Last week in The Potting Shed we discussed a number of things you can do to get your plants ready for spring. This week, we want to explore more in depth which indoor plants can move outside for summer. We'll start with some general pointers on care and maintenance.
For plants, it is all about light (not so much bass or treble). Here are some tips on how to help your plants get the most out of this important resource in their new outdoor home.
- Transition slowly. When moving plants that have been indoors to an outdoor space, it's best to make the transition to more light exposure a little at a time. Too much light exposure at once can be shocking for a plant, especially for plants you intend to give full sun. Ease them into it by starting with a shadier spot with filtered sunlight for their first week or two outdoors.
- Grab the SPF. Actually, that's not really a thing for houseplants. Plants do however, run the risk of sunburn if exposed to too much light. If you notice leaves turning brown and crispy, especially new growth, it might be worth moving the plant to a spot with less direct sunlight.
- Keep it cool. Just like us, plants can overheat. Overheating can cause their soil and leaves to dry out. Don't put your plants in a super hot spot outside, like on blacktop or concrete in full sun. You don't want them to fry like an egg.
Watering changes in the summer, especially for plants that go outside. Here are a few tips to stay ahead on your watering game.
- Más aqua, por favor! Plants need more water in the spring and summer. Not only because it's hotter and water evaporates more quickly but because this is their active growing season. They will need more water, more often. You'll still want to follow the rules of (a Green) thumb for watering, but consider checking if your plants outside need water more often.
- Humidity is your friend. Who knew? And why didn't our hair get the memo? Most plants, epically tropical houseplants, love humidity. It's like bonus water they can absorb through their soil and their leaves. When you move your plants outside, use saucers to catch and pool excess water from their containers. This helps create a micro-humid environment that will keep them healthy on hot summer days.
- Wait to water. Move your plants outside and then water them. Trust us. Watering prior to moving makes plants heavier and the whole process messier. Once you have your plants moved outside to where you want them, give them a good soak and misting. They will thank you!
- "Plimp" your plants. That's right, primp your plants (yes, it's a thing now). Give them a good grooming before they step out for the summer. Cut away any dead matter and aerate the soil. The helps encourage new growth, helps prevent pests and it makes your plants look great.
- Repot if necessary. Some plants will need more room to grow during the summer. There are three questions you should ask yourself about a plant before you repot. Learn more in our post on Getting Your Plants Ready for Spring.
So, what works well outside?
We get asked this a lot. Really any plant can go outside and do well, in theory, if they have the right light, temperature and water. However, in general, these are the varieties we have found do exceptionally well, grouped by light preference.
Shade (low light)
- ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
- Ferns: Maidenhair (Adiantum sp.), Bird's Nest (Asplenium sp), Staghorn (Platycerium sp.)
- Philodendrons (Philodendron sp.)
- Calathea, also known as Prayer Plants (Calathea sp., Maranta sp.)
- Begonias (Begonia sp.)
Partial sun/partial shade (moderate light)
- Chinese evergreens (Aglaonema sp.)
- Croton, also known as Rushfoil (Croton sp.)
- Dracaena, sometimes known as Dragon Trees (Dracaena sp.)
- Pothos, also known as Devils' Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
- Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera sp.)
- Taro (Colocasia sp., sometimes referred to as Alocasia sp.)
- Rubber Plants (Ficus elastica)
- Snake Plant (Sansevieria sp.)
Full sun (high light)
- Palms (Arecaceae sp.)
- Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata)
- Birds of Paradise (Strelitzia sp., Heliconia sp.)
- Cacti (Mammilaria sp., Opuntia sp., etc.)
- Succulents (Kalanchoe sp., Euphorbia sp., etc.)
What plants are you planning to bring outside this spring?