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My mother-in-law suffered a stroke and entered rehab.  Her rubber tree plant was on the porch and growing beautifully.  We had a cold snap before someone realized to take the rubber tree plant inside, so it did get frost bite.  I now have the rubber tree plant.  there are no leaves on top and new growth from the bottom.  The rubber tree plant is in a 18" pot and about 3 feet tall.  Question: do I prune the barren stems and how much.
Thank you

Hi Suzanne,

Do I understand correctly that you do have healthy new growth at the base of the plant, but all the upper leaves are gone?

If that is the case, then the more exposed leaves on top were killed by the cold whereas the lower portion and the roots are okay. As long as the roots, which are insulated by the pot and soil, are still okay then your Rubber Tree has a future.

It is possible that new growth will emerge at the very top of the stem, but that will still leave you with a bare stem except at the very top. Thus, I do suggest that you do cut it back to a height of 12 to 18 inches. New growth will then emerge on that stem just below the pruning cut and grow upward from there.

Be careful not to over water because your recovering plant will use less water than it did before. Of curse, keep it in a warm, sunny location indoors.

I have written detailed articles on cold damage and on Rubber Plant care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

BA, Amherst College

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