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The main part of my rubber tree looks like a slingshot. The main truck is 3 feet long before it splits into the 2 branches. If I cut off those 2 branches will any new limbs come out of that trunk? If so how much of the trunk should I leave?

There is some new growth at the bottom off an old limb but it is just another branch that's going to grow out at a bad angle.

Is my only hope with this plant to keep it from falling over to cut back the 2 branches? If so does it matter how far I cut them back?

rubber tree

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Remove no more than about a third of each branch and try to provide support to the main stem using a stake. Make the cut above a node, and make sure you are ready for the free flowing sap that will ooze. You could use paraffin wax or another sealant and stem some of the losses.

Besides staking, you can try to train the tree branches to grow straighter using a band, cord or rope that goes around the stake and holds the branches and base tighter together. Make sure that if you do any such thing, that the plant is still allowed to balance itself nicely on the pot.

If you do prune the plant, make as many other changes as possible for a while, like moving the tree, changing watering schedules etc. The Rubber Tree is very finicky at times. This is a beautiful specimen.

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Shoot, sorry Srihari, your advice is always so good. Number one; DO NOT move this guy around willy nilly! That causes major stress and this particular indoor plant is especially sensitive and very needy of the spot they get used to, to move them will cause major stress. This guy is called Ficus elastica, its sap is basic to latex.

Number two; do not touch the sap and do not worry about 'sealing' the pruning cuts. This plant is very toxic to cats, dogs, birds and capable of causing irritating reactions when in contact with the skin, mouth. Some people have found they are unable to wear latex gloves because of the chemical Caoutchouc.

I'd repot this plant in a slightly larger pot no more than 2" larger than the diameter of the rim of your white pot in NEW bagged potting soil. Let it get used to its new pot and soil in the same spot it knows and loves, grins. Then months from now start cutting it back, a couple of leaves from the terminal bud down 3 or 4 internodes cutting about 1/4" above the node at an angle. Do one branch in 3 months and then 3 months later do the other branch. Use sterilized by pass pruners, or sterilized (alcohol) tough scissors. Well, I'd try to use decent, sharp by pass pruners (versus anvil, ugh) instead of scissors.

It needs to be 'headed' back to get rid of the weight bending the branches down. It looks like you are overwatering, that is the biggest no no for this plant (all plants except water or marsh plants). I don't like staking because once you stake a plant like this that plant relies on that stake forever. You want your plant to be half that size and you will need to do it in stages! This is a tough plant but too much stress will cause it to give up. Weird I know.

Read this link I am sending...Ficus elastic care

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  • I just looked at your picture and saw another very real problem...there is a plastic floral tape around the upper part of the trunk. Get that off of there. That will girdle and cause less water to get up to the leaves and will eventually kill your plant. I now see that it is tying up your stake, remove it and tie another one at another spot. Keep checking on that tape and replacing it. Or you could go find some old panty hose or and use that instead of the tape. – stormy Nov 21 '16 at 21:36
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    As are yours Stormy. Between you and Bamboo, the rest of us are usually just watching along the sidelines, in awe :). – Srihari Yamanoor Nov 22 '16 at 8:56
  • I seem to have several different suggestions about when to re-pot and how, when, and how much to prune. Here is some further about the plant. It is probably over 30 years old and been in that same spot. It gets the east sun and that is the only good place I have for it. The left branch is hooked under the doorway to the kitchen to keep the plant from falling onto that glass table to the right again which it recently did and broke an orchid. It's only 6" from the ceiling in the kitchen too. Perhaps if I removed 1/3 now I could repot later and remove the stake. Comments? – bobjdan Nov 22 '16 at 18:27
  • Yes bob. What is important is reducing stress. Either repot now, prune later or prune now repot later. The article on how to prune that plant Bamboo has posted could get you going on pruning. Repot later, in 3 months or so. How tight is that wrap? Get that off first thing and replace with a soft wrap at another location – stormy Nov 22 '16 at 19:19
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I've got a slightly different answer from the others, sorry, but you know what they say - ask three gardeners the same question and you'll get three different answers! I suggest you remove half the branch which is sticking out almost at right angles, cutting just above a leaf node making an angled cut - that branch might well break if its left much longer because of the sharp angle. You can then take a quarter off the remaining tall branch, just to reduce the height. Be prepared, as another answer says, for plenty of latex sap to be dripping for quite a while; you might want to put newspaper or kitchen paper on the floor to catch it. I agree it looks like it needs a larger pot too - you might want to wait till sap's stopped dripping to carry that out. I also agree you should remove the green tie - it does look tight on the stem.

Don't move it around, it seems quite happy where it is, it's just chosen to grow in an ungainly fashion - once new growth begins and it's recovered, after a few months or a year, you will very likely need to prune off more to reshape, probably shortening the branch that sticks out even further, regardless of any new growth - depends where it shoots from as it recovers really. Info regarding pruning here http://homeguides.sfgate.com/cut-back-rubber-tree-plant-10-feet-tall-22663.html

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