Inside, Out: How-To Bring Indoor Plants Outdoors

Transitioning your indoor plants to the outdoors is not easy. Outdoor plants require extra attention and commitment — more so than indoor plants do. We recommend moving your plants outside only if you are confident in your ability to keep an eye on them. If you are, then here's what to look out for and how-to do it.

Inside, Out: How-To Bring Indoor Plants Outdoors

Words by The Sill

Plants 101 Next Article
Transitioning your indoor plants to the outdoors is not easy. Outdoor plants require extra attention and commitment — more so than indoor plants do. We recommend moving your plants outside only if you are confident in your ability to keep an eye on them. If you are, then here's what to look out for and how-to do it.

The short version is: place your plants outside in full shade for at least 2 weeks as they acclimate, then move to the appropriate lighting. 

But... there are factors out of your control outdoors that need extra attention:

Wind

One of the biggest challenges 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. Get acquainted with how windy your outdoor space gets before making any plant moves. 

Sun & Heat

One of the other biggest challenges 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 will most likely be watering every single day, possibly even twice a day, especially in summer. If you miss even just one watering, the sun and heat will dry your plants out, quick. Check your outdoor houseplants daily! No exceptions.

Water & Rain

If your plant is in a planter without drainage, do not put it outside. 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. For plants in planters with drainage, when it does rain, you can skip watering that day. 

Leaf Drop When Back Indoors

When you bring your plants back indoors for fall, your plants will receive less light and therefore less food. That means unless you keep plants in a well-lit area like near or on a window, or with a supplemental light, your plants will drop leaves when you bring them back indoors. (Learn more about light requirements here.)

Pests

While your plants are outdoors, you may notice a few bites taken out of them. Totally normal. What to watch for are plants that have insects making a home out of your plant. That is, when you bring your plants back in, you may be bringing pests back in as well. Always trim and inspect plants thoroughly before bringing back indoors. You can even spray them with insecticidal soap to be extra cautious. 

Low Temperatures

Bring out your indoor plants outside when nightly temperatures are consistently above about 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius). If temperatures dip below, bring them back inside.

How-To Move Plants Outdoors

Take your houseplants in pots with drainage holes (see: Water & Rain) and place them in full shade outdoors. No direct sunlight to start. Not 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 to their appropriate light needs. 

Benefits

Besides beautifying your outdoor space, bringing your plants outdoors has its perks:

Faster Plant Growth

“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 + 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. 

How to Reuse Coffee Grounds for Your Plants

National Coffee Day is here and our minds are on our favorite cup of joe - and how we can use it to help our plants, too. If you’re a coffee drink...

Creating an Herb Garden at Home

Tired of the frequent trips to your local grocery store for fresh herbs? Here’s some tips on bringing the outside in and creating an herb garden ri...

How To Repot an Orchid

While the average tropical houseplant should be repotted about once a year in fresh potting mix, Phalaenopsis orchids are a whole different repotti...

How To Make Your Orchid Rebloom

Just as we start feeling the winter blues, our orchids start going into dormancy. When spring rolls around again, your Phalaenopsis orchid might ne...

Anthurium

Learn how to care for an Anthurium. Anthuriums are flowering plants native to the Americas. They are known for their brightly colored flowers, wh...

Phalaenopsis Orchid

Orchids are epiphytic in their native habitat, growing on trees and rock formations, instead of directly in the ground. The orchid family (Orchidac...

Aluminum Pilea

Learn how to care for the Aluminum Pilea. The small, but fast growing Pilea cadieri originates from rainforests in Vietnam. One of over 200 specie...

Maranta

Learn how to care for most varieties of Maranta. Maranta is the type-genus of Marantaceae, and is named in honor of Bartolomeo Maranta, an Italian ...

Calathea

Learn how to care for most varieties of Calathea! Calathea is a genus of neotropical rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plants; members of which are ...

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Learn how to care for most varieties of Fiddle Leaf Fig! Ficus lyrata is a species of evergreen tropical tree native to the tropical lowlands of we...

Rubber Tree

Learn how to care for most varieties of Rubber Tree! Ficus elastica is a species of evergreen tropical tree native to southern China, Southeast Asi...

Parlor Palm

Learn how to care for the Parlor Palm! Chamaedorea elegans, also known as the Neanthe Bella Parlor Palm, is one of our favorite true palms. Parlor ...

Monstera

Learn how to care for most varieties of Monstera! Monstera are species of evergreen tropical vines/shrubs that are native to Central America. Monst...

Dino Plant

Learn how to care for most varieties of Dino Plant! The Dino Plant, also known as the Selaginella lepidophylla, is an ancient rosette-forming herb ...

Norfolk Island Pine

Learn how to care for most varieties of Norfolk Island Pine! The Norfolk Island Pine hails from Norfolk Island, a small island in the Pacific Ocean...

Oxalis

Learn how to care for most varieties of Oxalis! Oxalis is the largest genus in the family Oxalidaceae and represents about 800 of the 900 species w...

Golden Pothos

Learn how to care for the Golden Pothos! The Golden Pothos, or the Epipremnum aureum, is native to Southeast Asia. It has the reputation of being o...

Pencil Plant (Euphorbia)

Learn how to care for the Pencil Plant! The Pencil Plant or Euphorbia Tirucalli is a succulent native to South and East Africa. The plant’s namesak...

Moon Valley Pilea (Pilea Mollis)

Learn how to care for the Moon Valley Pilea! The Moon Valley Pilea or Pilea Mollis is native to Central and South America. Its common name, Moon Va...

Majesty Palm (Ravenea Rivularis)

Learn how to care for the Majesty Palm! The Majesty Palm is a robust, tropical palm with graceful, feathery fronds that originates from Madagascar....

ZZ Plant

Learn how to care for the ZZ Plant! The Zamioculcas zamiifolia – or ZZ plant — is a tropical perennial native to Eastern Africa that has become pop...

Ripple Peperomia

Learn how to care for the Ripple Peperomia! The Peperomia genus has over 1000 species, but only a dozen or so make for good houseplants. The Pepero...

Jade Plant

Learn how to care for a Jade Plant! The Crassula ovata (or Jade Plant) originates from South Africa. The word crassus in Latin means “thick”. The n...

Haworthia

Learn how to care for the Haworthia! The Haworthia is a miniature succulent native to South Africa, and is one of the easiest houseplants to care f...

Philodendron

Learn how to care for the Heartleaf Philodendron! The Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum) is an evergreen perennial vine, native to Tr...

Bird’s Nest Fern

Learn how to care for the Bird’s Nest Fern! Native to tropical regions such as southeast Asia, Australia, east Africa and Hawaii to name a few, Bir...

Canela Tree

Learn how to care for the Canela Tree, AKA the Cinnamon Plant! The Canela Tree, also known as the cinnamon plant, is related to the culinary cinnam...

Rex Begonia

Learn how to care for the Rex Begonia! Rex Begonias are admired for their fabulous foliage. The cultivar offers a wide range of colors, textures, a...

Peperomia Plants

Learn how to care for most varieties of Peperomia! The Peperomia genus has over 1,000 species, but only a dozen or so are suitable as houseplants. ...

Peperomia Obtusifolia (Baby Rubber Plant)

Learn how to care for the Peperomia Green (or Baby Rubber Plant)! The Peperomia Obtusifolia is a succulent-like variety of Peperomia, originally fo...

Arrowhead Plant

Learn how to care for the Arrowhead Plant! The Arrowhead (Syngonium podophyllum) is native to the tropical rain forests in Central and South Americ...

From A to ZZ Plant

A common houseplant that’s easy to grow sounds like the perfect plant, right? The ZZ Plant may very well be the perfect plant, known for its adapti...

Between Two Ferns

Ferns are fabulous. They are amongst the first plants on earth to form a vascular system, allowing them to tower over mosses and grow to heights ne...

What’s My Name: Plant Nomenclature

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Shakespeare knew names were important. They can tell us a lot of information about something, or som...

Introduction to Bulbs

Not the electric kind you twist, but the ones you bury into soft, warm soil, lovingly water, and check in on (maybe a little too often), in hopes a...

Pick A Peperomia

Resembling the fan-favorite rubber plant, just tinier, Peperomia are plants in the peppercorn family, Piperaceae. Peperomia make great houseplants,...

Our Top Low-Maintenance Houseplants for Under $20

Not only can indoor plants transform a room’s aesthetic, but they also have the ability to boost mood, increase creativity, lessen stress, and filt...

Word On The Bird of Paradise

Unusual, gorgeous, tropical. If you’ve ever mistaken a plant for a bird, or vice versa, you may have encountered a Bird of Paradise plant. Let’s ta...

C is for Calathea

Calathea (Calathea spp. and hybrids.) is a genus of neotropical rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plants; members of which are referred to generally...

Pilea Peperomioides

Sure, money doesn’t grow on trees, but the Coin Plant / Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides) is worth spending some time on.

A is for Aroids

Take a closer look at this amazing yet common houseplant.

Hot in Here: Humidity 101

If you’ve ever experienced a New York summer, you might describe it as humid. The blankety, moisture-filled air that makes morning commutes sticky,...

Fiddle Me This: Caring for a Fiddle Leaf Fig

The trendiest plant in the game is of course, the Fiddle Leaf Fig. Flip through any home decor mag or scroll down design-y Instagram accounts and i...

What To Do When You See Mushrooms and Fungi in Soil

For millions of years, plants have been BFF’s with microbes found in soil, forming strong, intricate relationships. Plants interact with both bacte...

How to Learn Which Plants Are Compatible Together (AKA Allelopathy)

Plants lead inner lives that are full of #drama. In short, some plants do not get along with other plants. This is called allelopathy and instead o...

The Hole Truth: Monsteras

Big or small, prickly or smooth, a plant’s characteristics makes them beautiful and unique. They way they look can tell us a lot about them. Here, ...

How-To: Pick a Planter for Your Plant

Say perfect plant planter three times fast. Choosing a planter is not nearly as hard, once you know what to look for. Hint: read on to find out how...

Plants 101: Succulents

In The Sill's plant beginners series, we introduce some of our favorite plant types like succulents, explore where they come from, and share how to...

Plants 101: Epiphytes and Air Plants

The Sill seeks to educate and inspire all plant lovers. In our plant novice series, Plants 101, we introduce some of our favorite plant types, expl...