Rubber Trees in The Florida Landscape

rubber tree

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.

rebber plant cuttings
Cuttings in water

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?

Small outdoor rubber plant
One of the cuttings of the rubber plant, put in the ground near the house

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.

large rubber tree plant
Large rubber tree

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!

rubber plant

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.

small rubber tree outdoors
This baby is thriving without much attention

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.

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