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Move Houseplants Outdoors for the Summer

Give your indoor plants a summer vacation. Place them outdoors for the season. Most houseplants will thrive in a protected area outside. They'll love the fresh air and rain, plus they complement your colorful container annuals.

move houseplants outdoors for the summer

Move Your Plants Outdoors for Summer

Once nighttime temperatures are higher than 50° F and you're past your region's last frost date, it should be safe to move your plants outdoors. Due to the sudden change in environment, shelter from sun and wind is very important. Gradually acclimate your plants by giving them increasing amounts of sunshine over a couple of weeks. For more shade-loving types, keep them in a partially shaded area all season. Under a shade tree or in the shelter of a north wall is a good location. A screened porch is an excellent spot. Partially bury the container (if it's not too decorative) in a bed of mulch. If the plant is a particularly thirsty variety, install a temporary drip irrigation system.

Don't just take plants outdoors and forget about them. The environment may not be exactly to their liking. Keep an eye out for houseplant problems and move them if necessary, even if it means moving them back inside.

A Christmas cactus requires time outdoors to properly set buds for holiday blooms. Some plants, such as African violets, don't care for water on their leaves and do best with a roof over their heads. Taller and/or big-leafed plants need protection from wind and heavy rains and may be best left indoors.

In the event of an extended heat wave or an uncommon cold snap, be prepared to provide some additional, temporary shelter in a garage.

Feeding and watering needs will change outdoors. Many plants develop new growth more rapidly than they do indoors. Increase the frequency of fertilizing and watering to account for this new vigor. When indoor plants have been moved outdoors for the summer, roots may grow through the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. If the pots are sitting directly on the ground, give them a twist occasionally to loosen roots that have attached to the ground.

Don't forget your larger plants - the ones you can't pick up by yourself. They deserve a break too. A plant dolly makes moving them a lot simpler.

Move Your Plants Indoors for Winter

When the season starts to wind down and fall grows near, check the plants carefully before bringing them back inside. Don't wait until the first frost warning and scramble to get them relocated. Pests may have set up summer homes in your plants. Start looking for telltale signs (webs, scales, etc.) a few weeks before the move will take place. This gives you time to identify any problems and treat them accordingly.

A good spray from a garden hose should dislodge most insects that have taken up temporary residence. Check the sides and bottom of the pot as well - including the drainage hole (a great hiding place for bugs).

When it's time to bring plants back in, simply reverse the acclimatization process, giving them a reduced amount of sunlight each day. Prune excess growth or damaged areas. Clean the outside of the pots. Reduce water and fertilizer and resume general houseplant care.

You may even need to repot to a larger container after a summer outdoors. If so, always use new potting mix and add the old soil to the compost pile.

Keep in mind that summer vacations aren't for everyone. If you have a prized plant that's doing great just where it is you may want to leave it alone. If your plant is in a valuable or fragile container, you may not want it out in the elements either.