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Rubber Plant Leaves Pointing Up or Curling? Here’s Why

Rubber Plant Leaves Pointing Up or Curling? Here’s Why

Rubber Plants, or Ficus Elastica, are highly tolerant and forgiving houseplants that can reward even the least expert of gardeners. Their beauty is all in the leaves: wide, lush green, and waxy. Sometimes, however, you can notice your Rubber Plant’s leaves pointing up or curling, affecting the charm and health of the plant.

So, why are Rubber Plant leaves pointing up or curling? It can derive from:

  • Inadequate watering
  • Chemical exposure and cleaning products
  • Low humidity
  • Pests
  • Environmental changes and temperature stress
  • Inadequate sunlight exposure

To restore your plant’s health, change the water regimen, use filtered water, increase humidity and sunlight, and check for pests.

With so many causes, it is essential to find out the root cause behind it to solve the problem quickly. Read on to find out how what is affecting your plant and how to resolve the issue.

Why Are Your Rubber Plant Leaves Pointing Up or Down?

Naturally, rubber plants tend to grow upwards, regardless of whether they live in a small pot or a garden. Indeed, if the leaves are only slightly pointing upwards, there is nothing to worry about: this is the natural growth pattern of your plant.

However, if the leaves are suddenly starting to point downwards – or drooping – there might be something affecting your plant. The most common cause is overwatering.

Indeed, rubber plants naturally absorb and gather water from the soil, collecting it in the leaves. Aside from giving the leaves a waxy look that makes them so attractive, this characteristic ensures that the leaves have enough water and nutrients at all times to thrive.

While the Rubber Plant leaves are mildly succulent, many owners misjudge the amount of water needed. Overwatering a Rubber Plant can cause the soil to become constantly soggy, stunting the growth of essential root hairs. These components are what helps the plant source nutrients from the ground.

As this happens, you might notice the leaves of your plant, starting to point downwards.

Why the Leaves are Curling

Naturally, a rubber plant will boast wide, oval-shaped leaves that stay erect. However, in some instances, you might notice them start curling up inwards until they begin to resemble a spiral. 

While there is no need to panic, some changes in the watering and feeding habits of your plant need changing. It is essential to understand that in most cases, curling leaves are a result of improper watering, changes in the environment, or exposure to harmful chemicals.

All of these conditions cause the plant not to be able to absorb the necessary nutrients for development from the soil, through stress or unhealthy roots.

Causes and Solutions

Below, you can find the reasons why your Rubber Plant’s leaves are curling. However, this condition is often associated with other symptoms such as yellowing leaves, brown or black spots and edges, and falling leaves. To know more about the possible causes of these conditions, check our guidelines here.

1. Overwatering or Underwatering 

Inadequate watering is the most common cause of curling leaves. Overwatering, in particular, can promote this condition and even develop into a more severe root rot. While rubber plants enjoy increased watering during the growing season, they don’t do well when left in soggy soil. Reduce the amount and frequency of watering over winter or colder periods. 


Implement an adequate watering regimen for your plant. To check whether the plant needs watering, test the soil. The potting mix should be at least 75% dry – you can check this by feeling the ground 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7 cm) below the surface.

2. Chemical Exposure and Cleaning Products 

While all plants don’t respond well to exposure to chemicals, rubber plants are particularly susceptible to fumes and chemicals in the water used for watering. Fluoride, among other substances, can cause thorough contamination of the soil. If you notice stunt growth and leaves changing color (aside from curling), you should opt to transplant the plant into fresh soil. 

Another possible cause for Rubber Plant leaves curling is exposure to commercial cleaning products. Indeed, leaf shine products can obstruct the pores of the leaves, which cannot carry out transpiration.


Understanding the type of water in your area can help you find out whether the liquid is adequate for the needs of your plant. Ultimately, you might also have to filter or distill your tap water before pouring it into the container. If this is not suitable for you, fill up a bucket with water and let it rest overnight before feeding it to your plant.

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on May 14, 2020.

For a leaf-shine spray, to create a homemade one with natural products such as milk, water, and mineral oils. Just ensure to keep the plant away from direct sunlight for a few days after the application.

3. Low Humidity

Rubber Plants are native of areas of the world where the climate is consistently warm and humid, such as some areas of Southeast Asia. Recreating the same environmental conditions in your home can be extremely challenging. However, low humidity levels can be highly detrimental to the health of your plant, resulting in curled, yellowing, or brown leaves.


An ideal and straightforward solution to this problem is misting the leaves and stalks of the plant regularly. You can do so with a spray bottle and distilled water for the best results. However, if you cannot care for your plant throughout the day, a humidity pebble-lined tray can be a working solution.

Lastly, if you have more than one container plant in your home, group them. This simple trick will allow them to regulate the humidity levels surrounding the plants naturally.

4. Pests

Among the most severe causes of curly leaves are pests and bugs infestations. Just like other house plants, Rubber Plants are susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and scales. These pests can suck the nutrients out of the leaves of your plant, causing them to curl and, in some cases, even fall off prematurely.


In the case of pests, prevention is the best control measure. Indeed, once a colony of mealybugs has started to spread across the leaves and stalk of your plant, it can be tough to salvage the plant. A few strategies to avoid putting your plant at risk is always to inspect and isolate any new plant you bring into the environment.

5. Environmental Changes and Temperature Stress

If the leaves of your Rubber Plant have started to become curly after you have transplanted the plant or moved it into a new location, it might be suffering from a mild shock. Sudden temperatures changes, increase or decrease of sunlight, and air currents can create trauma in your plant, which is no longer able to absorb nutrients.


If the stress derives from a change in environment, bring the plant back to its original location and watering habits. Moreover, avoid adding any pressure to the roots and leaves by postponing any pruning and trimming you had in mind to do.

6. Inadequate Sunlight Exposure

Due to their background, Rubber Plants prefer full sun to partially shaded locations. A large amount of water and moisture retained by the leaves ensures that the plant always has enough nutrients in the leaves. However, just like any other plant, Rubber Plants can suffer from sunscald or lack of sunlight. 


Move the plant into a more suitable location, next to a window through which it can absorb enough sunlight. Alternatively, during the warmest season, you could opt to move the plant outdoors for specific periods.

ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on May 14, 2020.

Final Thoughts

Rubber Plants are not complicated to care for, but it is essential to remember that they need enough sunlight, moderate moisture, and filtered water to thrive. If any of these factors are inadequate or missing, your plant can display signs of illness, such as curly or discolored leaves.