The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is a jungle tree that, in its natural habitat, will grow to 100 feet in height. Grown as a specimen planting in warmer regions, the rubber tree is also a common houseplant that requires little care. The rubber plant will ooze sap, or latex, when cut. This substance can cause dermatitis in sensitive individuals and can be fatal if ingested. Wear rubber gloves and keep children and pets away from the plant while pruning. Prune the rubber tree in the spring.
Disinfect the pruning shears for two minutes in a tub of equal parts of water and household disinfectant. Rinse them before you use them.
Choose the branches of the rubber plant that you wish to cut and cut them immediately above a leaf node (where a leaf attaches to the stem). Don't be afraid that you will cut too much. The rubber plant is quite tolerant of pruning and will produce new growth from the node above the cut.
Dip a cotton swab or small craft stick into the rooting hormone and wipe the hormone on the cut end of each rubber plant branch that you cut. Although the latex that is leaking from the wound will generally seal it, in the meantime the plant may leak all over the carpet. The rooting hormone will help the wound to callus over, as well.