Beneath the Canopy: Exploring Common Pests and Diseases of Ficus elastica

November 15, 2023

Beneath the Canopy: Exploring Common Pests and Diseases of Ficus elastica

Ficus elastica, commonly known as the rubber plant or rubber tree, is a popular ornamental plant prized for its attractive glossy leaves and ease of care. However, like many plants, Ficus elastica is susceptible to various pest and disease problems that can affect its health and appearance. Here are some common issues associated with Ficus elastica:

 Spider Mites:

Spider mites are tiny arachnids that can infest Ficus elastica. These pests suck the sap from the plant, causing stippling on the leaves. Infested leaves may also develop a fine webbing. To control spider mites, regular misting of the plant and keeping the humidity high can be helpful. Additionally, insecticidal soaps or neem oil can be used to manage these pests.


Mealybugs are soft-bodied insects that feed on the sap of Ficus elastica, usually congregating in clusters on the undersides of leaves and in leaf axils. They excrete a sticky substance known as honeydew, which can lead to the growth of sooty mold. Insecticidal soaps or neem oil can be effective in controlling mealybug infestations.

 Scale Insects:

Scale insects are another common pest that can affect rubber plants. They appear as small, waxy bumps on leaves and stems, and they also feed on the plant's sap. Control measures involve physically removing the scales or using insecticidal sprays.

 Root Rot:

Ficus elastica is susceptible to root rot, especially in poorly-draining soils or if overwatered. The root system becomes waterlogged, leading to a decline in the plant's health. To prevent root rot, it's essential to use well-draining soil and allow the top inch of the soil to dry out before watering.

 Leaf Spot Diseases:

Fungal leaf spot diseases, such as Cercospora leaf spot, can affect Ficus elastica. Symptoms include the development of dark spots on the leaves, often surrounded by a yellow halo. To manage leaf spot diseases, it's important to avoid overhead watering, improve air circulation, and apply fungicides as needed.

 Powdery Mildew:

Powdery mildew can occur in conditions of high humidity. It presents as a white powdery substance on the leaves. Adequate air circulation, reducing humidity, and applying fungicides can help control powdery mildew.

 Preventative Measures:

Proper Watering: Avoid overwatering and ensure that the soil has good drainage.

Humidity Control: Maintain moderate humidity levels to discourage pest infestations.

Inspect Regularly: Regularly inspect the plant for signs of pests or diseases.

Isolation: Quarantine new plants before introducing them to your collection to prevent the spread of pests.

Addressing pest and disease issues promptly and effectively is crucial for maintaining the health and vitality of Ficus elastica. Regular monitoring, proper cultural practices, and early intervention are key components of a successful plant care routine.