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Oct 17, 2021 9:33 AM CST
Name: AJ
New York City (Zone 7a)
Dog Lover Foliage Fan Houseplants Region: New York
Hello everybody,

I have a large multi-trunk rubber plant that has become quite unstable over the years as one of the trunks has grown at a steep angle to one direction (as the plant grew, it, unfortunately, became harder and harder to rotate).

My question is this: If I want to split this one trunk from the rest of the plant, what would be the best way to do so? Should it be done at the root? Or can I saw off the trunk at the bend and root it somehow? Attaching pictures.

I'd really appreciate your input, I care about this plant very much and do not want to hurt it.


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Oct 17, 2021 1:31 PM CST
Name: Allie
No. California (Zone 9b)
Beautiful plant. Sorry I can't help you, I don't know much about rubber tree plants. Hopefully someone here knows and can help you.
I love cats! I really really love cats!
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Oct 17, 2021 6:14 PM CST
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL โœŒ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘โ˜ผ๐ŸŒทโš˜๐Ÿ (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Butterflies
Garden Sages Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1 Hummingbirder Foliage Fan
Yes, you can cut off any parts that aren't part of your vision for this plant, as much or as little as you want so it matches the shape you imagine it could have. Keep in mind that new branches will likely start forming where you cut. Over the next few years, you may decide to do a series of cuts, so that at any particular time it doesn't look pruned, or you might prefer to have a flush of fresh new foliage across the whole plant.

Ficus elastica does well in full sun outside, so when the light is significantly lower, it will have a more relaxed, leaning habit, usually leaning toward the light if not rotated often. There's nothing wrong with that, but if you would prefer a more upright appearance, and you have another spot with more light, you could move it, rotate often if you're aiming for symmetry, though that could take a few years to cultivate from what looks like a more flat, fan-shaped current appearance. It looks very healthy and cutting parts off will not hurt it.

You can stick the removed pieces back into this same pot, or a new pot to take root and keep growing. There's no guarantee that they will but no harm in trying if you want. Remove enough leaves so that there is enough naked stem to stick all the way to the bottom of the existing pot or a new pot, at least 6".

Watch out for white latex sap when you cut into this plant. If you lay newspaper on the floor under the cut point, you'll avoid making a stain on the floor. The sap may also run down the trunk and stain if not rinsed with a squirt bottle.

IMO, trying to separate roots would be more trouble than reward.

There are many pics of F. elastica & cultivars in the plant database on this site, especially pics of prune spots and the resulting new branches.
https://garden.org/plants/sear...
The last day of this year is 123123!!
The golden rule: Do to others only that which you would have done to you.
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Oct 17, 2021 6:55 PM CST
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL โœŒ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘โ˜ผ๐ŸŒทโš˜๐Ÿ (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Butterflies
Garden Sages Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1 Hummingbirder Foliage Fan
Forgot to say the sap can give some people a rash like poison ivy and cause serious pain and injury if it gets in your eye. It's best to avoid getting the sap on your skin at all.
The last day of this year is 123123!!
The golden rule: Do to others only that which you would have done to you.
๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now. (-Unknown)
๐Ÿ‘’๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿก๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿโฆโง ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒฝโ€โ˜€๐ŸŒบ
โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try! Try to be more valuable than a bad example.
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Oct 17, 2021 7:00 PM CST

purpleinopp said:
IMO, trying to separate roots would be more trouble than reward.


Everything you just said except this.

I love dividing. It can be hard on the roots for all involved, but plants are very resilient.

If I could divide with healthy roots and end up with a new plant it'd be a big fun pain in the ***!

Great advice purpleinopp.
Last edited by Humboldt Oct 17, 2021 7:01 PM Icon for preview
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Oct 17, 2021 7:02 PM CST

purpleinopp said:Forgot to say the sap can give some people a rash like poison ivy and cause serious pain and injury if it gets in your eye. It's best to avoid getting the sap on your skin at all.


It stings pretty damn bad.

I don't worry if I get it on my skin but I wash my hands and arms immediately if I do.
Last edited by Humboldt Oct 17, 2021 7:04 PM Icon for preview
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Oct 17, 2021 7:05 PM CST

Lots of opportunities for air-layering too.

So much fun, very rewarding when it works.

Be patient and it normally does.
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Oct 17, 2021 7:09 PM CST
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL โœŒ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘โ˜ผ๐ŸŒทโš˜๐Ÿ (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Butterflies
Garden Sages Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1 Hummingbirder Foliage Fan
Yes, the dividing is mostly opinion-based. I doubt it would harm the plant(s) at all. If it wasn't something full of latex sap, I would be more up for it. It would be hard to do that to this particular giant plant without having a sap-contact incident. That stuff is in the roots too. Sounds like a dangerous mess to me, compared to snipping off branches to propagate if I want more than 1 pot of this. I started with 1 of these & have it in several pots now.

When I get latex sap on me, I get a rash indistinguishable from poison ivy. Miserable itching blisters for 8-10 days.
The last day of this year is 123123!!
The golden rule: Do to others only that which you would have done to you.
๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now. (-Unknown)
๐Ÿ‘’๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿก๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿโฆโง ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒฝโ€โ˜€๐ŸŒบ
โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try! Try to be more valuable than a bad example.
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Oct 17, 2021 7:13 PM CST

purpleinopp said:Yes, the dividing is mostly opinion-based. I doubt it would harm the plant(s) at all. If it wasn't something full of latex sap, I would be more up for it. It would be hard to do that to this particular giant plant without having a sap-contact incident. That stuff is in the roots too. Sounds like a dangerous mess to me, compared to snipping off branches to propagate if I want more than 1 pot of this. I started with 1 of these & have it in several pots now.

When I get latex sap on me, I get a rash indistinguishable from poison ivy. Miserable itching blisters for 8-10 days.


That sounds horrible.

Long sleeves tucked into gloves highly suggested for anyone undertaking this feat. And eye protection.

You should see me if I get a yellow jacket sting. One, and my arm will puff up to the point I can barely bend it.
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Oct 19, 2021 5:54 PM CST
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL โœŒ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘โ˜ผ๐ŸŒทโš˜๐Ÿ (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Butterflies
Garden Sages Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1 Hummingbirder Foliage Fan
I was just given this plant a couple hours ago. This weekend, there will be some surgery. This won't fit through a doorway to come inside as-is. I'll take pics.
Thumb of 2021-10-19/purpleinopp/b8df42
The last day of this year is 123123!!
The golden rule: Do to others only that which you would have done to you.
๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now. (-Unknown)
๐Ÿ‘’๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿก๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿโฆโง ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒฝโ€โ˜€๐ŸŒบ
โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try! Try to be more valuable than a bad example.
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Oct 19, 2021 9:30 PM CST

purpleinopp said:I was just given this plant a couple hours ago. This weekend, there will be some surgery. This won't fit through a doorway to come inside as-is. I'll take pics.
Thumb of 2021-10-19/purpleinopp/b8df42



Wow, sweet!

Looks healthy and happy.
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Oct 24, 2021 7:18 PM CST
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL โœŒ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘โ˜ผ๐ŸŒทโš˜๐Ÿ (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Butterflies
Garden Sages Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1 Hummingbirder Foliage Fan
Another before pic. Branches splayed out, 7-8 feet wide.


I don't have room for that, or, I decided at this moment, more copies of the same plant. I cut all but a couple of the branches near the soil level and stuck them back in the pot, with 8-15" of stem under the soil surface, depending on how many leaves were near the cut.
Thumb of 2021-10-25/purpleinopp/30688a
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The last day of this year is 123123!!
The golden rule: Do to others only that which you would have done to you.
๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now. (-Unknown)
๐Ÿ‘’๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿก๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿโฆโง ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒฝโ€โ˜€๐ŸŒบ
โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try! Try to be more valuable than a bad example.
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Oct 29, 2021 9:50 PM CST

purpleinopp said:
I cut all but a couple of the branches near the soil level and stuck them back in the pot, with 8-15" of stem under the soil surface, depending on how many leaves were near the cut.



Do you use rooting hormones for something like that?
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Oct 29, 2021 10:17 PM CST

I ask because I've had good luck with and without, but figure now it can't hurt for a plant like that.

Reminds me of a conversation at the brewery about a year ago.
I live in Humboldt, CA, we have local farmers.

A friend learned from his grandfather about cuttings.

They'd use aloe vera as a rooting hormone basically., smearing a new cutting along a freshly opened piece.
Something about the way aloe roots itself, and the beneficial properties of the juice, but it was and is widely used.
The cuttings love the sugar.

Willow branches, certain times of the year, can be cut and soaked and release enzymes that can help things root faster.

According to my friend at least...but this is what some people did and do for a living, so worth noting.
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Oct 30, 2021 9:24 AM CST
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL โœŒ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘โ˜ผ๐ŸŒทโš˜๐Ÿ (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Butterflies
Garden Sages Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Level 1 Hummingbirder Foliage Fan
Interesting anecdote! I don't own any hormone stuff. I just stick 'em in the soil.
The last day of this year is 123123!!
The golden rule: Do to others only that which you would have done to you.
๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is now. (-Unknown)
๐Ÿ‘’๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿก๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿโฆโง ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒฝโ€โ˜€๐ŸŒบ
โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try! Try to be more valuable than a bad example.
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Oct 30, 2021 10:03 AM CST
JC NJ/So FL (Zone 7b)
Amaryllis Hydroponics Houseplants Region: Florida Container Gardener Garden Photography
Bromeliad Aroids Tropicals Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
'They'd use aloe vera as a rooting hormone basically., smearing a new cutting along a freshly opened piece.'
Love the idea, want to try!
Do you mean to put juice on the raw cut ?
Or along the branch at the bottom where it will be in medium?
Last edited by skylark Oct 30, 2021 10:05 AM Icon for preview
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Oct 30, 2021 4:00 PM CST

skylark said:'They'd use aloe vera as a rooting hormone basically., smearing a new cutting along a freshly opened piece.'
Love the idea, want to try!
Do you mean to put juice on the raw cut ?
Or along the branch at the bottom where it will be in medium?


On the raw cut.
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Oct 30, 2021 8:36 PM CST
JC NJ/So FL (Zone 7b)
Amaryllis Hydroponics Houseplants Region: Florida Container Gardener Garden Photography
Bromeliad Aroids Tropicals Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
i remember reading that if you put a little aloe vera juice on the cut edge of bromeliad leaf it won't turn unsightly brown. so..another interesting use for it. i'll get it to try!
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Oct 30, 2021 9:16 PM CST

skylark said:i remember reading that if you put a little aloe vera juice on the cut edge of bromeliad leaf it won't turn unsightly brown. so..another interesting use for it. i'll get it to try!


Good to know.
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Oct 30, 2021 10:46 PM CST
Name: John
Pomona/Riverside CA (Zone 9a)
Dip-N-Gro works better. Not to say aloe or willow doesn't work.
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