Are your rubber plant leaves curling and you don’t know why? Curly leaves on rubber plants can be due to many reasons. But first, it’s important to understand what’s causing leaf curl on your rubber plants. By doing so, you will be able to devise ways of rectifying the problem.
Sometimes, leaf curl shouldn’t alarm you as it could be an indication that your plant is healthy. For example, immature leaves in rubber plants appear to be tightly curled but gradually uncurl as the leaves develop.
Other times, curled leaves in rubber plants can be a sign that all is not well. It could be that your plant is infested with insect pests or it’s exposed to harmful chemicals and soil contaminants.
Other than that, you might be watering your plant the wrong way leading to excess or low moisture levels. Plus, how you clean your plant as well as the cleaning products used largely contributes to this problem.
Luckily, each of these problems can be fixed easily.
Let’s see how:
8 Causes of Rubber Plant Leaves Curling and How to Fix Them.
1. Improper Watering
Just like any other indoor plant, rubber plant water requirements vary depending on growth/season. During its growing season, keep the plant moist by misting or, wiping the leaves with a damp cloth.
When the plant is in dormancy especially in fall and winter, the plant needs water only once or twice a month.
Remember, both over-and under-watering can result in leaf curl in rubber plants. So, allow the soil to dry (at least 5cm topsoil) slightly between watering, then water your plant deeply until the water gets out through the drainage holes.
But, if the soil still feels moist, give it another day or two to dry before watering. By doing this, you avoid soggy soil conditions that might lead to root rot and leaf curls.
Pro Tip: For potted plants, use pots with drainage holes and allow the water to drain fully. Also, don’t allow the plant to sit in water for a long time.
2. Invasion by Insect-Pests
Your rubber plant leaves might be curling due to the presence of insect pests. For instance, aphids distort leaves and cause leaf curls by sucking sap from the leaves and the growing tips. Check the underside of the leaves to see if there are any soft-bodied insects present.
If there is, you must come up with an effective way of getting rid of the aphids like spraying repeated applications of insecticidal soap along with removing the severely infected leaves and /or other plant parts.
Other insect pests that cause leaf curl in houseplants include; whiteflies, scales, thrips and, spider mites among others. It is easy to control these pests using commercial products such as insecticidal soap sprays as they are formulated for plant use.
Alternatively, prepare a homemade mild spray using soap. Make sure that the soap doesn’t contain fragrance, color or, other ingredients/additives that might harm your plant.
3. Exposure to soil contaminants
Have you ever thought of the soil your rubber plant is growing on being one of the reasons why its leaves are curling? Contaminants in the soil such as pesticides or fertilizer residues affect the normal plant processes such as uptake of water and minerals.
These contaminants also lead to loss of beneficial microorganisms in the soil resulting in reduced soil fertility hence poor plant performance.
If this is the case, you should consider replanting your plant into fresh soil/potting mix though the plant roots might be injured. To avoid injuring the plant, place it in wet soil for at least 30 minutes as you prepare the new potting mix. This helps to soften the soil around the roots for easier removal.
Once you are done with preparing the fresh mix, turn your potted plant on its side carefully and gently pull it (plus, roots) out of the pot and place it in the new mix.
Finally, water your plant like you normally do.
Note: Brush off the previous soil from the roots completely and loosen the roots before reporting.
4. Environmental Changes
Now that you have replanted your rubber plant, it’s most likely that it will experience some mild shock from a sudden change in location, temperature, air currents and, too much or too little sunlight. The plant is hence no longer able to absorb nutrients.
To correct problems arising from transplanting or replanting, move the plant back to its previous location and provide it with its normal care like watering.
Nevertheless, you must avoid any maintenance activities that might put extra force on the roots and leaves until the plant stabilizes. For example, pruning.
5. Low humidity levels
Rubber plants are tropical and love lots of humidity a condition that can be challenging to maintain when growing them indoors.
Most indoor spaces are prone to high levels of dry air resulting from several activities within the household. This lowers the humidity levels and makes your rubber plant’s leaves start to curl.
However, maintaining constant humid conditions for your indoor plant is possible by the use of a humidity saucer/tray.
To make one, start by placing a layer of pebbles or gravel on a shallow tray and place the pot with the plant on the pebbles/gravel. Then, add water to the tray to keep them consistently wet without allowing the bottom of the pot to touch the water.
This helps increase humidity around the plant while protecting it from root rot as there is no moisture/water leaching up the drainage holes to the plant roots.
6. Use of Commercial leaf shine products and exposure to chemicals
Since your rubber plant is part of your home décor’, it is obvious that you keep it clean. This keeps the plant healthy and offers an opportunity for you to check for any pests or diseases while maintaining its attractiveness.
As much as cleaning your rubber plant sounds beneficial, the plant can be harmed by the wrong cleaning method and products.
How then do you clean your rubber plant leaves and what cleaning agents should you use to avoid leaf curling?
First and foremost, you don’t have to purchase an expensive cleaner coz you might be having what’s required to clean your indoor rubber plant. This way, you avoid using commercial houseplant cleaners which might clog the leave’s stomata.
Start by dusting the leaves of your rubber plant with a clean and dump piece of cloth/towel. Or, place your plant in a shower. The occasional mist from the shower helps get rid of some houseplant insects/pests as you clean the leaves. Misting also helps boost humidity availability for your plant.
Another safe way is to use a diluted dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle or insecticidal soap on a feather duster. This is an effective way to get rid of pests as you clean your plant.
As you can see, you don’t need those expensive commercial leaf shine products to keep your plant clean and shiny!
The leaves of a rubber plant are responsible for absorbing light which recharges and keeps the plant healthy. If the leaves are covered with dirt, they won’t be able to get enough light for plant use. So, the plant becomes weak and the leaves start to curl.
In such cases, use a damp cloth/paper towel to gently wipe the leaves or, if the weather outside is favorable, move your plant outside and spray lightly to get off the dirt. Let it dry before you move it back inside.
8. Not Enough Soil
Rubber plants need lots of soil and when soil levels start to go down, the plant’s leaves might start to curl or droop. Thus, check to see if some roots have started to show a bit.
If so, add some more soil to fill up what has been consumed then water the plant.
Although rubber plants are hardy and easy to care for, they can as well have problems. And as much as you are doing everything within your power to care for them, you shouldn’t rule out the fact that you can have a problem or two with rubber plant leaves curling.
But, as you have seen, every problem has its cause and as such a solution. Therefore, it's upon you to check what’s causing it and apply the solutions offered in the article.
I hope that the article has provided what you were looking for and that moving forward, caring for your rubber plant will be much easier and less traumatic.
Let’s know your thoughts in the comments.