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Houseplant Heaven: A summer outdoors!

Photo: Julie Weisenhorn, UMN Extension
“Where did your plants go?” was a recent question from my grandchildren. Used to seeing a green living room, they now found an empty space. “They are all here,” I replied, “but enjoying the summer outside on the porch!”

And they are much happier I am sure. Minnesota’s long summer days mean catch up time for house plants, where they enjoy the fresh air and increased light to grow bigger and hopefully flower.

Acclimating your house plants
Photo: Julie Weisenhorn, UMN Extension

The hardest part is acclimation or getting our indoor plants used to the outdoors. If you have a 3 season porch or indoor room, the transition is easy. Light is higher here but out of direct sun that can damage leaves developed indoors in lower light.

For any plants going out into even a partial day of full sun, go slow and treat the plant as you would in getting a sun tan. Wait, is anyone doing a sun tan anymore? Probably not!

Plant leaves are shocked with sudden full sun conditions. Their cells are not ready for this and can actually photo burn or die from too much light.

Leaves developed in low light may die and completely fall off. So gradually expose them to sun or better yet, place the plants in shade outside under a tree or porch overhang.

If you must go with full sun, do it gradually 10 minutes the first few days, then gradually increase the length of time in the sun.

House plants that love the outdoors!

Hibiscus, geraniums, and citrus love full sun outdoors, but can easily sunburn, unless you are buying plants from a greenhouse, where they have been growing in high light.  These plants will flower best in sunny locations.

Large houseplants may easily fall over outdoors in windy conditions….weight the containers with rocks or wedge them between other containers. Low light plants like philodendron and snake plant do not need to be moved outside, although they will love it, even on a shady porch.

For more information on houseplants, see this Extension web page.

Author: Mary H. Meyer, Extension Horticulturist and Professor

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