Pruning rubber tree

(Question)

How do I prune my 8-foot rubber tree?

(Answer)

Rubber trees tend to grow tall. When pruning your rubber tree:

  • plan your pruning before you start to cut
  • your pruning shears should be clean and sharp before starting.
  • remember that the rubber tree’s sap is toxic if ingested and is may irritate the skin – wear gardening gloves and long sleeves while pruning.
  • note that the rubber tree will grow back from the node below any pruning cut. The node is the point where a leaf attaches to the stem or where a stem branches off from a larger stem. Because of this growth pattern, make your cuts just above a node, ideally on a slight diagonal rather than a straight cut across the diameter of the branch.  Select nodes that are facing in the direction in which you would like to encourage growth.
  • if your rubber tree has one strong central stem (called the leader), cut it out to encourage branching. If the stems that grow back after cutting out the leader seems to be weak/thin, pruning these back to encourage the plant to fill out nicely.

You can propagate new rubber plants as part of your pruning work by starting new plants is from stem cuttings. Select the healthiest looking cuttings that are about 6” (15 cm) long and have 2 – 4 sets of leaves and follow these steps:

  • Remove the set of leaves closest to the cut end, dip the cut end into rooting hormone (optional, but helpful )
  • Place the cutting into moist, well-draining potting soil, and cover with glass or clear plastic (to maintain humidity).  Ensure there there is air space around the cutting (i.e., that the cover does not touch the plant).
  • Place in a warm location out of direct sun. Within 2 – 3 weeks, the cuttings will have developed roots. Remove the cover and treat as you would any other rubber plant.