Can You Cut the Top Off Your Rubber Plant?

Rubber plants are famous for being low maintenance and easy to grow indoors. However, if you’re not well-versed in indoor plant care, you may be confused about what “low maintenance” entails. Tall rubber plants aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but before you begin cutting off anything “overgrown,” be sure to check the leaves.   

You can cut the top off your rubber plant, but it’s best to stick to cutting leaves rather than branches. This is because branches are more challenging for rubber plants to grow back. Pruning leaves is healthy, but remember that rubber plants don’t require much pruning in general.

Below, I’ll give you some info on the importance of pruning your house plants and why you shouldn’t cut the branches of your rubber plant. I’ll also talk about some strategies for pruning your rubber plant and explain why some gardeners practice pruning.

Cutting the Top off Your Rubber Plant Will Halt Growth

Pruning a rubber plant is a great way to keep it healthy, but there are also some important factors to consider.

When you cut the top off your rubber plant, two things happen:

  • The part that was cut will stop growing and start developing new roots.
  • The bottom half of your plant will start growing new stems and leaves from where you made the cut.

However, an important distinction is made when you cut your branches versus your leaves.

As we’ll discuss below, cutting the branches will halt growth. It won’t stop growth entirely, but it may take longer for your rubber plant to get taller. If you cut the leaves only, your rubber plant will continue to grow. 

It’s essential to cut your rubber plant with the proper tools. Otherwise, you risk damaging it. Even the most precise cut with the wrong scissors can stop your plant from growing any taller. 

Reasons for Pruning Your Plant

There are many reasons someone might want to take the top off their rubber plant. You might want to prune your rubber plant to get new plants through a process called propagation.

This video shows what propagation for a rubber plant looks like:

The video shows that you can do this with a leaf or a stem. 

Some may need to cut their rubber plants because they’re outgrowing the space they’re supposed to be in. Rubber plants can become top-heavy when they grow taller than 6 feet (1.8 m)—you may want to cut the top off if it’s looking like a tree rather than a shrub.

In fact, certain types of rubber plants can grow to be 50 feet (15 m) tall. So, if you don’t have the space for overgrowth, cutting off the branches is okay. 

Most people cut the tops or leaves off their plants as regular maintenance, which is known as pruning. Pruning off only the older leaves will help keep your plant from getting too big or tall. 

Cutting Leaves vs. Cutting Branches

As I mentioned, it is essential that you cut the leaves and not the branches of your rubber plant. If you cut the branches, they will die back; if you cut the leaves, they’ll keep growing.

When you cut off a leaf, it doesn’t matter if it’s the only leaf on your rubber plant—it will grow back eventually. However, stems and branches won’t grow back as quickly and may never grow more leaves. 

However, you shouldn’t cut off too many leaves at once. Your rubber plant is low maintenance, but it still needs sunlight to photosynthesize.

Cutting off too many leaves will result in slow growth or even death. The reason for this is simple: the leaves are where the rubber plant gets its energy, similar to how humans get energy from food.

How to Deal With an Overgrown Plant Without Pruning

Cutting isn’t the only option if your rubber plant is outgrowing its space (though it is the simplest!). You can propagate your plant and give baby rubber plants out to friends, sell them, or put them in more places around the house. 

While cutting the top of your rubber plant may be tempting, there are other ways you can propagate it. One approach is to take a cutting from the top portion of the plant’s leaves and roots

Another option is to take a cutting from its bottom leaves and roots. You can also just take a straight-up slice through the middle, which will keep your plant intact while allowing you to regrow new branches in multiple directions at once. Just be sure to cut at the node, not the stem. 

This method helps maintain symmetry and makes your plant easier to care for. This is because it will grow evenly around itself, giving you more time before you have to trim it again (since each section gets trimmed as soon as possible). 

How to Properly Prune a Rubber Plant

Before you cut the top off your rubber plant, make sure you have clean, sharp shears. If your scissors are dull, you risk damaging the stem and causing irreparable damage to the plant.

Don’t use a knife or other sharp object to try to cut through the stem of your rubber plant; this can leave jagged edges and injure the plant. 

Follow these steps to prune your rubber plant:

  1. Use sharp pruning shears to cut the branch at a 45-degree angle. Cut as close to the node as possible and stop short of cutting into the main stem.
  2. Cut off dead branches from the bottom of your rubber plant if they start to look tattered or yellowed. Only do this every few months, and be sure not to cut too deeply into live stems; otherwise, you’ll kill the plant!
  3. Don’t overdo it. If you need to make more than one cut on a branch that’s been growing for a long time (and may have multiple branches sticking out of it), don’t do more than two per pruning session.

If you plan to propagate your cutting, make sure that the top of the rubber plant will be strong enough to grow roots once it’s separated from the main trunk. This is a critical factor in whether or not your newly-divided plants will survive on their own—take some time to examine them before making any final decisions about your cut.

It’s also a good idea to cut back the top of your rubber plant several weeks after you first cut it. This will help you remove any smaller branches that aren’t growing strongly, as well as make sure nothing gets tall enough to damage your plant. It will also ensure there are no weak spots on the plant where water could pool and cause root rot or other problems.

It’s important not to cut off any larger branches when removing weaker ones. However, these large branches should be left alone until they show signs of weakening themselves.


You can cut the top off your rubber plant, but how you cut it matters most. By cutting the top leaves, you leave room for growth. This method also allows you to propagate these leaves into more rubber plants.

However, if you want your rubber plant to stop growing, you should cut the branches. This will stop the growth at the branch and keep your rubber plant from getting too tall.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

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