Plants on summer holidays
Summer is finally starting to arrive, and while it may be a bit early for the school summer break, your indoor plants are due a summer holiday. Some time outside will help to improve the health and look of your houseplants. Most of them will thrive in outdoor conditions, with rain washing away any dust that has gathered on them, and the sunlight promoting healthy growth. Plus, it adds some greenery to your outdoor spaces. Keep in mind that moving them outside all in one go can still be a bit shocking to your plants, so make sure you acclimatise them first.
When it comes to the right time to move them, a good rule of thumb to go by is 2-4 weeks after the last frost. If your garden is quite exposed, they might benefit from waiting until a little later. If you really want to be safe, wait until it really starts to warm up. Mid to late June should be ideal. Once you have the all-clear, they can stay outside for the duration of the summer. Bring them back inside before the cold starts to settle in again, around late August or early September.
Before you put them outside for 2 or 3 months straight, you’ll need to get them used to the conditions outside first. Hardening off the plants helps them gradually become accustomed to the cooler temperatures and increased light intensity outside. Start by putting your plants in a shady spot outside during the day, then bringing them back in at night for at least a week. Increase the amount of time they spend in the shade each day, then start giving them direct access to the sun towards the end of the week.
Lots of your houseplants will enjoy spending a stretch of time outside. Things like yuccas and spider plants are a great addition to your garden. Indoor begonias also add to the look of your outdoor spaces. Things like orchids, bromeliads and Christmas cactus can go outside, but they need a bit of protection from the elements. Try hanging them from the branches of a tree to provide some shade and cover from pests. A lot of the more common houseplants can easily handle the conditions in summer. Putting them on a slightly shady patio helps them get a bit of both sun and shade, at a time of year when it can actually get a bit too warm indoors for your plants.
Obviously the change in scenery means that things will be a bit different compared to when the plants are indoors. Houseplants will need more regular watering when they’re outside, as they dry out more quickly. Keep an eye on the soil to make sure they’re not parched; even if it has been raining, check to make sure it’s getting the water it needs. You can water from below if need be, using a saucer underneath the pot so that it can take up the water it needs. Being in the garden also brings new threats that don’t exist inside the house. Look out for pests such as aphids, slugs, snails and caterpillars.