Let’s face it – it’s no fun to be stuck indoors in the summertime. And it’s no fun for your indoor plants either. After all, summer’s a perfect time for your houseplants to enjoy the great outdoors!

Philodendron outside

Almost any indoor plant can take up residence in a wire deck planter for the summer.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

Begonias on plant stand

My prized indoor begonias enjoy fresh air and an eastern exposure during the summer.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

Why bring your plants outside for the summer? Consider the typical lower light conditions and lack of humidity in your home – especially during the winter months, when the heat’s on and the days are shorter – and how it affects your plants. By bringing them outside in the warm season, they’ll get the chance to bathe in better light and higher humidity – and that’ll only help them flourish.

For 20 years I’ve put the same areca palm on my deck for the summer. And during the three months that it’s out there, the plant puts on its greatest growth – because arecas, like most plants, enjoy the higher humidity and light. (But I’m careful to duplicate my home’s growing conditions, which means dappled light – never full sun.)

Are you afraid of shocking your houseplants with too much of a good thing? Don’t worry. Just follow these simple ABCs to sending your plants on a summer vacation:

  1. Place plants in light conditions similar to what they enjoyed inside your home. Never put them in full sun. Just like you, they’ll get sunburned – and there’s no SPF sunscreen for houseplants!
  2. Be careful of pots that don’t have drain holes. Heavy rain can cause these containers to overfill, which can lead to root rot and possibly death. Be prepared to tip out the extra water after every rainstorm, or just place your no-hole containers in a spot where the rain can’t reach them.
  3. Consider repotting your houseplants if they’ve outgrown their planters. Summer’s the perfect time of year to do it, and cleanup is always easier outside. The rule of thumb is not to increase pot size by more than 2 inches. (For example, if your plant is bound in a 6-inch pot, don’t plant it in anything larger than an 8-inch pot.) And it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) – always repot in a clean planter!
  4. Think about pruning back your leggy plants. Light starvation can cause the legginess, and pruning them can help them grow out more fully.
  5. Fertilize your houseplants according to label directions. With their increased growth, your plants will enjoy that extra “shot in the arm” to keep them healthy and lush.
  6. Inspect your vacationing plants frequently while they’re out and about. If you find a problem, get an accurate diagnosis. Just bring a sample of the problem to your local garden center or Cooperative Extension office for assistance.

So give your houseplants a much-deserved summer vacation and let them enjoy the great outdoors for a change. They’ll enjoy the fresh air, and you’re sure to enjoy the surprising new growth and added interest they’ll bring to your outdoor living space.