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When to take your houseplants outside and why you should

April 19, 2022 3 min read

outdoor houseplants

Winter is a challenging time for plants. Months of weak, short-lived sunshine can take a toll on foliage. To restore indoor houseplants to their former splendor, start moving them outdoors once spring arrives. Out in the open, they can collect maximum sunlight to begin their spring and summer seasons of active growth.

Mark Neal

Why should you move your houseplants outside?

Moving your houseplants outside is important for several reasons. Outdoors, the intensity of light is far higher. For example, a partially shaded west-facing spot outdoors will receive much more light than a similar position indoors. A shaded spot in the garden is equivalent to medium or low indoor light. Also, the wind and rain will keep your houseplants free of the dust they accumulate indoors. This will help your plant leaves respire. This is the process why which tiny pores on the foliage take in the carbon dioxide needed for photosynthesis while releasing oxygen as a byproduct.

When should you move your houseplants outside?

Start the acclimatization process in spring when sunlight levels aren’t as intense as they will be in high summer. When exactly you should begin depends on the climate of your area. A good rule of thumb is to start when indoor and outdoor temperatures are roughly the same without heating or air conditioning.

However, houseplants vary widely in the temperature range that they tolerate so when exactly you should start bringing them out depends on the species that you own. Some succulents evolved to survive desert climates with wild daily temperature fluctuations. Echeveria is one succulent that can cope with near-freezing lows. The cacti opuntia compress is another. For this reason, you can start putting some succulents out in your garden once night-time low temperatures reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
All plants need time to acclimate to new conditions so introduce them to the outdoors very gradually. To begin with, start putting your plants outside for a few hours at a time. This gives them the chance to build up physical resilience in their stem tissue that will allow them to cope with higher wind levels. It also lets their photosynthetic systems adjust to harvesting more sunlight than they are used to indoors. Read our complete guide on how to acclimate houseplants to the great outdoors.

Where should you position your houseplants outside?

Always make sure that your plant is getting the right level of sunshine even when it’s outdoors. Position plants outdoors facing the same compass direction as they do indoors.

Many indoor houseplants prefer to be in the shade. No matter how bedraggled your plants are after months of low winter light, never place these types of plants in direct sunlight. These include all plants that are native to rainforests as these grow in the undergrowth or as epiphytes hanging off the branches of taller trees. Popular houseplants that fall into this category include the philodendron, cast iron plant, peace lilies, calatheas and marantas, monstera, ficus, and some hoya.

Scott Webb

Even plants that enjoy bright light won’t tolerate long periods of unfiltered summer sunshine. The only plants that can’t get enough direct sun are cacti, some succulents, olive trees, and citrus trees. Basil, rosemary, and cilantro are herbs that also need some baking hot sun to really do well.

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