Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > June 2015 > HOUSEPLANTS...IN OR OUT?


To summer outside or not to summer outside…that is a good question!  If you purchased houseplants to decorate your home, why would you put them outside, leaving your interior space devoid of beautiful green growing things?  On the other hand, maybe your houseplants are not so beautiful and green these days.
When you put your houseplants out for the summer, you take advantage of the more natural outdoor environment, and this can help rejuvenate plants that are suffering from poor growing conditions or poor cultural care.  The great outdoors offers lots of bright light, lots (and lots, and lots, and lots…) of humidity, good air circulation, and the benefit of regular leaching of the soil by rain or from deep waterings by hose.  There are even beneficial insects that can help reduce any infestations of plant pests.
If you choose to move plants outside, try to maintain similar light conditions so that houseplants do not have to readjust to lower light levels when brought back inside at the end of the summer.  Of course, if a plant is languishing from lack of light, a nice bright dappled sun or light shade location can work wonders.  But never put your plants in strong direct sunlight unless that is the light they have been growing in, as this can cause the upper leaves to sunburn (not a lethal problem unless the majority of leaves burn), ruining the looks of the plant and interfering with photosynthesis.
Plants that sit where rain will fall should have their drainage saucers removed so that water can flow through the soil and away, preventing soggy root issues.  It is also best to set pots off the ground--on stands, bricks, pot feet, etc.--to both help with drainage and to discourage critters from taking up residence in the pots.  While some folks like to plant their houseplants in the ground for the summer, this makes it much harder to bring them back inside for the winter, and there is more likely to be transplant shock when returning them to a container.  Those who sink the whole pot in the ground may be decreasing the drainage for the plant.
Most plants will put on a lot of growth over the summer, and potting them up a size when setting them out will give them room for the new roots.  Spindly plants can benefit from pruning at this time, and the improved conditions will encourage them to fill out again.  Plants suffering from insect problems can be more easily treated outside, where you have more choices of treatments and products.
Be careful to wait until night temperatures stabilize at 60ºF for houseplants and 55ºF for flowering tropicals. Warm spring days make it tempting to put your plants out, but the nights may still be too cool.  In our area, you are usually safe putting houseplants out for the summer around the middle to the end of May. 
The down sides to setting your plants out for the summer are exposure to plants pests and, in some cases, growing too large for the space they occupy inside.  The first problem can be solved by treating plants a few weeks before you bring them inside and the second problem by pruning.  I think the benefits outweigh the risks.
Posted: 6/4/2015 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
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