How to Make a Rubber Plant Bushy?

When I was a little child, I would count the bushes and leaves of rubber plants as their arms and legs.

And during most of the late spring, when mom pruned it, I would run to my grandmother, telling her how mom is cutting arms and legs of my favorite plant!

It took me some time to realize mom was pruning the plant to make it bushier; with more arms and legs.

To make a rubber plant bushy, prune them during the late spring or between spring and summer. Maintain the temperature, lighting and fertilize them correctly.

Bushy Rubber Plant (Source- Unsplash)

However, it’s always easier said than done. You may need to know when and how to prune the plant. Otherwise, you may damage the plant irreversibly.

Well, let’s learn together!

Reasons why your Rubber Plant is Leggy and Spindly

Everyone loves small and bushier rubber plants. However, despite their easy growth and low-maintenance plants, sometimes they grow leggy and spindly.

Some of the reasons why your rubber plant is leggy and spindly are:

1. Poor Lighting

We always talk about how rubber plant thrives in proper sunlight. Thus poor lighting causes the plant to stretch towards the proper sunlight zone.

Poor lighting condition makes the plant tall and spindly when the lower part’s leaves fall off.

If your plant is in a spot where it receives proper and enough sunlight, it won’t grow leggy.

Maintaining the temperature, humidity, light can actually prevent the plant from growing leggy and spindly.

Underlighting or excessive lighting is not good for the plant. Underlighting causes the lower leaves to fall off, whereas excessive lighting can leave sunburn patches on the leaves.


  • Locate your plant where it receives early morning and late afternoon sun. The midday sun will scorch the leaves and quickly dry up the soil.
  • A balcony with a view to the west is also an ideal location for the plant.
  • Another ideal location is beside a window with lovely silk drapes to block direct sunlight.
  • Provide shade for the plant if it is maintained outside.
  • So, keep your plant in a spot where it receives indirect sunlight.

2. Excessive Fertilization

Excessive fertilization speeds up plant growth, making them tall, weak, and spindly. Also, the plant drops the lower leaves.

Make sure you fertilize your plant right!

You can fertilize your rubber plant every two weeks but, if you overfertilize it or even worse, if you use a fertilizer with a high nitrogen ratio, your plant will grow tall, leggy, and weak at the same time.

However, you can save your overfertilized rubber plant! Yes, you heard it right.


  • Firstly, remove any trace of fertilization that is visible to you.
  • Then, run some water to wash away excess fertilizer from your plant’s root.
  • Remove any dead parts and give your plant a proper one-month break from fertilizers!

3. Improper Temperature

Rubber plants love warm temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, during winter, you need to be very cautious as the temperature goes down.

Improper temperature can make rubber plants leggy and spindly.


  • Place your plant near a window to diffuse direct light and help regulate the room’s temperature.
  • You may save your plant by using a heat pump or furnace to keep it at the proper temperature. It will promote stem development from all directions, avoiding legginess.

4. Pruning Mistakes

Pruning should be done at the right time, during late spring or between spring and summer. This gives the plant time to heal and grow while in the growing season of the plant.

Improper cuts can damage the plant irreversibly, so make a clean cut just above the node from where you want to see branches emerge.


  • Place the plant in a bright spot that receives indirect sunlight
  • Fertilize with Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and potassium at the ratio of 24:8:16
  • Prune the plant during late spring or between spring and summer
  • Maintain the temperature and provide good humidity

It is always best to prevent your plant from being leggy and spindly. You need to take a bit of care and help plants grow in a healthy environment.

Pruning in young rubber plants is common and should be done often. Read on: Re-evaluation of controlled pruning in young rubber in a large group of estates.

How to Make Rubber Plant Bushy?

If your plant is small, you seem to be taking care of lighting, temperature, and fertilizer situation just like you want.

Rubber plant loves proper light so if they don’t get it; they will stretch themselves to get more light. This makes the plant leggy and spindly.

But you wanted a bushier version of the rubber plant. So, fix the light. Keep the plant in a spot where your plant receives enough light.

Maintain the temperature between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fertilization every two weeks is preferred for rubber plants. If you over-fertilize the plant, it will just grow tall and won’t be bushier.

Keeping an eye on every factor mentioned above, prune your plant once in a while to make it bushier.

Pruning gives off more branches to the plant so that it becomes bushy.

Rubber plants in Different Size (Source- Unsplash)

Pruning Rubber Plant to Make it Bushier

Pruning is considered the best-proven way to make your plant bushier. With proper guidance and taking the steps one by one, anyone can prune the rubber plant.

Let’s start!

Materials Needed to Prune the Rubber Plant

  • Gloves
  • Shears
  • Sharp and sterilized knife
  • A piece of plastic or papers

Step 1: Prepare the Plan

Firstly, make an image in your mind. How tall do you want your rubber plant to be? How bushier?  Decide on its height and size before pruning.

Do you want your rubber plant as a tall tree sitting in your living room? Or a small and bushier shrub on your table?

Choose your desired height and size so you can prune accordingly!

Plan on which branch stays and which ones you want to cut off to get your desired shape.

Step 2: Prepare the Plant

Rubber plant releases milky white sap from any cuts or leaf breakage. It can potentially cause skin irritation and stain. So, wear gloves before you begin the pruning.

The sap can leave stains on your clothes and the floor. Lay a piece of plastic or some paper on your floor before you prune the plant.

You may want to wear old clothes so that you don’t stain your favorite clothes!

Step 3: Remove Damaged Parts from the Plant

To begin trimming, start with the leaves that are growing downwards or straight out horizontally. First, remove the lower part leaves to make your plant clean and healthy.

If you have any broken branches, cut them off. Then, bring your plant to your planned shape.

If your plant has a dead and damaged stem, make sure you remove them first.

Step 4: Cut Just Before the Node to your Desired Height

Now that you have decided what height is best for your rubber plant, it’s time to cut the plant just above the node, where you want your plant to get bushier.

Do not cut below the node. Cutting off the leaves just above the node prevents your plant from “dieback.” It also prevents infection and diseases.

If you want your rubber plant to be a bushier shrub, prune the plant often!

Step 5: Propagate the Cutting

Being a plant lover, throwing away the cut-off branch is something unimaginable. Instead, you can propagate it in a new or the same pot or let it root in water.

Branching in Pruned Rubber Plant (Source- Unsplash)

Can you Prune Rubber Plant Without Damaging the Plant?

You can prune your rubber plant without damaging the plant.

Rubber plant as we know grows tall in no time. If it’s taller than your desired height, you can prune the plant to make it bushier. It is the best and effective way.

It won’t damage the plant, and additionally, you can get a new rubber plant by simply propagating the cut-off part.

Using sterilized and sharp shears to cut your plant won’t damage any part of your plant.

However, you may damage your plant if you use an unsterilized and blunt tool. In addition, it may cause infection and disease to plant.

Also, the blunt tool requires more force which may cause tears and damage to the rubber plant.

Make sure to do right by your plant!

Things to keep in mind before Pruning

Anyone can prune the rubber plant if you follow the process step by step. However, there are some things you need to keep in mind.

1. Know When to Prune your Rubber Plant

Pruning your plant at the beginning of the growing season is preferred so the plant can recover fast and grow bushier.

Although rubber plants can handle pruning at any time of the year but hey! Why not prune them when the time is best for them.

2. Use Gloves and Necessary Precautions for your Protection

As we know, pruning involves cutting the plant. Rubber plant releases milky white sap on cutting. When this sap comes in contact with your skin, it irritates most people.

So use a pair of gloves to protect yourself from skin irritation.

Accidental breakage of leaves may occur while pruning, or you happen to pluck some leaves too. Make sure you protect your eyes too.

Sap may make your floor look stained, so using some papers or plastic on the floor before pruning is recommended!

3. Use Sterilized and Sharp Tools to Prune the Plant

There are two known best ways to cut the stem while pruning. Either you cut the stem in a straight manner or at a 45-degree angle.

You see how sharp cut is important. Thus use a sharp knife to prune to protect the plant from unnecessary stress and tearing.

The unsterilized, rusty, or dirty tool can infect the plant.

It’s always best to use a clean, sharp, and sterilized tool.

4. Remove Damaged Part of the Plant

Removing dead or damaged parts of the plant freshens up the plant.

The damaged parts will do no good to the plant, but infection can make your plant vulnerable to pests and disease.

So, always remove them before pruning to keep your plant healthy and look aesthetic!

5. Don’t Overprune your Rubber Plant

If you over prune your rubber plant, thinking it will grow much bushier, then it may not happen for you.

Over pruning means you are cutting off too many branches and leaves.

Over pruning can affect the photosynthesis of the plant. For example, your rubber plant needs leaves to make its food.

So, over-pruning can make your plant weak, and even worse, it may die.

To prune it right, make sure you leave a sufficient number of leaves for the plant to stay healthy and grow bushier.

6. Do Not Prune a Newly Repotted Rubber Plant Immediately

If you have repotted your rubber plant recently or planning to re-pot a recently pruned plant, please wait some weeks in between!

Both the actions are stressful to the plant!

If you prune a recently repotted rubber plant, it may undergo shock. So, make sure you give some time.

Like us, your rubber plant, too, needs time to heal!

If you are planning to re-pot your rubber plant, read on: How to Re-pot a Rubber Plant?

How do you Stop Your Rubber Plant Sap from Dripping after Pruning?

Rubber plants are full of milky white sap, and while pruning, they will come out oozing from the stem and leaves.

It irritates your skin, stains your floor or your clothes. The sticky sap needs to be stopped from dripping after pruning.

To stop your plant’s sap from dripping, add some compost to the cut. 

It can easily stop your rubber plant from dripping its sap. The sap is sticky in nature so that the compost will stick well in the cut.

Eventually, the plant will start healing after a few days, and the compost will fall off without harming the plant.

Tips for Caring for Rubber Plant After Pruning

Pruning can be stressful to your rubber plant, so there is no harm in considering some care tips on how to take care of your recently pruned rubber plant.

Here are some tips for caring for rubber plants after pruning:

ParametersFavorable Condition
Sunlight2-4 hours of direct morning or late afternoon.
Prefers Enough Indirect Sunlight
Temperature65 to 75 Degrees Ferhaneit
Humidity30% to 50%
Watering ScheduleWater your plant every 5 to 6 days
FertilizerFertilize ever two weeks.
After Pruning: 24-8-16 NPK
After it becomes bushier: 10-10-10 NPK

1. Proper lighting

You need to provide enough sunlight to the rubber plant. Keep the plant in a spot where it receives indirect sunlight.

Direct sunlight can wilt and sunburn the plant. Proper lighting helps the plant to grow well so it could heal and get bushier soon after pruning.

Provide 2-4 hours of the direct morning or late afternoon sunlight to your rubber plant.

2. Watering Schedule

You need to maintain the watering Schedule well for a recently pruned rubber plant. If you notice the top two inches of soil getting dry, it’s time to water the plant well.

Overwatering or underwatering both causes leaves to fall off. You don’t want that to happen to your recently pruned plant.

Generally, pruning is done in summer, so water the plant every 5 to 6 days. The amount of water depends on the size of the pot and plant.

Water accordingly!

3. Proper Fertilization

After you prune the plant, fertilize every two weeks if it’s summer. You can use NPK fertilizer.

It stimulates growth after pruning; it helps the plant to get bushier. But make sure you fertilize in the correct ratio of 24:8:16 to avoid overfertilization or under fertilization.

Once your plant is healed and grown to be bushier, you may want to slow the growth to maintain a shrubs structure.

If so, use NPK fertilizer of 10:10:10 ratio as a slow-releasing fertilizer.

It’s not recommended to prune in winter but, if you have already, fertilize the plant less often than that of summer.

4. Maintain Temperature and Humidity

As we know, the growing season of the rubber plants is summer because the plant loves warmth.

The plant prefers a temperature of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because it heals and grows faster in a warm environment than in a colder season.

Unfortunately, these plants do not have a good tolerance to cold.

Due to its tropical origin rubber plant prefers the humidity between 30% to 50%. Moist and humid air helps the plant to grow and heal.

So, maintaining good humidity after you prune your rubber plant is something you should take good care of.

If you want your plant to get bushier, you can prune it more often. But, do not prune immediately one after another.

Instead, give your plant a little time to heal and grow.


Rubber plants are fast-growing plants, so pruning is the best way to make your plant bushy.

Maintaining temperature and good humidity promotes the healthy growth of the rubber plant.

Overfertilization and poor lighting can cause rubber plants to grow tall, leggy, and weak.

Even though pruning and taking care of the plant needs a little bit of caring, but the satisfaction and beauty it brings are worth your effort!

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