Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Vacation for Houseplants – A good idea or not so much?

Summertime provides the opportunity to move tender houseplants outdoors to warmer, sunnier, more humid conditions with better air circulation that more closely approximate the tropics where they evolved. Often they put on the most growth outside on your deck over the summer.

Although a “summer vacation” may seem like a treat for your plants, Crabapple LandscapExperts warn that they can suffer quite a bit of stress if abruptly moved from one environment to another, so follow a few guidelines for a successful ‘plant staycation’ and g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y move them to shady deck, balcony, patio or shady garden.

● Beware of moving plants directly from indoors to full sun because their leaves will get sunburned. That’s right; plants are people too! Scalded, white-surfaced leaves can result from too much sun too soon. Some succulents like Aloe actually get pink sunburned leaves. Situate your plants in a shady spot under an awning, in the shade of trees, or even underneath an outdoor table, and gradually (a little more light every other week) move them into conditions of  higher light. 

● If possible, time the move from AC when a series of rainy days/slightly cooler temperatures are predicted. 

● Better light and higher humidity cause plants to put on rapid growth. Plants photosynthesize and store up carbohydrates that will allow them to survive once they’re returned to relatively dark and arid living rooms. In particular, Phalaenopsis orchids that summer outside in the shade will reliably re-bloom next winter.

● Support good growth by adding nutrients that plants need. For a quick, one-time option, push three houseplant fertilizer spikes evenly spaced around the inside of the pot. Using liquid fertilizer diluted to ½ or ¼ strength each time you water are both options. With extra large planters, use 3 full sized tree-food or rose-food spikes, then stand back while they put on new leaves!

● Careful watering does a lot for good growth. The objective is to keep the pots evenly moist. For example, large palms, ficus trees or giant philodendrons growing in big planters can often benefit from a gallon+ of water a day. Smaller houseplants will need more water than they do indoors because of increased transpiration of water due to breezes and higher temperatures.  Rain showers now and then are an added plus.

● Be sure excess water is able to drain away through drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

Tune in again next fall, and Crabapple LandscapExperts will discuss Best Practices for safely moving plants back indoors when cold temperatures threaten, including potting up and organic pest control if needed. 

Photo Credits:,,

No comments:

Post a Comment