If you're a plant lover living in a climate with severe winters, chances are you brought all your potted plants in for the winter. Houseplants require different types of care than outdoor plants, and although many varieties can go back and forth, they'll all need some TLC to survive the transition.
The following seven tips for transferring plants from indoors to outside are essential for gardeners in any climate. Note that the same rules apply to seedlings you've started indoors.
Just like you wouldn't take an indoor cat and throw it outside to fend for itself, you can't expect your plants to make the leap instantly. Coming from a climate-controlled environment to the variable outdoors is a big deal. You want to give your plants controlled time outdoors at first.
Ideally, you can begin with a couple of hours in the morning and increase the amount of time spent each day outdoors for a week.
In the beginning, you're going to want to give your plants diffused light. The direct sun can burn their leaves and cause long-term damage. Place your pots under a tree or some other sort of awning, but be careful that they won't be exposed to direct sunlight as the sun moves across the sky, shifting the direction and length of the shadow cast.
Move the plants into spots that get more sun gradually, but be considerate of the requirements of each plant. Some varieties do well in part shade but can take some full sun, others enjoy being drenched in the sun all day long, and some plant species will do best in full shade.
Sudden gusts of wind can wreak havoc on your tender, delicate indoor-accustomed plants. Be sure to shield your plants from direct wind, at least for the first week or so that they're becoming accustomed to the outdoor life.
They'll harden and toughen up eventually, but it takes a little while (a few weeks to a few months).
While a light rain can be incredibly beneficial to your plants, a deluge can wreck them by oversaturating pots with poor drainage or flooding out large amounts of soil and exposing roots.
Be sure that all of your containers have good drainage because heavy rain can leave plant roots waterlogged and lead to rotting and fungus.
Indoor plants lose much less water to evaporation than outdoor plants, due to sun and wind. Once the pots are outdoors, your plants will be sensitive to the weather. Check moisture levels frequently and water often if it's hot and dry.
Likewise, if it rains heavily, check the moisture levels and make sure the soil is not too saturated. Always let the soil dry considerably before watering, and in many cases watering from the bottom is the best policy — place your pots in a deep dish filled with water and allow to absorb from the drainage holes.
While indoor plants are susceptible to things like mealy bugs and fungus gnats, outdoor plants are prone to infestations from aphids, caterpillars and Japanese beetles. Pay close attention to your recent transplants and try organic pest control methods.
Neem oil and floating covers are less likely to damage the plants. The sooner you take care of insect invasions, the less long-term damage your plants will suffer.
Plants love the outdoors and thrive with the increased air circulation and natural light. When you move your plants outside, fertilize them a bit more than usual to support the increased growth.
If you see a plant growing spindly and pale, it may be deficient in a vital nutrient. You can usually treat deficiencies with a scoop of organic compost fertilizer or commercial fertilizer, but be sure not to overfeed, which can result in other problems.
Moving your plants isn't as complicated as it might sound. Just follow these seven tips for transferring plants from indoors to outside and keep an eye on the forecast. You'll want to transplant them or bring the containers back inside before the first frost.