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After a long, cloudy, and cold winter my indoor plants don’t always look like they are under the care of a horticulturist!
I can use grow lights and best cultural practices, but they have lost that luster that can only come from natural sunlight and a warm summer breeze.
I’ve heard it said that pets become like their owner, perhaps plants do too. I tend to be a bit slow and blah in the winter.
As the weather warms up, I perk up as I spend more time outside.
As I start setting up my patio and outdoor living area, I begin moving my indoor plants outside for the summer.
This is a step-by-step process and it can cause harm if not performed properly. However, the results are amazing!
I always see an incredible improvement in the vigor, appearance, and overall health of my indoor plants.
The leaves are greener, more compact and flowers even appear once they are acclimated outside for the summer!
There is an amazing transformation that makes keeping these plants seem effortless. I enjoy watching them flourish without much intervention on my part.
When Can I Begin to Move Indoor Plants Outside?
Temperature is the most important factor that determines when houseplants can be outside.
Indoor plants can suffer leaf damage when temperatures go below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Therefore, I like to begin acclimating my houseplants to the outside on a day when the outside temperature is similar to the temperature in my house (approximately 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit).
Where Should I Put My Plants Outside?
I know the logical answer would be to find the sunniest location and put the plants there, but the opposite is true.
To begin, the best place to put the plants is in the shade.
It takes some time for the plant’s leaves to become acclimated to the higher light levels.
Putting plants immediately in direct sunlight will cause sunburn and scorching.
Ideally, leave the plants there for only a couple of hours a day so that they can adjust to the outdoors.
Repeat this each day that the outside temperature permits.
The plants can stay outside for increasingly longer periods as the plants become adjusted to the outdoors.
If there are a few days in which the outside temperature doesn’t warm to at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit, I keep the plants inside.
Once the plants have become accustomed to the higher light levels outside, move them to decorate your patio, deck, and other outdoor living areas.
When Can I Leave My Indoor Plants Outside Overnight?
Indoor plants will have to be brought inside each evening until night temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit and there is no longer any chance of frost.
This date is called a “frost-free date.” You can check your average date here, but note that this is only an average and can often vary.
Caring for Houseplants Outside
I notice immediately the impact the outside environment has on my plants.
The increased light and wind cause them to use water more quickly and they need to be watered much more frequently than when in the house.
I may need to water every day on a warm, breezy day!
I add a liquid fertilizer back into the maintenance routine.
After watering, I use add liquid fertilizer at half strength to the watering can and apply.
Watering a dry plant with a fertilizer solution will burn the roots and cause a decline in the plant’s overall health.
Reapply the fertilizer solution every 3-4 weeks as needed to keep the plant green and lush.
Are There Any Indoor Plants That I Shouldn’t Move Outside?
Most houseplants will do well outside.
However, any that are growing in small pots (4” or less) may dry out more frequently and require more care than when inside.
If you don’t have the time to monitor these, you may find that they will look a bit more stressed outside.
Succulents that will be exposed to a lot of rain may be best left indoors as well.
Excessive humidity and water will be detrimental to their overall health.
To avoid this, I have placed some of my succulents under a patio umbrella.
This helps prevent them from receiving rainwater and eliminates the opportunity for overwatering.
What About Bugs?
This is one of the most common questions I am asked.
It is definitely possible to get pests on your plants when they are outside.
However, in my experience, I have found the opposite to be true.
I have taken plants outside with a mealybug problem and ladybugs have naturally eliminated the problem!
Nature seems to have a predator for many of the houseplant pests.
Another consideration is that my plants are much healthier and more vibrant due to the increased light levels and are therefore much stronger and able to naturally combat pests and diseases.
I have found that plant parents have far more problems with pests when they are growing plants indoors than outdoors.
If I do find pests on my plants, using simple sprays of neem oil or horticultural soap generally will eliminate any problems.
Moving indoor plants outside for the summer is an amazing way to revitalize the health and vigor of your houseplants.
The higher light levels and warm air provide the natural environment for most indoor plants to thrive and flourish.
Once the outdoor temperatures reach approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the acclimatization process can begin.
Slowly acclimating indoor plants to the high light levels outside will prevent the leaves from sun scorching and burning.
Once the chance of frost has passed and night temperatures remain above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the plants can stay outside overnight for the remainder of the summer.
Monitor the plants regularly for water needs as wind, light, and warmth will increase their need for moisture.
Use the plants to decorate your outdoor living area so that you can enjoy their beauty all season!