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Rubber tree rescue!!

Posted by Nursey79 none (My Page) on
Mon, Dec 3, 12 at 20:48

I got this sad Rubber Tree afew weeks ago and had hoped with a bit of love and care it would bounce back. The leaves are starting to drop in the last 48 hours, it didnt have many to start with, now it has lost about 10 big leaves. The leaves that have fallen seem fine, not dried up, still have white sap when you crush them.
I repotted it as soon as i got it, as I thought this would be a good start, i may have up-sized it a bit much though, it also had a tangle of metal stakes and wires etc to hold it up so i replaced them with one untreated garden stake and one soft tie. I have polished the leaves and fed it some house plant fert, there seems to be one new leaf shoot coming out on a small lower branch, but im wondering if I should give it a drastic pruning?? I know its only been afew weeks since I got it but I want to do the right thing from the beginning. Its in a well lit but not hot/sunny room about 3 meters from the window.
Any suggestions would be apreciated :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Rubber tree rescue!!

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 3, 12 at 21:15

It's starved for light and appears to be way over-potted. Please don't prune. The leaves are the plant's only source of food (fertilizer isn't plant food - the sugar the plant makes in its leaves is the plant's food), so removing them would be a decided step in the wrong direction.

I'm going to link you to a thread about Ficus in containers, but there are basically 2 things you can do at this point - move the plant to a warm spot in good light and monitor your watering carefully .... and hope for the best, or take a more proactive stance and add potting down to the above. While you're potting down, you can examine the roots and see what kind of attention might be needed if you encounter rot. I suggest you don't fertilize again until you have GOOD evidence the plant is recovering.

Al


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RE: Rubber tree rescue!!

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 3, 12 at 21:21

Oops - forgot the link .....

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: Ficus help


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RE: Rubber tree rescue!!

Thanks for your reply,
Im worried about potting down, as all the leaves might fall off, they fall off if you just brush past it and the movement required to pot down might be too much? as you said they need their leaves.
Also the person i got it from had it out in their garage (almost dark) so it has had much more light since i've had it. The picture looks a bit dim but it is a well lit room, and im limited with where else i can put it as small house+big tree+little children make for a difficult combination.
Would it be best to pot down and risk all the leaves being knocked off, or give it some time in this new environment to recover a bit? I now wish id found your ficus help thread BEFORE i repotted it as the soil mixtures you mention sound great, i just used standard potting mix and was to afraid to disturb the roots too much when i transferred it.
Thanks


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RE: Rubber tree rescue!!

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Dec 4, 12 at 7:31

At the base of each leaf is a zone called the abscission zone. The plant requires a flow of a growth hormone (auxin) across the abscission zone to keep an abscission layer from forming. Essentially, this abscission layer is the plants response to drought (which can surprisingly be caused by over-watering), sudden chill, or a decrease in light levels or light intensities. If your leaves are falling that easily, the abscission layer has formed, which effectively blocks flow in or out of any leaves affected. There would probably be very little added stress associated with potting down, given your tree's response. The question is, does the tree have enough energy to push a new flush of growth. That's going to be an issue whether you pot down or not, so I would pot down, get the tree in a good soil, and get it to a warm, bright site. I think that's a better alternative, at this point, than monitoring your watering carefully and waiting while you hope for the best.

In almost all cases, I try to avoid winter or spring repots on almost all houseplants because they are at their weakest at those times (Ficus included), but in this case, I think an emergency intervention is the better course.

Al


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RE: Rubber tree rescue!!

Nursey, I love your optimistic attitude about this Charlie Brown Christmas tree of a plant. Sending good vibes to you and your RT!


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RE: Rubber tree rescue!!

Rubber trees are unbelievably hardy. My aunt bought a big one for her outside patio a few years ago in direct sun. Every leaf fell off but more soon grew, adapted to the bright light, and it grew very large. It got watered maybe once a week in 90 dgeree heat and did fine.

Then it came inside for winter, in her basement. It saw no water and no light at all from September until June. It had only two leaves left by spring, but by July, back in light and with water again, it had put out a new flush and looked terrific.

Come the next fall, inside it went again to he basement. Again, leaves shed but this spring it came back to life, grew even more and is now currently in its third winter in the basement now. It's still in its original 1 gallon nursery pot, with just a few inches of rocky soil and the plant itself is 3 feet tall now.


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RE: Rubber tree rescue!!

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Dec 4, 12 at 21:25

Nursey - I think it's probably a good time to make clear that if the only point being made is the plant is genetically vigorous and reasonably able to withstand adversity, that's fine, but what a plant will tolerate and still hold onto life shouldn't be considered as the type of treatment the plant would endorse if it had a say. In so many ways, what defines us as growers is our ability to ELIMINATE limiting factors to the greatest degree possible; that, in order that we might give our plants their BEST opportunity to reach their genetic potential.

Al


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RE: Rubber tree rescue!!

Thanks everyone!
Update: Its lost about another 10 leaves but on closer inspection there are definitley new leaf shoots on most of the tips, this is a good sign yes?
And to clarify, we are in New Zealand, so are in our first month of summer so temp is usually 25-28deg celcius, is that about 80-85 Farenheit, im not sure. Also this tree is about 6ft tall.
Im planning to pot down this weekend with a better soil mixture.
Thanks tapla for your advice, purpleinopp for the good vibes,HiddenWalrus for the assurance :)


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RE: Rubber tree rescue!!

Nursey, that sounds great! Hope you'll keep us posted. More good vibes...

Hi HiddenW, welcome to Gardenweb. Interesting name, and funny to think of hiding a walrus. If you feel like telling us how you picked that name, I bet it's an amusing story.

Although I agree with what Al said, the story of your Aunt's tree is inspiring. Thanks for sharing it. I'm worried that her tree will eventually not be able to survive these challenging conditions. It may help her to know she could trim her tree to a reasonable size if that would help it fit upstairs (out of the basement) and preferably near a window. I would also encourage you to encourage her to repot this tree when she can. Sounds like those roots really need more room! Many good vibes to her tree too!


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