Can a Ficus Tree Live Outside? Outdoor Care Guide

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Ficus trees are commonly grown as houseplants, but many species of ficus can also thrive outdoors in warm, tropical climates. In fact, some species of ficus are native to regions such as Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands. However, ficus trees can be sensitive to cold temperatures and frost damage, so they may not be suitable for growing outside in cooler climates. Additionally, ficus trees can be susceptible to pests and diseases when grown outdoors, so it’s important to choose a healthy plant and provide proper care and maintenance. Understanding the growing requirements of ficus trees can help gardeners determine whether they can be grown successfully outside in their particular climate.

Ficus Trees Overview

Ficus trees, belonging to the Moraceae family, are well-known for their versatility and adaptability to different environments. With over 800 species, they come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from small, indoor plants to massive outdoor trees. Ficus trees are native to tropical and subtropical regions, making them suitable for warm climates.

One of the most popular and recognizable species is the Ficus benjamina, also known as the weeping fig. This indoor plant is a favorite for homeowners and interior designers due to its attractive, cascading foliage and ease of care. Other species, such as the rubber tree (Ficus elastica) and fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata), are also sought after for their lush, large leaves that make a statement in any space.

Many ficus trees are well-suited to outdoor landscapes, providing shade and ornamental value. Some species, like the banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) and Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla), can grow impressively large, making them excellent choices for public parks and gardens. Furthermore, ficus trees are known for their air-purifying qualities and ability to tolerate various soil types and light conditions, making them a desirable choice for both indoor and outdoor settings.

Outdoor and Indoor Ficus Care

Temperature Requirements

Ficus trees can survive outdoors if they are grown in a warm climate without winter freeze. The optimal temperatures for ficuses range from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night. These plants may not endure cold temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s critical to protect them if you live in a region that experiences colder weather. When moving your ficus from indoors to outdoors, make sure to acclimate the plant gradually to avoid shock.

Light Requirements

Both indoor and outdoor ficus trees require bright, filtered light for healthy growth. Direct sunlight might scald the leaves and cause leaf loss; therefore, it is recommended to place the plants in areas with diffused light or partial shade source. When transitioning your ficus tree outdoors during the summer, avoid placing it in direct sunlight to prevent leaf burn.


Proper watering is essential for the healthy growth of ficus trees, whether they are indoors or outdoors. They prefer moist but well-drained soil. Allow the top inch of the soil to dry out between waterings to avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot. During the winter months, decrease watering frequency as the plants’ growth slows and the evaporation rate lowers.

Pest Control

Pest control is vital for both indoor and outdoor ficus trees to thrive. Regularly inspect the trees for signs of pests, such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. To control these pests on your ficus trees, apply insecticidal soap or neem oil according to the product directions. Regular pruning and maintaining proper light and watering conditions also help prevent pest infestations and maintain the overall plant health.

Hardiness Zones for Ficus Trees

Ficus trees are known for their suitability as indoor plants, but they can also be grown outdoors under specific conditions. To ensure that a ficus tree can thrive outside, it is essential to consider the appropriate hardiness zones for the plant.

The most commonly grown species of ficus, such as the weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) and the rubber tree (Ficus elastica), have specific requirements when it comes to their growing environment. These trees typically prefer warmer climates and are not considered cold hardy.

Gardeners in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11 have the best success growing ficus trees outdoors. Ficus elastica, for example, can be grown outside in these zones without any winter protection needed. In zone 9, outdoor rubber tree plants may still be grown, but winter protection must be provided. It is recommended that these trees are planted on the north or east side of a building for protection from wind.

Acclimating a ficus tree to outdoor conditions is a crucial step in successfully transitioning it from an indoor plant to an outdoor one. This process should be done gradually, starting by placing the tree in a shaded area outdoors for a couple of hours daily and gradually increasing the time and sunlight exposure over a period of two weeks (source).

Proper lighting conditions are vital for outdoor ficus tree growth. Although they need bright light, they should not be placed in direct sunlight, as this can scald the leaves and cause leaf loss. Instead, acclimated plants should be exposed to bright, indirect light (source).

Preparing Ficus for Outdoor Living

Ficus trees, also known as weeping figs, can be adapted to live outside provided they are given the proper care and preparation. In this section, we will discuss the best methods to prepare your ficus tree for outdoor living and ensure its survival.

Pot Selection

Choosing the appropriate pot for your ficus tree is crucial to its success when transitioning to outdoor living. Select a pot that is large enough to accommodate the tree’s growth with ample drainage to prevent root rot. It is recommended to use a high-quality potting mix that is designed for outdoor plants, as it will keep the roots healthy and promote good moisture retention while draining properly.

Moreover, it may be beneficial to choose a pot with wheels or a base that allows for easy relocation, as you may need to move the tree indoors during colder months or to protect it from sudden temperature changes. This will ensure that your ficus tree remains healthy throughout its transition to outdoor living.

Acclimatization Process

Before permanently placing your ficus tree outdoors, it is essential to give it time to acclimate to its new environment. During this process, you should gradually expose your tree to increasing amounts of sunlight and outdoor conditions. To begin, move your ficus tree to a shaded area outside for about two hours per day, and then progressively increase the duration and level of sunlight over a period of about two weeks (source).

Throughout the acclimatization process, it is crucial to monitor your ficus tree for any signs of stress, such as wilting or yellowing leaves. If you observe any signs of distress, reduce the amount of sunlight and adjust the exposure time accordingly.

In summary, preparing your ficus tree for outdoor living requires proper pot selection, a suitable potting mix, and a gradual acclimatization process. By following these steps, you can successfully transition your ficus tree to thrive in an outdoor environment.

Potential Challenges

Ficus trees can be grown outdoors, with some key factors to consider. One potential challenge to ensuring a ficus tree’s survival outdoors is providing proper seasonal care. Additionally, these trees will need to adapt to temperature swings. In this section, we will explore these challenges and provide suggestions for overcoming them.

Seasonal Care

When it comes to seasonal care for outdoor ficus trees, sun exposure plays a crucial role. To properly acclimate an indoor ficus tree to an outdoor environment, gradually increase its exposure to sunlight over a few weeks. This will help the tree adjust without experiencing sunburn or shock (Hunker).

Watering is also an important consideration throughout the different seasons. During the initial weeks of planting or transitioning an indoor ficus to outdoors, provide weekly watering to support its establishment. Over time, as the tree adjusts to its new environment, you can lessen the frequency of watering (Hunker).

Dealing with Temperature Swings

Ficus trees can be sensitive to temperature changes, particularly extreme cold. Frost can cause damage to the leaves and branches, so it is essential to protect your ficus tree when the temperature approaches freezing. One way to protect your tree is by wrapping it in a sheet, which can help minimize frost damage (Nimvo). Trees with trunks larger than eight inches are more likely to survive frost, even if their leaves and branches experience frostburn (Nimvo).

Temperature swings can also occur between day and night, especially in desert climates. While ficus trees can adapt to varying temperatures, gradual changes are better for the tree’s overall health. As a result, when placing your ficus tree outdoors, it is recommended to find a location where it will not experience significant fluctuations in temperature throughout the day and night.

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