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Pruning an Overgrown Rubber Plant

Ficus elastica

December ,1998 My husband has an out of control rubber plant that he is very attached to. He's let it grow unchecked, and since we live in a small house, it really is cramping our (ok, mine more than his) style. I wouldn't mind it so much if it didn't take up 1/4 of our living room! The shoots extend about 4-5 feet in every direction and it seems to be growing (very robustly) horizontally instead of vertically (the plant is about 4 feet high). Is there a way to safely prune this plant without damaging it? If so, how do I go about encouraging a tighter, more vertical structure to the plant? I'd appreciate any advice or helpful links, as I don't have much of a green thumb!
Rubber plant

Your husband's Rubber plant (Ficus elastica) can be be cut back without to much danger to the plant itself, however I'm not sure as to the reaction you will get from your hubby if you mess with his prized plant. After you have received his consent, the branches can be cut back to an appropriate length, using a sharp, clean knife, or very sharp pruning clipper. Ficus have a tendency to bleed a lot of sap when they are cut, so I would recommend that you have some Roottone® or Hormonex® handy to cover the fresh wounds. (these products will aid in the callousing process). When you cut the stems of the plant be aware that it will more than likely branch out from that point into two or more new stems, making a bushier but larger plant. The horizontal growth more than likely indicates that the plant is getting insufficient light. If it isn't feasible to move the plant I would suggest that you use an overhead fluorescent or flood type 'grow light' which will encourage vertical growth. Gradually you can train the existing stems into a vertical position using stakes as temporary supports, but don't try to force the branches to quickly because they may be damaged. For a little more information on Ficus culture go to and

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