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In the wild, rubber tree plants are known to grow up to 50 feet or more in height. Indoor plants, however, tend to max out at around six to ten feet in height. But what about the roots of the rubber tree plant; how long do they grow? We've done a bit of research to answer this for you.
Indoor potted rubber plants can grow roots between six to eight feet in length. However, wild rubber trees grown commercially will have roots that reach anywhere from 10 to 15 feet in length.
Continue reading to learn about the root systems of rubber tree plants. This post will also answer your questions about how to care for rubber tree root systems, including how far apart to space trees, when to re-pot trees, and how to mend an ill or infested root system.
How far apart should you space rubber trees?
If you are growing rubber trees in the ground, it's best to leave at least one to two feet of space between the plants. This will give you the plants room to breathe and ensure that they don't overcrowd each other as their foliage grows. It also helps to keep a good distance in the event of pest infestation, to avoid the pests' ability to climb from one tree to the other easily. Lastly, spacing your trees a considerable distance apart allows them to receive a sufficient amount of light on all of their sides so that they won't block each other's light.
Rubber trees that are grown commercially in the wild require a different setup given their vast height difference. The trunk of a mature rubber tree grown in the wild can get up to seven feet in diameter--so it's safe to say that they need their space. These trees are typically spaced anywhere from three to six feet apart (in a row). They are usually planted in rows that can be anywhere from six to 21 feet apart. This distance is best for optimum growth and easy accessibility for pruning, tapping, and general maintenance.
Are rubber tree roots invasive?
Yes. The roots of a rubber tree grow really fast and extensively. In the wild, the roots of these trees grow wide and tall and can be known to break up the foundation on sidewalks and seep into underground sewer lines.
The pot of the indoor rubber tree works to constrain their growth, with larger plants having roots that reach about 10 feet. Though, as the plant grows larger, it will need a larger pot to support its roots.
Will a rubber tree root in water?
Rubber trees can be propagated by placing in water, new roots will develop. Here's an overview of how to propagate a rubber plant using water and a fresh cutting:
Prepare a Container
First, find a mason jar or clear decanter. Next, pour lukewarm or cool water in the jar until it's almost full (about 3/4 full). You want the end of the plant cutting to be in the water at least two inches deep.
Take a Cutting
Use sterilized pruning shears to make a diagonal cut beneath the node of the branch that you're going to use for propagation. Be sure to wear latex gloves as the cut may drip sap, which is toxic to humans and pets. Also, use paper towels to wipe up any spilled sap.
After you have cut off the stems, remove the bottom leaves and leave two to three leaves at the top. Doing so will help to encourage rooting of the stem. It also helps to preserve the stem's energy for root growth instead of leaf nurturing.
Place Cutting into Water
After you have prepared the stem, place it in the glass container and make sure that the stem is submerged in the water but not touching the glass's bottom (this will prohibit root growth). There should be at least an inch of space between the bottom of the glass in the bottom of the stem.
Be sure to place the glass in a warm area in your home where it can receive indirect sunlight. Also, do not place the stem near drafty windows or close to air conditioner units. And then, it is just a matter of waiting. When you notice small nodes protruding from the stem, the roots are on their way, with just a few more weeks needed to develop. When they do, you'll need to move the stem into a pot with soil.
How long does it take to root a rubber tree?
If you are propagating a rubber tree plant using soil, it can take anywhere from two to three weeks. If you are planting it in water, it can take anywhere from six to eight weeks or more.
Does a rubber tree like to be root bound?
In general, rubber tree plants prefer to be root bound--to a degree. While maintaining the trees in a structure (such as a pot) will keep them at a manageable indoor height, keeping them in a pot that is too small for their roots can lead to health issues. These issues can include droopy leaves, stunted growth, and a lack of water and oxygen supply. As your rubber tree plant roots grow, it will need to be moved to a bigger pot until it reaches your desired height.
When should you re-pot a rubber tree?
A rubber tree should be repotted when you are looking for it to grow bigger or if it's experiencing health issues. If you never re-pot your rubber tree plant, it will not grow taller, and it will remain at the same height (which may or may not be your preference).
At some point, you may need to re-pot your rubber tree plant and replace the soil so that it will continue to receive fresh nutrients and maintain its health. The best way to select a new pot is to find one that is about three or four inches larger than the current pot.
The key is to make sure that the roots have a little bit of wiggle room that they aren't compressed too tightly against the pot's edges. You also don't want the pot to be too much bigger than the previous pot, or the roots will struggle to fit inside of it, which can deprive the other parts of the plant of energy to grow (such as the foliage and branches).
Here are other scenarios where you may need to re-pot your rubber tree plant:
Rubber tree plants are pretty easy to care for, and with proper maintenance, they can easily stay pest and disease-free. However, they can develop fungus on their topsoil like any other indoor plant. If you notice fungus growing in your plant's soil, the soil will definitely need to be replaced, and the plant will need to be re-potted.
Another scenario where you will need to re-pot your rubber tree plant is when the roots begin to outgrow the soil. When the plant roots began to stick up from the surface of the soil, this means that they do not have enough room at the bottom and are reaching out to expand. You may also notice that the roots are starting to circle the pot and wrap around themselves-a scenario that can lead to nutrient deprivation. This can be a simple fix of purchasing a pot about three or four inches bigger than the current pot.
Bacterial infections are not as common in rubber tree plants as other indoor plants, but they can develop. If your rubber tree plant has a bacterial infection, you will need to change the soil and re-pot it. The chances are that the bacterial infection results from a pest infestation, root rot, or overwatering.
Here are a few useful tips for re-potting your rubber tree plant:
- After you pull the plant out of the pot, be sure to inspect the roots for any rotting, foul smells, or dark areas that may feel mushy to the touch.
- Be sure to water the plants immediately after replacing the soil so that the roots can quickly soak up the nutrients and recover from the pot change.
- After re-potting your rubber plant, be sure to place it in a warm environment where it can quickly recover from the stress caused by re-potting (a few hours of direct sunlight each day is also helpful).
When adding the new soil, always leave an extra one to two inches of space at the top of the pot so that water does not spill over when you water it.
Wrapping Things Up
We hope that this post has provided you with the information you were looking for regarding rubber tree roots and their growth. Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts: