Summering Houseplants Outdoors

We often only think of houseplants as growing indoors, it is important to recognize that all houseplants originated from the outdoors. Although houseplants can survive indoors, they have evolved to survive in an outdoor, natural environment. With that in mind, it can be very beneficial to summer houseplants outdoors.

The following are some of the benefits of summering plants outdoors:

  • Pest Control - There are many insects outside which naturally prey upon houseplant pests. Often times, placing infected plants outdoors is the most effective way to get rid of pests (It often works better than any pesticide). So if you have spiders or other bugs on your outdoor houseplants, do not worry; they will not harm your houseplants. These are beneficial insects, and they are the best form of natural pest control.
  • Higher Light – Indoors, light usually only comes from one source, such as a window, and is therefore limited. However, outdoors, plants are exposed to higher light levels, and varying light intensities during the day.
  • Higher Humidity – Most houseplants originate from tropical areas, and are adapted to high humidity levels. Humidity levels are highest in the summer, but indoors, humidity may be lower due to air conditioners, closed windows, etc. Outdoor houseplants are exposed to high humidity levels, which are very beneficial to houseplants’ growth and health.
  • Air Movement – Outdoors, there is usually some type of air movement, such as a light breeze. This is very beneficial to houseplants, as moving air helps to minimize pest and fungal problems.
  • Rain – Outdoor houseplants that are exposed to rain will be watered with a very pure water. Indoor tapwater often has added chemicals, which can damage some sensitive plants. Plants that are sensitive to water will benefit from being watered with rainwater.
  • Natural Environmental Changes – In most cases, plants have evolved to respond to certain environmental changes. For example, many flowering plants bloom with shortened day lengths, or based on differences between day and night temperatures. Often times these environmental changes can be difficult to mimic indoors, but outdoors, the plant is naturally exposed to these changes.

Below are some tips on how to successfully summer houseplants outdoors:

  • Be careful not to move houseplants outdoors too early. Houseplants are best moved outdoors once night temperatures reach about 60-65?F. If houseplants are moved outdoors too early, the sudden change in temperatures can stress the plants.
  • Since most houseplants are shade-loving, low-light plants, they should not be placed in direct sunlight. Houseplants will do best in a shaded location, such as on a porch, or under a large tree. If plants with high light requirements are being placed in brighter sun, be sure to gradually acclimate plants to stronger light levels.
  • Look for locations where houseplants will be semi-protected from the weather. Strong winds and heavy rains from summer storms can damage houseplants, so look for locations next to your house, under overhangs, or under large canopy trees to protect plants from the elements.
  • Remember that plants summering outdoors are exposed to summer heat, and brighter light, so they will dry out faster than if they were indoors. Be sure to keep plants properly watered while they are outdoors.
  • Plants should be brought back indoors during the fall (usually around September to October) when nighttime temperatures drop to about 50?F. Warmer growing plants can be brought inside earlier, and cooler growing plants can be left outdoors longer. This fall outdoor period is especially important for flowering houseplants. Outdoors, houseplants are exposed to a drop in night temperatures, and shorter day lengths, which they might not experience indoors. This change in temperature and day length is usually helpful in getting otherwise difficult flowering houseplants to re-bloom.
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