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Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Posted by jennmonkey Seattle (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 20, 05 at 23:08

Hello all. My rubber tree is in need of a little trimming. Several of the branches are getting extremely long and the plant is looking somewhat lopsided. If I trim a few of the branches, can I root and directly plant the branch in new soil? Will a new tree start growing? Thanks for the advice!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 21, 05 at 11:35

If you prune a Ficus that is not growing vigorously so that only one or no healthy leaves remain on that branch, you could lose it. So prune in stages. Any branch you wish to shorten, prune back to two or more healthy leaves. If the branch looks awkward, remove it entirely. If the branch is as long as you like it and you don't wish it to extend further, prune off the growing tip. This will cause more branches to form along the tip-pruned branch.

Yes, you can readily root stems of the rubber tree. Insert them in a well drained medium (perlite, vermiculite, gravel are all good as would be a seed starter mix.) and site in bright light & keep moist. If you are doing this outdoors, securing the cutting with string so the wind does not move it (and break newly forming roots) will cut establishment time considerably.

Make sure you are rooting a stem and not just a leaf. There is a thread floating around now about the results of rooting a leaf petiole with no stem attached.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I've rooted F. elastica cuttings in soil. Sticking them right into the pot with the main plant works sometimes for me but I have the best success putting them in smaller pots (I've used regular potting soil) and making sure they maintain higher humidity, keep the soil moist but not wet, and give them bright light. Make sure you have some of the stem and not just the leaf petiole. It's a slow process, I'm not at all sure rooting hormone speeds it up. The main ingredient you'll need is patience.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 21, 05 at 14:18

The speed of the process varies widely with the time of year, amount of light, and especially soil temperatures. Ficus cuttings root best when cuttings are taken while the tree is growing strongly, light levels are high, and soil temperatures range from about 72 - 80* F. I almost always set ficus cuttings on a propagation mat for best results, removing them as soon as new growth appears.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Al, you're great and I always love reading what you post. I guess if I said that anything that takes a week or longer requires a ton of patience on my part it would help understand what I meant. And of course you're right. Again. As is the norm. ;p

Thanks for being so helpful. I've come to rely on your knowledge and willingness to share it. :o)


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thanks for all the advice. There are tons of leaves on each branch. There would still be plenty of leaves left if I cut some of the branch off. Can I root it in water or should I put it right into soil?

ps. although I have lots of house plants, I am pretty much a newbie, I have never mixed my own soil, have always just bought potting soil and potted everything in it. Everything has always turned out alright...so far:)


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 21, 05 at 18:56

Prune your tree with a purpose in mind. If your tree has several branches along the upright stem (trunk), it will look best & be best for getting light to leaves if you prune in a tepee shape - upper branches shorter & lower branches longer. If a branch makes the tree look "off balance" or "it doesn't look right", remove it. Cutting the growing tips off all the branches (except the apex, if you wish the tree to grow taller) will force new branches from dormant buds at leaf axils (crotches where leaf meets stem) and offer you a whole bunch more branches to prune and a much fuller tree that will be more pleasing to your eye.

Good luck, jm. ;o)

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: Read this before you decide between soil/water ;o)


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thanks Al, okay I'm posting a pic so you'll see what I mean. The main trunk splits into 2, each trunk has 3 branches coming off. A few are much longer than the others, probably because of how I had it sitting in relative to the window. So, should I cut all the branches to the same size, forcing all of them to start hew branches. I would only take a tiny bit off the shorter ones, obviously. Is the best place to cut right above a leaf? Take a look and tell me what you think. Also, can I plant the cuttings in regular potting soil or do I need to do something fancy? Sorry this pic is so huge, but I don't know how to shrink it. Thanks so much, Jenn

Image hosted by TinyPic.com


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 21, 05 at 22:40

I can't see the trunks too well, but trees with two trunks that don't split near the soil line look unnatural. Select the straightest trunk as the primary. Cut the secondary trunk back very short - to two leaves. A branch or two will begin growing from the secondary trunk & the tree will look more natural. Also, this will slow thickening of the secondary trunk & the tree will have better natural taper from a thin top to a thicker bottom. The trunk you select as the primary trunk needs shortening as well. You can either shorten it and stake it so it grows vertically (take the curve out of it), or cut it quite short (just above where it curves left in the photo) & train the the new branch that originates nearest the top to grow vertically. Hope you understand all that. You can whip this tree into an attractive shape in no time. ;o)

There is nothing to stop you from using potting soil, but the possibility of any one of several fungi that could rot the cutting end before a root connection to the vascular system can develop is greatly increased. Aside from that, there is no reason damp potting soil won't work OK. It is well known, however, that a highly aerated medium like perlite or vermiculite is an excellent choice for rooting cuttings.

Best of luck.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I am glad I found this thread as I have a rubber tree plant that really needs reshaping and pruning. It has grown too large in width and is becoming hard to fit anywhere in the house. The main trunk is about 4 feet tall and has 5 large branches. Each of these branches is 30" to 36" long. A couple of of the branches have no leaves for the first two feet from the trunk end, then there are 6-8 leaves at the end of the branch. The other branches have more leaves all along the length. There is also a small side trunk that has developed at about 6" from the bottom of the main trunk. This smaller trunk also has some small branches.

I have been afraid to do any major pruning but it is clear that it needs help. I need to reshape it to be more narrow so it can fit easily into a corner. From the earlier posts, it seems I can cut back the branches that have leaves all along their lengths. However, for the branches that have no leaves for the first two feet, cutting back enough so a few leaves remain would not help reduce branch length too much. Unfortunately two of these large woody branches are on the same side, so cutting both of them back to the trunk would make the tree rather lopsided. In one way this would be good as the tree could now stand against a wall, but I am sure it would not be good for the plant? If I cut off the entire woody branch, can this be rooted to form a new plant? What is my best course of action? Is it too much of a shock to the plant to cut back all the branches at once? Thanks!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Sep 5, 05 at 21:53

Though the branches with sections of no leafy growth close to the trunk may not be able to be shortened much now, you need to take the first steps to being able to shorten them later. Removing the branch's growing tip (apical meristem), which is responsible for branch elongation, or pruning back to two leaves will cause new branches to begin growing closer to the trunk. Soon, you will be presented with multiple pruning opportunities.

Ficus e. is one plant where the "never remove more than 1/3 of the top mass" doesn't necessarily apply. However, radical pruning in which more than 1/3 and up to 3/4 of top growth is removed is best saved until the plant is entering a period of vigorous growth. In your zone, that would be late June or early July.

Pruning the tree so that it will stand against the wall is somewhat similar to espalier pruning & really won't hurt the tree, but you have to be ready to accept that the tree will only look good in one position - against the wall.

"Ficus" followed by "fit easily into a corner" raises a warning flag. Ficus are high light plants & won't particularly appreciate being sited in a corner. If this is the only area you have to place the plant, it shouldn't be unexpected to see weak growth that will have a tendency to be unable to support itself.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Al, thanks for the reply and information. I guess I will just prune back a few leaves on each of the branches in anticipation of pruning back more radically next spring and hopefully I will have a bushier and less leggy plant. It needs to be even a little less wide right now because it is has only one or two places to sit (and is cramped) at this point, at its current width. I eventually need to get it narrower than it is now because I don't have a room or large section of a room entirely for this plant, which is what it currently requires. Would it be safe to transplant the entire root ball (without root pruning) into a slightly larger pot now? The pot it is in is cracked and won't support the plant's height and weight - it keeps tipping over due to overly long branch length. Hopefully once appropriately pruned and staked, we won't have this problem. But it needs to be in a pot that doesn't leak.

As far as the "fitting into a corner" goes, I am limited to where it can go. If I can prune it down in width, then I can move it to a better location without the branches extending on sofa backs or table tops! A plant that has three-foot branches in either direction takes up 6 square feet plus room to walk around it, which is a lot of space in your average room. What is the average width of one of these plants that is four feet tall and properly pruned? Unfortunately my window choices are only bright north light (in front of the window), or a partially shaded south facing window. We have no west or east windows available.

When I rescued this plant from an office situation many years ago, it was much smaller and I had no idea how large it would get. In our previous house we had more space for it in a large, bright family room where it obviously thrived; now we don't have as much space to devote to it. So when I say, "in a corner" I actually mean out of the normal flow of traffic in an average-sized room.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 6, 05 at 19:13

Prune the branches you are having problems with (causing the plant to tip or sticking too far into the living area) back to 2 leaves, & tip prune the remaining branches. Can you mail me a pic or 2?

Potting up should be no problem, but disturb the roots as little as possible. The pot needs to at least leak a little - out of the essential drain hole. ;o) Use a drip tray & a couple of bricks to elevate the pot if necessary, but it needs a drain hole.

Average width? Hmmm. It will vary by tree, depending on how much light the tree receives. Internode length could easily triple for plants grown in low light when compared to plants grown in full sun. I think I would try to divide the tree into 3 vertical "zones". The lowest zone would have the longest branches & have 4-6 leaves on each branch. The next zone, the middle, would have 3-5 leaves per branch, and the top zone would have 2-3 leaves on each branch. It's difficult to see how close to realistic this scenario is w/o a pic, but it gives you an idea of what to shoot for.

I would also consider my house a "holding area" for my tree until I could get it back outdoors in June. At that time, I would be sure to prune off all the lanky & weak growth that occurred over winter. The new growth on a tree grown in good sun will exhibit the short internodes & dense foliage you're looking for.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thank you again for further details. I took some pictures of the plant and you can view them at the link below. (Pardon the room under construction in the photos! Also the plant needs a thorough dusting after being exposed to the remodelling process.) I have tried to add photo captions to indicate the problem areas. Looking at the plant in the photos is a little embarrassing because it looks truly massive and unkempt! I admit I have rather just let it grow over the years. :-(

Having only 5 or six leaves on branches closer to the trunk would make this a MUCH more manageable plant. I would like to work towards that end eventually. In looking at it last night, I can see that what I thought was a branch is probably the top part of the trunk turned sideways because I couldn't find a top growing tip.

I never considered putting this plant outside since the weather is so unpredictable in New England. I also didn't want to expose it to or bring in insects. Have you had any issues with this by having the plant outside?

Here is a link that might be useful: Rubber Tree Plant


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 7, 05 at 21:02

Shorten the two branches you identify as the long bare ones to 2 leaves. Shorten the other branches with lots of leaves to 5 leaves (1 exception - I'll explain later). Leave a 1-2 inch stub sticking out beyond the second leaves on the long bare branches & beyond the 5th leaves on the others. The reason for this (the stub) is: If you prune tight to the leaf, the cambium will dry out & separate from the sapwood. This can kill the leaf you wanted to save and/or make an ugly wound that will take a long time to heal. If you let the stub die naturally, you'll be able to see the living tissue at its base by next summer & make your final pruning cut just beyond the living tissue then, when it will heal quickly. It's probably not too important, because the branches will be shortened again later & the stub will be removed, but it's a good habit to get into when pruning Ficus.

We're going to build a new top for your tree. In photo 8, you identify the actual main stem of the plant, growing to the right & drooping toward the floor. The short, all green branch growing toward the right in the pic and almost horizontally (just angling upward a little) is your new top. Remove the drooping branch entirely & leave a 2" stub. Use a stake strong enough to train the main stem and this short, green branch back to vertical. This short branch should be the only one you leave the apical meristem (growing tip) on and, as noted, is your new top. Use rags or something that won't damage or break the bark of the tree, but make sure you put most of the pressure on the thicker part & not the more fragile green branch. It may take 2 or 3 efforts to gradually train the curved stem back to vertical, but you can do it by next summer, easily. Also, in pic 7, there is a branch to the right of the trunk growing what appears to be straight down and parallel to the trunk. Remove this branch entirely & leave a 2 inch stub.

Any questions?

I never worry about bugs. I have about 80-100 tropical and subtropical trees (probably 1/3 are Ficus) that summer outdoors on growing benches. I applied neem oil to them over the weekend, and I'll make another application and soil drench with neem when I bring them in around the 15th or when night temperatures are scheduled to dip below 50 for several nights running. This usually gets me through the winter w/o any problems. If I do encounter a pest, it's usually scale or occasionally mites. If necessary, an application of a granular systemic (Marathon) eliminates this problem handily.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I really, really appreciate your help with this! I am going to print all this out and digest it before I start cutting. I may have more questions later. I am glad that I will not have to find this tree a new home, as my husband said it would have to go if we couldn't find enough room for it!

Do you think all this cutting back at this time of year will damage the plant? Thanks again.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 9, 05 at 7:23

Would you like references? (Just teasing) Had you asked your questions in May or June, the advice would have been for much more radical pruning. Don't be a Nervous Nelly, do the pruning - you'll be glad you did. ;o) I have pruned so many Ficus, both for myself and others, that I almost don't need to think about it as I prune. Your tree will be fine.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

My Ficus e. has two trunks that diverge below the soil line. One is growing vertically and the other almost horizontally. Would it be alright to divide the root system and replant the lopsided one vertically, or does it have to be cut above the soil and rooted?
Thanks!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 9, 05 at 16:49

If the two stems diverge below soil, there is only 1 root system. There are several options for a tree like this.

A) Completely remove the stem growing almost horizontally. You could air-layer prior to removing, treat as a cutting after pruning it off, or discard it. Air-layer best done in March, cutting best taken in July, remove/discard any time.

B) The stems can be tied together so that the angle between them is reduced to somewhere around 15 degrees. The rootball could then be rotated in the container and the plant repotted so each stem is slightly off vertical. Tie stems together now - July is best for repot.

C) The horizontal branch/stem could be cut back to 2 leaves, which will stimulate back-budding. Hopefully, a new branch will occur near the base that can be trained to the vertical. At that time, the rest of the branch (beyond the new top) would be removed. Cut back now, or wait until spring.

D) It's likely the stem can be split in half, effectively separating the plant into two trees, as long as each part has roots to support the canopy. New roots would quickly form at the edges of the separating cut. This isn't too difficult an operation, but I would only undertake this in July, and if the tree shows good vitality.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thanks Al, no references required, just courage and a sharp knife on my part. ;-) I have this pruning on my list to do this week. I first want to have some extra pots and rooting medium for the longer pruned cuttings, especially the trunk offshoot near the bottom. That would probably make a nice second plant.

Wish me luck! Thanks again for giving great advice and a needed boost of nerve. :-) I'll let you know how it goes.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I recently rescued a rubber tree plant, in terrible condition. It has two very long skinny stems, with only five leaves on the end of one stem. Can this plant be saved? Should I just cut off the portion of stem that has the leaves and try to root it? Is vermiculite the best rooting medium for it?
I'm in AZ, so we are just getting into some wonderful weather now - 90's in the day, 70's at night. Should I try this outdoors or inside?
I'd really like to save this plant - it was given to me as one leaf and a piece of stem in 1974. It grew beautifully, and I gave it to my mom. She moved a few months ago and the plant went into major shock and lost almost every leaf before I could get to it.
Many thanks


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Sep 17, 05 at 17:17

Probably can be saved, but why is it in terrible condition?

Leave 2 or three leaves on the stem & try rooting the tip cutting. The old tree will bud back if we can figure out what's ailing it. Perlite or vermiculite are good rooting mediums. Make sure the cutting is secure & won't move around while trying to root it.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Al - thanks so much for the speedy reply. The only thing I can think of is that maybe when Mom moved, she placed the plant in the path of the AC vent. New apartment has brighter indirect sunlight, so I don't think that was it. When she first noticed it was ailing, she thought it needed repotting, and she only went up one size on the new pot.
Re the cutting - I just use perlite or vermiculite? I don't mix it with anything? How large/small a container? Should I find a little pot, or would a mason jar work to begin with.
Sorry to ask so many questions, but it's been so long since I've done any houseplant maintenance that I'm a little nervous. Being in AZ for the last several years has really limited my ability to have houseplants (we have shutters on most windows because of the heat).
Again, my thks


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Sep 17, 05 at 20:59

Use perlite if you have it & there's no need to mix with anything. Perlite doesn't lose its "loft" like vermiculite does. Keep the cutting in a very bright area but out of direct sun. Medium should be kept moist. Rooting will occur fastest if medium is around 75* F. Securing the cutting so it doesn't move in relation to the container will prevent the extremely fragile adventitious roots from breaking as they form & will fractionalize the time it takes for larger cuttings to establish. Use a sterile container with a drain hole at the bottom.

Good luck.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hi Al,
Well, two months have passed and my cutting is thriving - 3 new leaves on it, and three new leaves on old scrawny trunk. So, when should I repot the cutting into regular soil? And what size pot would you recommend moving it to? As for the scrawny trunk, I don't see much else I can do except maybe cut the top piece off, root that in perlite and toss the old trunk - it's probably 34" long, with leaves only on the top portion.
thanks


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Nov 24, 05 at 10:17

Give thanks, today is the day for it. ;o) Repot now into a smallish pot. I don't know how large your cutting is, but a 3-1/2 - 4 inch container should be good. By summer, it might be good to go into a 6" pot for a year or two. It could need a larger pot now than what I suggested if I guessed (imagined) the size of the cutting wrong.

If I'm getting the pic of the old plant, it's a bare stem with a few leaves at the ends? If you remove the growing tip and last leaf on the branch, the plant will back-bud (if you can endure the appearance for awhile).

Good going!!!

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I hope its not rude of me to jump in on an existing thread but, I really need help with my rubber tree-and I see this thread is pretty old. Hope I can get some replies anyway!

My mother bought a "baby" rubber tree 6 years ago. I believe at the time it was at most 6 inches tall. 1 trunk, a couple of leaves. She had it in a very poorly lit place and although it stayed healthy, it virtually didnt grow at all.

2 years ago she gave the plant to me. I know next to nothing about plants, and this was basically the first plant I ever owned. Just RECENTLY I decided to research the plant because it didnt seem right that a plant should not grow. I repotted, fertilized it, and put it in front of a BRIGHT window. Just in the last 2 months, I've gotten 4 new leaves that are at least triple the size of the leaves it had...but the trunk is NOT getting any bigger. It's pencil thin (or smaller) and the heighth is now well over a foot tall. There is no "branching" either. Its just basically a trunk with 8 tiny leaves and 4 bigger ones. I do not know what to do for this plant. Any help would be much appreciated.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, May 17, 06 at 16:13

You don't say where you live, which could provide an important clue as to what is appropriate for this plant. In most of the US, your plant would just be stretching after a winter's sleep, like you do when you wake up, and getting ready to start growing in earnest. The thickness of the stem is most affected by the amount of light and N your plant gets. It will fatten on its own now, if you give it good light & don't go wild with the N. Some recommend high N fertilizers for Ficus, but it's a poor choice, causing them to really stretch out unnecessarily. The plant does well in a spare soil & will appreciate a low N fertilizer, like you would use on tomatoes. Tomato fertilizer is very good for Ficus.

You can remove the growing tip of the stem, along with the last leaf, which will cause the plant to send out new branches from leaf axils (crotches of leaves). Later, you can select one of the new branches as the new leader (top) by pruning off the existing top that grows above that branch. The effect of this is a fatter trunk, better able to support itself, and a shorter plant o/a.

BTW Look at any Ficus. You'll discover it is the natural habit for leaves to get consecutively larger on the branch as it extends

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I'm thrilled to have found this link and hope that you can advise me. I recently moved into a new home (new for me but about 30 years old) and there is a large rubber tree just outside the front door. There are 5 upright stems that are all underground. The plant ranges from 5' on the 3 smaller stems to 8-9' on the 2 larger stems. This is a very healthy plant with lots of new growth both at the top and at the base of each stem. I would like to move the tree from the front of the house and divide it into smaller containers that I can place in the backyard instead. What would be the best method to divide the plant, cut it back, root the cuttings, etc, and how much can I do at once without traumatizing the tree? How much of the tree should be planted in one container? I would truly appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks in advance for your time!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 1, 06 at 2:07

First, you need to determine if the plant is from one stem, or they are several cuttings. Then, have the roots fused, making the only practical method os separating an air-layer? You should be able to get away with some pretty radical pruning in your zone, where the tree will exhibit most of its genetic vigor (if other cultural conditions are good). Picture - either here or mail to me?

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thank you for the prompt response! I'm attaching a few pictures here. You can see that the larger stems are now leaning forward as they're too large to remain under the overhang of the house. Hopefully you can also see the new growth. I hate to have to lose this but I suppose when taking cuttings I might. Is the only way to see if the plant is from one stem or if roots have fused is to dig up the plant? Is it possible to break the root ball apart and create separate plants? Where should I make the first cuts and should I do this while the plant is still rooted or after I dig it up? (I know I have a lot of questions and I hope you don't mind answering them; I am a true novice!)Again, many thanks.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 1, 06 at 21:34

Yikes! (as a dear friend would say) ;o)

I'm pretty sure you could dig the plant, hack the root mass into manageable size parts, pot up, and get several plants from this one. In the ground, elastica is extremely vigorous & will tolerate amazing indignities and bounce back. You could also stool the plant (pretty big to air-layer, but you could do that too, I suppose) and get a sure 5 plants from it - plus the main plant will become a bush. You never said why you wish to move it?

Stooling involves wounding the stems, like you would in an air-layer (just above the ground, though), and building up the soil around the base. The tree will root into the new soil. Next spring, you remove the earth carefully and sever the stems at grade level (below the new roots. Prune hard & pot up. Treat as a cutting (put in fast soil, in shade, water/wait). I'm certain they will take if you do your part. If you wish to try an air-layer, I can help with that, too. You'll be layering in a nursery container, though.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Yikes is right. It seems to have grown considerably these past 2 months or so. I want to move it because I was told the root system on this plant is too large for its placement right next to the house and sidewalk. Plus, as you can see, it's definitely too large. You kind of have to walk around the one stem that leans toward the door and the taller branches are leaning too far forward now to get away from the overhang. I wanted to divide it and make several container plants that I can place in my backyard. Stooling sounds like a long time investment when I'm trying to get this done rather soon (the weather here will soon be too hot to do much of anything!)What would happen if I just cut the plant back and made it shorter? Would I be able to take the cut pieces and root them somehow? (I saw you mention perlite earlier) Also, let's say I cut the plant back, how long can each cut piece be and can I cut each cut piece more than once? If you don't recommend this,I guess we can talk about air-layering instead. Again, thanks so much.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 2, 06 at 17:18

Cutting the tree way back, to near the ground, will result in dozens of stems and a much more shrubby plant. You should be able to propagate from tip cuttings, and then remove the remaining plant. Interested in that?

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Sure. Can you walk me through it? Thx


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 3, 06 at 16:27

Use a 2 or 3 gallon nursery container or other container about 12" deep. Cut the top 15-18 inches off each stem with a very sharp pruner or lopper. From the cutting. remove all but the top 1 or 2 leaves by cutting through the petiole (leaf stem) half way between the leaf and main stem. Put about 2 inches of a fast draining soil into each container. Add cutting & fill nearly to rim with additional soil. Water well & place in shade. When the first leaf opens, it's not necessarily a sign the cutting has rooted. The second emerging leaf will tell you it has rooted & the plant can be moved to sun and fertilized.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Please indulge me with a few more questions just to be sure I understand...when I remove each leaf, I leave about 1/2 of the 'nub' between the leaf and the stem, is this right? Do I include the brand new growth (that hasn't even opened yet) in the count when I leave the top 1-2 leaves? Also, can I take more than 1 cutting from the same stem-for example, on a 10' stem, can I take more than one 15-18" cutting? If so, do I leave 1-2 leaves on these as well? Is perlite the best medium to use?
It hurts me to have to lose so many beautiful, healthy leaves! Many thanks.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 4, 06 at 14:28

yes - right

yes - include

If more than one cutting from each stem, you will definitely get stems from each leaf node on the lower (not tip) cuttings, but you can do this too. You'll need to prune off all branches below the leader soon after they occur unless you prefer a multi-stemmed plant. If you do - remove the tip from the tip cuttings & leave 2 leaves.

yes. leave 1-2 leaves at the top of each cutting.

Perlite is very good as a rooting medium. Make sure it will retain enough moisture between waterings. Very coarse silica sand or swimming pool filter sand (half BB size to BB size) will also work, too.

Reducing the # of leaves reduces the evaporative surface & helps to keep cutting vascular system from collapsing (dehydration). Don't worry, the leaves will return. ;o) Your job now is to get the cuttings to make roots. Worry about "pretty" later. ;o)

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thank you Al for all of your help :-) I took 10 cuttings today including a 2nd cutting from the taller trunks. I'll let you know how it all turns out. About how long before I'll know if they 'took'? Also, can you explain what you mean by pruning the branches below the leader - what is a leader?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 5, 06 at 7:19

The leader is the growing tip of the branch, and is usually the tallest one. Whole trees can have a branch that's called a leader, but a single branch can have a leader too. If there are ramifications (other branches off the main branch - branchlets, sorta), the leader is the growing tip of the main branch. In your elastica, the leaders are very apparent - the main stems that have the newly forming leaves unfurling/opening.

I think you will have roots forming quickly - maybe 2 weeks. Remember the forming of the second leaf will tell you the plants are making roots (striking).

If you want a single stemmed plant, you need to remove the other branches that form below the leader you select, or else you will have multiple stems (competing leaders). Ask about this after the cuttings strike & I'll talk more about this. You don't have to remove these branches immediately. Leaving them on temporarily means more photosynthate going into storage and more cells laid down in the cambium of the tree. In other words, the extra branches can be managed temporarily to strengthen the trunk (so the tree is self-supporting) before they are removed.

Got all that? :o)

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Got it - thanks Al. You are awesome!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Wow, this forum is great! I know I'm a little late in coming, but I too have a rubber tree question:

I've got a rubber tree that was given to me as a branch with one or two leaves on it. It was about 6" at the time but has grown to a 5 foot tall monster!

The problem I have with it is that there are NO branches -- just one tall, thin trunk with leaves coming out of it. And its getting so tall that it can no longer support itself.

What's the best approach to trimming this back so that:
-- I get a stronger trunk (well, not me, the plant!)
-- It will sprout branches along the trunk

Can anyone help?? I'm in NJ, plant is kept indoors in a sunny room with 23 foot ceilings (I don't care how tall it gets -- taller is better than wider in my house -- but it must support itself [kinda like my kids, eventually]!).

Any advice?

Thanks,
-- Mike


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 15, 06 at 15:14

Mike - Simply cut it off immediately above any growing leaf (half ht?). Regardless of where you live in the US, you're coming into the best time of year to do this (but you really should tell us where you live). The tree will respond by activating dormant buds in existing leaf axils & probably at other places (old leaf scars) along the stem. Choose one of the new branches that is naturally growing more toward the vertical and train it to grow upward (wire or stake it). Once it starts growing well, prune off what is growing above the new leader.

This shortening reduces the weight on the stem and has the same effect as strengthening it. Also, the stem continues to increase in diameter as the new leader grows, strengthening it and adding interesting taper to the trunk. IMO, a tapered and slightly sinuous trunk is much more appealing and interesting to the eye than a poker straight stick in a pot. :o)

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Okay. I'm very glad I found this forum. Here's my problem. I inherited a rubber tree plant that was doing fine, though has never been pruned. My cats have been peeing in the plant, yes, that right, peeing in the plant. Which is causing one problem. The leaves are falling off. I'm going to move the plant so they can't get to it as easily...I hope. But, my one cat has been chewing on the leaves--which is quite gross. So, I'm about to do some pruning and rooting, and hope to get this plant into better shape. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm willing to listen. By the way, I put rocks on the top of the soil to discourage the cats but it didn't work.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I found this forum...thank goodness. i have a rubber tree in a large container (multiple shoots/possible stems) and we had a few hard freezes this winter (amazing we had more than one freezing night...it actually snowed in phoenix!) anyhow...my rubber tree is all dried up (leaves) and shriveled (stem is dark brown and dry) at the tips of the shoots.....what should I do? The plant has been kept outside for several years and was doing fine before the freezes. We aren't exactly out of the cold yet (40-50 F at night) so should I wait? Also, how far down do I cut? Do I cut at an angle and at what location (crotch/joint?). And i understand if I want to encourage new growth at trunk/base I should brake off the tip on healthly shoots? Please clarify. Thank you!
cmt909


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 11, 07 at 8:35

When temperatures fall much below 55*, photosynthesis is greatly impeded in tropical Ficus. As the temperature drops further, damage to the photosynthesizing mechanism occurs and the plant begins operating on energy reserves rather than currently produced food. Think of this as if your car was running with the headlights and radio on. If you turn the engine off while the headlights and radio remain on, the car will supply energy from it's reserves until it can no longer do so. It is operating at a net energy loss & it cannot do so indefinitely; the same is true of your tree. To complicate the issue, it takes a long time for the plant to recover its photosynthesizing ability once it's returned to temperatures conducive to normal food production. So, though the plant may have appeared to be doing fine under cold-stress conditions - it wasn't.

Do not perform any pruning surgery on the tree now. Remove unsightly green parts as they turn soft or brown, but leave anything green on the tree for now. Green means chlorophyll means photosynthesis means food for recovery, so you need all the green you can save. Also, you should move the tree to a warm, bright position until you can return it to a spot where temps will remain consistently above 50 - 55*.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

thanks Al....i feel terrible about putting my poor tree through this torturous treatment...would you recommend any fertilizer/miracle grow to help the tree recover? i'd like to do whatever (in addition to your previous recommendations) to help this tree in its recovery. thanks.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 14, 07 at 10:59

Trees suffer all manner of indignities in nature & recover - no reason to believe yours won't too. I'd prolly hold off on fertilizing the plant until you see signs of active growth. You don't say where you live, which complicates offering guidance, but the plant will probably begin to grow more aggressively around the vernal equinox (mid-March), which is about when I would begin to thinking about supplemental nutrients.

Keeping the roots warm (70-80*) and the plant in bright light, along with conservative watering practices (not tooo dry though) is what your plant wants now.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

We have 3 rubber tree plants that we rcvd about 6 years ago. We have kept them outside, moving them to the garage covered with a lamp during winter. After many freezes here in Austin,TX I have put them back on the porch but noticed the leaves are drying and shriveling up. I also noticed something on the top of soil that looks like round mushroom caps and disentegrated easily when picked up. My questions are: Is this a good time of year to prune them? Is this a fungus in the soil?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 24, 07 at 16:00

Chill (particularly sudden chill), decreasing photo-period (diminishing light levels), sun burn, pests, and irrigation excess or deficiency can all cause the symptoms you described.

The growth you describe at the top of the soil is most likely the fruiting bodies of one of the fungi that commonly occurs in soils containing wood products and harmless.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I have a 1 year old rubber tree that has 4 main trunks extendeding straight up about 10-15 feet. Since it's in a 3' area between 2 driveways, I'd like to start trimming it back to more of a tree shape, maybe producing some shade. Where is the best place to trim to encourage the new growth to go sideways? ALso, the tree is planted against the front of our house and only about 3' from the foundation. Yesterday, a landscaper, unfortunatly in front of my husband, told me I should move it othewise it will destroy our foundation and driveway. Please tell me this isn't true! It's my most successfull plant I have growing on this ant hill of a barrier island.
Ann South Padre Island,Tx


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 25, 07 at 11:14

Trim stems (trunks) anywhere you want on this plant, as long as you leave two branches with viable growth on each stem. If, after you remove these branches the tree is still too tall, wait until new growth emerges behind the pruning cuts. You can shorten again later, leaving at least 2 viable branches .....

An excerpt from something I wrote about Ficus benjamina, which has very similar characteristics and cultural wants to elastica:

"The roots of some species are so powerful they can destroy concrete buildings or buckle roads and can be measured in miles, as they extend in search of water."

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 25, 07 at 14:11

Oops! Pardon me please - I mis-stated: What reads "If, after you remove these branches..." should have read: "If, after you have removed the portion of the tree above these two branches the tree is still too tall, wait until new growth emerges behind the pruning cuts. You can shorten again later, again leaving at least 2 viable branches ....."

Sorry for any confusion.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

My husband has had a rubber tree plant for almost 18 years and it's in desperate need attention. He's only given me permission to take on the task with threat of divorce if I kill the thing. It has a single stem base about 2-3 inches in diameter and 2 branches that go out in each direction about 4 feet. It truly looks like a cross. Each of those branches has about 4-5 leaves at the ends of the branch. My question is how to I go about this without killing it? Thanks for any help you can give me on this.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 26, 07 at 7:16

When did you last repot or pot up?

When the tree begins to grow in earnest (probably mid to late Mar) you should employ this pruning strategy: Prune the long branches so that only two sound leaves remain on each. This will force new growth behind the pruning cuts and new branches will begin to grow. As the new branches form, there will likely be one on or close to the trunk. Train it to vertical with a stake, wire, splint, etc. It will be your new top. As each new branch gets to the point where it has 4 or 5 leaves on it, prune it back to two leaves. This forces your tree to remain compact & get "bushy". Each time you prune back to two leaves, two new branches will form in the axils (crotches) of the leaves you left. Eventually, if you wish, you should be able to eliminate the 2 existing branches in favor of younger branches in more appropriate locations.

The tree is genetically vigorous, but it sounds like its vitality is suffering and the tree growing under stress. A repot or potting up (if appropriate), a change of soil, a sound fertilizer program, and especially - getting the tree outdoors as soon as night temps are reliably above 55-60* and into good sun will work wonders.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

My daughter had to move. She moved her rubber tree plant in the back of a pickup. It was out about 15min. It was cold and snowing and of corse the wind from the drive. Now theleaves are falling of. She said that there are some sprots comming out. she wants to know if she can cut the branches and propagate it and where she should cut it.
thanks
shelly_2007


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I have a rubber tree plant that belonged to my mother who passed away in February. It has one main branch with three other branches coming from the top of the main trunk. Each branch has 5 or 10 leaves on them, but only at the end of the branch. Needless to say it is very top heavy. I would like to cut it back and have more leaves starting at the bottom of the main trunk. Is this possible? Also, I have tried rooting a cutting by placing in water and then in soil and keeping the soil moist, but after two weeks, the cutting lost all of its leaves and died. Can you tell me how to obtain a cutting from the plant? Thank you,


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

This info is fabulous! Once the holiday is over I am going to pass this to my Boy Friend. :)His looks very similar to the top picture only not so many leaves. He would like it to look like the 2nd picture & pass on cuttings to both my sisters. :) I also recently got him a varigated one. very small with only 2 leaves. Is there any hint to start it to grow? He also claims his Ficus is very sensitive to pruning & moving around. It will droop & a leaf or 2 will fall off. Is this normal?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hi. I am in zone 5 and am in Massachusetts. I have a few questions?
My Boyfriend has 2 Rubber Trees (in door only). One is a normal green leaf one & the other is a varigated. He had the normal for a few years now. He loves them & even named his older one "Robert". LOL
Anyhow, He claims these type of plants are very tempermental. When he moves the plant to vaccuum & places in back & wilts & a few leaves will fall off. Is this true?
He uses Miricale Grow about once a month. Is that too much &
would there be something better? The varigated, I got for him at a plant swap. One Stalk with 2 leaves. It had dry ground dirtin a grocery bag. It did not look too good. I didn't have any pots for it, but had a horse water bucket with a large enough split in the bottom for drainage. I put fresh Miracle Grow soil in it. Was that ok? When you take cuttings from a healthy plant, I always wondered, What do you do from keeping it from bleeding all over the place?
One more question.
My Mom never had a Rubber Tree, but she had tons of other houseplants & always taught my sister's & I to repot plants every year with new soil. We always had done this & never had problems. Would a Rubber Tree benifit from this too?

TIA,
Yvette
P.S.
Is there websites to learn more about these types of trees?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 15, 07 at 14:27

Vstratford - Prune each branch back to 2 leaves now. Moving the plant outdoors into shade for a few days & then full sun will help stimulate back-budding & new growth will appear in leaf axils & above old leaf bundle scars. In early Jun of next year, you can rework the roots of the tree & finish rejuvenating it, or you can go for broke & do it now, though it's kind of risky in zone 5 unless your tree is exhibiting excellent vitality at this time (it doesn't sound like it is, though)

Retain tip cuttings with some woodiness toward the base. Prune off all but the top leaf and the growing tip & stick in 100% perlite & keep moist. The cutting should root easily if you keep it in bright shade.

********************************************************************** ************

Rutlandite: If he rotates the tree when he returns it to its original place, newly shaded leaves can/sometimes will form an abscission layer and fall. This is due to decreased photosynthesis and a drop in the volume of a hormone (auxin) that flows across the abscision layer.

How often you fertilize depends on your watering habits, soil type, and where the tree is in it's growth cycle. For fast soils & when you water copiously so water appears at the drain hole with each watering - a full recommended strength solution of 20-20-20 or MG tomato fertilizer every two weeks while the plant is actively growing is a good choice. If the soil is slow & you tend to water in sips, a monthly feeding while actively growing would be better.

To stop cuttings from bleeding: make the cut & a minute or so later - spritz with fresh water. Soak up the latex & you should be fine.

Most plants would benefit from regular repotting. Trees in particular, should be repotted instead of potting up. Continual potting up insures eventual root-related vitality issues - repotting (which includes root-pruning) has a rejuvenating effect on woody plants.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I just talked to my Boyfriend about "Robert". He really wants me to have him! So I will be getting actually 2 new plants! The other is a Schefflera that my Mom gave top him.
The Rubber Tree, he said, is about 6' ft. So, I will new to
trim it some. Both he & I agree, if I can do this, that each of my sisters can have cuttings. Hope you all can assist me with it? I will post pictures & as much info of lighting & room I have.
TIA,
Yvette :)


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Al,
Thanks for so much assistance. I have a similar question as many of the others. I guess I have a multi-stemmed tree, with no true leader. The main issue I have is the plant has become leggy. I would like to make it more compact. I've seen where you suggest to trim branches to 2 leaves remaining. I would estimate that on my tree the branches are leafless for 2/3 with leaves only being on the last 1/3. So by trimming to only 2 leaves would not necessarily relieve the legginess. If I trim a few branches to have no leaves, would those branches be able to produce new growth?

I don't have a URL to post the pictures to. To help describe the plant there are roughly 8 single stemmed branches coming from the soil. Each roughly 3' long with the leaves not starting until 2' up the stem. Each stem has about 6 leaves.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 26, 07 at 21:59

Well, generally grove plantings like that look best when pruned to a tepee shape. Manipulate one stem to the center with a string/wire/stake or brace it against the edge of the pot. Then eventually prune the remaining branches in an inverted cone shape (tepee).

You're correct in that pruning what you have back to 2 leaves will not solve your legginess problem immediately, but it's what you MUST do if you want to solve it eventually. Pruning the growing tip forces new branching in leaf axils and at old leaf attachment sites, allowing you additional future opportunities to shorten the branches further. All ficus growers should terminate the branches as soon as they begin to grow outside the bounds of what looks good or room constraints.

You can prune ficus trees to bare branches, but only if the tree is full of vitality and growing well. With weak trees you run the risk of losing any branch reduced before it has 4 or more leaves or any branch reduced to less than two leaves. All trees growing indoors are growing in at least a somewhat weakened condition (unless the lighting is supplemented by halides or HPS lighting) and are poor candidates for radical reductions.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Ok. That was what I was afraid of. It sounds as if my trimming of the foliage will make the tree look even more thin temporarily. But it will hopefully enhance the trees shape by the next growing season by creating new buds.

The tree spends most of the time outdoors during the summer. You think it may be possible if I trim today to be able to get a few new shoots this season?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree follow up

Just added 2 photos to the photo gallery. I put them in the Container Gardening category.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grove Rubber Tree


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 27, 07 at 12:48

Probably, but what zone are you in, Normmm? Please add it to your page?

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I'm in Zone 7.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 31, 07 at 16:32

Your plant needs more light (can tell by the internode length) but looks robust enough to prune all stems back to 2 leaves now in 7. The plant should have nearly 2 months of good outdoor conditions to bud back & start producing new branches. When did you fertilize last? With what?

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I fertilized last around early June, with 10-10-10 granules.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

My rubber tree plant has lost all its leaves, but I thought that was because of winter. now it is starting to shrivel a little. I keep it watered, but it doesn't look any better. What can I do to keep it alive. Please help.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 6, 08 at 13:33

You really don't give up much to go on, but the odds are good that it's likely an over-watering issue or the light level is too low. It could be any one or more of many cultural conditions. Wet soil, dry soil, salt accumulation in soil, chill, over-fertilizing, insects, pathogens; all could cause leaf loss.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I've had a small indoor plant for a few years, now about 3 1/2 feet tall. It's one single skinny stem that has a leaf growing out every 1-2 inches with none left on the bottom 8 inches. It seems to be doing well but is too tall to support itself. Can i just cut it in half without damaging it?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 15, 08 at 19:43

Almost certainly 'yes', but what is this plant? In most plants, you should expect back-budding along the stem behind the pruning cut. In some plants, it's possible that the single stem could die, but if this occurs, & the plant has some energy reserves, it should produce basal sprouts & keep on ticking.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hi Al. It's a small rubber tree i got as a gift that i've never cut or pruned. Does back-budding mean more leaves off the stem below the cut? That would be ok, i just wanted to keep it small and in it's original planter. Is there any special way, or can i just cut the top off? Thanks!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 15, 08 at 21:09

If you wish to keep it in the same container, no matter what you do with the top, you'll need to undertake regular root reductions or the plant will eventually run out of growing room. This is a really old thread, so I'm not sure if there are any instructions above that will help with that part or not. If you're interested, we can visit that idea somehow - let me know.

Back-budding means new growth from old leaf nodes & adventitious buds along the stem after you prune or expose the plant to cultural conditions that stimulate strong growth. You can rely on back-budding in Ficus e. when you remove all the foliage, only if the tree has been growing with good vitality & you time the pruning to coincide with a period in the growth cycle when the plant has substantial energy reserves (mid-summer to early fall). Now is not a good time to undertake a radical pruning. A picture of your tree would be helpful, but it's almost sure to be better if you wait to prune until the plant has begun to grow in earnest & has gained some strength after a winter of resting.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I've never taken off the foliage (I'm meaning the leaves that sprout off singularly every 1-2 inches along the stem)as it seems to have a nice amount, not too much. Does that mean i should wait to crop off the top of the main stem (with it's leaves) though, as it is one long single stem that's starting to lean/fall over,till summer? Or can i crop off some of the top now and worry about pruning the individual leaves on the rest of the plant/stem later? Sorry if this sounds silly, I'm new at this.
Thanks again Al!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 16, 08 at 1:31

You don't sound silly. ;o) You CAN prune the top of the plant now if you feel you have to, but I would surely not do it unless there was some foliage remaining on the plant, and it would be MUCH better to wait until the plant has begun to grow in earnest. Remember that if you remove any foliage now, you're removing the workers that are making the plant's food. That's not a particularly good thing to do under low light (winter) conditions while the plant is in a resting phase of the growth cycle. Much better would be to allow the plant to gain some vitality & store some energy before you do any radical pruning.

If it was my tree, I'd try to hold out until mid-May before I chopped (an actual term for what you intend to do)the trunk. You could tip-prune now (remove the terminal leaf & the one just behind it) which will give you an early start on the back-budding, though. How about that for a compromise? ;o)

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thank you sooo much Al! I'll do just that and let it rest for now! Sounds like a plan. You'll probably hear from me in May :-)


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I'm sure this has been asked and covered multiple times but I need specifics for MY plants situation. Hope you can help.

About five years ago, my wife and I had a rubber tree that was in an eight inch pot and the plant was only about 18 inches tall. It was exposed to an unexpected freeze and unfortunately withered away to nothing but a stub about an inch long.

Thinking it was dead, we left it outside the rest of the winter. I told my wife jokingly," It'll bounce right back."(That's what I told her every time I killed a plant)

Well, surprisingly it did and in a big way. It is now about seven feet talland about 1 1/2 inches at the base. There are also two offshoots from below the soil line that are about 2 1/2 to 3 feet.The shorter stems have bark about 1 foot to 18 inches up them and leaves the whole lenght. The big one has bark about three feet and no leaves the first two feet or so.

My question is can I safely take a foot or two off the top of the big one and cut the growth tip off the other two without killing the plant? If so when is the best time to do this? I don't think I will try to grow the cuttings, I just want to try and control this thing so I can continue to bring it outside when the weather breaks.

BTW- it is currently on a south wall near a glass door. It can be moved to a north wall where it would get afternoon sun if need be. The only east windows we have are upstairs and that is out of the question, it's all I can do to get it in and out of the house.

Thanks in advance for your reply,
Mark


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 26, 08 at 18:20

My question is can I safely take a foot or two off the top of the big one and cut the growth tip off the other two without killing the plant? If so when is the best time to do this?

I wouldn't remove massive amounts of foliage (it makes the food - remember?) at this time of year, but if the plant isn't severely stressed, there's little harm in tip pruning now. You can remove the growing tip & last leaf from all branches or stems with 4 or more leaves on them w/o stressing the plant too much; or, just cherry pick & tip-prune the branches you want to. This will initiate some early back-budding & offer you additional (and probably some more esthetically pleasing) pruning opportunities later when the plant really begins to grow in earnest.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I was given this tree by a dear friend of mine. I know nothing about plants and it does not look well. Can I prune this so it is fuller at the bottom and not so tall and bare? What is the best way to care of this plant? It seems to be leaning so I assume there is a better place for me to put this tree so it won't lean so much. Please help!!!!!!!!!!!

Can't get the image to upload so I have attached a link.

Here is a link that might be useful: my plant


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 4, 08 at 14:39

Well - you have other issues going on with the plant, but there's no way to tell what's happening w/o some input from you. The plant appears to be under-watered at first glance, but it's hard to tell. Anyway .... to get the plant to branch out, all you need do is cut off the growing tip, along with last leaf that emerged. This will substantially reduce the flow of a hormone that blocks back-budding in apically dominant plants like F. elastica. As light levels increase & the plant begins to grow in earnest, it should branch out all along the stem (trunk).

How long since you fertilized? how often? how often do you water? do you flush the soil at each watering?

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

As I said before...I know nothing about this plant. I probably water once or twice a week. I have not fertilized. Don't know how to flush the soil. How far back do I prune - you said the growing part - can it be cut below the last leaf? Please direct me on how to care for this plant. The friend who gave it to me passed away almost a year ago and I don't want to lose this plant she gave me.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Oh...and so that I am not rude...thank you so much for taking the time to help me make my tree a happier and healthier tree.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 4, 08 at 17:02

To make the plant bushier & to get more branching - remove the growing tip of the plant (at the top) and the last leaf that unfolded. You CAN cut the plant back to 2 leaves, but not now. The plant is growing under stress & it needs to gain some energy before you undertake such radical pruning. You need to be patient & wait until later in the growth cycle to prune hard because the leaves are where the plant makes its food. To remove too many leaves now could starve/strain the plant severely & even lead to its death.

Unless you've been watering copiously so that water runs freely out of the drain hole at each watering, you should flush the soil. Do this by completely saturating the soil, then pour several gallons of water through the soil to flush out accumulating fertilizer and irrigation water salts. This salt can prevent the plant from absorbing water and nutrients. After the soil is flushed, fertilize with an appropriate foliage plant fertilizer like Miracle-Gro 12-4-8 Liquid Plant Food or Miracle-Gro 24-8-16 Granular Plant Food.

Keep the plant warm (above 55*) and give it all the light you can. Rotating the plant 180* will help make it grow straight, or you can stake it.

Anything else you wish to know about its care?

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Is it possible to trim the branches off of my rubber tree and grow a smaller, bushier tree that looks fuller? My rubber tree is hideous looking. It is 6 ft. tall and has 3 branches growing out of the soil. The whole tree has about 6 leaves and it curves to the ground. I love the tree, but I think a smaller rubber "bush" would be more attractive. I see them everywhere, and wish mine would look like that.
I really don't have any idea on how to go about rooting plants. Please help. Also, how many cuttings could I put in one pot? Would more cuttings make for a fuller, bushier plant? Thank you!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, May 30, 08 at 7:37

Yes, it's possible, but not immediately. If you have a 6 foot tall tree and it only has 6 leaves, your troubles are larger than how to prune. Removing even one leave from a tree that's circling the drain (growing under strain and getting ready to die) is to remove 1/6 of the plant's ability to make food - and it obviously cannot afford that. The first thing you need to do, before undertaking any major work, is go to some effort to restore vitality in/to the plant, and then we can return it to 'attractive status'. If you're willing to follow a few guidelines, we can prolly fix the plant (unless it's too far gone).

Let's start by flushing the soil, getting the plant outdoors in good light (if it's not already), and then doing some root work. If you're up for that, let me know & we can start, but you need to get moving soon because there are three phases to what's required - 1) build energy reserves 2) do the work 3) the plant will then need at least 30 days recovery (depending on where you live) before fall.

BTW - For forum contributors to offer the best advice you should include your geographical location and USDA zone in your user info. It can be important.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thank you for responding so fast. I believe my zone is 4b. I live in northern Michigan. I exagerated when I said it has 6 leaves. The tree has over 20 leaves, but it looks really bare and really bad. I have had the tree outside for about 2 weeks, but it is not getting better. I am willing to do anything for it to save it. Also, how do I build energy reserves?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, May 31, 08 at 12:10

First - any time you allow a tropical Ficus to be subjected to temperatures below 50-55*, it's in decline (using more energy than it's making). Cool temperatures affect (decrease or halt) the photosynthetic machinery of this plant and it is slow to return to normal (measured in days - not hours) - so you can start there.

Flush the soil repeatedly to insure accumulated salts are not affecting water (and the nutrients dissolved in water - the source of the building blocks the plant uses to make its food) uptake, then let the soil dry down & only water when the soil feels dry at the drain holes. Insert a wick through one of the drain holes & allow it to dangle below the container. This will remove all, or a large portion of the perched water after irrigating and help insure adequate air in the soil. Fertilize with Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 (I can show you where to order it [thanks, Nancy] at half off if you're interested) if you're willing to order some. It's a GREAT fertilizer - has ALL the elements plants need. Or use MG 12-4-8 or 24-8-16 (easily found all over). Work the plant into full sun over a week or so by giving it more exposure every couple of days. Tip prune (now that I know it has more than 6 leaves) all branches with more than 4 leaves by removing the growing tip & most recently emerged leaf.

These steps will have your tree back-budding quickly & on it's way to reinvigoration. In July, I'll walk you through the repot/root work. By fall, you probably won't recognize the tree.

Can you share pics for more precise help?

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I will try to include some pics, but I have to find the cord to my camera. I just noticed that the leaves are starting to get sun dried. Should I bring the plant in the house in front of a window? Or does it still need sun? I'm sorry for all of the questions, I just really know nothing about plants. Thank you.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, May 31, 08 at 14:30

As long as it's not variegated, it will appreciate full sun - just not being thrust into full sun w/o some time to allow chlorophyll levels to increase (reaction to increased light levels). Your plant WANTS to be outdoors.

If you're experiencing necrotic leaf margins w/o the upper leaf surfaces turning silvery, you need to look to other cultural issues for the cause, like over/under-watering or excessive soluble salts build-up in the soil. Over-fertilizing is also a possibility, but that goes hand-in-hand with the excessive salts issue.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hi,

I'm new to posting on this forum, but have been reading through it and have seen all the great advice that's given here, so I thought I might ask about my rubber plant and would really appreciate any advice I might receive about it.

I've had a bushy rubber tree plant (6 woody stems with lots of leaves on them) since March, which I bought at my local supermarket. I put it in a corner of my apartment which was not dark, but didn't receive lots of light either. It dropped a few lower leaves, but continued producing new big leaves at the top. Towards the end of May I moved it to a brighter part of the room, near a window on the floor. Well, it dropped more leaves then and the new leaves it was producing emerged small and curled, and grew black spots at the edges. Because of this, because the soil didnít seem to be retaining any water and also because its roots were showing at the base of the stems and at the drainholes (not sticking out though), three weeks ago I repotted it and moved it off the floor and out of a drafty spot, but still in front of a window where it gets filtered sunlight.

However, it's now dropped all but two-three new leaves on the tops of each stem, and any new growth stopped midway three weeks ago and hasn't resumed (one leaf that was in the process of emerging from its red wrap even stopped halfway!). Iíve been watering when I feel the soil is dry (about every 10 days), but I havenít been fertilizing because I wanted to wait until I saw it growing new leaves again. There is a tiny new plant coming in at the base of one of the stems which has one tiny leaf and another leaf just sprouting, but other than that, none of the other stems have resumed growing new leaves. Will these stems start growing again, or have I lost them? Is there anything I can do for Buster (my ficusí name)?

Thanks so much for any advice you can give me!

darmagrower
denver, colorado


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 27, 08 at 9:31

Sorry to hear Buster is struggling, DG.

Ficus e. should NEVER shed parts when you move it to improved light conditions because it WANTS full sun (except perhaps the variegated cultivars). The exception to that is if you move it from a dim location to blazing sun w/o sufficient time acclimating to allow chlorophyll levels to build in leaf tissues. From this, we can determine that there are other cultural conditions causing the defoliation. At this time of year, it's not the 'draft'.

The natural growth habit of Ficus is to produce consecutively larger leaves as the stem/branch elongates, so there is no clue there. The stalled growth and necrotic leaf margins may be telling you/us that there is a high level of accumulated salts in the soil, but very little Nitrogen. There are a number of reasons that make me suspect this possibility, but I won't explain unless you're curious.

Can you give a little more info? Are the stems intact? - no signs of rotting sections or insect galleries? What type of soil is the plant in? - describe it? - did you make it? Do you have a spot you can move it to outdoors?

If the stem is intact & shows no sign of disease, it's pretty likely we can restore the plant to good vitality fairly quickly - mainly because the plant is in that part of the growth cycle when it wants to grow most robustly.

Any chance you can share a pic - either here or via email?

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hi Al,

Thanks for the quick reply!

To answer your questions:

Yes, the stems are intact and seem to be very sturdy and healthy, no rotting sections at all. There arenít any insect galleries that I can see, (although I have seen one or two tiny black flies here and there, but from what Iíve read, I didn't think they harmed plants and were just a nuisance. They could also be coming from a phoenix roebellini palm [Robby! :-)] which is situated right next to Buster, because when Iíve watered the palm in the past, Iíve been bothered by them. Would you by any chance know how to get rid of them?)

The soil I used when I repotted Buster is called Schultz Cactus, Palm and Citrus potting mix, and the ingredient list reads, "reed-sedge peat, composted forest products, sphagnum peat moss, ground dolomitic limestone (ph adjuster) and a wetting agent." Iíve used it with other plants and they seem to be doing very well in it, as it does drain really well, without getting too dry right away. I tried looking for info. online about what type of soil to use when repotting ficus e. but could only find info. saying that ficus e. was fine in just about any soil. I even went so far as to go to a plant shop that sold ficus e. and asked the gardener there, but he also said that any type of well draining soil was fine. When I repotted it, the roots seemed very healthy and strong.

Unfortunately, I live in an apartment building and so canít put it outdoors.

If it helps you to make any determinations, when I brought the ficus home, I did flush the soil a few times in attempts to flush out any excess salts. I repotted after I noticed the leaves coming in somewhat thin, mottled and curled, and when the soil just didnít seem to be holding any moisture any more.

Also, the new leaves that came in since I bought it are very different from the older ones. Is that an indication of something going on?

I'd like to send some picts but can't seem to find a way to do that (when I click on the "send me an email" link on your member page, I don't see any links for attachments). How do I send you the picts?

Again, I canít thank you enough for your help!

darmagrower


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hi all!

I plan on growing my plant into a tree. So far it has several stems and is about 2'-3' tall. I was wondering if there is a specific method of separating the stems so one is left? Or rather, how would i go about forming the plant into a tree? Help!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 25, 08 at 7:46

Just separate them - the sooner the better, as Ficus roots approach graft to themselves (fuse) quickly and older trees are difficult to separate w/o considerable effort and often trauma to the plant(s). You didn't mention where you live, and that is important information when trying to decide on the right timing for various procedures. It would be helpful if you amended your member page to include your state & USDA zone.

Darma - I'm sorry I missed your post. I'm headed to work now, but I'll answer when I get a chance. Not sure if the reply will still be of value, but .....

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

So basically I'd have to get rid of the other weaker stems right? I'm in zone 10, so. California.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 25, 08 at 10:37

'Separate' & 'eliminate' are different. Usually/often, there are several cuttings in the same container that can be separated. If the 'branches/stems' all emanate from the same primary stem/trunk, THEN prune the weakest.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I've had my rubber tree plant (Scraggles) for about 5 months and it's done perfect up until now. When I bought it I put it into some organic soil. I just recently changed it's soil with some miracle gro then out of nowhere it started dying. It had 7 stocks to it and one of them died so I cut it off then just about all the leaves fell off (including the new growth) on the other 6. I cut them off and put them of in a glass of water with a bit of liquid feed. Will that save my plant?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 6, 08 at 19:19

It's possible, but not likely. Cuttings that are taken from stressed plants are much less likely to strike (make roots) than cuttings from plants growing with good vitality. The difference is the stored energy reserves. Stressed plants use all (or almost all) the energy they make, just to keep their systems orderly & power their metabolism, so there is little left over to store for a rainy day. Cuttings from plants growing with good vitality will generally have lots of stored energy to devote to making roots, though to be fair, that depends in part on where the plant is in its growth cycle.

Playing the odds, it sounds like your plant is suffering from some water-related issues. It could be too little, but I suspect too much is more likely.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thank you so much. I still have hope it'll live, or I'll be taking a trip to Home Depot. It might have been watered too much. I use to water it once every 5-7days and now that I live with my brother, he waters not only his plants but my plants as well. My plants don't need to be watered too often, I have a jade plant and a kalanchoe as well and they're watered when the soil's dry. But thanks for that information, it's really helpful.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Al,

Hi! I need some help if you dont mind. I think my rubber tree plant has root rot-it has 3 branches that are brown on the lower half and green with drooping leaves on the upper half. Also, I took the plant out of the pot and the roots are wet and mushy. I cut some of them away and there are two roots that are still hard. What should I do? Do I need to cut the top branches off and try to get new plants from them? I need help-thanks!!!!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 21, 08 at 8:04

If the rot has advanced into stem tissues, it will be unlikely that you'll be able to halt the damage, even if you trim all the rotted roots back to healthy tissue. You could try removing all the soil from the roots, chopping (an actual term) the stem/trunk back to two branches or leaves. Then, dip the roots and stem in a 10% bleach solution for a few minutes, rinse and pot in a soil that drains freely. This will be almost the same as treating the plant as a cutting.

Speaking of cuttings - you could abandon the idea of saving the plant proper, and try for cuttings. The problem I see in that, is twofold. First, the tree has obviously been growing under extreme stress, & energy levels will be low. This makes root strike unlikely commensurately with energy levels. Second, if the infection has advanced from the roots to stem, or is caused by Southern Blight or one of the other rots common to elastica, we can be sure the infection is moving in the xylem tissue and has advanced well ahead of the symptoms, meaning any cuttings you might take are already infected. There's nothing to stop you from trying though. Whatever you decide, I wish you good luck and good success. ;o)

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

i have a rubber plant that has one leader with 6 small branches and about 5 to 6 leaves on each. i want to know how i can feel out the bottom of these branches and get moreon the leader branch also. do i need to cut back some of the smaller branches. i live in indiana. is it ok to fertilize with maricle grow spikes?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 16, 08 at 7:51

If you want the main leader to continue to extend, leave it alone. For the other branches: Remove the very tip of every branch along with the last leaf that emerged. This will shut off the flow of a hormone that mainly originates in the tip of the branch (apical meristem) and the plant will immediately direct energy toward activating latent (dormant) buds in leaf axils (the crotch where the leaf stem meets the branch). If the plant is about 2/3 the height you want it to eventually be, terminate the main leader the same way you did the branches and it will also fill out by growing branches from each leaf axil.

I wouldn't use the spikes. You have no control over delivery and salts will build up over winter unnecessarily if you are watering in little sips. Stick to a soluble product like MG 24-8-16, 12-4-8, or Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 (contains ALL the elements plants use - a great fertilizer). All 3 of these fertilizers have a 3:1:2 ratio. My second choice would be a soluble product in the 1:1:1 ratio, like MG 20-20-20 or equal.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

My question is about repotting. I've been reading this for about an hour and have learned alot about trimming! I got 2 rubbers today and one of them the roots are circling around the top of the container. The other looks like the same age as they appear they were purchased together and are the same size so that one is probably not too far behind. Anyways, should I repot? Or wait till spring? If so, do I use a bigger pot or cut the root ball back and use the same size? (sorry, I don't really know anything about the care for these) Also, what type of soil is good to use?

Thanks so much! It's so hard to find info about this stuff because everyone has different opinions. But you seem to be so knowledgeable!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 23, 08 at 23:06

Hi, SL
It always helps to know where you live, because what might be appropriate in FL or TX might not be appropriate in MI. Adding your USDA zone and state to your user info, or a large city near where you live would be a good idea.

I think I would wait until spring to undertake any serious root work (pruning roots/bare-rooting your tree or hard pruning above the soil line). If you think it is in danger of falling into serious decline, you could always pot up a size and call it good. There should be no ill effects from simply potting up a size.

The first noticeable symptom of a rootbound Ficus is diminished branch extension. Though this isn't particularly good for the tree, it's unlikely that that alone would be reason for much worry over the relatively short winter. You should expect slowed growth during the winter months anyway.

Give your trees some time to acclimate to their new surroundings. They may lose some leaves as they adjust, unless you can provide excellent light. Water only when the plant needs water, and then water well so that a fair amount of water escapes through the drain hole. Keep it away from sudden chill and drafts. If you're able to water the way I described, feed a half-strength solution of a soluble fertilizer (24-8-16 is excellent for Ficus) monthly. If you feel you cannot water copiously w/o risking root rot, let me know & we'll figure out another way to solve the watering issue and help keep your tree healthy.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I live in Western Massachusetts. So it's okay that the roots are curling around the top? (At least till spring) Maybe I will "potup" to the next size pot anyways because they are tipping over if they are not leaned against something. I should bury the roots that are above right the dirt currently right? Should I do anything to them or just try to gently get rid of the other soil and place them into the new pot? Also, how do I know what's a good draining soil from the store? Thanks again, you are great!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 24, 08 at 10:45

It's not an especially good thing, but it's not the world's end, either. I would minimize root disturbance until the plant enters its most robust growth period. Your tree will do 90% of its (obvious) growing between May 15 - Sep 15. and you should do your major work during that period - Jun & Jul being the best times. Resist the urge to 'oversee' the plants development too closely. IOW - try not to over-nurture. Just let the plant do its own thing - keep an eye out for insects, and make sure the other cultural wants are being met adequately.

No need to bury the roots that are exposed. They have adapted by forming a different covering (bark) than subterranean roots have. There is some danger in planting a tree too deeply, so take care to set the plant no deeper than it is planted now. At repot time, if you can find the trunk flare, plant it so the flare is exposed & remove roots occurring above the flare.

A 'good soil' is one that does not hold excess water, retains its structure for extended periods, and drains quickly. If you do not have the option of watering your plants so generously that a good amount of water escapes the drain hole at every watering, you should consider rethinking what you are using. You cannot tell by looking at the bag how well/poorly a soil will perform. Experience, when you look at the soil can tell you, but the best way to insure you'll be growing in a quality soil is to assemble the ingredients and build it yourself.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thanks! Maybe I'll just let it be for the winter then repot in the spring/summer. How do you assemble your own soil? What ratios of what would I use? This will be so helpful as I don't trust my judgement finding a good soil to buy in the store.

Thanks again
Mary


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Oct 3, 08 at 17:54

For some information on what makes a good soil, and how to make your own, follow the embedded link.

You can find more information about how water behaves in soils by following this second link.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Wow, This stuff is pretty deep. I think I'm following though. I started getting into the information regarding root pruning. I still didn't find out in what I was reading, are we cutting off the little tiny roots? Is there a link with pictures that could help me visualize this? Thanks, sorry to bother you with these probably really stupid questions.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Oct 4, 08 at 12:55

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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I have questions about saving a rubber plant. I just saved two plants from landing in a dump. They have been outdoors for the summer up until now.

One plant is about 5 feet and appears relatively healthy. The only concern is thin stems, which are part wood and part green.

The other plant is about 8 feet tall with several stems, also thin. The stems bend over so much that the plant is not stable. My concern about this plant is that there are portions of a couple of stems and leaves that are brown, which may be from exposure. Some leaves of both plants were lost, which may be from moving them.

Both of these plants clearly need to be pruned, but should I wait? Is there any thing that can be done about the brown portions, or should these branches be pruned? Are the thin stems a concern?

Many thanks!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Oct 4, 08 at 23:24

You only just acquired the plants? How do you know they've been outside all summer? Are the portions of the plant that are brown, brown because they are dead, or because of the natural lignification (turning to wood) process? Can you post pictures, or email them to me?

I'm thinking that the long branches could probably be tip-pruned to force back-budding, but I want to reserve judgement until I hear more from you. What is your USDA zone? 7? What state?

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thank you for your quick response!

Yes, I just acquired the plants yesterday. I do not know for a fact how long they have been outside, but from the condition of the pots and material in the plant I would guess that they were outside for at least a few days. I am in zone 7, so we have had a few chilly nights, though no frost.

The plant looks very much out of proportion. It is long and leggy, with many leaves that look a little too small. The main branch is curved in almost a 90 degree angle - like the plant was searching for a light source. Many leaves are also curled at the edges. The brown parts might be lignification - hopefully that is all it is. When we moved the plant we were so afraid of snapping it because of how long and unsupported it is. For now they are leaning against each other and the wall.

I will work on figuring out how to post photos. Thank you so much for your help!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I was unable to figure out how to post photos, but they are posted here:

http://s393.photobucket.com/albums/pp20/saswein/

Thanks for looking and for any suggestions you have!

Here is a link that might be useful: Photos of rubber plant


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

i wrote you for advice 3 weeks ago about a rubber tree and how it would only grow leaves at the top so i cut the top of the branches and fertilized it with miracle grow in liguid form and it is now growing new baby leaves at the top again does it take time to grow out the bottom of the limbs? if so how long will it take to grow? i have noticed some green in the stems but no leaves are starting at the bottom. how often should you put fertilizer in it when watering?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Oct 17, 08 at 9:06

The plant is strongly apically dominant, which means that it directs the lion's share of its growing efforts to the tips of branches, primarily at the top of the tree. If you want to (literally) force the tree to make new growth instead of extending existing growth, you must trump the tendency toward apical dominance by terminating the existing growth. To do this, you prune the growing tip and first leaf off of every branch with 4 or more leaves. This will force back-budding on the branches you prune, and if the tree is growing robustly enough, new growth may appear from the trunk & other branches, though the likelihood of that happening is much greater in late spring and summer when light is better.

How often you should/can fertilize depends on several factors. How strong the solution is, where the plant is in its growth cycle, how much light the plant receives, watering habits, how well the soil drains .... I water with a maintenance strength (weak) solution every time I water, even in winter, but my soils are porous enough that I am able to water copiously, which flushes old salts from the soil as I replace them with a fresh charge of water/nutrients. You cannot do that if you are growing in a water retentive soil because the level of TDS (salts) will eventually rise to the point where the plant cannot take up either water or the nutrients dissolved in the water.

Can you supply pictures here, or via email?

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I have a rubber tree plant that I have had for about 2 1/2 years now. The plant is actually doing very well - it doesn't have the green leaves, but the reddish ones. I have about eleven stems coming up from a circle about 5 inches in diameter. My issues is that I cannot get the stems to stay vertical...they just want to fall over like there is just too much weight. I have tried staking them, but they just broke my stake. The majority of the stems have ten to tweleve leaves each and the plant is about 36" tall. Any suggestions on how I can keep the stems growing vertical? Do I need to seperate these into more that one plant? It is in a large pot - probably too big for the plant.

Thanks


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 9, 08 at 11:31

Hi, TJ.

Something doesn't add up. If you have a dozen leaves on a 36 inch stem, that is a spacing of about 3" between nodes, which is very dense for a Ficus e. This kind of density comes with only very bright light conditions, and any elastica grown in bright light should be self-supporting, regardless of stem length.

After 2-1/2 years, if the plants were individual cuttings, it's likely the roots have approach (self) grafted to each other, which would make separating the plants a little more difficult, but certainly not impossible. It wouldn't be very risky, either, but if you do decide to separate after evaluating the root structure, it's best undertaken in early summer in most zone 5 locations.

I'm not sure what you meant about it being in a pot too big for the plant. Does this mean you feel it's overpotted because the soil is remaining wet for extended periods. I realize this scenario is unlikely, or you would be losing leaves, so I'm wondering how you concluded the pot is too large?

How do I keep the stems growing vertically? you asked. It will be difficult, simply because in a planting with so many stems, the stems will grow so they are maximizing light exposure on leaves. Plants use the energy they are producing first to carry on their day to day operations and keep their systems orderly. After that, if they are producing more energy than they are using, they will lay down layers of cells in the cambium, which thickens and strengthens the stems and branches. By this, you can see how the amount of light is directly correlated to how strong the stems/branches will be.

You can reduce the number of stems & stake/wire/tie the stems to a more vertical orientation; however, they will not grow vertically or straight unless you can provide light levels bright enough for the plant to devote photosynthate (it's energy) to thickening/strengthening stems.

You still have another solution at your disposal if supplying adequate light is a problem. Imagine a willow switch that is 1/4 inch thick and 3 feet long. It would be very flexible - yes? If you cut the switch in half, it would be much less flexible - right? ... and if you cut it in half again, it would be much less flexible still. You can do the same thing with your tree. By removing selected stems to allow more light to the interior of the planting, and shortening selected stems, you will essentially be strengthening them. Make your pruning cuts just above a leaf that will produce a new bud/shoot that will grow in the direction you would like it to go (a directional pruning technique). If the new branch appears weak as it elongates due to lack of light, simply prune that one back to strengthen it in the same fashion as you originally did.

We use this technique in bonsai to produce a fat trunk that tapers quickly and gives the illusion of great age, but it is also very effective at correcting what you describe. You'll end up with branches that are fat & strong and taper quickly, which, btw is a formula for a very attractive & dense houseplant. It will work on any plants that branch - they don't necessarily have to be woody material, though many houseplants do become very woody as they gain age.

Good luck. ;o)

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thanks Al - would it be okay for me to to shorten some of the stems this time of year - or should I wait until the spring? I say the pot is probably too big just because of the way it looks...the actual base of the plant(s) is about 5 inches in diameter, but the pot is about 16" in diameter - just looks like a lot of pot for the plant that is in it. I have it sitting in a North window - should I try an East or West window - I have plants in those, but could move them around. I also notice that is it always producing new shoots from the soil - the other stems are growing, but I also always have new shoots coming up.

Thanks again!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 9, 08 at 16:23

Does the growth habit TJ is describing sound unusual for a F. elastica to anyone but me? The number of stems, leaves so close to the soil on a plant in a north window, leaf density, and the continual emergence of the basal sprouts just doesn't seem typical to me .... This plant is not prone to (adventitious) basal growth unless the top is being appreciably cut back, and even then it's reluctant.

You're sure of the ID, TJ?

For the purpose of our discussion, I can say that Ficus trees are only over-potted if they are exhibiting the negative symptoms of a soil that remains wet for too long. By what you're telling me - your plant is not. That doesn't mean that you don't need to be attentive to your watering regimen during winter while the trees are resting though. Symptoms of over-potting are probably most likely to be made manifest then.

If your trees are as healthy as you describe, I wouldn't be too hesitant about removing up to 1/3 of the stems at or just below soil level. If it IS an elastica, I would try to get it into a west window, but I would acclimate it gradually to prevent sunburn.

Can you post a pic, or email me one?

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Here are some pics - I thought I had it identified correctly, but I could be wrong....I does need water now - hence the reason for the one yellow leaf that you see.

Thanks!

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 12, 08 at 21:28

It's Ficus E, and a healthy looking example. I would do some tip pruning and remove some stems (see above) to open up the plant & let some light to the interior. This will stop extension of the existing branches and promote additional back-budding, not that I look at the back-budding as any great benefit to this tree at this time - it's quite full as is. It's a nice plant with lots of potential and plenty of options. Strong work, TJ. ;o)

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thanks Al!!! I will do some pruning and remove some stems. I love the plant, I just want it to be able to support itself.

Thanks again!!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hello,
I am growing a Rubber Tree outdoors in central Florida. Please see picture. This started as a small potted plant that I won on the "plant wheel" game at a local carnival. It is now about 8 1/2 feet tall and growing fast. It has four equally sized trunks that are each a few inches from each other at the soil level and spread fairly equal distance apart in different directions from a central point. My desired look for this is a "tree" look, with the four trunks essentially bare to about the first 10 feet, then having many branches on top to form a canopy. My technique so far has been to cut off all side branches (flush) that form along the main trunks while keeping a few on top (which I retain only until it grows more). I figure if I just keep removing the side branches until it get up to about 12-13 feet tall, and then let them grow, I could attain that look. Am I on the right track? Does anyone have a suggestion? I have seen others grown outdoors and they sometimes form a huge impenetrable mass, which I definitely donít want. Thanks.

100_0001


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 16, 08 at 20:05

"Am I on the right track?"

Yes and no. Think of a stream that flows in a straight line and represents the trunk. For a 1 mile stretch (the trunk) the stream has no tributaries. Now imagine tributaries that feed the stream at 1/4 mile intervals. What happens to the width & depth of the stream? It increases. Now, imagine the tributaries at 1/8 mile intervals, representing the branches. What do we have now? Almost twice the volume as before and close to 8 times the volume of the original stream.

When you remove the lower branches, you remove a major, if not the primary source of food that allows the tree to lay down layers of cambial cells which thicken and strengthen the trunks. The trunks of your trees appear very thin and the angle at which they are growing leaves them susceptible to layover. This would not have occurred had you allowed the lower branches to grow and pruned them off gradually.

I would allow the lower branches to grow and only remove them when they reach 1/4 - 1/3 of the main trunk size. You can still proceed with terminating the main stems at a height 2-3 feet lower than you want the umbrella-shaped canopy to top out at.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thank you very much tapla! I will stop pruning those branches right away. I was really wondering how long it would take for the trunks to thicken, and I guess I just thought that when more weight was on top that it would just adapt and thicken at the bottom. You saved me because they probably would have ended up layed over. Would it help to use a few pieces of wood to shore up the trunks and keep them more vertical? Can it be "trained" this way? Thanks.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 17, 08 at 10:42

Yes, it would help and it is an effective way to reorient branches. In bonsai, we use wire to hold (much smaller) branches and trunks in position; or we devise any number of other mechanical 'persuaders' to accomplish the task. After the tree has had an opportunity to lay down several layers in the cambium, the branch/trunk will take a set. How well it 'stays where you put it' varies a lot by genus, but in my experience, Ficus is very easy to train to a desired position. Tying the branches together so they pull on each other is an effective way to reorient the trunks more toward the vertical, too. If you use this method, be sure to check the ropes or fasteners often to be sure they are not biting into the trunk and girdling (stopping flow of water, nutrients, and photosynthate) the plant.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I cannot thank you enough, Al. It would have been so disappointing to see the trunks droop down with too much weight on top, and I was probably well on my way to that. I actually like your idea better of tying the branches together so they pull on each other. I think this way is a little easier and will give me the opportunity to make adjustments easier. I hope you don't mind if I ask another question, but should I wrap the rope around the outside of the four trunks, pulling them all a bit inward? Should I tie it around opposite facing trunks, or another way? Thanks!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 17, 08 at 21:33

I think you'll see it's easier to tie opposites to each other. You'll find that you will also be able to tie into the crossing ropes to tweak the arrangement. If you simply tie a rope around the whole clump & tighten it, you'll find you have very little control over what ends up where. ;o)

Good luck.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Update on my Rubber Tree. Here is the Rubber Tree 5 weeks later after tying opposite facing trunks together. It is much more upright and starting to grow little red shoots coming from the main trunks that I think will become side branches. The 4 trunks have actually moved, as the tension in the ropes gradually went away. I tightened them again slightly after 3 weeks. I am going to stick with the plan and let the side branches grow to 1/4 - 1/3 size before removing. I think the ropes can come off soon since it's close to the position that I want it to stay in. Any advice or comments? Thanks.

100_0004


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 26, 08 at 17:16

Strong work. ;o)

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Thanks again Al!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hi Al,
I have several indoor rubber tree plants that I have successfully propagated off of a single plant I started with 4 years ago. I've even been able to give some away. They seem to be extremely healthy, getting strong indirect light (New York City).

However, on most of them when I trim the main trunk only a single shoot grows from the next leaf node below the cut(the original plant seems to produce at least 2 shoots). I would like to encourage multiple shoots (at least 2) for fuller plants. I've been in the habit of cutting right below a leaf node (perhaps I should be cutting right above it instead).

I've seen rubber trees with a single trunk several feet, then branching into a full tree, which I would like to be able to produce in some cases. How can I cause multiple shoots to grow from the trunk and subsequent branches?

Thanks.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 6, 09 at 13:17

"... on most of them when I trim the main trunk only a single shoot grows from the next leaf node below the cut(the original plant seems to produce at least 2 shoots). I would like to encourage multiple shoots (at least 2) for fuller plants. I've been in the habit of cutting right below a leaf node (perhaps I should be cutting right above it instead)."

First - it's important that I know where you live to give solid advice. There would be a considerable difference in what I would tell a FL resident as opposed to someone living in MI.

In general, there are several things that determine the profusity of back-budding in Ficus. The most important is the time of year you do the pruning in combination with the level of stored energy the tree holds in reserves. E.g., if you prune anytime between now & Jun, the tree's response will be much different than if you pruned in early to mid-Aug.

When the amount of sun a tree receives and its energy reserves are low (now-Jun) the back-bud response will be marginal and lethargic, but when photosynthesis is near optimum & energy reserves high, the harder the pruning - the more prolific the back-bud response.

To achieve maximum ramification (lots of branches) and foliage density - simply allow every branch to extend to the point where it has 4 or 5 leaves on it. Then, prune the branch back to two leaves. A new branch will form at each leaf axil, doubling the number of branches and you then repeat the process on secondary and tertiary branches when those branches have 4-5 leaves. The canopy will become branch-dense enough that you'll have dozens of pruning opportunities, allowing you to shape the canopy in whatever way you find pleasing to the eye.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hi i was wondering if you could help me. My dad has got a rubber plant in the most terrible condition, it was given to him by his father before he died almost 25yrs ago and because my dad really does not have green fingers at all he has basically left the tree to do its own thing since he got it.

The tree is about 5 foot tall and bends right over to almost touch the floor and its a very sorry sight. The trunk has two tiny branches coming off of it with very few leaves on each (only about 4) and a few leaves at the end with new ones budding. There is nothing else on the trunk what so ever (its just brown) and it clearly needs repotting as the soil looks very dry and odd.

Basically i was just wondering if there was any way that i could make the tree thicken out a bit and encourage new branches along the brown trunk?
i have very little knowledge of rubber plants and as the tree is almost an heirloom i really dont want to kill it. i would post a picture but i dont know how to do so.
if you could help me that would be great. thankyou.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 7, 09 at 11:13

If you can eliminate insects as the cause of decline, I think we need to look at the soil and condition of the roots as by far the most probable cause and work toward getting the rootage straightened out (not literally, lol) and the soil replaced.

I can save time by offering a step by step guide of what I would do if it was my plant. There are likely lots of salts in the aged soil that are preventing the plant from taking up water and the nutrients dissolved in it.

* Late in the day, move the plant to a spot where you can fully saturate the soil. Saturate it with room temp water & allow the plant to rest for a half hour or so. This allows the salt in the soil to dissolve into the soil water

* Flush the soil thoroughly by pouring a volume of room temp water roughly equal to to the volume of the container through the soil. o this at least 6 times.

* Depot the plant after it stops draining, and set it on newspaper over night. This will pull water reluctant to drain from the soil and prevent root rot if the soil is too heavy.

* In the AM, return the pot to the container and fertilize with a 1/4 strength solution of a 1:1:1 or 3:1:2 ratio fertilizer.

* Keep it warm (18-27*) and give it the best light you can manage. Water carefully. If you need more help on fertilizing and watering technique, let me know.

* When the plant begins to move into the more robust part of its annual growth cycle and has gained some energy reserves, we can get after the roots, which is probably going to be the key in getting the plant back on track. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."

Pictures would be helpful. If you can't post, you could email them directly.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I should have posted here originailly. I have some rubber plants, fresh from the store. They are abot 2 feet tall. How do I take care of these so that they thrive? It would be great if someone could give me a short "how to" on rubber plants in terms of how often to water, how often (and what time of year) to fertilize and with what kind of fertilizer, whether to take them out of the rubber container I bought them in, and a timeline for when to put them in a pot and repot. I am keeping them inside. Thank you -

(P.S. last time I purchased rubber plants, I immediately put them in a pot with a 10 inch diameter, but the soil seemed to get moldy even though I didn't water them but once a week.)


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 11, 09 at 20:17

I'll talk a little about potting up & what factors affect what is appropriate. No one can say whether the container size your plants are in is appropriate without fairly intimate knowledge of the state of the soil and how cramped the roots are, or an eye that has had some practice recognizing the symptoms of under-potting. Tight roots affect branch extension first, and o/a vitality soon after. The 'danger' someone else referred to in another thread should be associated only with slow soils. As I'll show in a moment, the danger of over-potting diminishes as soil particle size, aeration, and drainage increases. You can grow the tiniest of plants in huge volumes of soil if the soil holds no perched water.

"Over-potting" is a term that comes into play when there is a lack of basic knowledge/understanding about the 3-way relationship between plant material/soil composition/container size, which together logically determine appropriate container size(s).
It's often parroted that you should only move up 1 size in containers when "potting-up". The reasoning is that the soil will remain wet too long and cause root rot issues. Of course, that's true if you're growing in a heavy, inappropriate soil, but it can be remedied by changing the soil to one that drains freely.

The size/mass of the material and soil type/composition determine both the upper & lower limits of appropriate container size. Plants grown in slow soils need to be grown in containers with smaller soil volumes so that the plant can use water quickly, allowing air to return to the soil. This (smaller soil volumes) will cause plants to both extend branches and gain o/a mass much more slowly. Rampant growth can be had by growing in very large containers and in very fast soils where frequent watering and fertilizing is required - so it's not that trees necessarily rebel at being potted into very large containers per se, but rather, they rebel at being potted into very large containers with a soil that is too slow.

We know that there is an inverse relationship between soil particle size and the height of the PWT in containers. As particle size increases, the height of the PWT decreases, until at about a particle size of just under 1/8 inch, soils will no longer hold perched water. If there is no perched water, the soil is ALWAYS well aerated, even when the soil is at container capacity (saturated).

If you wish to grow in a large(r) container - please do. Just be certain that your soil supports no, or very little perched water.

"... how often to water" - don't water on a schedule. Water when the soil feels dry at the drain hole. Soil will feel dry to you when it has between 40-45% moisture content. Most plants (including Ficus e.) can extract water from soils with a water content as low as 30%, so there is a 10-15% safety net built into testing soil for dryness at the drain hole.

"... how often (and what time of year) to fertilize and with what kind of fertilizer" I think you will find some good information about seasonal fertilizing here. If you are using a well-aerated soil and proper watering technique, you can fertilize frequently at low dosed all year long to good effect. It's important that you understand some basics, though.

"... whether to take them out of the rubber container I bought them in, and a timeline for when to put them in a pot and repot" That's all covered above.

"I am keeping them inside." Of course it's your call, but they would be much happier and grow much faster/better outdoors acclimated to full sun when temperatures allow (nights consistently above 50-55*).

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Tapla, thank you very much.

Well, an immediate concern is the general asthetic appearance of the plants, which seemed somewhat fine when immediately brought home from the store - there are two of them - but now one seems to have gone to the Dark Side: it's leaves are curly and gastly, it's color a dark and dingy green and not at all the luscious green of a nice, well-behaved rubber plant.

Incidently, it's disturbing appearance is shared with the likewise "wild" look of two small peace lilys, also recently purchased: these three plants are depicted below, and are in stark contrast to the first of the two rubber plants I purchased a week ago which seems to have maintained some semblance of house training.

Here is the misbehaving rubber plant - it's curly leaves (admittedly, I have not yet wiped them down) and swampy look are threatening to result in an immediate issuance of extradition papers should he or she fail to right him or herself:

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Here are the likewise swampy looking peace lilys, equally disturbing in their countenance:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And here is the only chap who seems to have carried him (or herself) almost fashionably - in fairness, this one has been exposed to a fair helping of classical music since arriving at our previously modestly but sensibly appointed apartment - that is, until the other three plants (the other rubber plant and two peace lilys) crashed the party with their drunken, dishevled and downright palish appearance; here again, the only decently behaving rubber plant (who, too, is beginning to show signs of going to the dark side - it's leaves threatening to curl):

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This last one's appearance - more symetrically disposed - I attribute to classical music, which seems to help plants grow more, well, symetrically.

But all in all, help is needed with them all, and particularly the other rubber plant and two peace lilys. These are NOT the kind of specimens that the Victorians would have found pleasing to the eye, notwithstanding their apparrent popularity in that era, as I understand it. What have I done to cause this?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I don't think these are bad looking except maybe for the water spots.

I'll leave the Ficus for Tapla to address, but what pls. do you feel is swampy lookin' abt the Peace Lillies? They look OK to me.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

We have a rubber tree that gets put outside every spring and brought back into the house for the winter. It usually stays outside until the night temps are predicted to drop into the low 40's.
Anyway, during the time it is outside it grows vigorously, getting watered once a week. When we bring it in in the winter, it sheds almost all it's leaves starting around the beginning/middle of February.(we normally bring it in around the middle/end of November. This has been going on for a couple of years.
Two questions. Is there a way to stimulate growth from the main trunk? We have clipped the growth bud from the top and all it did was shoot off another branch from that spot. Now it's about six feet tall with one branch poking out the top that has about four or five leaves left on it.
There were two other branches at the base that we cut off and replanted, that were doing quite well but they too are now dropping older leaves. All continue to grow new leaves but it is just a few at the very end of the trunks. They are just stalks with a few leaves on them.
What can I do to keep them looking healthy and fill them out a little?

I have a couple of picturs but don't know how to post them.
Thanks for your help.
Mark


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 1, 09 at 12:04

Is there a way to stimulate growth from the main trunk?

This is a question/answer from a recent post - it helps explain ..... "Typically when you tip prune on ficus does it usually produce one single new branch or several? How far down will the dormant buds be activated?"
It sort of depends on two things that usually, but not always, go hand in hand - the time of the year, and the tree's vitality/energy level. If you were to prune in Jul-Aug, at the peak of vitality, likely all the latent axillary buds would be activated on that branch behind the pruning cut, and in some cases, it can even stimulate additional bud activation on other branches - especially if you tip prune several branches @ once. If you prune when energy levels are low, the tree is more likely to back-bud with less proliference. It may even send up/out only one or two weak branches/branch until cultural conditions improve, or at least until energy levels are increased.

If you have more questions about this, please ask.

We have clipped the growth bud from the top and all it did was shoot off another branch from that spot. Now it's about six feet tall with one branch poking out the top that has about four or five leaves left on it.

Terminate that branch as you did originally. As you see new buds emerge in locations you think are unfavorable, rub them off immediately. Your tree WILL back-bud, but sometimes you have to give it directions. ;o) If your tree was growing with good vitality when you cut it back, it would have back-budded more vigorously. I have purchased species of F benjamina that began as 7-15' tall trees & had been cut back to a short leafless stump (for bonsai). Within a couple of weeks, they were bursting with growth.

There were two other branches at the base that we cut off and replanted .... what can I do to keep them looking healthy and fill them out a little?

Tip prune as directed above, They too will back-bud.


I have a couple of pictures but don't know how to post them.

It would be helpful for more specific advise & perhaps a better timetable if you could mail them to me. Knowing your zone & where you live would also be helpful.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hello Al and all,
My rubber tree plant is 8 years old and this past winter I noticed, for the first time, leaves drying up and falling off, mainly at the ends of the branches. I think I may have under watered it, because I have it in a sunroom and its kept in a good temperature with plenty of sun. There's new growth at the base of the plant so that's good, but a the end of the branches, they're bare. I want to prune the plant, but I'm afraid to cut all those bare end branches, that I may do something wrong. I normally would cut some of the branches, lessening the work for the plant, but is it all right to cut the end of the branches that are bare that way? I question if there would be new growth, cutting the ends that way. The leaves right now all look a bit droopy and I've begun to water it more as the weather here in Virginia is getting warmer. I normally have it outside all spring, summer and fall, only bringing it in, in the winter. It's getting heavy, but we are still able to bring it in right now. It's a pretty well rounded plant, but it looks a bit run down right now and bare on the ends, please help me know how to cut it back. I'm positive about it seeing new growth, but don't want to cut back the braches and do harm. Also, I've never given it plant food or anything, (I sound horrible I know, but its been a very healthy plant), should I begin feeding it, what do you recommend and should I feed it after I prune, or wait a bit? It doesn't seem to be pot bound, it seems to be ok there. Thank you for your help.


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 28, 09 at 17:33

When you water, are you watering thoroughly so the soil is evenly saturated and an abundant volume of water is escaping the drain hole immediately after watering?

I'm always reluctant to prune a struggling plant unless I know the tissues I'm pruning are actually dead; but then I'm usually dealing with a plant that has foliage at the ENDs of branches with foliage spare more toward the center of the tree. There would be very little harm in pruning bare branches back to a viable leaf on your plant, so go ahead. If you can post pics or mail them, I could probably offer more specific guidance.

I'm very surprised that your tree hasn't become severely weakened w/o supplemental nutrition. Yes, I think you should feed it. I would suggest MG All Purpose fertilizer (they make 2) in either 24-8-16 granular (in a box) or 12-4-8 liquid (in a plastic qt container). After the tree recovers, and if you're up for it, we can get after the roots & see if we can't rejuvenate the entire planting & get it back on track.

Getting it back outside when night temps are reliably above 55* will make a world of difference.

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

I have a rubber tree that I have had for over three years now. It lives in my house and is now about five feet tall. However the bottom foot of the tree has no leaves and its becoming to tall to support its self. What can I do to help my poor tree out?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 13, 09 at 21:37

How many branches are on the tree and how many leaves on each branch (approximately)?

Al


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

There at four main branches coming up from the soil and I would say at least 12+ leaves on each branch.

Liz


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 14, 09 at 13:49

Cut the top branch back to 2 leaves. The next one down to 4 leaves, and the other two branches to 6-8 leaves. This will force back-budding and growth from leaf axils (crotches). Tie one of the new branches that will emerge, which ever one you want to be the new leader, to the trunk so it grows vertically - you'll be using the trunk as a stake. When the new leader has 3-4 leaves on it, sever the old trunk immediately above the new leader. Presto - your tree is shorter AND stronger, and also in the process of filling out.

Starting this summer, when the 4th leaf begins emerging on ANY branch, cut that branch back to 2 leaves. You'll be amazed at how 'bushy' your tree will be a year from now. You'll also have dozens of branches to make your pruning choices from, instead of 4. ;o)

AL


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hello,
Love this thread!
I have a rubber tree that seems to be growing taller and thinner all the time, but there are leaves scattering all the way up the four tall stems. Should I prune it back? How?
Also, recently I noticed the top leaves developing a scratchy yellow color and the leaves seem slightly droopy.

Any advice is super appreciated!
Thanks!!


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

If I will put long cut branches of rubber plant into water, would it give roots? I did it 1-2 weeks ago and it is standing outside in a bright light, but I don't notice any sighns of rooting. Please suggest. Thanks


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hello! I have had a rubber tree that started as a tiny cutting for a few years now- it is now close to 8 ft tall- but is just one long stem- it never branched out- is it too late to get this tree to start branching? How would I go about strengthening this tree?


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RE: Trimming/Propagating Rubber Tree

Hi - my brother-in-law gifted me with a rubber tree plant that was too big for his living space, feeling that I had more space and more patience to take care of it.
The plant is about 4.5 to 5 feet tall above the top of the soil.
The pot is 19" wide and 22" tall.
There are about 15 main stems .5" to 1" thick
And they are spreading out a bit to a space of about 6 feet in diameter.
They are getting new leaves and new branches, although some of the leaves that have come out since it was moved to my house are not fully green and are not shaped right, not flat but curled up a bit.
Because my brother-in-law was trying to keep the plant short, the stems have been cut (or broken) and there are several branches o each stem.
It may be relevant to note that my brother-in-law took the plant out of the pot to fit in his car when he brought it over to my house, which may explain why some of the new leaves are curly and 3 or 4 of the old leaves yellowed and came off.

My questions are:
Do I need a larger pot now or at some future point and if so, how do I know when?
Is there anything special I need to do to help it recover from the shock of the move?
How much time should I give it to settle in before I prune it to grow into the space I have for it?
It is on the lower floor of a raised ceiling where it can potentially grow to be up to 18' tall (if rubber tree plants can get to be that tall) and a skylight window is the only source of light.
How ever it is constrained by a staircase going around it from the lower to upper level.
I need it to fit in a 3' x 4' space until it is 6' tall (above the soil) then 3' x 7' until it is 9' tall then 6' x 7' at it widest.
How do I determine how may branches to prune off, which branches to prune off and what is the best method training the stems to go in the desired directions?
I suspect stakes are helpful at first, but...
What material (plastic, wood, other)?
How long can/should the stakes be?
What do I secure it to the stakes with (plastic ties, rope, other)?
How forcefully can I re-direct the stems?
Is there anything I can do once the plant has outgrown the stakes?

Thanks


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