How To Prune A Rubber Tree Houseplant

Ficus elastica, sometimes known as a rubber plant or rubber tree, is a stunning and underappreciated indoor houseplant that resembles a tree.

These plants can be grown large enough to serve as the centerpiece of a room or appreciated as a medium-sized houseplant with their glossy, dark green leaves. They can expand significantly in a short period of time, particularly if grown outdoors in the summer.

Pruning is required to increase the bushiness of a rubber plant. Cutting back a rubber plant:

  • Trim the rubber plant’s top to the desired height.
  • Take out between one-third and fifty percent of the plant’s lateral branches.
  • To promote new development, make your cuts just after a node (the place where a leaf or another stem branches off), and keep pruning back this new growth as it emerges.
  • To fill in the lower portions, multiply some cuttings and replant them in the same container.

Pruning rubber plants has excellent results, especially when done in the late spring or early summer. Either a towering tree or a bushy shrub can be kept alive with them.

A rubber plant’s health is maintained through pruning, which also promotes the appropriate size and shape.

Can you prune a rubber plant indoors?

Since rubber tree plants are quite hardy, trimming them may really be done at any time of the year. In actuality, branches that are out of place can be cut off without harming the plant.

But in the late spring or early summer, around June, these plants will typically respond to trimming more quickly. Cuttings are also supposed to root more quickly and easily at this time of year, making it an ideal time to take them.

Do I need to prune my rubber plant?

Rubber plants just need to be pruned to remove dead or dying leaves. For shaping, however, bear in mind the following: Wait until your plant reaches the required height before removing the top. Your plant will branch out after you do remove the top. You may always trim to the shape you want by removing stray branches. Although it is ideal to prune in the spring or summer, it is not required.

Your plants won’t grow if you don’t repot them. However, avoid putting rubber plants in overly large containers. A decent general rule of thumb is to transplant into pots that are about an inch larger in diameter than the previous pot.

How can I get a bushier rubber plant?

You must first choose the location of your trunk’s amputation. Right where you cut it, there will be at least two new branches developing, and there may be more below that!

Make sure the original plant still has at least a few leaves after pruning. Leave additional space for larger rubber plants.

When pruning your rubber plant to promote bushier growth, you have three options:

Propagate in water or soil

Making a stem cutting and attempting to propagate in water are options if the trunk of the part you desire to remove is still flexible and not woody (and the cutting is not too large).

When the cut end of the rubber plant stops oozing latex, add it to a jar of water (see the latter portion of this page on rubber plant sap).

Instead of first roots the cutting in water, you can also plant it in a pot with soil. Maintain moisture in the potting mix and raise the humidity.

If you place a clear plastic bag loosely over the cutting, you can raise the humidity (but not touching the leaves). Your rooting cuttings will grow new roots more quickly if you place them on a heating mat.

Air layer your plant before cutting it off

The greatest technique to get a new plant when you still want to propagate it and it has woody stems is to air layer the top part of the plant. If you want to learn more about this alternative, I have a post that demonstrates how to air layer a rubber plant.

When you have truly mature, woody stems, air layering is really your only secure alternative.

It is also a fantastic technique to revive a rubber plant that is languid after losing many of its lower leaves.

How are indoor rubber plants cared for?

Indirect sunlight that is bright is ideal for rubber plants. They should ideally have an east-facing window to get morning light. Put your plant close to a window with a translucent curtain or drape to diffuse the light.

The leaves of your rubber plant could start to burn if you place it in a location that gets direct sunlight. They are able to adapt to low lighting and can live in workplaces and other dimly lit spaces. Your rubber plant likely needs additional light if you see the leaves getting paler or the bottom leaves dropping off.

How are rubber plants encouraged to branch?

  • Boost Soil: If your rubber tree is big, you might not want to take it out of the pot entirely. Combine new potting soil with finished compost, then aerate the ground. Use the new soil mixture to encircle the bottom. If possible, loosen the dirt around the roots without damaging them and work some of the fresh mixture in. Add additional new soil on top.
  • Lighting: Place the container in a location that receives plenty of bright light, perhaps even some early sun. This plant can become accustomed to a few hours of early sun gradually. Additional lighting will immediately encourage additional growth and branching if your plant has previously been in a dimly lit environment, especially after you’ve made the necessary cuts.
  • Water: For the rubber tree plant, use lukewarm water because cold water might shock the roots. Wintertime requires less water, but the soil still needs to be slightly moist. The soil is too damp if the leaves are yellowing or falling. Wait until it has dry before adding water. When growth picks up in the spring, water. Water thoroughly before fertilizing.
  • Feeding: To promote root growth, fertilize young plants with a high-phosphorus product. Feeding elder plants once a month with a nitrogen-based diet will encourage foliage to grow more fully as they produce new branches and leaves.

Prepare a Clean Surface Area

Since they leak a sticky, latex-rich white sap when the stems are severed, rubber tree propagation can be messy. Protect the work surface by taking care. To stop the spread of illnesses, thoroughly clean the area to get rid of any further plant waste or soil. When harvesting cuttings from a rubber tree, it is recommended that you put on safety gloves since the sap might irritate skin when it comes into touch with it. Before beginning to propagate, make sure that you have all of your tools and supplies available.

Choose Where You Will Take the Cutting

Look over your plant to see where any pruning would be beneficial. Search for regions that are uneven or where you would want to see fuller growth. Cuttings from lanky, lengthy stems or branches are also excellent choices. Pick a stem with healthy, spotless leaves.

Make sure to locate the leaf nodes along the stem before making any incisions because here is where the next roots will develop. For the greatest likelihood of success, rubber tree cuttings should be around 6 inches (15 centimeters) long and have four or more leaf nodes.

Make the Cuts

After deciding where you want to cut your rubber tree, make a quick, straight cut just above a node and an inch below a node using a sharp knife or pruning shears. If the cutting is producing sap, dab the cut end of the stem with a paper towel and gently pat it until the sap stops.

Prepare the Cuttings

After taking the cuttings, make sure one leaf is left at the top of each stem by removing the bottom leaves. This helps to guarantee that the cutting’s energy is focused on new growth rather than sustaining its current leaves, as well as to expose the stem and promote roots. Roll the leaf into a cylinder with the waxy side outward, fasten with a rubber band, and insert into the soilless potting mix. The leaf loses less moisture as it is rolled.

Plant the Cuttings

A soilless potting mix and perlite should be added to the little plastic container, and it should be well moistened. Apply a rooting hormone to the end of each cutting before planting. In order to ensure that the top node of the cutting rests on the soil mix surface, first make a little hole in the center of the potting medium. Place a short stick in the middle of the rolled leaf to support the cutting. To firmly anchor the cutting, pat the earth down all around it.

To create a greenhouse-like climate, cover each potted cutting with a plastic zip-top bag. Humid surroundings are necessary for rubber tree cuttings to establish roots.

Place in a Warm, Sunny Location, and Wait

Put the cuttings, along with the bags, in a warm area that gets dappled sunlight all day. Avoid the sun’s direct rays since they will burn the leaves and make the cuts shrivel and dry out. As required, spritz with water. Keep the soil from drying out.

The cutting should start growing roots after four to five weeks. The cutting can be gently tugged to see if roots have formed. When you encounter resistance, the roots have started to take shape.

Rubber tree cuttings can also be reproduced in water as opposed to soil, however this method is generally less successful due to the cuttings’ increased susceptibility to rot. The cuttings should have strong root systems by five to six months. Every week, change the water.

When should a rubber tree be replanted?

I’ve seen images of rubber plants seated in far too-small pots. Sometimes they topple over because they are so hefty. It’s obviously time to repot if this occurs!

On the other side, there are a lot of tiny rubber plants that are potted in way too big pots.

The soil will remain wet for an excessive amount of time after watering if the container is too big for the plant. This could result in root rot, which could be the beginning of your rubber plant’s demise.

When to repot your rubber plant

When your rubber plant becomes root-bound and the roots cover the entire pot, you should repot it. Alternatively, you will notice the roots poking through the drainage holes in the pot’s base.

Use a well-draining potting soil to stop root rot. Add additional perlite, sand, or vermiculite for even better results. Additionally, always check for drainage holes in new planter pots.

Choose a terra cotta container over a plastic one. Since the clay is permeable, water can evaporation. All the moisture will be trapped inside plastic.

What time of year is ideal for repotting rubber plants? The plant begins its active growing season in the spring. It will be in the best possible shape to handle the stress of being repotted because it will be bursting with energy.

Can my rubber tree remain compact?

Large plants with gorgeous, glossy leaves are probably what rubber trees (Ficus elastica) are most known for. Numerous images of these statement plants in front of big, light windows and contemporary accent walls can be found if you conduct an image search. That’s fantastic if you need to decorate an entranceway, but what if you only have a tiny area or simply need a shelf accent plant?

Rubber trees can they be kept small? Rubber trees can grow several feet in a season and are frequently fast-growing plants, but you can regulate their size by giving them regular trimming. Additionally, limiting pot size and adjusting light exposure may help keep a plant modest, but doing so may jeopardize the health of your tree.

As long as your expectations are realistic, you do have a few options to assist keep your plant at a reasonable size, even though Rubber Trees are normally recognized for their powerful growth and tall stature.

How might I assist my large rubber tree?

One of my FAVORITE indoor plants is the rubber plant, or Ficus elastica as it is officially named. They might be as little as those that fit on desks or as enormous as those that reach the ceiling. They come in a few different varieties, which we’ll discuss shortly. However, this easy-to-care-for fellow will make you feel like a true plant lover whether it’s a tiny rubber plantlet or a massive rubber plant tree! Keep in mind to treat it as a friend.

This article contains all the information you require to ensure that your rubber plant not only remains happy but also thrives.

Fun Facts To Keep In Mind

  • Rubber plants are not self-supporting; as they grow older, they become droopier. Use bamboo or dowels to keep your rubber plant standing straight. I merely secure it with the leaves.
  • Rubber plants grow quickly—up to 24 inches can be added in a single season!
  • Poisonous rubber plants exist. When the leaves or stems of these plants are damaged, a milky sap is released. Latex is present in this sap, which is harmful to both humans and animals.
  • Soil is consumed by rubber plants, so have some on hand in case you run out. Later, we’ll delve deeper into this.

Need large pots for rubber plants?

Here is all there is to know about repotting rubber plants, including the ideal soil mixture, instructions, and maintenance.

If you want a large indoor plant, rubber plants are practically foolproof. They have a quick growth rate (faster than other houseplants) and do best in direct sunlight. Yours will at some point require a larger pot because to their rapid growth.

Regardless of whether the foliage is solid or variegated, what you have read here applies to all varieties of Rubber Plant.

The scientific name for them is Ficus elastica. Other frequent names for them include Rubber Tree, Rubber Fig, and India Rubber Tree in addition to Rubber Plant. In moderate areas, they can grow outside all year long and reach heights of 80 to 100. This article discusses repotting Rubber Plants so they can be grown indoors.

Be aware: You’ll find this general guide to repotting plants that I created useful if you’re a beginner gardener.