Transitioning Houseplants to Outdoors

A slow arrival of spring is encroaching on a rapid transition to summer. Having spent a long winter indoors, houseplants are more than ready to come out of dormancy and move outdoors.  Consider the following differences between indoors and outdoors when moving houseplants.

  • Light intensity: Houseplants placed in a shady location outdoors will experience higher light intensity than a sunny window indoors. Transition plants slowly, starting with just an hour or two in a heavily shaded outside location. Gradually increase the amount of light and length of time outdoors until plants are acclimated.


  • Wind: Houseplants placed outdoors will need time to adjust to drying winds. Start with a sheltered area and gradually transition plants to their summer location. 


  • Water: Both the wind and light intensity will make plants thirsty. Also, plants placed outdoors will put on new growth as they enjoy the warmer, more humid environment, thus requiring more water. Monitor water needs carefully, especially during the initial few weeks outside.


  • Temperature fluctuations: Temperatures in the home are fairly constant. In the outdoors, days are warm and nights are cool, particularly in the spring. Don’t leave houseplants outdoors overnight until they have adequately adjusted to the daytime light, wind and temperature. Also, watch the weather forecast for unseasonal frosts.

Houseplants that have been successfully transitioned outdoors will reward you with a flourish of new growth. During the long summer days, they’ll store excess carbohydrates that will later get them through the winter months indoors.
For more information about houseplant care, stop by the ISU Extension and Outreach office in Dallas County located on the Fairgrounds and request a copy of PM 713 “Indoor Plants."

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