Please help! This plant is nearly 15 years old and 6 feet tall. It was thriving until 2 years ago when I moved it close to a window and a heating/cooling vent when it slowly started losing its leaves. From all the reading I've done I realize that little light, drafts and change in temperature are whats caused the plant to lose all its leaves. My question is...can it be saved? and if so HOW? I have already moved it to a place that will have lots of sun and away from any drafts and vents. What, if anything can I do????? Prune it right down the the base and start over??
The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is a tough plant. It can grow to over 100' tall outdoors. Indoors it can be kept considerably smaller. If the plant is that old it is not drafts that are the cause of the decline but more likely to be the waterlogging of the soil mix. I am not sure if that pot has drainage but regardless peat based soil mixes gradually degrade over time as the organic peat is used up. The soil compacts and root rot is more likely.
I suggest putting down some newspaper and then taking the plant out of it's pot. Healthy new roots are white. Old roots can be brown. Dead roots are black and soft. Cut any root rot out. If the root ball looks busy get a sharp knife and cut off a few inches off the bottom of the root ball. Put new soil in the bottom of the pot and put the plant back in the pot. Cut down the stems so there is at least one node above the surface.
Water and move to the highest light you have and wait. It might take weeks but you will get new growth from the base and then you are good to go. Cut back on the quantity of water while it does not have any leaves. Increase gradually as it grows out.