Many of us jump to pick up perennials, shrubs, ornamental grass to help keep our gardens and patios looking lush throughout the warmer months—but one of the easiest (and most economical) ways to add greenery to an outdoor space is simply by giving houseplants a spot outside for the summer. Plus, really, who doesn’t want to spend a little extra time in the sun come summertime?
Below, we spoke to a handful of landscaping and gardening experts to get their insights on exactly how to prep houseplants for outdoor living come summertime—and how to bring them back inside for the cooler months.
If you think your houseplants could benefit from the warmth of the summer sunshine, read on for all the best practices that come with bringing indoor plants outside.
Which houseplants can be brought outside for summer?
Whether you’re an experienced plant parent or you’ve just recently picked up your first plants, it is always important to know which indoor plants are happy to grow outdoors. Here’s the list of indoor plants that thrive outdoors during the summer season:
- Cacti and succulents
- Ponytail palm
- Snake plant
- Boston fern
- Chinese evergreen
- ZZ Plant
Check the weather before getting started.
“To figure out the right time for moving the plants outside, you should ensure that the outdoor temperature doesn’t fall below 50°F during the day,” explains Bryan McKenzie Co-Founder, Bumper Crop Times. “If the weather report says that the night temperature will be lower, you have to hide the plants inside until the temperature rises.”
Start by “hardening off.”
According to Luay Ghafari, Gardening Coach atUrban Farm and Kitchen, it is important to slowly acclimate an indoor plant to the outside elements. This is a process called "Hardening off" and is typically used by gardeners who start seedlings indoors and need to transition them outside. The same principle applies to tropical houseplants.
“The process is simple and involves the gradual exposure of the plant to the outside elements,” explains Ghafari. “On day one, the plant will spend 1-2 hours in the shade. On day 2, you'd increase the time to 3 hours, and so on. After a few days, you'd begin giving it direct access to the sun. This process continues for about 7 days and the plant is then fully acclimated to the outside world.”
Look for spots that will protect from the elements.
Since your houseplants will be exposed to the sun, they will also be vulnerable to harsh winds and heavy rain. “Make it a point to prepare your houseplants’ outdoor location as a place where they’re going to be safe from the elements,” suggests May Flanagan, Founder of Global Green Family.
Consider more frequent watering.
“The watering requirements for these plants change when moved outside,” says Ghafari. “More frequent watering is needed as the containers will dry up much more quickly outside.”
…but ensure proper drainage.
Once you’ve acclimated your houseplants to the outside world, adhere to their typical care routine—but ensure that all of your indoor plants’ pots have sufficient drainage holes. “If you’re using saucers, avoid letting your plants stand in stagnant water for long periods, as this could hamper their growth,” shares Flanagan.
When bringing them back in…
After spending time outdoors during the summer, indoor plants must be brought back inside the home the proper way once the warm season is over. Here’s how to ensure it’s done efficiently and safely:
Check for pests and bugs.
Transitioning houseplants indoors after the summer can be done by inspecting them and their soils for signs of pesky bugs or pests like mealy bugs, which can be common during the summer. “If there are live or active pests, treat them using safe pesticides while they’re still outside,” suggests Flanagan.
Gradually reduce the amount of sunlight.
Flanagan suggests acclimating your houseplants to going back to indoor conditions by reducing the amount of sunlight they receive each day. “You can easily do this by moving your houseplants to a much-shaded spot every day for at least five days.”
Continue with your typical care routine.
Once you’ve acclimated them, place them indoors and continue doing their typical plant care routine, such as giving water, fertilizer, and the like. They should adapt much more quickly to indoor life versus the more gradual transition to being outdoors.