It’s summertime, and if you take a look around your neighborhood, chances are you’ll find some indoor plants enjoying the great outdoors along with everyone else. And why not? Most houseplants get a fresh burst of growth from the extra light and humidity they get from being moved outside.

Houseplant palms outside

My indoor palms add a touch of tropical heat to the garden under the shade of a tall pine.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

Asparagus fern with coleus

The airy foliage of asparagus fern makes a great filler for outdoor planters.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

Arrow leaf plant

Looking for unique foliage to temporarily use in shady places? Arrow leaf plant is perfect for shady planters and window boxes.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

It’s easy to do: Just find them a shady spot on your deck, or be a bit more creative and integrate them into your outdoor surroundings – much like you use the plants inside your home. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Move your potted palm to your outside patio or deck for tropical interest. Use more than one palm, and you’ve got a living screen, giving you privacy from your too-close neighbors. Don’t have a palm? Try the areca palms – they’re easy to find and relatively inexpensive.
  • Try sinking pots of existing houseplants into shady shrub or flower borders. (I like to think of them as temporary bursts of interest that you can pull right out of the border and put back into your home at the end of the season.)
  • Hang ’em high. Convert plants like pothos, English ivy or lipstick plant into temporary hanging planters. Use macramé hangers, or place pots in hanging baskets for instant effect.
  • Consider transplanting your houseplants into garden planters or window boxes. I’ve been adding houseplants to my planters for years. Houseplant foliage makes a wonderful backdrop to flowering annuals, and these “new” plants instantly increase my outdoor collection at no extra cost! At the end of the season, I just dig them right back up and get them ready to move back indoors. Just remember to group plants with the same light and water needs. And don’t forget to bring your houseplants back inside before nighttime temps get too cold – generally right after Labor Day.

Here are some houseplants I’ve combined in my garden with annuals (grouped by light needs to make it even easier):

Low To Medium Light

  • Arrow leaf plant (Syngonium podophyllum). Use in medium to low light. As the plant matures, it’ll vine and trail in planters and window boxes.
  • White- or pink-veined nerve or mosaic plant (Fittonia albivenis). Use in medium-light areas as a groundcover.

Medium To Bright Light

  • Polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya). Use in medium- to bright-light areas. Its speckled foliage adds color and interest to planters and window boxes.
  • Pothos (Epipremnum pinnatum ‘Aureum’). Use in bright to medium to low light as a filler in window boxes and planters. Its variegated leaves add a pop of brightness.
  • Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum). Use in medium- to bright-light areas in hanging baskets or window boxes.
  • Sprenger’s asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’). Use this beauty in bright to medium light. It makes a great airy filler for planters and window boxes.

Bright Light

  • Creeping fig (Ficus pumila). Use in bright light areas as a groundcover or as a cascade of foliage over the edge of containers.
  • Flowering maple (Abutilon). Use in bright light in window boxes or raised planters so you can see the interesting flowers. This beauty also has variegated foliage.
  • Purple passion plant (Gynura aurantiaca). Use in bright-light areas in window boxes. Its velvety, purple leaves will trail.
  • Wandering Jew (Zebrina pendula). Use in bright-light spots as a groundcover, or use it as a cascading plant in window boxes, baskets or planters.

So why not experiment with your favorite houseplants outdoors? They can add new life to your shady garden spots – and they’ll thank you for the breath of fresh air!