Moving Houseplants Outdoors
After a winter indoors, your houseplants are ready for a summer escape to the great outdoors free from low-light conditions and dry furnace heat. Here, they’ll thrive in the summer warmth, humidity and rain. They’ll put on new growth and even pretty up your patio or landscape. Our team put together a few tips to make the move a success.
Check the Temperature
Wait to move plants outdoors until evening temperatures reach 50 and above. Most houseplants are native to tropical or desert climates, so they’re super sensitive to cold temperatures.
Gently transition your houseplants to the outdoors to avoid sunburning their leaves. Place them on a shady porch for two weeks then gradually move them to a place that fits their lighting needs. For urban dwellers with a sunny balcony, try creating shade with a shade cloth or even an umbrella to help plants gradually acclimate.
Houseplants need a careful eye outdoors since it’s easy for them to dry out in the heat, sun and wind. Check them daily for signs of stress like drooping leaves and dry soil. See our watering guide for more details. Besides drying out, it’s also easy for outdoor houseplants to get overwatered in a rain downpour. Make sure your pots have drainage holes and avoid placing them beneath rooflines where they can get dumped on. And, remember to empty saucers so plants are not sitting and drowning in water.
Protect from Gusty Winds
Your plants will be thankful for soft summer breezes. Good air circulation keeps them cool, promotes stronger stems, gives them a fresh supply of CO2 and reduces risks of fungal diseases. At the same time, gusty storms can quickly sneak up and topple houseplants with their heavy winds. Be ready to move them under a tree or a covered porch when storms are predicted. Or, better yet, take care to avoid vulnerable positions like a top-heavy plant pedestal, deck rails or exposed balcony corners.
Match Light Needs
Once plants are acclimated, move them to a sunny or shady location depending on their growing needs. It helps to research their native origins for clues. Desert plants like succulents and cacti prefer full sun. Rainforest plants like bromeliads, elephant ears and monstera thrive in the shady understory of the tree canopy. Tropical island plants like hibiscus, bird of paradise and canna lilies enjoy full sun and high humidity.
Fertilize and Summer Maintenance
The move outdoors is a good time to prune plants, top dress them with a fresh layer of potting soil and even repot them. Plus, it’s easier to make a mess outdoors than indoors in the laundry sink or bathtub. Check out our jade plant pruning video, choosing the right pot video and cactus repotting video for more info. Also, plan to fertilize outdoor houseplants more frequently to promote new growth. And, if you’re heading on vacation, try moving them to some dappled shade, so they don’t dry out as fast. Consider clustering them together to make it easier for a friend or neighbor to stop by and water them. Another trick is to place them in a kiddie pool with a couple inches of water to keep them hydrated while you’re away. It works well for a week but it’s not ideal for much longer.
Make it Pretty
Houseplants can dress up outdoor spaces in so many ways. Here are a few ideas we’ve learned from our customers: 1) Try clustering smaller ones on a tray. 2) Display others in the center of a patio table. 3) Arrange a collection on porch steps or a tiered series of benches. 4) Underplant a large elephant ear, fan palm or tree fern with impatiens, coleus or begonias.
After a healthy season outdoors, your houseplants will be ready to return back indoors in fall. When it drops to 45 degrees, it’s time for the move. Until then, enjoy the summer!
Tena Myers —
What do suggest to keep away squirrels getting into my potted plants?