How to prune a rubber tree plant

Updated April 17, 2017

Rubber tree plants, also called Ficus elastica, most often grow best indoors except in tropical regions where they flourish outdoors. Without pruning, the horizontal branches of the rubber tree plant can become unruly and flop over under their own weight. In order to keep the rubber tree flourishing indoors and out you must prune the tree correctly.

Prune your rubber tree in late spring or early summer.

Wipe down the blades of your pruning shears with a rag dipped in rubbing alcohol to disinfect the blades. Make sure the shears are sharp.

Mark the stems of the branches you want to remove with chalk. Planning will prevent overzealous cutting and ensure that the final shape of the tree is how you would like it to look.

Cut the branches you would like to remove right above a leaf node, where the leaf attaches to the stem. New growth will return at this point. Do not remove more than 1/3 to 1/2 of the tree's foliage. The rubber tree may look somewhat sparse by the end, but lush grow will soon replace any empty spaces.


While pruning, wear rubber gloves to protect your skin from the milky sap of the rubber tree which may cause irritation.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Rag
  • Chalk
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About the Author

Sarah Morse has been a writer since 2009, covering environmental topics, gardening and technology. She holds a bachelor's degree in English language and literature, a master's degree in English and a master's degree in information science.