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The Blog: Let's Talk Gardening

Give Your Houseplants a Summer Vacation

After being inside all winter, there's nothing like sitting outside on a warm day, and just like us, houseplants enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and change of scenery! Letting them stay outside all summer long will give them much-needed nutrients for the winter once they're back in your heated house. However, you'll need to take a few steps to ensure a smooth transition. If you take the time to make the move outdoors a gradual one and shield them from extreme elements, they will thank you with healthy, vigorous growth and gorgeous blooms throughout the year.

Avoid Direct Sun. Place plants in light conditions similar to what they enjoyed inside your home. Never put them in full sun. Just like you, they’ll get sunburned – and there’s no SPF sunscreen for houseplants! Gradually expose the plants to sunlight by placing them in a partially shady spot.

Avoid Windy Spots. Wind can be a huge stressor for houseplants, since they are not exposed to windy conditions inside your home. Wind can dry plants out and knock them over. Be sure to place houseplants in a well-protected area, such as near a wall.

Avoid Exposure to Excessive Rain. A light drizzle can provide a welcome drink, but downpours can be destructive to houseplants, washing soil out of their containers and pounding their delicate leaves. Check to make sure your pots have drain holes, since heavy rain can also cause containers to overfill, which can lead to root rot and even drowning plant roots.

Consider the Outside Temperature. Most houseplants originate in tropical-like regions, so they will need to be brought in on cool nights or whenever the thermometer threatens to dip below 55 degrees. A good rule of thumb is to move them out when you would start planting your garden. If the weather has been unseasonably cold, wait until you've had at least a week of warm night temperatures before moving houseplants outdoors.

Consider Repotting & Pruning. Summer is an ideal time to repot and prune houseplants and cleanup is always easier outside! The rule of thumb is not to increase pot size by more than 2 inches (ex: use a 6-inch pot for a 4-inch plant). Pruning back excess growth and legginess can also help plants to grow fuller and more vibrant.

Fertilize & Inspect for Pests. Houseplants will need more nutrients outside during the warmer months; however, be careful not to over do it. Too much food can be just as bad for houseplants as too little. When in doubt, fertilize according to label directions. Secondly, be sure to inspect for pests. Inside, there are fewer opportunities for insects to bother your plants, so be sure treat against common outdoor insects once you move them outdoors.

If you have any questions about bringing your houseplants outdoors for a summer vacation, or you need a plant diagnosis, one of our McDonald houseplant experts will be happy to assist you!

Photos from McDonald Garden Center Owner, Eddie Anderson's backyard