The Rubber plant looks beautiful when it grows straight up and not sideways.
But sometimes, it does grow sideways instead of continuing its growth upwards.
There could be many reasons for this plant behavior.
Is your Rubber plant showing the same traits?
If yes, do check out the following guide.
In this guide, you will get to know about the reasons for this unique Rubber plant issue.
There are also a few tips to make it grow upwards.
So, let’s get started.
Here Is Why Your Rubber Plant Is Growing Sideways
Alright, here is a list of reasons why you see such growth on your Rubber plant –
1. Your Rubber Plant Is Not Getting Enough Sunlight
This is the most prominent reason for the sideways growth problem in this plant.
When the plant doesn’t get enough sunlight, it sends an internal signal to produce more branches in all directions.
It is more of a survival call than anything else, as the Rubber plant can’t do well with a lack of light.
So, if you have kept your plant in the dark or shady room, it’s likely to have more lateral branches than the standard upward growth.
Similarly, the plant will show stunted growth, as the leaves and stem don’t get the required resources.
2. You Move Your Plant Container Frequently
This could be another reason for the sideways growth.
Many of us have the habit of cleaning and moving the pots around every now and then.
Well, it generally helps in keeping things neat and tidy, but it does affect the growth of some plants.
And that too when the plant doesn’t receive sunlight from all sides.
When you move the container from one side to the other, the leaves generating food stop receiving the same amount of resources.
If you keep moving your plant’s container frequently, the plant tries to grow more branches from all sides.
Hence, you see such lateral growth in your Rubber plant.
3. The Direction Of Sunlight Is Sideways
Have you placed your Rubber plant far away from the window?
Or does it receive sunlight from just one direction?
If the answer to these questions is yes, you have a problem here!
The plant will only grow sideways if this is the case at your place.
If the plant container is away from the window, you will definitely see more lateral branches trying to reach out for the sun.
Also, when it receives sunlight at a relatively lower height, it will create more branches on the sides.
And these shoots will grow from some of the bottom nodes of the plant.
4. You Have Pruned The Main Stem Off Your Rubber Plant
Pruning is another reason why you see sideways growth on your Rubber plant.
Many novice gardeners make a common mistake while performing this task in their indoor garden.
When they see slight growth in the plant, they tend to trim all the growing branches, including the main stem from the plant.
If you have made this rookie mistake, you will see similar results on your plant as well.
But what happens when you trim the main stem?
It generally shocks the plant!
And then, the plant starts growing outward instead of growing straight upward.
In most cases, when you cut the main stem off, the upward growth stops completely.
And you will probably not see such growth again on the plant.
5. You Have Trimmed Some Side Branches As Well
This is the other aspect of pruning!
And there is a reason why they say pruning is an art than just a technique.
When you cut the lateral branches randomly, it gives the same signal to the plant.
Since these branches can’t change their direction of growth, they produce similar branches again.
And this leads to more sideways growth on the plant.
Although this type of growth and pruning technique is essential for fruit-bearing trees, you don’t want to use the same method for indoor plants like the Rubber plant.
When you cut the lateral branches, it automatically makes the plant bushy.
If you have limited space inside the room, lateral growth can be a problem for you.
6. You Might Be Growing Two Or More Plants In Your Rubber Plant Pot
It’s the competition!
And the fight for resources, really!
As you know, the Rubber plant is a heavy-feeder plant.
It grows vigorously when there’s an abundance of resources for the plant.
But when there are two or more plants in the same pot, they will fight for the same resources.
And this is irrespective of the plant species you have in this container.
The Rubber plant will do whatever it takes to get the maximum resources from the environment.
So, if there is competition in the container, you will see this plant producing more branches and sideways growth.
7. You Have Received A Rubber Plant With Many Branches
It happens with everyone!
If you have ordered a Rubber plant from an online nursery shop, you may have received it with many branches.
Generally, you should go for the plant that has a long upward stem with a couple of side branches here and there.
But if you have received one with lateral branches, you can’t do much about it.
You can either ask for a replacement from the shop or just hope for the plant to grow upward in the future.
The only problem with the latter part is you will have to wait for many months to see the actual growth of your Rubber plant.
And if the plant doesn’t shoot upwards, you will have to make use of some of the techniques shared in the following section.
How To Make Rubber Plant Grow Straight?
So, do you want to make your Rubber plant grow straight and upwards?
Here are the tips for you –
1. Do Not Prune Your Rubber Plant
Even though pruning seems to be an effective method, you shouldn’t prune your plant unnecessarily.
It’s not worth it!
Mostly, you will end up having more sideways branches with this technique.
So, do not prune the branches if the plant is still in its growing stage.
2. Place The Plant Outside Where It Can Receive Sunlight From All Sides
If you have been keeping your plant indoors in a dark room, it’d be a good idea to move it outside.
Of course, if the weather conditions are not suitable, you should wait a bit more to move your plant out in the sun.
But why does this work?
It works because the plant gets sunlight mostly from the top angle.
When you keep your plant indoors, the partial sunlight enters from a little lower angle.
Therefore, it makes the plant grow more lateral branches for the same task.
3. Support The Plant With Stakes
Have a younger Rubber plant at home?
You can simply guide the plant with the help of stakes.
This will ensure that the main stem grows upwards without any hindrance.
The added support will make this part of the plant stronger than other branches, which will eventually benefit the plant to grow in the same direction.
If there is another secondary branch that looks similar in size, you may prune it entirely.
Let the main stem grow and take all the resources.
You don’t want to have another competing branch on the same plant, especially if you want to see upward growth.
4. Place A Bulb or Light Source On Top Of The Indoor Rubber Plant
This one is for those who can’t move their plant outside!
If possible, you should make an arrangement to have a light source right at the top of your Rubber plant.
It works similarly to receiving direct sunlight from the top angle.
The plant will try to fetch as much light from this artificial source and will grow towards it.
It’s a handy trick if your Rubber plant is growing sideways.
More importantly, it doesn’t require you to do anything else.
Just place a bulb a few feet from the top angle, and see how the plant reacts to it in a couple of weeks.
In the next section, let’s find out the answers to some of the commonly asked questions related to this topic.
If the lateral branches are heavier than the main stem, the plant will lean on either side.
If the plant is suffering from certain issues like stem rot or root rot, you will see similar signs in your Rubber plant.
Apart from that, the direction of sunlight can also make your plant lean on one side.
There are many ways to find more about it.
If all leaves of your plant appear limp, it’s a good indication that it will not survive for too long.
Other than that, you will also see many issues on the leaves of your plant.
If the leaves turn yellow, brown, or black, it could be a sign of overwatering or underwatering.
Alternatively, you may also have to look out for the possible signs of a fungal or bacterial attack on the plant.
Do inspect the stems and roots of the plant to know more about these issues.
Pruning is the best method to encourage branching in Rubber plants.
But yes, the plant also requires a good amount of sunlight, water, and fertilizers to see such kind of growth.
Without these elements, you can’t expect solid branches and shiny leaves on the plant.
You may also consider transplanting the plant into a bigger pot, which will offer more space for the plant to grow in.
In return, you will see more branches on the plant.
You can prune some of the lateral branches on the plant to force more side shoots on a Rubber tree.
It’d also help if you top the main stem of the tree.
However, it should only be done when you don’t want any more top growth.
If the plant is still small, you shouldn’t cut the primary stem.
Yes, the Rubber plant thrives in sunlight.
Unlike the several myths, the plant does well when it receives sunlight for 3-4 hours.
In fact, you will see good overall growth in your plant if you provide ample sunlight to it.
Over To You
The plants grow sideways due to several reasons, and you need to know the exact reason to fix this problem.
I think the above guide should be useful in addressing this issue in your Rubber plant.
If you still have more questions or doubts, feel free to ask me in the comments below.
I will surely try to help you out.
Meanwhile, I’d appreciate it if you could share this guide with your friends and family.