The Q&A Archives: Ficus Elastica

Question: I would like to prune my ficus elastic. How do you stop it from bleeding the milky substance? How often can you prune the plant? It is getting quite large for the area. Thank you BAJ

Answer: The rubber plant is pruned in the following way: For starters, be sure to use clean, sharp pruners - also keep some rubbing alcohol handy, you will need it to clean the pruners periodically. Take a look at the plant and note that you will be removing 1/3 to 1/2 of the plant's branches. Do not remove more foliage than that because doing so could compromise the plant's ability to complete photosynthesis and could shock the plant. Leaves on this plant grow alternately, you should be sure to prune the growth all the way down to a leaf joint, not between the leaves. You will eventually get new growth (basal sprouting) at this area. After awhile, this new growth will help make your plant appear more full and lush rather than leggy. Pruning is messy, as the plant will probably leak a milky sap at the cut sites. The sap will eventually harden and seal the cuts, so don't try to stop the flow. Once the wounds heal (callous over) you can gently wash away any sappy streaks on the plant stem. If your plant looks a bit sparse when you are finished, don't think you have ruined it! This trim will result in a nice chubby Rubber Plant in a short while.

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