Moving Houseplants Outside for Spring
Learn the proper way to prepare your plants for being outside in summer
You've been growing your houseplants inside all winter and now you want to give them a little vacation so that they can green up and grow big and strong until it's time to bring them inside for winter. Unfortunately, you can't just put them outside and leave them there. You must slowly get them used to being outside again.
Once night-time temperatures are consistently in the 50s (Fahrenheit), it should be pretty safe to put your houseplants outside. There are some tropical plants, that don't like temperatures that cool, so you may want to research the plants you have to be safe, but for the most part, you should be good.
The first thing I like to do is to check to see if the plant needs to be put into a larger pot or if it just needs new potting soil. If the soil is separating from the pot, even after it has been watered, you have probably let it get a little too dry over the winter between waterings, and it would be a good idea to add new potting soil. If the roots have completely filled the pot, then you will want to put it in a slightly larger pot as well (make sure this container has a drainage hole). Choose a potting soil that is appropriate for the plants you are growing. Water well to settle the soil. If you don't think you need a larger pot, but the potting soil is old or separating from the side of the pot, lift the plant out, add fresh soil to the bottom, put the plant back in and then pack fresh soil around the root ball. Water well and add more soil if necessary, after the soil has time to settle. Fertilize with a good all-purpose fertilizer. I really like Espoma products and Plant Tone would be a good one. You can mix this fertilizer right in the potting soil as it will release slowly over time. Follow the instructions on the bag for how much fertilizer to use for the size and type of plant you are growing.
Once the plants have fresh soil and are fertilized and watered well, choose a cloudy day to move your plants outside. Most houseplants will prefer a very shady or covered location and will benefit from being protected from wind. On the first day, sit the plants outside for 2-3 hours. Check on them periodically to make sure the leaves aren't burning. If the plant looks distressed, make sure it has enough water and then move it back inside. Each day, double the time outdoors, until the plant is outside full-time.
Once the plant gets acclimated at being outdoors again, you will most likely need to water it more often than you did when it was inside. Make sure the pot you are using has a drainage hole and don't let the plant sit in a saucer full of water too long. If you insert your finger in the potting soil and it feels dry, then you can water. If you are growing cacti or succulents, you can water much less often.
When temperatures start to fall below 50 degrees F at night, it is time to move your plants back inside for winter. Learn how to properly move your plants back inside with this article.