By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Rubber tree plants, Ficus elastica, tend to get rather large and need to be pruned in order to control their size. Overgrown rubber trees have difficulty supporting the weight of their branches, resulting in an unsightly display and possible snapping of the branches. Pruning a rubber tree plant isn’t overly complicated and it actually responds well to pruning.
When to Prune a Rubber Tree
Rubber tree plants are quite resilient and rubber tree trimming can basically take place any time of the year. In fact, branches that are ‘out of sorts’ can be removed without any damage to the plant.
However, these plants will usually respond faster to pruning during late spring or early summer—around June. This is also considered a good time for taking cuttings, as they are thought to root quicker and easier.
How to Trim a Rubber Tree Plant
Whether it’s simply a subtle, orderly trim or a hard, heavy prune, rubber tree trimming takes little effort and results in a nice, full plant. As long as you keep in mind the fact that this plant grows back from the next nods down, you can cut it to whatever length and style you want.
Before you prune a rubber tree, make sure your pruning shears are clean and sharp. It may also be a good idea to wear gloves to prevent any irritation from its milky-like sap.
Step back and study the shape of your tree to get an idea of how you would like it to look. Prune rubber tree plant by making your cuts just above a node – where the leaf attaches to the stem or where another stem branches off. You can also prune just above a leaf scar.
Remove about a third to one half of the plant’s branches but take care not to remove too much foliage than is necessary. New growth will eventually appear from these cuts so don’t be alarmed if the plant seems a bit haggard looking following pruning.