Pruning Rubber Plants - Knowledgebase Question

Denver, CO
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Question by pcraig9
December 7, 1997
We have a rubber plant that is kept indoors year round.
It has started to get too large for the place where we
normally keep the plant. Can we prune a rubber plant?
If we can prune it, what is the best method and how
little/much should we prune?

Answer from NGA
December 7, 1997
According to Jean Cook of TerraSalis Garden Center & Nursery, the Rubber Plant (Ficus decora) 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 prunersperiodically. 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. Jean Cook reports that pruning a Rubber Plant is messy, as the plant will probably leak a milky sap at the cut sites. Also, if your plant will look 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. One other thing I learned about Rubber Plants during our conversation...a common complaint with this plant is leaf drop. Jean tells me that when Rubber Plants are grown in "captivity" they naturally have a tendency to lose their lower leaves as they put on new growth at the top - wow, I learn something new every day!

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