The Q&A Archives: Pruning Rubber Tree Plant

Question: Help! My Rubber Tree plant is over six feet tall. There may be four of them is this pot and they're all big! What can I do without killing it/them? It's been a member of the family for years.

Answer: Your best bet would be to start some new plants from your old one. The best way to do this on a rubber tree is by what's called "air layering". I'll try to describe the process here--but if you visit your library you may find a book with illustrations.

Begin by deciding where you want to cut the stem. I would try one of the four stems first, before cutting all three. I would take the cutting about 18" from the top of the stem. First, using a sharp knife cut almost halfway through the stem. Insert a wooden matchstick to hold the cut slightly open. Now surround the open cut with a ball of moistened sphagnum moss. Using a plastic bag, wrap the moss carefully, securing it to the stem above and below the cut. Check the moss regularly to be sure it stays moist. Roots should emerge from the cut surface and grow into the moss. Once you see this happening, cut the stem just below the new roots and plant in fresh, sterile potting soil.

I hope it works for you! Good luck!

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