When and How To Prune Rubber Plant

In their natural environment, Rubber plants (Ficus elastica) can grow freely up to 100 feet or 30 meters. To control the plant thriving at the size you desire, as well as to let them develop bushier foliage, you need to prune the rubber plant. Not pruning your rubber plant regularly is often the source of ‘bending’ stems and foliage–as it becomes overweight and it’s getting tough for the plant to support the weight. On the bright side, pruning a rubber plant is an easy thing to do and in this section, you’ll get all the details about how and when to prune a rubber plant.

Prune Rubber Plant
image by Lorraine Hecht

When To Prune Rubber Plant?

This native to India and South-East Asia plants can grow rapidly, especially during the growth-spurt season–which starts from the late spring to early summer. You might do the trimming session more often during this growing season, however, pruning your Rubber Plant can be done any time of the year.

When trimming your Rubber Plant, you also have to make sure to remove the dying, damaged, diseased, and ‘rubbing’ parts of the plants. ‘Rubbing’ or ‘crossing’ branches is a phenomenon where the plant has outgrown to the point one branch touches or ‘rests’ against another branch.

When to prune rubber plants during winter and summer?

As stated before, trimming your rubber plant can be done anytime in any season. During the cold season, this tropical plant might go dormant or ‘sleeping’, but it doesn’t mean pruning can’t be done in this season. Cutting your rubber plant during winter can encourage new growth to spurt during the next season, so it’s recommended. While cutting rubber plants during summer, or during the growth season, is beneficial to suppress growth.

How To Prune Rubber Plant?

Before you prune the rubber plants, there are several materials you’ll need. First, make sure the shears are sterile to prevent any disease. Also, make sure to only use shears and scissors that are specially made for gardening and not any other scissors. The following step is to cover the floor (especially if you do the cutting process indoors) with old newspapers or plastic to prevent the sap stains your floor. Wearing a gardening apron is also recommended.

how to prune ficus elastica
image by Lorraine Hecht

Take attention that it would be hard to remove the sap from clothes, carpets, and any fabric material–and it might leave a stain. The last material you need is gloves to protect your hands from the plant’s sap. Rubber plant sap contains latex that may result in skin irritation and itchiness. Another tip, if you have any open wounds, make sure to protect the wound or ask some help from other people to do the cutting process.

Got everything you need? Now it’s time to prune the rubber plant!

Step 1: Decide the trimming style

Before doing the cutting process, decide which style you would want to apply to your rubber plant. Do you want the plant to grow upright but slender, or do you want the plant to stay shorter and bushier?

Step 2: Pick the time to prune the rubber plant

Sap secretion is lowest in the evening, so you might want to do the trimming process during this time of the day. Just take note that no matter what time you cut the rubber plant, the sap will always come out once you cut the stems, but this can be toned down a little bit.

Step 3: Inspect your rubber plant

Once you’ve picked the time and decided on your preferred style, it’s time to do a little observation before deciding to prune the rubber plant. Look if there’s any dead, diseased, ‘rubbing’, and damaged foliage or stems–that’s the part to be trimmed off!

Step 4: Start the cutting process

Now it’s time to prune the rubber plant. To start the trimming process, cut the stem at each lower intersection–an area where smaller branches grow out from bigger/main branches. Leave about 1 inch or 2.5 centimeters at each intersection. Repeat the process until you get your desired result. To lower down your rubber plant, for example, once it reaches your ceilings, you can cut the upper part of the foliage.

Attention: Do not over-trim since it might be harder for the rubber plant to do the photosynthesis process.

Step 5: Repot the rubber plant to a new container or pot

When and How To Prune Rubber Plant
image by 54WilliamGJusto54

The last step of the cutting process is to repot your freshly-pruned rubber plant. Move the plant to a bigger container or pot. Make sure to provide the plant with regular watering and a nutrient-rich potting mix. Repotting should be done to avoid root-bound and to provide more room since new growth will continue to spurt.

How to do propagation during the trimming session?

You can do propagation during the pruning session. All you have to do is cut a healthy, matured stem and move the stem to a separate pot or container that is prepared specially for the propagation process. This is what we call stem-cutting propagation, the most used propagation technique for the rubber plant.

Commonly Asked Questions About Rubber Plant Trimming.

1. Why is trimming necessary for rubber plants? 

    Like any other plant, pruning is a beneficial process to promote new growth. If your rubber plant gets diseases or pests, cutting should also be done. Another reason is to make the plant more aesthetic, by letting them grow as our expected result.

2. How to know which foliage to cut during the prune rubber plant process?

   Look at any yellowing, browning, or ‘limp’ foliage. Usually, this is the sign that the foliage is either dying, diseased, or damaged–for instance, as a result of leaves burning or over-watering. For branches, look if there are any intertwined branches.

3. How to stop rubber plants’ sap from overflowing?

    Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to completely stop the sap from overflowing once you cut off the branches or foliage, as this is part of the rubber plant’s natural habit. However, you can wait for a little longer until the sap completely ‘dries’, this might take a few minutes. To minimize sap secretion, you can do the pruning process at room temperature. Wipe off any excess sap with warm water and then cover the area where the sap comes off using plastic. The sap shall stop flowing once the rubber plant heals itself from the cut you’ve made.

4. How to maintain the rubber plants after the cutting process?

   After you prune rubber plants, maintaining a healthy plant lifestyle is the most important thing. After all, rubber plant is an easy-to-maintain plant. They love an area with high humidity with indirect, bright sunlight, as well as well-draining soil and regular (not over) watering. Check out the other article about how to take care of a rubber plant to get more detailed information.

5. Can you decrease the fertilizer intake during the growing season to suppress growth?

    Decreasing fertilizer intake during the growing season is not recommended. As with any other plant, fertilizers are needed not only to boost growth but also to provide rubber plants with all the nutrients they need to grow as healthy and fertile plants. 

6. What is the best time to propagate the rubber plants?

    The recommended time to propagate rubber plants is during the growing season, which starts from the late spring to early summer (hot season).


As you can see, cutting a rubber plant is not as complicated as you think, as long as you know how and when to prune the rubber plant. By doing this regime regularly, you can make sure that the rubber plant thrives as a healthy and gorgeous-looking houseplant!

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