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Staking Top Heavy House Plants

April 19,1998 Lori wrote: Hi this is Lori. I have a medium sized rubber tree plant that needs repotting badly. The main reason is that it is leaning against my living room wall. As soon as I move it I know it will fall because it has depended on that wall for over a year now. I will be moving in a week and it is a beautiful plant and I need to try to make it more sturdier when I move across town but yet not kill it in the process. My mom has many house plants but every time she tries to stake them so they don't fall over, well they end up dead eventually. :-) Do you have any suggestions? My thought was to use a dowel and some string, but I don't think string would be the best idea. I look forward to your response. Thanks!!!! Lori
Ficus elastica

I can't be sure of it, but I would guess that the failure of your mothers plants was caused by damage to the root structure when she inserted the stake into the pot. If your rubber plant (Ficus elastica) has become top heavy enough that it tips the pot over, it's probably time for a larger pot. The best time time to add a stake is when you are repotting, so that you have control over any damage that is done to the roots. Rubber plants will tolerate being planted a little deeper than their prior level. The added depth will add stability to the plant. However if the plant isn't due to be repotted, you can still add a stake. Rather than putting the stake right next to the trunk as most people tend to do, it would be better to slide it down the inside edge of the pot, and if necessary, add a T-bar which reaches the stem. Rather than using string as a tie, I recommend using a length of an old nylon stocking because it will stretch as the plant grows, rather than cutting into the stem, as string will do.
Loop each tie into a figure 8, with the crossed portion between the stem and the support to keep stems from rubbing or being choked.