How to Move a Rubber Tree Plant

Overview

The rubber tree or ficus tree (Ficus elastica) grows outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 10b to 11 and makes a popular office plant or houseplant in other areas. When grown outdoors, rubber trees average 25 to 40 feet and make good privacy screens or hedge trees. Move or transplant your rubber tree if it is not thriving in its present location or if it has grown too large for its container, evidenced by less vigor and roots poking through the bottom of the pot.

Indoor

Step 1

Choose a container with drainage holes that's one size up from the one currently holding your rubber tree. Cut a piece of mesh screen that fits in the bottom of the container; this prevents soil from washing out each time you water the ficus.

Step 2

Fill the container halfway with well-balanced potting soil.

Step 3

Grasp your ficus tree at the base and pull it out of its container. Then break apart the root ball by massaging it between your fingers; make sure to untangle circled roots.

Step 4

Place the tree in the new container so it rests at the same depth as it did in the previous container. Top off the rest of the container with potting soil, gently mounding it around the base of the ficus.

Step 5

Water the newly moved rubber tree until liquid flows from the bottom of the container and the soil compresses around the base of your tree.

Outdoors

Step 1

Dig a hole twice the size of the ficus tree's root ball in a location that offers the rubber tree full sun and enough room to mature. If you're not sure how large this is, use GardenLine's estimate of 9 to 12 inches of root ball per inch of trunk diameter. Remove rocks, sticks and weeds from the hole.

Step 2

Remove your rubber tree from its current location once you have the new hole prepared. Begin digging at twice the distance of the root ball, working in toward the ficus tree. Once you see the roots, dig down and around to gather the roots in a ball below the tree. Keep working until you've dug out all the roots.

Step 3

Grab the rubber tree at the base of the trunk and pull up. If the tree has a couple of roots remaining in the ground, cut them with your pruners.

Step 4

Carry the ficus tree to its new location and place it in the prepared hole so it sits vertically straight and rests at the same level in the soil as it did before.

Step 5

Backfill the hole with soil to plant the rubber tree. Water the newly transplanted tree until the ground becomes saturated and the soil compresses around the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Container (optional)
  • Potting soil (optional)
  • Water
  • Shovel (optional)

References

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Ficus Elastica, Rubber Tree
  • Washington State University: How to Transplant Trees and Shrubs Successfully
  • GardenLine: Moving and Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: transplant rubber trees, move rubber trees, rubber tree plant, move ficus tree

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.