temperatures. Below, I’ll go over why your rubber plant is dropping leaves and give you a few strategies for returning your plant to full health.

Why Your Rubber Plant Is Dropping Its Leaves

The rubber plant is a trendy house plant that grows well in low light and humidity. It has shiny green leaves that are thick and leathery, resembling rubber (hence the plant’s name). The leaves are usually pointed at the tip and have a distinct vein pattern. The stems of the rubber tree are woody and will eventually grow into large clumps. 

Most people think their rubber plant is dying when they see one of its leaves fall off, but that isn’t always the case.

There are several reasons why your rubber plant might be dropping its leaves:

  • Overwatering
  • Too little or too much sunlight 
  • Improper soil pH balance
  • Too much direct sunlight without adequate shade

If your plant has a few leaves on it, or even just one, it’s not too late! You can solve the problem with a thorough investigation and a few quick changes to your gardening routine.

How Can I Keep My Rubber Plant From Dropping Leaves?

Leaf drop is a natural process that occurs when a leaf cannot provide nutrients to itself or its neighbors. When this happens, the leaf will die off before it can be damaged by pests or disease. This is an effective defense mechanism for plants.

You can keep your rubber plant from dropping leaves by closely monitoring levels of moisture, soil pH, temperature, and sunlight. Consider investing in a moisture meter and checking it daily. Otherwise, keen observation of soil dryness, discoloration, or other signs of illness is necessary. 

While leaf drop isn’t necessarily harmful to your rubber plant (as long as it is not happening to all of its leaves), it does mean that something needs to change in order for the plant to survive. Here are some tips on how you can help your rubber plant stay healthy. 

Consider Changing Your Watering Routine

Rubber plants need moderate amounts of water, but the amount of water you should give them may change depending on the season and environmental conditions. With all plants, gardeners in Texas will water different amounts than in Oregon, so it’s essential to look up the zone you live in if you keep your plant outdoors.

For indoor rubber plants, you can usually tell how much your plant needs to be watered based on the soil. The soil should not be sopping wet and should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. If the soil is too wet, it will cause root rot, which can kill your plant.

The following issues are caused by an unsuitable watering schedule:

If you notice any of these conditions, don’t panic. You can quickly fix these issues by checking your moisture meter daily and ensuring you’re not over-watering or under-fertilizing your plant.

If you don’t have a meter, observe how dry the soil looks before watering again. Make sure it doesn’t stay dry for too long before watering again!

Water your rubber plant when its soil feels dry about 1 inch below the surface of the potting mix. If you can’t feel the moisture level with your finger, stick an ordinary toothpick into the soil about halfway down. If it comes out clean, it’s time for a drink.

Analyze How Much Sunlight the Plant Is Receiving

The rubber plant requires plenty of light but not direct sunlight all day long. You should place the plant near a window that will receive bright, indirect light during the day. This means sunlight that is diffused via a sheer curtain or other material rather than light that enters directly through the window.

You can also temporarily place the plant under fluorescent lights for about 12 hours each day or temporarily move your rubber plant into a window or near a screen door. To learn more about the perfect light conditions for indoor rubber trees, you could check out my other article: How Much Light Does a Rubber Tree Need Indoors?

If you move your plant outdoors for part of the year, ensure there are no cold snaps in spring or fall. You’ll also want to double-check for outdoor pests and aphids to avoid exposing your other indoor plants to dangers from the outside. 

Ensure Adequate pH and Nutrient Density

The rubber plant needs a pH between 6 and 7 to grow well. A soil with a pH below 6.0 will cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall off. A high pH above 7 can also cause leaf loss but will not affect the plant’s overall health as much as a low pH will.

Another reason your rubber plant may be losing leaves is a lack of nutrients. The most essential nutrient for rubber plants is nitrogen. If you want lush green foliage with no brown spots or yellowing leaves, give your rubber plant an application of fertilizer every two weeks during its growing season (spring through fall). 

Pests and Common Illnesses 

The most common pests of rubber plants include the following:

Spider mites also cause damage to the leaves of the plant. Insecticidal soap sprays containing horticultural oil or neem oil often control most pests on rubber plants.

If your rubber plant has symptoms of fungal diseases, such as black spots and leaf spots, all is not lost. Prune off severely infected areas of the plant’s foliage so that the remaining healthy tissue can receive enough light and air circulation. 

Be Conscious of the Temperature

The first thing to do is ensure that the temperature in your home is not too cold or too hot. Rubber plants thrive when they are kept between 50°F and 80°F (10°C – 26.66°C). If you have a thermometer, you can check the temperature in different areas of your home.

If the temperature is too cold, place your plant near a heat source such as a fireplace or heating vent. If the temperature is too hot, keep it away from any heat sources. 

Fertilizing Your Rubber Plant or Adding Compost (if Outdoors)

You should also fertilize your rubber plant once every two months with a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer. A good rule of thumb is to follow the directions on the packaging and use only half as much fertilizer as recommended for each watering. 

This is a practice best used for a rubber plant, tree, or outdoor shrub, as it can be a little smelly for the inside of the house!

Repotting Your Rubber Plant

If your rubber tree has been in the same pot for a long time and is outgrowing its space, it may need repotting. This will help to ensure that the roots have room to grow and that the plant gets enough water and nutrients from the soil. Also, check for any insects or other pests in the soil and remove them if necessary. Then, sanitize the pot before putting a different plant in it. 

Here’s a quick video with information on how to repot your rubber plant:

As the video mentions, aftercare is essential once you repot your rubber plant! Otherwise, you may further stress it out. 

Give Your Plant Some Humidity

Keep humidity levels high by misting your plants daily or weekly with warm water from a spray bottle filled with distilled water (distilled water has no minerals or chemicals that could harm plants). This will keep them looking healthy and vibrant!


It’s normal for your rubber plant to drop leaves, but keep an eye on it for other signs of distress. To fix your rubber plant, you likely need to adjust a step in your gardening routine, such as watering or plant pH. Do a thorough investigation of your plant before pursuing any solutions that require repotting, as repotting may stress the plant further.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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