I’ve been gifted a lovely rubber plant. I’d like it to keep growing but wondered if I can prune it and if I should repot it in a larger container. Also it’s been tied together for support but I thought I should stake it instead. Hoping to let it continue to thrive! Thank you!
How lucky for you to be gifted such a beautiful healthy plant. Your rubber tree Ficus elastica is typically an easy-care plant that can grow to an impressive size. Be aware however, like their cousins in the Ficus family they are resistant to change, so be prepared for your plant to sulk a little bit in its new surroundings. You might see leaves drooping or even falling off – but take heart, your plant, with the correct conditions will soon become acclimatized to its new home. Here are the preferred conditions for your plant
Light: These plants prefer bright but not direct light. Too strong a light will cause its leaves to scorch.
Temperature & Humidity Rubber trees can adapt to a wide range of room temperatures; however they dislike cold or hot drafts. In the winter be wary of the drying hot air from a heat source as this can quickly dry your plant, you can lessen the effects of the winter dry air by increasing the humidity with a humidifier, by daily spritzing, or carefully wiping the leaves with a damp cloth.
Water: These plants need a high level of moisture during their growth cycle (spring and summer) but cannot tolerate being in standing water. This means watering thoroughly but ensuring that the water can properly drain. You can reduce the watering during fall & winter, but still never let the soil dry out completely.
Fertilizing: During the growth cycle, you should provide your plant with a diluted indoor plant fertilizer every two weeks. Be careful not to over fertilize as this can cause excessive new growth that can become floppy and easily break off, damaging the plant. You can eliminate this during the fall and winter months.
Re-potting: Rubber trees like being in slightly cramped conditions, keeping the container small will keep the plant small. Repotting to a larger container will encourage new growth and your plant will become even taller! Since your plant has to adapt to a new home, I would hold off repotting until next spring. At that time, repot into only one size larger container. You can stake your plant at this time. Repot with a soil mix formulated for indoor plants, and for your first feeding, dilute the fertilizer by half the recommended amount.
Pests: Mealy bugs, mites, scale and aphids can attack these plants, they can be removed if caught early by wiping them away with a soapy solution.
Special note: If you accidentally break any branches of the plant you may encounter the latex like sap than will “bleed” from the plant. You can stop the “bleeding” with ash or charcoal. But this sap can cause skin irritation. Ensure you wash your hands if you do encounter it.
I have attached a link from the Master Gardeners with tips for growing plants indoors, I hope you will find this useful. Best of luck with this amazing plant.