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Bringing Your Indoor Plants Outdoors – Best Practices & Care Tips

Friday June 3, 2022
Succulent Plants in Garden Friends Ceramics
Are you looking to bring an indoor houseplant outdoors? In this article, we outline some of the best stress-free practices & care tips for transitioning your plants.

What are the benefits of bringing an indoor plant outdoors?

Bringing your indoor plants outdoors can be very beneficial for certain plants. For one, they can receive an  abundance of sunshine and fresh air when placed outside, something that most indoor environments can’t provide to its fullest extent. 
Now you may have some concerns with transferring your houseplants outside. There are many factors to consider when placing a plant outside. Could they possibly get too much light? What if the outdoor temperature drops too low at night? Would I be dealing with pests or bugs? These are all valid concerns that should be considered before you begin to transition your plant outdoors.  
There is a specific period most growers adhere to when transitioning their houseplant to outdoor life. (Between May & September is roughly when this period starts and when the temperature is consistently above 60°F / 15 °C).
The weather in June through the end of August is usually the ideal window to transition into an outdoor setting. If it starts getting cold where you live in September, you will want to move your houseplant back into the safety of your home a little sooner before the first frost. As well as waiting a little longer into May-June to ensure no stress or extreme temperature changes occur. 
Depending on where you live, you could give your houseplant some outdoor growth time in the spring. We recommend this only if you live in a southern climate where the temperatures stay consistent for most of the year. If you live somewhere more northern where winter only begins to taper off in March and April, then keep your plant inside until summer to be safe.

Adjusting your plant to its new environment 

A key factor when moving a plant to a new environment is doing so in a way that does not cause the plant to go into shock. This can lead to deterioration or death of your plant The goal is to get your plant slowly acclimated to its new environment, usually over a period of several weeks. Keep in mind that not all houseplants are suited for the outdoors. Houseplants are typically tender and accustomed to be growing indoors, and therefore need to be gradually exposed to the elements over time to help them grow stronger, in a process called “hardening off.” The plants most suitable to being acclimated for outdoor use are plants that can tolerate bright light or full sun. ( Some examples of houseplants that are well-suited to being moved outdoors are: palms, succulents, banana plants, gardenias, sansevieria (snake plants) and crotons. 

Here are some ways to get your houseplant ready for its transition:


1. Mix of indoor & outdoor time

A plant transitioning from indoor to outdoor should have a mix of indoor and outdoor time in its first stages of moving to gradually acclimate it to the elements. Keep your plant indoors at night, once morning arrives, move the plant out into the shade. This will allow plants to slowly get used to the intensity and temperature of sunlight in small doses daily. Do this for a week or two before making the full move outdoors.

2. Keep out of direct sunlight for first little while

It’s important that the plant doesn’t receive the full burst of sun, at least not at first. This extensive sunlight can put your plant into shock, but it can also dry out the plant and burn its delicate leaves. We recommend starting the plant off in a shaded area where it can still receive indirect sunlight. This allows the plant to become acclimated to this new change.  
As time goes on you can increase the amount of sunlight it receives hour by hour daily. This may take several weeks but your houseplant will eventually adjust to the point of being ready for more direct sunlight. However once fully comfortable we still don’t recommend placing it somewhere that is exposed to direct sunlight for all hours of the day. 

3. Consider watering & fertilizing more often in first period

A warmer plant means a thirstier one too. You may have to water your plant more often now that it is in a new environment. We still recommend watering only when the plant needs it. Your houseplant is still susceptible to root rot and other overwatering issues.
As well as your plant needing more water, your houseplant may increase its fertilizer intake as it will just as easily crave more nutrients as it does water. 

4. Be mindful of insects and pests

For the most part, with an indoor houseplant, pests and insects are not something you usually have to worry about. Now that you are bringing your plant outside this increases the chances of dealing with pests and insects. You can try to relocate your houseplants elsewhere in your outdoor space, but this doesn’t always help or solve the problem.  Checking the leaves and soil of your plant regularly can help you catch pests before they become a major problem. 

5. Check on plants often (daily)

Bringing your houseplant outside exposes it to a wide range of new environmental aspects. Keep an eye on your plant after any inclement weather, drastic temperature changes and seasonal temperature fluctuations. Adjust your plant care routine as needed.

6. Prepare for the transition back indoors

The end of the season can come just as quickly as it started. It is essential to plan and coordinate for transitioning your plant from an outdoor environment to an indoor one again. Before the initial frost of the fall/winter, you want to take your plant indoors in short cycles, just as you did for its first transition outdoors. You now must adjust the plant in reverse of what you previously did – getting it used to less sunlight and warmer indoor temperatures.
Before getting to this point make sure your houseplant is suitable for indoor life. We recommend a tepid water soak if the plant is starts to look dried out. If you see any leaves or stems damaged from wind, sun etc. – trim these parts off.  Also inspect the plant for any sort of insects, particularly on the leaves but also inside the pot where some insects can hide in the soil. 

Other Considerations:

Temperature ranges 

Frost is a huge determining factor for when you plan to transition your plant. If you are still seeing frost outside in the mornings (temp range approx.) then its not time to start the transition yet. Frost must be fully melted and another 2-4 weeks after that to be safe for the plant you are moving. 
Outdoor night temperatures will also determine your plan. The sweet (safe spot) for this is 60°F (15°C). Some houseplants can tolerate temperatures as low as 50°F, but waiting for warmer weather will provide better protection against frost.Nighttime outdoor temps should never dip below 5 °F. If they do, wait until nightly temps are above this consistently during the week. 

What about the rain?

The goal is not to place the plant somewhere that will receive an excess amount of water. However, the composition of rainwater is different from regular tap water as rainwater can have more oxygen content and fewer salts and minerals than tap water, and be more alkaline. This allows for far more soil aeration even if its still soaked through. If you live somewhere that gets large amounts of rain or heavy downpours – then monitoring your plant is very important. If you see several days of harsh rain on the forecast in your area, then you may want to relocate your plant somewhere that won’t get soaked excessively during this time. 

Repotting your plants

Repotting your plant does two important things: it gives the plant’s roots more room to grow, and it provides the plant with fresh soil full of nutrients that it needs to grow and thrive. If a plant is not repotted it can become “root-bound,” meaning that the roots have overgrown the pot, creating a dense root ball that can stress the plant and prevent it from getting the air, water, and nutrients it needs. When keeping your plant indoors you may consider using a pot with drainage holes to prevent the soil from becoming oversaturated.
Check out our article, How to repot your plant 101, to learn more about repotting your plants.
Happy planting!