By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
The rubber tree is a large houseplant and most people find it is easy to grow and care for indoors. In fact, in some areas, this plant is used as a screen or patio plant. So, can you grow rubber plant outside? Read more to learn about taking care of a rubber plant outside in your area.
Can You Grow Rubber Plants Outside?
Gardeners in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11 can grow the plant outdoors, according to most rubber plant information. Outdoor rubber tree plants (Ficus elastica) may grow in Zone 9 if winter protection is offered. In this area, outdoor rubber tree plants should be planted on the north or east side of a building for protection from the wind. When the plant is young, prune it to a single trunk, as these plants tend to split when caught in the wind.
Rubber plant information also says to plant the tree in a shady area, although some plants accept light, dappled shade. Thick, glabrous leaves burn easily when exposed to sunlight. Those living in tropical zones outside of the United States can grow outdoor rubber tree plants easily, as this is their native environment.
In the wild, outdoor rubber tree plants can reach 40 to 100 feet (12-30.5 m.) in height. When using this plant as an outdoor ornamental, pruning limbs and the top of the plant make it sturdier and more compact.
Rubber Plant Information for Northern Areas
If you live in a more northern area and want to grow outdoor rubber tree plants, plant them in a container. Taking care of a rubber plant growing in a container can include locating them outdoors during seasons of warm temperatures. Optimum temperatures for taking care of a rubber plant outdoors are 65 to 80 F. (18-27 C.) Outdoors, plants acclimated to cooler temperatures should be brought indoors before temperatures reach 30 F. (-1 C.).
Taking Care of a Rubber Plant Outdoors
Rubber plant information suggests plants require deep watering and then allow the soil to dry out almost completely. Some sources say containerized plants should be allowed to dry out completely between waterings. Still, other sources say the drying of the soil causes leaves to drop. Keep an eye on your rubber tree growing outdoors and use good judgment on watering, depending on its location.
Fertilize the outdoor rubber tree with food for acid-loving plants, such as those for azaleas.
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Read more about Rubber Trees
How to Grow Rubber Plant (Rubber Tree)
True to its name, the rubber tree or rubber plant—Ficus elastica—was once harvested in its native Southeast Asia for its latex-rich sap. As a houseplant, rubber trees are fast-growing plants that are relatively easy to care for. Their large, glossy leaves make a striking visual impression while helping to purify the air in your home. Since rubber plants can grow up to 10 feet high in just a few years, they’re great for accenting a space with high ceilings. As homes and apartments have become smaller, though, these plants have fallen out of fashion. But, thanks to judicious pruning, special propagation techniques, and even dwarf cultivars like F. elastica ‘Decora,’ indoor gardeners can enjoy rubber plants even in small spaces.
What Is Propagation?
Propagation is the process of producing new plants from a parent plant. This process can be asexual (creating plants identical to the parent plant) or sexual (the parent plant creating seeds not genetically identical to it).
- Botanical Name: Ficus elastica
- Common Name: Rubber plant, rubber tree
- Plant Type: Perennial, woody shrub or tree
- Mature Size: 50 feet
- Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
- Soil Type: Well-drained potting mix
- Soil pH: 5.5–7.0
- Toxicity: Toxic
Can a rubber tree be planted outside?
Read remaining answer here. People also ask, can I put my rubber tree plant outside in the summer?
Winter Shelter for Summer Campers The ideal temperature range for the big, leathery leaved plant is 60 to 65 F at night and 75 to 80 F during the day. Move the plant back outside during the day when daytime temperatures rise for a week or so before moving it outside full time.
Similarly, do rubber plants like full sun? Rubber Plant Houseplant Care: Light Requirements: Rubber Plant thrives in areas with full sun to partial shade. Take care not to house plants in rooms that receive direct sunlight the entire day.
is rubber plant indoor or outdoor?
Indoor vs. If you live in U.S. zones 10 and 11, you can grow rubber plants outdoors. (If you are able to protect them during the winter, zone 9 is possible as well.) Otherwise, keep them in a container to bring in during the colder months, once it dips to 30 degrees.
What climate do rubber trees grow in?
Rubber trees are native to the warm climates of the Eastern Himalayas, Burma, Sumatra, Java, Assam and the Malay Peninsula. They thrive in warm to average temperatures indoors, while outdoors, they do best when temperatures range between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 75 to 80 degrees during the day.
Rubber Trees in The Florida Landscape
Little rubber tree growing outdoors
It all began with one indoor rubber tree plant. When it started to look gangly, I cut it back and stuck the cuttings in water to see what would happen. You can read about the rubber tree trimming here. Many of the cuttings did root and I simply planted them in the ground. A few never rooted for whatever reason.
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I ended up with four rooted stems which I planted straight into the dirt outside. I’m finding that my rubber tree babies are growing wonderfully in my Florida yard. But is there a drawback to having rubber trees in the yard?
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The secret is to have a warm climate for trees like this. In fact I am a bit too far north, according to grow zones, because we do sometimes get freezing temperatures in winter. According to this article at the Gardening Knowhow site, rubber plants to grow in warm climates without a problem. In fact they can become very large in the right conditions.
A few houses in my neighborhood (see photo below) have very large rubber plants in their yard, but nothing that looks like a huge tree.
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This Tropical Plant is Easy to Grow
I don’t think there are secrets to growing outdoor rubber trees if you live in planting zones 9, 10 or 11. I’ve found that once in the ground, they need little attention. Even when there was no rainfall, and I expected to find them wilted, they looked perfect!
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Every one of the four new plants in my yard are continuing to grow new glossy leaves. The only concern I have is that they may not have enough room to grow too large. But trimming them and keeping them small shouldn’t be a problem.
Rubber trees can grow huge in the rainforests, but around here I’ve never seen a really large one. They tend to break easily so hurricanes or strong storms can probably cut them back. Their lack of sturdiness may be a problem.
Protecting Tropical Plants From Frosts
I learned long ago that central Florida winters can have very cold nights. Sometimes that cold hangs around during the day as well. Any time a tropical location, where many tropical plants are growing, must deal with lower than normal temperatures, many plants can die.
So here is what we can do to protect our tropical plants. Bring them indoors if it’s possible. If they are too large to move very far, put them as close to the house as possible. The only other option is to cover them. Sheets may not be warm enough, but don’t use something too heavy that may break the limbs or branches. Make sure the plants have plenty of water BEFORE the frost arrives. And be sure to uncover all plants in the morning. Don’t leave them covered even if another frost is predicted for the next night.
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If something in the yard looks dead by the end of winter, give it a little time. It may come back. That is what happened to my bougainvillea two years ago when we had a lot of cold weather. It died to the ground, but eventually grew back and is now a huge plant!
The big croton was not so lucky, but it was in a container and that makes a difference too.
How to Grow a Rubber Tree
Last Updated: February 18, 2020 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Maggie Moran. Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania.
There are 27 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 18 testimonials and 83% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.
This article has been viewed 279,681 times.
The rubber tree or plant (Ficus elastica decora) is a favorite houseplant with large, thick, glossy green leaves. Rubber trees will grow well in most homes with just a little care, but they can get fairly large if you don't prune them. They also grow well outside in temperate climates. Provide the rubber tree with the right mix of soil, light, and water, and you'll have a happy, healthy plant that makes a beautiful addition to your living space.
Outdoor Rubber Tree Plants - Can You Grow Rubber Plants Outside - garden
Rubber trees are a fun and unique plant you can add to your Nashville home interior. They thrive indoors and don’t need a lot of water to grow.
Find out more about this great indoor plant below-
“Sorry, I just can’t help but think of Flubber here haha!”
“It’s not that funny, Jason,” Mary says with a smile. She told him her plans to buy a rubber tree houseplant to decorate their interior. “Maybe not, but it made me laugh. So, why a rubber tree?” he asks.
Mary pulls out her phone. “Here, let me show you. Everything I read about it made it seem like a fun plant to have, minus the slight toxicity. As long as we don’t eat it or let it rest on our skin we’ll be fine. Same goes for any pets.”
Jason looks doubtful. “I don’t know, will it really be ok?” Mary rubs his back reassuringly. “It’s one of the most popular and common houseplants and they’re sold everywhere . It has to be ok, plus it does have some benefits! I’ll tell you all about them.”
Here is what Mary found out about rubber tree plants-
About Rubber Tree Plants
“Wait, rubber comes from plants?!”
Rubber tree plants, or ficus elastica, are native to India and Malaysia. Their milky sap has been used to make rubber. They can be grown inside or outside and grow quite quickly. In Tennessee, they thrive when they’re inside, have indirect light, and aren’t overwatered.
“Wow, and they can grow upwards of 24 inches in a season! Seems like it’s either a medium-sized houseplant or a small indoor tree,” Jason points out.
If you keep them in smaller pots they won’t grow as big. Younger ones adapt better to living inside than mature plants.
How to Propagate Rubber Trees From Cuttings
Crystal Bolin Photography / Getty Images
Native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, rubber trees (Ficus elastica) can be readily propagated by stem or leaf cuttings. These easy-to-grow houseplants are just as easy to propagate and have a high rate of success. All you need are a few tools and supplies that you probably already have laying around the house, and some patience!
These tropical plants can grow up to 100 feet tall when gro wn outdoors in their ideal conditions. However, when grown indoors as houseplants, rubber trees are usually kept much smaller through regular pruning. Pruning rubber trees not only helps to control their size and create new plants, but it is also a great way to shape the trees to your desire. Every time a stem is cut it encourages branching, which eventually leads to a fuller-looking plant.
As with most plants, rubber trees are best propagated in the early spring to late summer, in accordance with their active growing period. Plants that are propagated in the fall or winter may not grow or recover as quickly, although it can still be done.
With a few simple tools and supplies, learn how you can create a new rubber tree by taking cuttings from your existing plant!
The latex-rich sap of the Ficus elastica is considered mildly toxic to humans and pets and can cause skin irritation on contact. While pruning a rubber tree, be careful that the sap does not come into contact with bare skin.