Transitioning your indoor plants to the outdoors is not easy. Exposed to the elements, outdoor plants can require extra attention and commitment. That said, our houseplants can benefit from a summer outside. If you plan to move your indoor plants out, here’s how-to do it.
Like us humans, houseplants can benefit from time outside, too. The best time to move your houseplants outside is during the summer growing season when conditions are just right. But before you do so, there are a few things to consider—the outdoor elements:
Wait until the temperature is consistently above 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) before moving houseplants outside. If temperatures dip below, bring your plants back inside.
One of the biggest challenges outdoors is the wind, especially on rooftops and balconies, where wind can knock plants right over, dry plants out, or can even chill them if the weather is cooler at night. Get acquainted with how windy your outdoor space gets before making any plant moves. If it’s super windy, you might only want to move larger, mature plants outside that will not blow over.
Sun & Heat
One of the other biggest challenges outdoors is the sun and heat on those warm summer days. In cities, bricks and concrete absorb and radiate heat exceptionally well, and your plants could end up cooked like egg. The heat will also dry out your plants' potting mix much faster than when they are indoors! You might find yourself watering your houseplants every single day when they’re outside, possibly even twice a day, especially midsummer.
To avoid your plants from frying in the summer sun, place them in full shade when you first move them outdoors. Avoid right sunlight to start—even for sun-worshipping cacti and succulents. Remember that indoor light is much weaker than outdoor light. Plants that have adjusted to indoor light can burn if placed in outdoor direct sunlight (even if they were in bright direct light inside). Ambient light or shade is best for them to acclimate to outdoors. After about two weeks in the shade, you can move plants more into the sunlight. Check your outdoor houseplants daily during this transition period.
Water & Rain
If your plant is in a planter without a physical drainage hole, do not put it outside unless it will be completely covered from the elements. Why? Accumulating rain can be trouble for any plant in a non-draining pot, as rain can accumulate in the non-draining planter quickly and lead to overwatering and potentially root rot.
Check your outside houseplants’ potting mix daily, and water thoroughly when dry. With the increased light and heat, they will most likely dry out quicker than they did inside. For plants in planters with drainage, when it does rain, you can skip watering that day.
While your plants are outdoors, you may notice a few bites taken out of them. Totally normal. What to watch out for are insects making a home out of your plant. And when you bring your plants back inside come fall, you want to make sure you’re not bringing any pests in as well. Trim and inspect plants thoroughly throughout the summer and before bringing them back inside. You can even spray them with insecticidal soap regularly to be extra cautious. Learn more about common plant pests here.
Leaf Drop (When Back Indoors)
When you bring your plants back indoors come fall, your plants will receive less light and therefore less food. That means unless you keep plants in an area that receives a ton of natural light, like in front of a window, or add supplemental lighting, your plants will drop leaves when you bring them back indoors. This shouldn’t deter you from bringing them outside for the summer however, because even plants kept inside can lose leaves when the days shorten.
Now that you know what to keep in mind before moving plants outdoors, you might be wondering if it’s worth the trouble! Besides beautifying your outdoor space, bringing your plants outside has its benefits:
“The darkest shade outdoors is still brighter than a bright window indoors” is not just a horticultural adage. Make it your mantra for when you move your plants outdoors. Light is food for plants. The more light you give them, the more food they are receiving and the faster they will grow. If you want your Monstera to be monstrous or desire an even bigger Fiddle Leaf Fig, you will want to put these plants outside for the summertime. You should see growth in a relatively quick period of time.
Stimulate Fill-In On Sparse Plants
If you have a plant that looks sparse, putting it outdoors will help to activate dormant lateral buds in some plants—AKA your plant will become fuller in shape. Combine that with light pruning, and you’ll have a super bushy plant by summer’s end.
Vivid Colors and Flowering
For plants that produce pigments, the color will be enhanced and vibrant and leaves will be larger than if left indoors. Some plants like cacti may even start to flower.
Free Up Space
Putting plants outside frees up space inside. With all that space, you can see what new plants you want to add to your plant collection! Be sure to give your place a clean sweep and check out our five summer plant care tips and tricks here.
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