As temperatures warm up in late spring, many home gardeners move houseplants to outdoor living areas such as porches, patios, and sunrooms. Most indoor plants can flourish outside if given proper attention.

First, have the patience to wait until temperatures are dependably warm. Most houseplant species originated in the tropics and are sensitive to temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Be prepared to bring the plants back indoors on cool nights. Gradually acclimate the plants by moving them outdoors for a few hours daily before letting them spend full-time in their new digs.

Although a given plant may require full sun indoors, houseplants outdoors should receive no more than a half-day of morning sun. Afternoon sun will likely be too strong. Overexposing the tender leaves to the strong summer sun will result in sunburn, turning the leaves yellow or white and eventually brown. Most houseplants will do just fine in a shady northern exposure.

Another point to keep in mind is that plants outdoors are exposed to much greater wind which translates into watering more often to prevent the plants from wilting. Also, most plants will grow faster outdoors, which also contributes to a greater need for both water and fertilizer.

Keep an eye on the plants for disease and especially insects. Many houseplant pests are picked up while the plants are outdoors for the summer. Give the plants a thorough inspection and cleaning before returning them indoors in the fall. An insecticidal soap or other insecticide product may be needed to avoid contaminating other indoor plants. Make sure the product is labeled for the specific pest you’re trying to control and for your particular type of plant.

And don’t be surprised if your plants drop considerable numbers of leaves when you bring them back indoors next fall. Many plants will drop their leaves in response to the drastic decrease in light indoors and then grow new leaves that are better acclimated to low light.


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