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Out of Control Rubber Plan

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
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by dhaliscak on August 14, 2005 07:39 PM
I have a rubber plant that is growing beyond belief. I guess it has the perfect environment. I am a very novice gardener. I can pot a plant, water it and watch it grow. But I have no idea what to do now that it has gotten so tall it is bending over. I tried to post a picture, but couldn't figure out how. Anyway, the plant has 7 stalks planted together in the pot. I bought it that way. The stalks range in size with the largest stalk being about 3/4" - an 1" in diameter. Over all the plant has reached a total height of 36" from top of soil to top of plant. I have wooden stakes in the pot trying to hold it up, but the weight of the plant keeps pulling the stakes over too. I have never pruned this plant. Would pruning it make it stop growing taller and start growing wider? Every time I turn around, it has new leaves coming out. It rarely looses any leaves either. It just keeps sprouting taller and taller. What should I do?

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by Will Creed on August 14, 2005 11:18 PM
Hi D.,

For a novice you are having considerable success. Perhaps you should be posting answers rather than questions! [teacher]

Rubber trees are more inclined to grow up than out. New growth is always at ENDS of stems. Pruning will keep the stems shorter and more manageable, but it will not necessarily promote side growth. Increasing the light will promote thicker stems that are less inclined to bend under the weight of the leaves.

You can e-mail a photo to me at
by Kath-pdx on August 18, 2005 11:48 AM
I have a rubber tree plant that was given to me as a house warming gift 8 years ago. Within the first 3 years (I think) it was looking lanky, out of proportion, but I just kept waiting for it to transform.
Finally about a year ago, I decided it was alright (like I needed permission?) to attempt some pruning. It had three-four major stalks, yet simply looked bad.
After reading up as much as I could, I tackled "the pruning event". I love the look of a well shaped rubber plant, so I really wanted to be able to get some cuttings from the parent plant from which to start over... at least.
So I did some Air Layering.
This is a bit of a complex process... but you can find details on how/what by googling "air layering". It is also a proces that requires some patience and a bit of timely attention. WELL.. at least that is what I understood. I think my attention to the process lagged at some point during the "waiting for roots" time, but I have to share with you what I ended up with.
My parent plant is now full, and shaped much more attractively (to me!). It's putting out alot of new growth this year.
The offspring are also doing well. ALthough they are going off in directions I haven't bothered to control, so maybe I need to nip some tips here now.
I've noticed - as Will mentioned- that new growth only comes out at the end of stems/branches. When I want them to stop growing in 'that' direction, I just nip off the tip. (They bleed white.. don't worry, but if it's a big cut, you may need to catch the drippage.)

ANYWAY ... It has all be very satisfying.
What I don't knw is whether Rubber Trees can be propogated via other means (cut/put in water/etc) other than air layering. It seemed to me that my meager research indicated that this was my 'only option'. But it worked great!!
I'll get photos up of the Family tonight or very soon!

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Never accept an invitation from a stranger unless he offers you candy.--Linda Festa
by Will Creed on August 19, 2005 05:20 AM
That is good information about air-layering from Kath. I look forward to seeing her photos.

Rubber plant cuttings can be rooted in water or damp soil, but air-layering is the preferred method. Cuttings with thick woody stems almost always require air layering.

I have written an article on propagation techniques that includes air layering. If anyone wants a copy just e-mail me a request at

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