Who doesn’t love summer? Long days, warm nights, a time to take it easy. And our houseplants love summer, too. For them—summer is the growing season. It is the time of year when the conditions are just right for ample growth. And during this time, adjusting water, light and potentially switching a plant’s scenery can help them have the best summer ever, just like you.
Read on for our top 5 summer plant care tips and tricks:
1. Keep plants hydrated
Sound advice for every living thing. In summer, you’ll likely be watering your houseplants more frequently than you were in the fall and winter. Obvious signs like wilt, leaf curl, or wrinkles—coupled with dry potting mix—means your plant needs more water. If your schedule allows, water plants in the early morning or evening when the sun is least strong to avoid plant burn and water evaporation. If your potting mix is drying out super quickly between waterings, you can help it retain moisture by adding rocks or mulch on top of the soil.
Pro tip: If you’re going on a summer vacation (lucky you!) or will be gone for an extended period, don’t fret! There are longer-term hydration solutions to keep your houseplants alive while you’re away to test out.
2. Check sun exposure
The summertime is sunny and hot. If your leafy plant is in a spot that gets bright direct light, you might want to consider drawing a sheer curtain over the window, especially during midday. You can also move your plants a little further away from the window than they were during the winter, towards the center of their room.
Rotate your plants once every week or two so each side gets equal sun exposure. This will help them from leaning over. Not sure if the light your plant is receiving during the summer is too harsh? Place your hand by the light midday: If it is too hot for you, it’s likely too hot for your plant. Desert-dwellers like cacti, as well as some other varieties of succulents, are an exception to this rule of thumb. They have adapted to harsh direct light due to their native habitats.
3. Chill on the air conditioner
Most houseplants prefer a relatively stable environment and temperature. It’s best practice to keep plants away from anything that would cause an extreme change in temp, or cold or hot draft of air. This includes air conditioner units!
It’s tempting to want to feel a blast of cool air when we step in from outside, but avoid leaving the air conditioner on, or set the minimum temperature a little higher, when you’re not home. Your plants will be happier and you’ll save some cash on your energy bill.
Most common houseplants come from tropical environments, so the warmer and more humid the air around them is, the better. A/C units and heaters tend to dry out indoor air and reduce humidity levels. You can increase humidity by grouping plants together, using a humidifier (yes, even in the summer), or adding pebble trays underneath planters.
4. Break out the fertilizer
The growing season, early spring through late summer, is the best time to fertilize your houseplants. Fertilization can be important for the long-term health of your plants. Choose a fertilizer with an NPK ratio: N for nitrogen, P for phosphorus, and K for potassium. Those three elements are the most consumed macronutrients plants need. Not sure if your fertilizer contains these ingredients? Check the front of the package for a trio of numbers that may read something like 8-4-6, or similar.
5. Move plants outdoors
It’s hard to stay indoors during the summer. Some houseplants can benefit from time outside, too. If you plan to move your plants outside for the summer, make sure the move is gradual and the temperature at night is consistently above 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius.) Start by placing them in the shadiest place you can find, then gradually move to a spot with some more light, but avoid direct sunlight. The sun’s rays in a shady spot outside are stronger than they are in the sunniest spot inside, especially in the summer. Along with sunlight, keep in mind the other elements of the great outdoors: wind, rain, and, unfortunately, pesky plant pests.