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My rubber tree has started to exhibit these weird spots under the leaves, it started maybe three months ago, but it took me a while to notice them really. They seem to be spreading from leaf to leaf and are dry, hard and even a little three dimensional. I've tried to find info online but nothing seemed to really fit.

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I love my rubber tree and don't want it to die, please help me identify what's going on.

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    Is my assumption that you've had this plant for a long time correct? Has it been outdoors for the summer? Did you bring any new plants into your house? Did you bring existing plants that had been summering outdoors back into the house? Have lighting conditions changed.
    – Jurp
    Nov 9, 2022 at 12:56
  • I've had this plant for two years now. It has always been indoors, but I moved 5 months ago. It had been standing in a place with more light before, now it's close to the windows but without direct sunlight, see here. In order to move it I transported it in the back of a car. I have one relatively new aloe vera in the same room, but the problem existed before as far as I remember. Nov 9, 2022 at 13:18
  • Thanks. Trying to rule out diseases brought in from a store or pests brought in with new or outdoors plants. Looks like we can do that. The spots resemble large scale insects, but I've never seen any that large. Personally, I'd remove all leaves that are spotted, if that doesn't completely defoliate your tree. I also recommend waiting for other posters to comment or answer here, because I could be very wrong about that.
    – Jurp
    Nov 9, 2022 at 13:52
  • appreciate your honesty :D I do not think it's insects. The spots are fused into the leaves and there is no way to get them off. Nov 9, 2022 at 14:15
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    I own the same species and have been in the hort trade for years, and haven't seen anything like your plant's problem. Very puzzling, as Ficus are usually trouble-free unless over-watered.
    – Jurp
    Nov 9, 2022 at 14:18

1 Answer 1

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This is a fungus/virus/bacteria that is commonly seen in ficus and dracaena when they have been overwatered. Too much water or not enough porosity in the soil creates an anerobic environment where this flourishes. Here is your ID checklist

  • symptoms cannot be removed with a cloth so they cannot be insects
  • spots usually appear on older leaves
  • spots follow a growth pattern:
    • Initial spot starts brown and change to dry, dead black tissue
    • there is a ring around the initial spot where it starts to grow that is typically light brown and changes to black over time

Chemical treatments are not usually available to the homeowner but there is good news!

Most plants can outgrow this problem if you change the initial causes:

  • Provide more light and less water
  • consider repotting: most soil less mixes will compact over time as the peat moss is used by the roots. No need for a bigger pot, just take the root ball out and cut off the bottom 25%. Place fresh soil less mix in the bottom of the pot and replace the trimmed root ball.
  • wait until new growth is seen before fertilizing lightly or wait until spring
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  • This is amazing, thank you so much. To be honest, I searched though this StackExchange and was kind of hoping you would answer my question, and this is everything I could have wanted. One follow up question: What exactly is soil less mix? I am having a hard time translating it into the stuff available in my country. Nov 11, 2022 at 18:31
  • @Kaesebohrer A soil less mix is what greenhouse growers use. It is commonly made of sphagnum peat moss, perlite and vermiculite with a slow release fertilizer. Most plant stores will have something like it called potting soil.
    – kevinskio
    Nov 11, 2022 at 19:47
  • As for potting soil, if you can't find what Kevinskio suggested, look for a cactus mix - you want something that drains well.
    – Jurp
    Nov 12, 2022 at 14:32
  • @kevinskio - do you have a name for that fungus/virus/bacteria?
    – Jurp
    Nov 12, 2022 at 14:32
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    @kevinskio Ah, unsightly, but not fatal for the leaves... I was afraid of possible infection to the other leaves on the plant; if it were a fungus (I think bacteria or virus is more likely), then I'd also be concerned about the fungus creating spores and infecting the rest of the plant.
    – Jurp
    Nov 13, 2022 at 15:35

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