Moving House Plants Outdoors for Summer: A How-To Guide

Moving House Plants Outdoors for Summer: A How-To Guide

Apr 14, 2021
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If They're House Plants, How Can They Survive Outside?

If you think about it, plants have always grown outdoors and have not been used as"house plants" for that long, in comparison to how long they have been in existence. Yes, houseplants prefer the climates we give them in our homes, but there isn't much stopping them from thriving outside.

Pro tip: Rainwater is almost always better than tap water for your plants. Tap water contains additives that some plants are sensitive to. Rainwater also contains a specific form of nitrogen that plants use, making it a miracle worker for your house plants. Rainwater will also naturally wash away any dust that had accumulated on your plant's leaves, let's face it, most people aren't dusting their home every day let alone their plants. A benefit of their leaves being shiny and clean, plants will also be able to photosynthesize more effectively.

Tropical house plants like Snake Plants or Wandering Jew Plants will benefit greatly from the humidity and overall air circulation the outdoors will provide. The combination of wind and airflow will make your plants stronger and studier. There is nothing wrong with indoor air circulation, however, it tends to be drier and can oftentimes not be the most beneficial to your house plants.
It might shock you how much happier your house plants will be just after a few short months of living and thriving in the outdoors.

Which House Plants Can Live Outside?

We have compiled a short list of some of our favorite houseplants that can be moved outside in the warm summer months! 

Snake plant, hoya plant, dieffenbachia plant collage photo

View All House Plants 

The Perfect Time to Make the Move

So you are eager to bring your house plants outdoors but you're not sure when the best time to do so is. We recommend moving them out between May and September. Of course, timing will vary depending on your location and growing zones. The best rule of thumb is to wait at least 2 to 4 weeks after the last frost of the season. If you have an exposed landscape, maybe choose to wait a little bit later until bringing them to their new home. If your weather is nice and warm during the day but gets below 50 degrees at the night, you can bring your plants outside, but, take them inside at night until the weather warms up. Tropical plants especially will not survive outdoors in those cooler temperatures.

How-To Care for House Plants Outdoors

 person pruning a potted house plant with shears

Give Them A Makeover: It is not uncommon for your plants to have a little damage after the move. They are adjusting to a brand new climate and for some, that could be stressful. If you notice and foliage that is brown or has brown tips, now is the time to cut them off. You are going to prune your house plant after you have successfully moved it outdoors. Also, check for any signs of pests or diseases. Now that your plant is outside, it is more susceptible to outdoor pests and diseases. Don't fear if any of this happens to your plant, it is nothing a quick snip and clip won't fix!

potted house plant in shade in front of a brick wall

Shaded Shelter: It is super important to note that just because your house plants were receiving bright light indoors, that does not mean you can immediately place them in a spot that receives bright, direct sunlight. The sun your plants get when the inside is filtered through a window and in turn, less harsh. Think about it this way, when you are home and sitting inside and the sun is shining on you, you don't get a sunburn right? However, if you were sitting outside with the sun beaming down on you, you could potentially get a sunburn. This concept is the same for your house plants. The best way to introduce your plants to the outside sun is by starting your plants out on a shaded area of your patio or yard. Slowly but surely move your plants to an area with a little more sunlight each day until they can tolerate it full-time. This process will only take a couple of weeks and then they are free to live outside for the rest of summer. Always follow their light requirements even when placed outdoors, meaning, don't place your plant in direct sunlight if they require indirect sunlight, and so on.

person's hand with green watering can watering potted plants

Make Them a Drink (of water of course): It's pretty obvious that when you move your plants outdoors they are going to be in warmer temperatures than when they were in your temperature-controlled home. Our best advice is to give them a nice, big drink of water when they go outside. Don't be alarmed if you notice their soil is drying out a bit quicker. They are going to be in the warm summer weather and most likely will require a more frequent watering schedule. Adding some perlite to your soil can help retain some moisture without making the soil heavy. For the first couple of weeks, check your plant's soil until you feel confident you know how they are taking in water in their new habitat. Also, make sure you are dumping any excess water afterward. This will avoid any unwanted pests like mosquitoes.

female with dark brown hair pouring soil into empty pots for plants

Give Them A Snack: Similar to watering, we suggest adding a bit more fertilizer to your plant's soil when making the move. This will simply help add nutrients and hold in as much moisture as they need. We recommend using Jack's Houseplant Fertilizer sold at Garden Goods Direct.

person grabbing a potted plant that is in a row of other potted plants

When to Bring Your House Plants Back Inside

When the cooler weather begins to creep back, sadly it's time to bring your plants back inside. It is important to take a few precautionary steps before your plant transition back to its original environment. You are going to want to trim and look for any pests or diseases on your plant. This is the time to trim off any dead foliage from the hot summer sun, lightly spray off your plant with some water to ensure you are not bringing any insects inside that could make their way to other house plants.

Also, your plant will benefit a lot by giving them fresh, new soil. New soil and a great big drink of water are essential for them to thrive when placing them back in their shaded and cooler climate. It is also important to note that once they are brought back inside, keep them there until it is time for them to come back out the next summer season. You don't want your plant being brought in and taken back out, that will be too much of a climate shock and could damage them.