My Tall Rubber Tree...

TaBuUSeptember 22, 2013

Hi There!!
As you can see we have a VERY tall (7ft ish) one steamed Ficus elastica, and what we're hoping to learn and go on to accomplish is creating an actual sturdy tree out of it. I have absolutely NO idea what to do with (Wellington the Third) this rubber tree. He started so small!! I would appreciate any information you can share with us!

TaBuU & Wellington The Third :)

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TaBu & Wellington :)

Wow, your Ficus Rubber Tree is tall.

I don't understand if you want your Ficus to look bushy or Standard, 'leaves on top, bare trunk.'???

Either shape can be accomplished with a little work, however, since winter is approaching, it may be better to wait until the minimum, very late winter.


    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 1:16PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

For best results, you will want to set a plan in motion that works in harmony with the plant's natural rhythms. This will allow you to accomplish your goals much faster, and w/o much of the waiting and frustration that usually accompanies simply moving forward on hope & a prayer. ;-)

It's late in the growth cycle to be doing anything significant to roots or the top of the tree, unless you live in the deep south. Even then, it would still be better to wait on the major work until next summer. Your tree will have the lowest energy reserves of the entire growth cycle in late winter and early spring, so any significant work on it should be avoided until later in the growth cycle, after the plant has had the opportunity to turn some of the lengthening photoperiod into some energy reserves it can fall back on when you start cutting on it. You'd be amazed at how much a healthy tree will tolerate if you follow a considered plan and work on it when its energy reserves are high.

If it was my tree, I'd first consider how root bound it is. If it's never been repotted & roots are cramped, I might saw off the bottom few inches of the root mass, cut some vertical slits in the root ball, add some soil to the bottom of the pot to bring the existing soil line up to about 1/2" from the top of the pot and call it good until summer. If you haven't been flushing the soil when you water, I'd also thoroughly flush the soil as I do the minor root work. Ask about that if you decide to take the advice.

This should allow your plant to return to growing a little closer to its potential, which you'll look at as a growth spurt. Next summer, around Father's Day, you can do a full repot into an appropriate soil. My definition of an appropriate soil is one that will allow you to flush the soil at will w/o having to worry about root function being impaired or setting the stage for fungal root infections. This is a key element in being able to consistently grow healthy plants that look good, so it would be of significant benefit to you if you don't just skip over considering the impact soil choice has on your ability to provide what your plant wants. Root health (required for a healthy plant), insects infestations, disease, and poor appearance are almost always directly related to a poor soil and inappropriate watering habits; and the worse the soil is, the more difficult a watering regimen that pleases the plant becomes.

Next summer, close on the heels of the repot (2-3 weeks), you can start pruning the top in a way that will allow you to create the look you're after. It's not at all difficult, but I think you would be chasing your tail if you start trying to work toward that end w/o first making sure the tree is healthy and able to respond to your ministrations.



    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 2:27PM
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