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How to Move Houseplants Outdoors For the Summer

Moving houseplants outdoors for the summer may seem kind of counter-intuitive – they are houseplants after all. However, there are several benefits and reasons to try it. I don’t move all of my plants outdoors for the summer but certain plants go out every single year. It’s like a little ‘summer vacation’ for my houseplants, and just like a real summer vacation a little change of scenery can be really good for their overall health.

While it seems simple, moving houseplants outdoors for the summer does actually require a few important steps. Here’s what you need to know about doing it properly.

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Best Houseplants For Outdoor Growing

Technically, any houseplant can do well growing outdoors. However, I find that certain houseplants thrive outdoors in the summer, making it worth the ‘hassle’ of getting them out every year. Personally, I ensure that all of my cacti and succulents get moved outdoors. This includes my jades (Crassula), prickly pear (Opuntia), aloe, and Euphorbia. In the past I have moved other plants out as well with varying degrees of success, but I find that these sun-hungry plants in particular really appreciate it while many of my other plants are perfectly happy growing indoors year-round. Ultimately the choice is yours!

When you are deciding which plants to move outdoors, keep the climate in mind. Do you experience particularly hot, sunny summers? Does your area experience a lot of rain? Or are you located somewhere that is prone to drought? How is the average humidity? Asking yourself these types of questions will help you to decide which plants will do best outdoors in your particular area.

Several potted houseplants sitting outdoors.

Benefits of Growing Your Houseplants Outdoors in the Summer

I love moving my houseplants outdoors for the summer for a few main reasons. Mostly, they get significantly more light outdoors. I tend to notice lots of healthy, strong growth on my “summer vacation” plants. Moving your plants outdoors can also free up some watering time for you. Since they will be watered every time it rains, you get to skip those plants on your watering days! This is especially true if you’ve chosen to move relatively drought-tolerant plants outdoors.

Lastly, it frees up space in your home. I find that I tend to hoard plants over the winter months (hello seasonal depression), and although I love them, it does feel nice to have some extra room in the house after I move some of them outside. That being said, I always seem to fill the extra space with…more plants? So be more vigilant than me and remember that the extra *room* in your house is just an optical illusion and, in fact, not an opportunity to go plant shopping. Sigh.

When to Move Houseplants Outdoors

The best time to start moving your houseplants outdoors is during the spring when the sun isn’t super intense. This will ensure that your plants can acclimate to the light and temperature differences gradually, versus trying to move them outdoors during the peak summer heat. Ensure that average temperatures are above 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) before moving your plants outdoors.

How to Acclimate Houseplants

The amount of light your houseplants will receive outdoors versus indoors is drastically different. If you don’t acclimate your houseplants to the outdoor conditions properly it is more likely that they will get sunburnt once they are moved. Here’s how to acclimate your houseplants to outdoor conditions:

  1. Move your plants outdoors during the early to mid spring.
  2. When you first move your plant outdoors, place it in a shaded location for 1 to 2 weeks.
  3. Next, move your plant to a location that receives dappled light for another 1 to 2 weeks.
  4. Continue slowly moving your plant into brighter conditions until it is receiving its ideal amount of light. For example, desert cacti and succulents enjoy lots of light and should ultimately be in a location that receives several hours of direct sunlight, whereas ferns and calatheas enjoy shaded locations.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

Besides acclimating your plant to outdoor light levels, it is important to understand the amount of water that your plant receives outdoors may also be different than indoors. This is because it will be exposed to rain. Keep this in mind when it comes to watering – you may not need to water your plant at all while its growing outdoors if you live in a location that gets rain frequently. You should also ensure that your plant is potted in a container with drainage holes, and is not sitting on a saucer or in a cover pot which will hold rainwater around the plant’s roots.

Moving Houseplants Back Indoors

Moving your plant back indoors properly once temperatures begin to drop is just as important as how you move them outdoors in the spring. In fact, it may even be more important. Here are four things you need to keep in mind.

Re-Acclimation is Required

Just as you need to acclimate your plants when you first move them outdoors, it’s a good idea to move your plant indoors in stages to help it adjust to indoor conditions again. Try the initial acclimation process in reverse – slowly moving your plant from bright light to shade outdoors, eventually bringing it back indoors.

Repot Houseplants With Fresh Soil

Once your plant is back indoors, it should be repotted immediately. This is to prevent bugs from outside coming inside and potentially taking up residence in your other houseplants – nobody wants an infestation! Remove as much of the old soil as you can and either dispose of it, or add it to your outdoor garden beds. Don’t use this soil for other houseplants!

A succulent houseplant being repotted after it is moved back indoors.

Quarantine From Other Houseplants

The plants you move back indoors should be isolated from the rest of your houseplant collection for a couple of weeks. Again, this is a preventative measure against potential pest infestations. This quarantine period will give you time to observe your plant and watch for signs of pests, as well as treat it with insecticide.

Proactively Treat With Insecticide

While your houseplant is quarantined in your home, it’s a good idea to proactively treat it with some insecticide, even if you don’t see any signs of pests. Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks to really notice an infestation, especially if you are generally inexperienced with houseplant pests, so proactively treating with an insecticide is a good idea. You can purchase insecticide from most nurseries and greenhouses.

Do you like to move your houseplants outside for the summer too? Let me know if you have any tips or tricks in the comments below!

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