How to Prune Potted Rubber Plants


The evergreen rubber tree (Ficus elastica) is grown as a houseplant in most of the U.S. It is not cold hardy and cannot grow outdoors in the US without protection except in the southernmost part of Florida. While it can reach heights of 100 feet in its native range, it needs occasional pruning while growing indoors. A rubber tree can be pruned to shape at any time of the year.

Step 1

Put potted rubber plant in a location where you can view all sides of the plant and decide what branches need to be removed. Spread newspaper around the base of the plant.

Step 2

Cut branches just above the joint or node in order to remove the branch. The joints or nodes are the swollen or raised areas along the main stem. New growth appears in two or three places along the node that is just beneath the cut. Cut side branches back to point of origin or main stem. You will notice the white latex sap oozing out of all cut areas. Allow the latex sap to drip freely on newspaper until it dries where the plant was cut. A rubber tree can be cut back as much as 75 percent and still recover.

Step 3

Dispose of branches or cut sections of branches just below a node and stick in moist soil to root new plants.

Tips and Warnings

  • Some people have a skin reaction when exposed to plant sap and it is difficult to wash off so wear light duty garden gloves or rubber gloves while pruning.

Things You'll Need

  • Handheld pruning shears
  • Light-duty garden gloves
  • Newspaper


  • rubber tree plant care
  • rubber tree
  • rubber tree
Keywords: rubber tree, ficus, rubber tree

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.