rubber plant loosing leaves

Asked June 10, 2015, 3:51 PM EDT

I have owned this rubber plant 10 years. About 3 months ago I transplanted it into a larger pot with potting soil and moved it to a window that faces west. It was on the east facing window previously and did get more sun but where it is a a bright spot even with little direct sun. I do not see any bugs. I noticed in the past couple months it has been loosing many leaves. It also has a sticky coating. I cannot move it back to the east side of the room now. The only spot I could move it to is in the sunroom which is not air conditioned or heated, alto it has three 6' doors that open. It is not easy to move so I must put it in a place I do not have to continually move it. The plastic wrapped at the base has been there for two years to protect it from my cat that likes to dig in dirt. Thank you for any help you may provide. Can you give me some advise.

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

Rubber trees are suprisingly adaptable plants. They can adjust to gradually changing light and temperature conditions, and actually prefer to be a bit pot-bound. There definitely could be a period of shock and re-adjustment with leaf droppage from being re-potted and moved from it's regular position.
That said, your report of sticky residue suggests some kind of a sap sucking insect at work. They suck sap and then excrete a sticky residue called honeydew.
You only submitted one photo (twice), but we think we are seeing signs of aphids on the branches. This can be treated by either putting the plant outside in the shade during a cool part of the day and spraying it first with a blast from the hose, allow it to drip dry, and then thoroughly spray again with insecticidal soap. If you are unable to move it to do so, you could do it inside by wiping down the entire plant and spraying with insecticidal soap labelled for houseplants, following label instructions.
Light-wise, the move should be fine. These plants come from the warmer parts of the world and can adjust well to our normal room temperatures. It cannot withstand low winter temperatures and would need protection if it gets very cold in that room.
We can't see the plastic at the bottom of the plant, so can't comment on that.
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