How should I prune this rubber plant?

newgen(9 Central California)May 30, 2012

The branches are getting long and need support, as seen in the photo. I'd like a more bushy look so the wind doesn't affect the plant too much. Can I just cut off the branches anywhere along their length? For this specific plant, how would you prune it?


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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Prune each branch back to 2 healthy leaves and get it into better light than where its sited now. It will back-bud profusely & give you lots of additional pruning opportunities. As the new branches develop, as soon as they have 4-5 leaves on them, prune them back to 2 healthy leaves. That's how you maximize ramification and foliage density. Don't forget to repot if your plant needs it. You can do that now in your zone, but I'd stagger the work or repotting or pruning by 2-3 weeks. It doesn't matter which you do first in this case, but I generally prefer repotting first, followed by a hard pruning after the tree gets its feet back under it.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 3:11PM
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newgen(9 Central California)

Thanks Al, will get the choppers ready! It gets lots of sunlight where it is, southern facing. Photo was taken in the morning, so mostly eastern sun at that moment.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 6:05PM
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Your variegated Ficus elastica is very healthy and growing as nature intended. That means that it loses some older (lower) leaves as it adds more on top. The lower leaf loss is not at all excessive and that tells me that you are providing good light and proper watering. The pot size is just fine.

The only way to get new leaf growth on the lower portion of the stems is to prune them back that far because new growth only comes in at the top end of each stem. You can prune back all of the stems at once, but your plant will be an eyesore for several months until the new growth is established.

An alternative is to prune back one or two stems and leave the others. After the pruned back stems start to produce new growth, you can then prune back one or two other stems. This is a more gradual approach that essentially recycles your plant without it ever being obvious.

This is just an alternative approach. There is no right or wrong way.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 10:04PM
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newgen(9 Central California)

thanks Will, advice much appreciated!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 10:29AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

You should be able to propagate the tips you remove, if interested.

If you go for a significant reduction in height, which I would do if for no other reason than to shorten/strengthen weak branches, I would remove the stake supports to give it a chance at supporting itself. If it's not able to hold itself up, the reason is usually not enough light. Removing the stakes would also allow it to move in the wind, which is what necessitates that they become stronger, kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you rotate porch plants halfway a couple times per month (or about 25% per week) it will stay as even as possible, not leaning toward the sun.

Your plant is awesomely pretty! I had one slightly taller but with solid green leaves that I let get too cold. Still regret that & miss it!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 2:37PM
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