Anya from putting a few houseplants outside for some fresh air and sunshine

Is It Good to Put Indoor Plants Outside

Plants come from the great outdoors, so you figured you’d move your indoor ones outside. You’re kind of lacking space in your home or apartment anyway. That shouldn’t cause them any harm, right? We did some research to provide you the answer.

Is it good to put indoor plants outside? While indoor plants quite enjoy the fresh air and the sunlight of the outdoors, you can’t just take your houseplant and move it outside randomly one day. Otherwise, it will fall into a state of shock and could die. It’s better to slowly adjust the plant to their new home.

In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about moving your houseplants outdoors. From the benefits of growing your plants outside, when to do it, and how to adjust houseplants to their new environment, you won’t want to miss it.

The Case for Moving Indoor Plants Outside

Your houseplants have a tidy little home—your home—where they’re protected from the elements. They have plenty of room to grow, and they’re positioned in a way where they get the right amount of sunlight. Why would they ever want to live anywhere else?

We get where you’re coming from, but it’s actually beneficial to give your indoor plants the outdoor treatment from time to time. For one, they get an endless supply of fresh air when placed outside, something most people can’t provide inside a home or apartment.

It’s also easier to get that exact temperature some plants require without the need for specialized bulbs, humidifiers, misting, or dehumidifiers. Your houseplants can absorb light easy-peasy since they’re outdoors all day. You also don’t have to take care of cleaning any dust or debris from your plant’s leaves, as the rain will do that for you.

When you combine all these factors, you get a houseplant that should thrive in outdoor conditions, sprouting up quick.

When Should You Move Your Houseplants Outside?

Now, you may have some concerns about transferring your houseplants outside. Could they possibly get too much light? What if the temperature drops too low overnight? Couldn’t one or both of these possibilities kill your plant? These are both valid concerns for certain.

No one’s saying to take your houseplant and plunk it in the dirt on your front lawn in the middle of the winter. Instead, there’s a specific period most indoor gardeners adhere to when transitioning their houseplant to outdoor life.

Between May & September, roughly summertime.

There are some factors that can change that timeline somewhat. For instance, exposed garden environments can take a while to thaw out after a long winter. Speaking of winter, if you have particularly rough ones, then it might not be warm enough in May to warrant moving your plant outside. From the day of the last frost, hold off on the move for at least two weeks. Some gardeners even give it four weeks to be on the safe side.

The weather in June through the end of August should provide the optimal growing conditions we talked about in the first section. If it starts getting cold where you live in early September, then you’ll want to move your houseplant back in the safety of your home a little sooner than the above timeline calls for. Cold for a plant is temperatures under 55 degrees Fahrenheit, by the way.

Depending on where you live, you could get away with giving your houseplant some outdoor growth time in the spring as well, like March through April. Southern states where the temperatures stay consistently warm are best for this. If you’re like most of the rest of the country where winter only begins tapering off in March, then keep your plant inside until the summer.

How to Adjust Houseplants to Their New Environment

In the intro, we touched on the fact that houseplants can go into shock if you suddenly move them outside. The stress of this move could potentially lead to plant death, so it’s important to go slow and steady to win this race.

Here’s how to get your houseplant ready for the transition.

Start with a Mix of Indoor and Outdoor Time

Preparation for their new home begins inside your house or apartment. Keep your houseplant here at night. Once morning arrives, move the plant outdoors in the shade. This will let it get used to the intensity of the sunlight and the temperature in small doses.

Do this for a week or two before making the full move outdoors.

Keep Plants out of Direct Sun for a While

Your houseplant is finally ready to spend its summer outdoors. Great! Now where do you keep it? Anywhere where the plant won’t receive the full brunt of the sun, at least not at first. Seriously, we can’t stress this enough.

Not only can too much sunlight cause your houseplant to go into shock, but the sun can burn the delicate leaves of your plant as well. You need to start your plant off in a shady spot then where it gets sun, but not directly. Leave the plant there for several hours and then bring it inside if that’s what you’re still doing.

With time, as your plant adapts even more, you can increase the amount of sun it receives hour by hour. It might take several weeks, but your houseplant will eventually adjust to the point where it’s ready for more direct light. Still, don’t leave it scorching in the summer heat.

Consider Watering and Fertilize More Often

A warm plant is a thirsty plant. You may water your houseplant more now than you ever did when it was in your home. That’s not abnormal. Just make sure you’re not watering your plant just to do it, as your houseplant is still susceptible to root rot and other overwatering issues.

If you think you might have overcompensated on how much water your plants need while they’re outside, check out our 9 Signs You’re Overwatering Your Houseplants.

You’ll also up your houseplant’s intake of fertilizer, as it will more readily crave nutrients like it does water.

Watch out for Insects

While using things like banana peels as a fertilizer could cause indoor plants to develop insects and pests, for the most part, you don’t have to worry about bugs with a houseplant. That’s all changed now that your plant is outside. Insects might flitter around. Some even want to eat your beloved houseplant.

You can try relocating your plant somewhere else in the backyard, but this doesn’t always help. Having a few natural pest remedies is the better solution.

Check Your Plant Often (Especially in Bad Weather)

It used to be that when inclement weather struck, you didn’t have to stress about your houseplant because it was safely inside. Now, after a strong rain or a day of heavy winds, you want to go outside and look over your plant. Did it get too soaked? Did the wind push the plant over? Tend to your houseplant as needed.

Prepare for Moving Your Plants Back Inside

Summer can end in the blink of an eye. Before that initial frost, you want to take your houseplant back indoors. You now have to adjust the plant in reverse, getting it used to less sunlight and warmer temperatures.

Before you get to that point, make sure your houseplant is suitable for indoor life. Give it a tepid water soak if it looks dried out. If you see any leaves or stems that are damaged from wind or sun, trim them off. Also, inspect for insects, including looking at the pot (some bugs can hide underneath or inside!).

Related Questions

Which indoor plants should you never grow outside?

If your indoor plant is of the tropical variety, then you generally shouldn’t take it outdoors. These plants include the following:

  • Peace lilies
  • Radiator plants
  • Chinese evergreens
  • Indoor palm trees
  • Weeping figs
  • Begonias
  • Orchids
  • Viper’s bowstring hemp or the snake plant
  • Rubber figs
  • Philodendrons
  • Bromeliads
  • Laceleaf
  • Dumb canes

Since these houseplants have very specific temperature requirements, it’s unlikely that the shifting summer weather can provide the necessary consistent humidity.

At what temperature is it safe to put houseplants outside?

As we mentioned before, frost is a big determining factor of when you can plan your houseplant move. If you’re still seeing frost outside in the mornings, then it’s not time yet. You have to wait for all the frost to melt, and even then, wait it out another two or four weeks.

The outdoor temperature, especially at night, will also clue you in on when’s the right time for a houseplant move. It’s that sweet spot of 55 degrees, which we discussed earlier. If it’s only about 50 degrees at night, then it’s still too cold. The nighttime outdoor temperatures should be well above 55.

Is it good to put indoor plants out in the rain?

You probably recall what we mentioned earlier in this article, that the rain can clean your houseplant’s leaves so you don’t have to. That’s great and all, but what about those days with a lot of rain? Can they soak your plant to the point where it gets root rot?

Not necessarily, but it can happen. You see, the composition of rainwater isn’t the same as the H2O that comes from the tap. Rainwater contains more oxygen, which allows for soil aeration even if it’s soaked through. That reduces the risk of root rot and related diseases somewhat.  

Still, if you see several days of rain on the forecast, you might want to tuck your houseplant somewhere outside where it won’t get soaked.

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