I've had this rubber tree for about five years and it looked great during its first year.

However I moved around a lot and I moved the Pheadrus around even more (yesterday I learned what a stress it is for these guys). At some point it started to lose leafs and then from under the ground grew what seemed like his children. Three years ago I remember there being three separate stems. Now it's seven.

Most of the older stems are now pretty bare, as some of the new ones. Only one or two have some good leafs. I'm thinking of cutting six of the seven right where they stick out of the soil. Can I do that?

Now, there are other issues. The upper leafs have whitish stains on the upper surface. Most of the leafs are yellowish on the bottom sides of them. Some of the leafs have dry patches on the edges. I'm not sure if there's fungi or something like that...

Can someone please give me some tips on how to bring this plant back to good life? Ideally it would have one long stem with nice big leaves and no branches. I don't mind if it takes another five years to help Pheadrus grow into its best version of itself :)

problematic Pheadrus

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1 Answer 1


This plant is Ficus elastica which can grow 30 meters tall. When you see it growing outdoors you realize that this plant can be as wide as it is tall due to the numerous trunks.

A healthy specimen when grown indoors will have multiple trunks but will tend to have less leaves on the bottom. Older leaves will yellow and drop from the bottom up in response to low light or other stress.

If you want to get this plant to look nice it needs more light. Strong diffuse light from a south window or direct light from an east or west window should do.

Next comes rejuvenation. These plants are tough so no need to worry about being too rough. Move it closer to the light and cut all the stems down to the base. Leave one or two nodes above the soil, cut back on the water and wait. New growth will bud out and you will have a nice bushy plant.

There is no need to repot this plant or fertilize it.

For the damaged leaves it is always possible there is a pest issue. Although unlikely Thrip larvae live inside the leaf and leave silvery trails. Diagnosis is easy: look on the underside of the leaf for black spots or "Frass" which can be brushed off. You might even see adults which can fly. If you have thrip it is very difficult to control without heavy duty systemic pesticides.
I would get rid of the plant as I never succeeded in getting rid of thrip.

Most likely is that the damage is a combination of physical damage, sun burn or periods of overwatering. These leaves will never get better so rejuvenation is the best solution.

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