In the summertime when temperatures are mild, take advantage of the sunshine and move your houseplants outside. With a bit of planning and care, your indoor plant babies will thrive on rainwater, natural light, and pollinators of the great outdoors and take some work off your hands during the warmer months.
The USDA hardiness zones reflect the local climate and act as a guideline to which plants will do well in your region of the country. When taking your houseplants outside, you need to consider the daytime high temperature and the overnight low — remember, your plants are accustomed to year-round climate control, so do some investigating to make sure they'll survive their time in the less-protected backyard.
Before a houseplant is ready to stay outside all day and night, it needs to be hardened off. Start getting your plant accustomed to the outdoors by taking it outside in the morning when the weather is good, and bringing it back in at night when temps cools off.
After your plant is used to being outside in the day and the temperature at night doesn’t drop too low, you can leave it out overnight.
Indoor plants may get a shock when they are exposed to direct sunlight — many species are suitable for this protected lifestyle because they only require indirect light, and too much sun exposure can cause them to scorch.
Place your plants in a sheltered area where they are shaded for at least part of the day, to begin with. If they're getting direct light for a few hours, keep an eye on the leaves: if they start yellowing or curling, consider a spot that is light enough without getting those harsh beams.
You may have a regular watering routine established for your plants, but that will have to change when they are moved outdoors. Exposure to the elements, particularly wind and sun, will cause them to dry out much faster than when they are inside. On the other hand, they'll get rain (depending on your region), so that will also alter your watering routine. Make it a habit to check the soil regularly, and be ready to water more often if necessary.
Even if your plants have adjusted well to the outdoors during summertime, they will still need to come in at the end of the season unless you live right at the equator. When the temperature starts to drop at night, it is time to bring those babies back inside.
Start by bringing them in at night and back out during the day, just like when you were hardening them off. Once the daytime temperatures are no longer mild, they will go back to being indoor plants — til next year!
If you enjoyed the experience, it's a good idea to make some notes about which plants did best outdoors and which might want to stay in next year. This will save you some time and make sure your plants are as happy as they can be.
The ponytail palm can be grown outside year-round in hardiness zones 9 through 11. In other zones, it should be brought back in during colder months. A typically easy-to-care-for plant, your ponytail palm needs full sun and infrequent watering.
Even though it likes full sun, an indoor palm should be gradually introduced to full sun exposure when moving outdoors.
Native to Malaysia, crotons make colorful house plants. When outdoors, they need to be exposed to plenty of light, but not direct sunlight.
Be sure to choose a shaded place for your croton. Sudden temperature changes can cause it to lose the lower leaves, so protect it from cold nights, and bring it indoors if the temperature is set to drop.
The snake plant is native to West Africa and can survive in USDA zones 8 to 11. When you take your indoor snake plant outdoors, be aware that it needs to be protected from colder temperatures.
This species can handle many different light levels including full sun, and requires fairly little water, which makes them easy to care for. Make sure they're in pots with good drainage if you're facing a rainy season.
Suitable for USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9, the cinnamon fern grows wild in much of North America and is also a popular houseplant. This species can only handle up to around six hours of direct sunlight in a day, so place the pot in partial shade.
Cinnamon ferms have adapted to cooler temperatures, which means they do not do well in extreme heat. Bring them indoors if you noticed them wilting in consistently high temps.
Mini fruit trees are perfect for patio gardens, and taking them outside provides the opportunity for pollination if your tree is not a self-fertile variety. The water and sunlight needs of your tree will be specific to its type, so place it accordingly.
Most mini fruit trees have been grafted with fruit-bearing branches on a pygmy trunk and grow very well in pots indoors or on patios.