Home Gardening Blog
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It's Time to Summer Some Houseplants Outdoors

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It's Time to Summer Some Houseplants Outdoors

Now that spring has sprung and the danger of frost has past, the urge to go outside and enjoy the lovely weather is drawing us into the garden.  Houseplants that have been inside for the long winter are beginning to grow and perk-up and would also like to go outside into the garden to enjoy a breath of fresh air, a bit of sunshine and a little spring rain… how exhilarating!   

There are some plants here at the Center for Home Gardening that get a big boost by going outside, as well.  Indoors, the plants struggle through the winter with the low humidity of a heated building, as well as, the low light conditions.  These stressed conditions can also induce a few pests to come and take advantage of the situation.  Pests such as spider mites, scale, mealybugs and aphids tend to be the biggest problems.  Surprising as it may seem these pests seem to disappear when the plants are taken outside for the summer.  There are natural predators like lacewing and lady beetle larvae that eat these pests.  Natural rain and higher humidity also help to favor the healthy growth of the plants.

Some of the plants that we put outdoors for the summer are the gardenia (pictured), chocolate trees (Theobroma cacao), fragrant olive (Osmanthus fragrans), glory bush (Tibouchina urvellana  ‘Edwardsii’ ),   pigeon berry (Duranta ‘Geisha Girl’),  hibiscus,  Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera), and jade plant (Crassula ovata).  We cannot put all of our plants outside, however, there are others that do especially well when they get to go outside.  Orchids, for instance, really enjoy the humidity of a St. Louis summer, that is, if they have a spot where they get a lot of bright light but without direct sun.  

It is important to have these plants in a sufficiently large pot so that they can be kept well hydrated.  A little mulch on the top of the soil can help retain needed moisture in the pot, so, watering is made a bit easier.  A bright location with some protection from direct sun is suitable for most houseplants. 

Night time temperatures are the deciding factor of when to put tender tropical plants outdoors.  Mother’s Day is usually a safe date to begin putting tender tropical plants outdoors.  This year Mother’s Day is May 11th.  However, with the extreme fluctuations in temperature that we have experienced this year, you may want to be a little extra cautious and watch the temperatures closely when you do put them outside.   Most plants are safe with a night time temperature above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  
It is important to have these plants in a sufficiently large pot so that they can be kept well hydrated.  A little mulch on the top of the soil can help retain needed moisture in the pot, so, watering is made a bit easier.  A bright location with some protection from direct sun is suitable for most houseplants. 

As the season progresses the plants need to be watered regularly and fed in the spring and early summer but no fertilizer should be used when the summer temperatures are over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  Plants cannot metabolize fertilizer while temperatures are that high, so, if too much fertilizer is applied during such heat, roots may be damaged.  Many slow release fertilizers are moisture and temperature sensitive, this feature can help to avoid damage to the roots. 
In the fall, orchids, Christmas cacti, jade and many other plants benefit from the cool, fall, night time temperatures.  The cooler temperatures can even help some of these plants to form flower buds for a winter bloom.   Information about specific plants, their moisture and temperature requirements as well as where they grow in nature can be valuable in taking care of your plants at home and deciding where they would like to spend their ” summer vacation”. 

Look up possible plant selections and answers to other gardening questions on our website: Gardening Help.

We can help answer your gardening questions. By phone, call the Horticulture Answer Service (M-F from 9-Noon @ 314-577-5143) or visit the “doctors” at the Plant Doctor Desk (Monday-Saturday from 10-3.) in the Center for Home Gardening.

Jane Roth
Horticulture Assistant Kemper Center for Home Gardening

| Categories: Spring | Tags: gardenina, orchids, jade plant, insect control, indoor plants | View Count: (3974) | Return
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