Spring and summer are the perfect time to get outside, especially if you’ve been cooped up inside during the winter. While you may appreciate the feel of the sun on your face, a gentle breeze, and everything the outdoors offers, you’re not alone. Houseplants can also enjoy a summer holiday. Moving houseplants outside makes an outdoor area feel comfortable and stylish, but not all indoor plants want to relocate, and when and how you move plants matters. Here’s what you need to know before moving houseplants outside.
Why Move Houseplants Outside
Houseplants make a space feel homey and lived in. Setting a couple of potted plants on a table or displaying a vining plant in a hanger add color, texture, and warmth. Outdoor areas like a screened-in or covered porch or patio are an extension of a home, so decorating these spaces the same way you would inside your home makes sense. Plants are also a natural fit in an outdoor space since you are outside.
Types of Houseplants to Move Outside
All houseplants can move outside because outside is where they come from, after all. With that said, you still need to ensure your plants can handle your climate. Prayer plants love humidity and may not do well in a dry environment, while aloe plants like dry conditions and may fail to thrive in a humid climate. Some houseplants like to stay put, and moving the plant can be stressful. Fiddle Leaf Fig trees do best when they remain in the same spot, and while the conditions outside may be wonderful, making a move can be stressful and result in leaf drop.
Most houseplants are tropical or subtropical, so they can handle summer’s heat and humidity. Living indoors may prevent plants from being able to handle extreme heat and humidity, but as long as you monitor the plant and step in if the conditions become too much, your plants will be fine.
When to Move Plants Outdoors
Moving houseplants outside is best done after the temperature is consistently above 50° F. Some plants, like peperomia, will be happier when the temperature is above 60° F, so make decisions based on the specific plant. Also, check the low temperature to ensure the overnight weather is suitable.
How to Acclimate Plants
Your houseplants are used to living inside, so they’re acclimated to the conditions in your home. Moving houseplants outside can be disruptive, so it’s best to acclimate your plants slowly. Start by moving the plants to a shady, outside area for a few hours a day and bring them back inside at night. After a week of the plants splitting their time, they should be ready to make the switch to overnights outside.
Plant Care Outdoors
Houseplants outside have similar care needs as plants indoors. Continue to care for houseplants outside the same way you would inside, but be mindful of the weather and conditions.
You may need to water less often if the plants are exposed to rain and dew. Increased humidity will keep the soil damp, impacting how often the plants need water. However, increased sunlight and wind will dry the soil out more quickly, so understand what your plants need and monitor the soil to determine the best time to water.
Plants in an open area that can receive rainwater must be in a container with drainage. Standing water can damage the roots and kill the plant, so allow excess water to drain freely.
Sunlight is essential to plant care and the most challenging part of moving houseplants outside. Most houseplants that require bright light can handle direct light first thing in the morning when it isn’t as intense. Croton is one of the few houseplants that can handle direct sunlight but can only deal with a few hours of direct light per day. Take time to become acquainted with the sunlight in your outdoor space and try to make a good guess before moving houseplants outside.
Keep an Eye on Things
Most houseplant care is about monitoring your plants for signs of trouble or stress; houseplants spending the summer outside are no different. Feel the soil to gauge when to water, empty saucers or cover pots of standing water, and inspect the leaves for signs of sunburn, over- or underwatering, and pests. Catching problems early means you’ll be able to troubleshoot a solution before things get out of hand and the plant undergoes too much stress.
Routinely check the weather, and depending on your space, consider moving the houseplants back indoors or at least to a protected area in the event of high winds or hail. Plants on a covered porch may be alright, but hanging plants or plants in an open-air pergola may need extra protection. No amount of acclimation will allow plants to deal with extreme weather.
Conditions outside may help plants grow more quickly. Plants outside typically need more water because they are actively growing. Fertilizing outdoor plants, even if they are temporarily outside, supports new growth and helps them flourish.
Make the Move Back Inside
All good things must end, and before you know it, it will be time to move your houseplants back inside. Check the forecast and move plants before the temperature gets too low. Since the conditions inside are more constant, you do not need to slowly integrate your plants back to inside living the way you have to acclimate them to outside. When the time is right, just bring them back inside. Moving inside can be stressful, so keep a close eye on your plants for the first couple of weeks they’re back indoors.
In the best-case scenario, pests were not an issue, and if they were, you were able to remedy the problem but take the time to thoroughly inspect plants for signs of pests a couple of weeks before it’s time to move them inside. Give yourself time to treat pests before bringing the plants inside, potentially exposing the rest of your plant collection to the problem. Even if you do not see signs of pests, spray the plants and soil with horticultural oil or soap as a preventative measure. Doing this outside is nice since most of these products have an odor.
Houseplants make a space feel warm and inviting. Decorating an outdoor area with houseplants is an excellent way to add greenery and enjoy your plants. Spending the summer outside can also help your plants thrive. With careful planning and care, you can ensure moving houseplants outside is easy on your plants.