Rubber Trees in The Florida Landscape

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?

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Around The Yard in Muggy May

May is here and it’s muggy in Florida. The AC is on day and night now. Even when it’s “cool” the humidity makes being outside less than fun. The worst is yet to come, but it has begun.

First, a Nice Surprise in The Garden

pink caladiums
The caladium is coming back!

As I was checking on my front garden, there it was…the caladium that had disappeared and was presumed dead. In fact both the pink and white leaved varieties were popping up through the dirt. They had both disappeared on me and I was mad that they died off so quickly. (See my post when they were first planted.) The impatiens which I planted at the same time are gone.

white leaves caladium
The white-leaf caladium is coming back

I’ve never grown caladiums but they look so nice against the green of the yard. Their big arrow-shaped leaves. Even though I watered them and they seemed to be growing well, they began to die. Or maybe they go into hibernation for the colder season. I need to look that up… hold on.

Okay…. They do go dormant so my caladiums were just doing what caladiums do. I never knew that! Although I have lived in Florida for many years, I just learned something new about my landscape.

Travel the Yard With Me

The garden beneath the oak was already there when we moved into our house a few years ago. It had become overrun with weeds, but now it contains my rubber tree which I propagated a while ago. I’ve discovered that rubber tree cuttings grow very well outdoors. Look at that sucker… isn’t it beautiful? I’m noticing that many big rubber trees are doing quite well in the landscape in my area. I’ve propagated a few more which I will plant sometime soon and write about them.

Rubber tree growing outside in my Florida yard
My newly propagated rubber plant is doing nicely

The orange flowering hibiscus was trimmed back at the end of April and now it is filling out nicely. Buds are forming, and it will be covered in blooms soon. I want to keep it trimmed away from the house so maybe it won’t get those nasty fuzzy whiteflies it had last year.

May hibiscus filling out with leaves and buds after a trim
Trimmed hibiscus is filling out

Hydrangea For the Yard

When I bought this little hydrangea plant it had some buds. They popped open with beautiful big flowers of blue and purple. Now the flowers have faded to that lovely shade of green I love to see on hydrangeas. (See more photos of the blooming timeline here.)

The potted plant was recently removed from it’s pot and put into my front garden. I’ve had to water it every day and still it tends to droop. It never gets direct sun, but I am unsure of how well it will do during the very hot Florida summer. Look at those green flowers! Never deadhead hydrangeas. Wait and watch how the flowers fade to new colors and eventually they should dry up on the stem. They are interesting when the blooms have faded too.

hydrangea
My blue hydrangea flowers have turned green

In the woods next too my house the white-flowering Elderberry bush / tree is looking wonderful. These flowers will become berries soon. I’ve read that this is a poisonous plant but mostly it grows in swampy areas and not in the yard. The land slopes down around my yard and this Elderberry grows in that uncleared lot. I don’t pick the berries, but some people do and make jam, wine, and pies. Taking chances eating wild stuff is not my style. I would definitely need more information.

Elderberry flowers
White Elderberry flowers

This magnolia tree is growing in the front yard of a house I pass on my morning walks. I have always loved magnolias. As I pass this house I can smell the aroma of the blooms. It’s got me thinking …. maybe a magnolia tree needs to live in my yard.

Flowering magnolia
Flowering magnolia tree

The little palm tree pictured below is a new addition to my yard. It was growing next to the house near the walkway to the door. That location was ridiculous. It never got full sun, and if it had grown tall, it would have blocked the walkway to the front door.

So we dug it up and put it out in the yard where the croton planter used to be. When my crotons froze, and my son chopped up the stump it sat on, it became clear that something needed to be done.

I believe this is a Pygmy Date Palm and many houses in the neighborhood have them growing in their landscape. I’m hoping this one will grow nicely now that it’s out in the sun where palm trees should be (although I’ve read that this one can take shade). Once it grows taller it will be nice. A baby tree is growing out of the base.

palm tree
Little palm tree moved to a better location

My son and I began a new garden bed along the front of the house. When I lived in New Hampshire I always put down newspapers to block the weeds and grass before adding dirt. I’m doing that here, but I’m not sure how well it will work with these Florida weeds and tough grass. I plan to write all about it on another post. Plants won’t go in until next Fall.

new garden
Getting the ground ready for a new garden

I hope you are having a good May wherever you live. In the northeast, May was a time for dealing with black flies but it also meant that vegetable planting time was just around the corner.

Tropical and Common Plants That Are Loving My Florida Room

Now that I live in Florida, I can grow some beautiful tropical plants in my sunroom.

plant in orange pot
Variegated Leaf Plant

In my new house there is a porch which is a little odd.  Someone visited and called it a “Florida Room” which reminded me that there are such things.  However my porch is not the traditional type that is on a corner or out back.  My Florida Room is situated between the dining area and the back bedroom.  Only one wall contains screens.  It is not enclosed and will get very hot (or cold) depending on the weather outside. More sun comes in during the winter months than will in summer, which is perfect.

It’s also not very big, considering we have a bar height table and chairs in the center, a chest freezer in the corner, and a long wooden table from my northern home along one wall. Amidst all this I have added some new tropical plants to the few I dragged with me from New Hampshire. (By the way, the New Hampshire born plants are loving all this sun and warmth!)

Some of these plants are new to me and some I am familiar with because I have grown them before. In Florida, only certain plants can take the full sunshine. It can be deadly to others by burning the leaves. Light (doesn’t mean direct sun) and warm conditions are what most of these need.

To be honest, growing plants in Florida is fairly easy. It’s almost greenhouse conditions year round. Keeping plants alive was nearly impossible in my New Hampshire home. They had hardly any sunshine and no warmth since I couldn’t afford to keep my house warm. I would set the plants near the wood stove to warm them up! And it was a very dry climate, which didn’t help either.

But I love to have plants inside. They clean the air and add a homey feel, in my opinion.

One of the plants I brought with me is this corn plant. It was not doing well, but has really begun growing like crazy in my Florida room. It’s happy now!  It’s hard to see, but there are two stalks growing here in this one pot.

The Corn Plant (as I call it) is easy to grow but it likes sun and warmth.  This one can take the full sun for part of the day.  Water when the pot feel light weight.

corn plant
Corn Plant

One of the new plants I have is a Ponytail palm. This was purchased in a small pot but I replanted it in a larger, cheap black pot. I had a nice ponytail palm a long time ago. I took it with me when I moved to New England and it died, of course. It was wishful thinking that a tropical plant would survive in a freezing cold climate, but I’d had it a long time and it was really big.
So I am growing one again for old times sake.  They are easy to grow.  Water when lifting the pot feels light.

ponytail palm in pot
Ponytail Palm

This next picture is my rubber plant. I love the unique look of this one. Those big, purple, rubbery leaves are so fun. I’ve grown them before and they can get quite large. They are shade tolerant and don’t like direct sunlight, as far as I know. But I’ve seen this type growing outside in a front yard here in Florida (in the sun) and it looks nice and healthy.  My landlady up north had a big one in her front window!  I was amazed when I saw it.  So I guess up north they will need more sun to stay warm.

For now, this one is small enough that I can take it outside when it needs water and spray the leaves too.

rubber plant
Rubber Plant

The Peace Lily is also called a “spath” which is short for spathiphyllum. This plant will grow well in a dark corner, but it can take some light too. The leaves will turn obviously toward any light, so it will have to be turned to grow upright and look nice. When the leaves begin to droop it’s time for water!

I take this one outside and spray it down when I fill the pot with water, but don’t leave it out in the sun!  This is a plant that will stay bright green without any sun.  Mine has a couple of white flowers, and hopefully it will get more.  It was recently re-potted.

peace lily spathiphyllum spath
Indoor Peace Lily

The pothos ivy, which is a common hanging plant, loves the warm and humid porch area. My hanging basket broke, so I had to put the pothos in the plant stand. It works out well because I can move the whole thing out the door and give it plenty of water outside when needed.  Most plants like to have their leaves sprayed, which gives them a good cleaning.

pothos hanging plant
Pothos

I also have some succulents scattered around the house and two orchids. I have managed to kill some beautiful succulents by overwatering. Certain types can’t be watered very often. If you are tempted to water them, set them someplace out of the way. It’s best if you can forget about them for a while! Believe me, you must be strong and NOT WATER THEM. Some succulents only need water every few MONTHS.
More on growing succulents in my next post.