I have a ficus about 4 feet high. It has 3 stalks growing out of the soil.
Can I cut 2 stalks off and will the remaining stalk get larger?
If I do cut the stalks off are they easy to root in another pot?
Is it a good time of year to do this?
I very little knowledge regarding House Plants.
Burgundy Ficus (Rubber Plant)
I have a ficus about 4 feet high. It has 3 stalks growing out of the soil.
The best way to root the other two stalks is to air-layer them. In about 6 - 8 weeks, they should have enough roots so that you can cut the stalk just below the roots and pot up. It's easy to do -- just make a cut about one-third of the way thru the stem at a 45 degree angle downwards. Open the cut enough to put a toothpick or match stick in the cut to hold it open. Pack a large handful of moist sphagnum moss around the cut. Hold the moss in place with some clear plastic firmly secured with twist ties top and bottom. Make sure the moss is completely covered to hold in the moisture. If the moss begins to dry, moisten it and rewrap. When it looks like it has enough roots to sustain growth, pot up.
The remaining stalk will not grow much faster. I would, however, after you have air-layered the other two, remove it from the pot, cut away some of the roots and pot up in a slightly smaller pot. The remaining stalk will not use up water nearly as fast as three did. If you left the stubs of the other two in place, you might get growth from them but most people don't find that aesthetically pleasing.
Insofar as when to do it, I would do it in the spring when the plant is strong and actively growing.
I will say it in a less tactful way..lol I just hacked off some of the branches. I have about 8-10 in one pot. I wouldn't remove the plant that you do not cut. If you care for it they way you normaly do you will have new growth from the cut stems in a few weeks, whether it is the plants active growing season or not. The new growth is usually a tad smaller than the older growth and if you get lucky you will have two branches instead of just one. For me I had to do some cutting back, because my plant wasn't happy and lost a ton of it's leaves.
The cut pieces will root if placed in soil/sand and other rooting mediums. It's a matter of luck in my opinion. My cut piece rooted but fail to grow and wound up rotting. Air layering sounds easy but is difficult. For beginners its harder than just placing it in soil. Once you become experienced you get better. So I guess you have to try sometime, Right! It's a matter of what you think will work best for you. Some say to cover the cutting to keep moisture in. When it is your first time is all a matter of experimentation. Because what works for me may not work for you.
Here are a few links that might be of use to you on air layering and see if you are up to the task.
The first link seems to be the better of the two. Most of the other links I came across were really scientific. And if I can't understand it I am definately not passing it on to someone else...lol Hope this helps
Be careful of the sap as some people are allergic to it. But even if you aren't it will drip like crazy. So if you do just cut it off make sure you have a paper towel or something handy to catch the dripping sap. Also before replanting the cut of branch (if this is what you do) let it dry out for an hour or two then pot it up.
Hope this was of some use.
Cutting off two of the stems will not affect the remaining stem, one way or the other.
Rubber plants are tropical plants and are not seasonal. You can prune tham at anytime of the year.
My comment about doing the air-layering in the spring was in regard to the amount and duration of available sunlight. Plants do respond to light intensity and duration, especially in the amount of photosynthesis and consequently, the amount of possible growth. The plant may be tropical but it is no longer in a tropical environment.
Yes, the plant may be pruned at any time but the rate of growth will be determined by the amount of available light. I have seen too many plants, from tropical orchids, tropical ferns to succulents adversely affected by untimely repotting, pruning or fertilization.
I agree with you on the amount of lighting issue Patrick. I thought you were suggesting that it might not work if done at any other time than spring :o) Then newer growth on my ficus is smaller and more compact than the other new growth on stalks that were not cut.
Goodness, so much work isn't required. I just cut the excess branches off right above a leaf node, remove all but two or three leaves at the top and stick the cuttings in a tall soda bottle or vase filled with water. No need to worry about it drying out, and it will form roots with no further attention. When a small young branch snapped off as the nursery worker was loading it into the car, I stuck it into a small pot of soil and watered it when I remembered, but it did dry out several times during the long hot summer. Still, it went on to root and began to put out new growth. I neglected it scandalously for months, then finally repotted it, and it has formed a nice symmetrical plant. A couple of years ago, I rescued one that Wal-Mart was discarding. It was about 2' tall and quite dried out, the leaves beginning to shrivel, so I offered them a dollar for it. I watered it well for a few weeks and it totally recovered. I began to make new ones for friends, and ended up doing that too often so that my mother plant was misshapen. So I cut it all back, removing all that wasn't pretty form. Ended up with just stems, no leaves, and it put out a great new top on each stem.
Aimee, you are very lucky!!!!! I wish I had that type of luck.....lol
I will most likely operate on it majorly this spring. Just for the fact that I know it will do better then. Also mine is in a bit of shock right now from coming in for the winter. I'm hoping it recovers fully. It was a gorgeous plant when I bought it!
Holly, I don't think you will have any problem because that is a very forgiving plant. I went to your page and it looks like you have excellent light conditions. I would love to have such a well lighted place, but my poor plants have to deal with this very old and dark house or the plant porch which has two rock walls and dense shrubbery except for one side facing east. If you would like it, I have an angel wing begonia, the one with the really big leaves. It blooms frequently throughout the year, huge drupes of pink flowers. I can send you a small one with roots or a cutting, let me know if you are interested.
Aimee, I don't get as much light as you might think I do...lol I live in an apartment and have a few ok hours in the morning from the front. The plants that are on the balcony do the best. But there isn't enough room out there. And then I have the ones in my room that do pretty good. But those who are to be left in my living room struggle with light issues daily...lol I do not get any direct sunlight in there at all.
I updated my page. I tool all the pics in the dark tonight. Hubby was sleeping on the couch.
Oh I think, not 100% positive that I may have the begonia you are talking about. take a look.
I can't tell if it's the same, but yours looks more like my dragon wing. The angel wing I mentioned has leaves about 10" long. It grows to as much as 8' tall. But it might be larger than you want. You are so good with the pictures, your space seems expansive! I enjoyed looking at your plants. You have quite a few succulents, which I have no luck with.
Ok then Aimee, I'll take it. What do you need from me? I love succulents. They are one of my most favorite things right now. Yet I still strive to get your regular houseplants. I guess I just like them all. But with succulents you can fit more into a tiny space then you could a regular sized houseplant.
Let me know,
It's a gift. Do you want a cutting to grow in water or a plant with roots? E-mail your address, I have to send some things out Friday and would like to include this. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.