Plants can be found in nearly every house, apartment, or really any dwelling we call home. It may be that spider plant in your home office, or the avocado seed rooted in water on the kitchen windowsill, or even an entire collection of African violets (or another favorite family of plants).
As the weather has finally decided to get warm, and stay warm, it is time to get those houseplants outdoors for the summer to recharge and to let the summer rains rinse off the dirt, dust, and grime from being inside for months. But, before you set them outdoors in the full sun, there are a couple of things to consider:
Light and placement
Right now, they have their “indoor leaves,” so to speak. Put them out in direct light, and they will sunburn just like us. There was no need to have a protective layer from the sun while inside, but for sure they will need that now. Setting the houseplants out with indirect sun for a little bit of time for several days will trigger that waxy cuticle to show up. Eastern or northern exposures work well, as well as under the shade of shrubs or trees. Setting them out on cloudy days helps too. At some point, you have to be brave and set some out into stronger light and hopefully nothing burns.
You may want to or need to move the houseplant up a pot size. Get them growing again, and then do your repotting so the new, developing roots will grow into the new soil in the larger pot and be established by fall.
Outdoor insects are normally not a problem, as there are plenty of natural enemies and rain to control them. You also may have placed the plants outside with insects already there, and these will naturally be taken care of as well. It is common to find “critters” in the pot come fall and will be taken care of at that time.
Natural rains will likely keep your houseplants happy for much of the summer, but you do need to keep tabs on them. Dry periods will require some watering on your part.
More than a vacation? Moving with houseplants
We all have that favorite houseplant that has sentimental value or is many years old. Every year we field questions like, “Can we take it along when we move?”
In many cases, you bet you can. Moving companies may have their own necessary rules, and remember, moving trucks may be on the highway for several days and plants would not survive. Additionally, there are some specific states that prohibit the movement of some kinds of plants (citrus, for example) into states that have substantial industries. National moving companies have this information and can be very helpful. You also can address this question with the National Plant Board or the state you are moving to via its department of agriculture. The concern also may be those states being traveled through to get to your new home.
Please note: this also applies if you plan on taking them along yourself. With the exception of your favorites, and depending on where you are moving to, it may be easier to rebuild your houseplant collections once you have settled into your new home with locally available plants. If you do move your plants, expect an adjustment period.
Learn more about houseplants with these resources:
- University of Illinois Extension | Keep houseplants happy with simple solutions
- University of Missouri | Caring for houseplants
About the author: Richard Hentschel’s expertise extends across several subject areas with specialties in lawn care, fruit tree production, woody ornamentals, and home and community gardening. During his 45-year career in horticulture and agriculture, Hentschel became a well-known and respected expert for commercial and homeowner audiences, industry organizations, and media. He retired from University of Illinois Extension in April 2022 with nearly 30 years of service as a Horticulture Specialist and Educator in northern Illinois.