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Rubber tree yellowing and dropping leaves

Marlene (Zone 6b Boston, MA)
3 months ago
last modified: 3 months ago

My beautiful 3 foot rubber tree is rapidly dropping leaves after doing well for 1.5 years.

When I got it, it was quite rootbound, and I waited too long to re-pot and it lost a few lower leaves in that time, so it was already leggy. After trimming the roots and re-potting into a larger pot, and feeding regularly, it was doing great for quite a while.

I went on vacation two weeks ago and noticed one yellowing leaf. I thought perhaps it was getting a little too much water for the winter months so I didn't water it before I left. When I came back a week later, it had lost 3 more yellowed leaves and looked droopy. I checked the soil and found it to be bone-dry, so I gave it a thorough watering. Since then, it's lost another 2 leaves (that's 6 leaves in 2 weeks). All the dropping leaves have started yellowing in the center vein and stem, with yellow spreading outward through the rest of the leaf.

At this point I can't tell if the leaves are yellowing and dropping from too much water, or too little. The plant sits about 5 feet from a southwest facing window. It gets mostly indirect light, with about 2 hours of direct afternoon light this time of year (I live in New England). I had been watering it about every three weeks and I always water until water comes out of the drainage hole. The room it's in is about 68-70 during the day, 60 at night. I don't have a humidifier so it's a bit dry. The soil is a chunky mix I made myself with one part perlite, one part bark fines, and one part "potting soil".

What's baffling is that even with all these dropping leaves, there is still new growth coming in at the top. And, when I checked the soil after coming back from vacation, I felt a couple roots starting to come out of the bottom of the pot. Could it need re-potting again after only a year?

Could someone help me save this plant? If it loses any more lower leaves it's going to look quite sad, I know they won't regrow at the bottom of the plant. :(

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