Ask a Question forum: my rubber plant tree "splays out"

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Name: AC
San Francisco, CA (Zone 10b)
allcarbon
May 11, 2018 12:15 AM CST
My rubber tree plant splays out, and all the stems grow out and then up. And there's more branching on one side of the plant than on the other, so it always looks a little uneven and sparse on one side. I bought it that way 5 years ago, and I thought it would fill it self out, but it hasn't. I would like my plant to 1) grow more upright, and 2) fill in in a more balanced way. What can I do to help make that happen?
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
May 11, 2018 10:41 AM CST
Looks normal to me, with so many in one pot, there all competing with each other.
I know what I would do, have only one in the pot.
But, let's get the attention of Mr. Will, king of potted indoor plants.
@WillC Hay Will ! AC needs your help !
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Profess plant consultant & educator
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WillC
May 12, 2018 7:29 AM CST
Thanks for the shout-out, Philip!

Your Rubber tree is healthy and well cared for. Plants grow the way nature has designed them, not necessarily the way we want or expect them to.

Overall shape and size of a plant are controlled by light and by pruning. New growth tends to grow toward the light, so face the "weaker" side closest to the light source or window to help balance it out.

Pruning is as much art as it is science. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Just understand that any stem can be cut back up any length or height without harm to the plant. New growth will then emerge starting just below where you make the pruning cut. It is a personal choice as to how much you prune back. In general, start by pruning back stems that are too far off to one side or are too tall.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
May 12, 2018 8:14 AM CST
Hi allcarbon, Welcome!

I agree, your Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica) looks fine and appears very healthy. The side that looks uneven and sparse is probably due to that particular side of the plant receiving lower light; plants grown indoors should be rotated on occasion to acquire a balanced growth habit.
~ I'm an old gal who still loves playing in the dirt!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot!


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