UPDATE: A kind reader pointed out that my troubled, leaf dropping rubber tree, the variegated Ficus Elastica Sylvia, is notoriously difficult in our dry indoor homes. Leaf droppage is typical behaviour. They need a great deal of humidity to be happy. He eventually found a good home with a greenhouse for his.
One way to combat dry indoor air is to set the plant on a tray of pebbles, or aquarium gravel that you keep moist, allowing the moist air to keep the humidity up around the plant. Misting a few times a day would help too, if you have the time and patience for that. I usually bring plants that need this treatment to the sink for an overhaul and spray away. I don’t do it every day, though! I eventually moved my rubber tree to the greenhouse-like front porch where it is a lot cooler, and considerably moister. It’s hanging in. Another thought is that Ficus in general do not like to be moved. This is true for the Ficus Benjamina, who are notorious leaf-droppers. The leaf dropping doesn’t always mean a death knell. Time in a new spot may prove that it adjusts and the leaf dropping goes away. END OF UPDATE
ORIGINAL POST: I bought a perky little rubber tree plant in the fall. Just a small one in a 4″ pot. It was part of my Fall Greenery Home Depot Binge to cheer up the November house. It has been living in my bathroom and looking fine, with its variegated shiny leaves all happy and…well, perky. I thought perhaps it didn’t mind the less than stellar lighting conditions in there. Didn’t people have rubber trees in houses in the 50s? They didn’t have them in the window did they? They are always standing against a wall beside a bookcase and a drapery with a valance. And a coffee table.
Well, something is definitely bugging this one as it’s been particulary fall-like in its leaf dropping propensities of late. The leaves that are falling off look perfectly healthy too. A mystery.
I did notice a couple of mealy bugs on it which I smushed off. (I’d never seen a mealybug before. Read about them often. Never encountered one. White fuzzy things)
The picture at top shows my rubber tree plant in happier times. As for the leaf drop, more research is required. Will report back.
When your tree gets "tree like" Mine is over 6 feet. Put the pot on a wheeled base. about every 3 months or when you notice it is dry and dusty. Wheel it into the bathroom and stick in the shower. Use not super cold water and aim the shower head away from the plant. Let it shower for about 15 minutes to 1/2 hour. Leave it in there to drain for about two hours after. I'm in Idaho and my tree is right next to a window and a heat vent. The shower thing is amazing!