Q.My huge rubber tree
I found your website today and found it very helpful, but I still needed a bit more advice. I have had my rubber tree since 1991 when I found it in the last chance bin at K-Mart for 99 cents. I do well with half dead plants, if they come back I figure they are hard to kill! Well, it has now been planted in an old metal 10-gallon rolling mop bucket for the past 5 years. This allows me to move it easily and to put it inside for the winter and out side for the summer.
It is now hitting 6 foot tall measuring from the dirt to the top most leaf. I almost died when I read they can grow to 50′. Here are all the questions I have. I’m figuring I can’t plant it outside where I live because it gets too cold in Pittsburgh PA, that and the fact I’ve never seen one growing outside here. Second, there are roots starting to poke straight out of the lower 8″ of the bottom trunk. Again I’m assuming it needs planted in a bigger deeper pot? At this point I won’t be able to move it, it will be too heavy. Any advice? Third, can you prune the top? I found your article on pruning helpful, but it didn’t mention the tops of the main trunk.
Thank you so much in advance for anything you might be able to help me with. This is my favorite plant. I’ve had it the longest, it outlasted my ex-husband (lol), and it has been to every state I’ve lived in.
They can grow much taller than 50', up to 150'! But don't worry, that won't happen in a 10 gallon bucket in Pittsburgh. You're quite right, you can't plant them outdoors - they are tropical plants, a few hours of freezing temps will kill them. You can prune back the main trunk with no problem, also any of the side branches. Then you can root the pieces you cut off, and soon you'll have a little forest in your house. I suggest you wait till early summer, when the plant is ready to go into its summer growth spurt. Then enlist someone to help you, take it outside and prune the branches; be careful about the white latex that will drip from the cuts, some people are mildly allergic, and it can make a mess. Cover the cuts with some pieces of paper towel to keep it from dripping. Then lay it down on its side, and pull the bucket off the root ball. You may have to use some kind of tool to loosen the roots from the container. You can prune the roots, and work out a bunch of the old soil; then put in nice new soil, lift it back into the pot and work fresh soil all around, water well a couple of times to settle the soil, and you should be good to go for several more years. Nice idea about the rolling mop bucket. Here are a couple of articles to help you: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/hpgen/prune-roots.htm