Kill ’em or Cure ’em: Moving Houseplants Outside

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One of the happiest moments in a houseplant’s life is when it gets to go back outside for the summer. The increased sunlight and fresh rain act as major growth stimulants for tired houseplants. And, it is very fashionable to incorporate houseplants and foliage plants into garden design. Having said that, every gardener has to follow a few simple rules for successfully moving houseplants into the garden.

Houseplants can be moved outdoors during the day after all danger of daylight frost has passed. The temperatures for these first few days should at least be in the low 60’s F or greater than 15 degrees C. to avoid temperature shock. A windless site is also important as a cold wind will quickly chill a houseplant into shock. Leaving a plant outside for only a few hours a day for the first few days is optimal rather than leaving it outside from morning until night.

Plants can be left outdoors at night after all danger of night frost has passed and after a week of daytime acclimatization. Again, do not leave the houseplant outdoors if night temperatures are going to plunge or if there is a cold, raw wind. If you wouldn’t want to be outdoors, neither would your plant.

The key to successful acclimatization of indoor plants to outdoor gardens is slowly acclimatizing the plant to increased levels of sunshine, cool winds and natural rains. Usually a week of moving a plant outdoors in the morning and indoors at night will serve to harden off the tender indoor plant so it will survive and indeed, thrive in its new outdoor location. While we all want to rush the season in seeing our gardens fully leaved out, rushing or pushing indoor plants into cold gardens will only set them back.

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