Can You Move a Houseplant Outside When the Weather Is Warm?

Women outside with her plants

Martin Puddy

Sunlight is an essential part of the equation for some plants’ good growth, and summer offers plenty of rays and higher temperatures. Just like people, many plants like to cast off winter’s chill and soak up the sun. However you might wonder which of your plants would benefit from an outdoor move and which might do better sticking with their indoors environment. Growing guru Kamili Bell Hill, known on social media as Plantblerd, has some insights to share.

Let There Be (a Little) Light

Hill says that, in general, exposing plants to brighter days is beneficial. “Honestly, I don’t think there are any plants that cannot enjoy some time outdoors when the weather is warm,” she says. “What you have to be mindful of is lighting. Your indoor plants cannot be immediately switched to direct sun if you put them outdoors for the summer.” Lighting changes should be gradual. “Even sun worshipers like succulents can’t take the increased intensity in light. So if you are moving them outside, aim for an area with shaded or filtered light,” she says.

Before hauling your beauties out the door, Hill suggests you take a walk around your outdoor space to find an area that will provide them with a dappled filtered light. “After growing indoors, plants need to be slowly acclimated to full sun,” she says. “There is such a thing as too much sun. Direct sun on their leaves will likely lead to sunburn, and you don’t want that!”

Oh, the Humidity!

Light is just one of the factors to consider when considering where your plant babies spend their summer vacation. “Humidity-loving plants are great candidates to move outdoors during the summer and warmer months, especially if you are running an air conditioner inside,” Hill says. “That drop in temperature can definitely affect your plants. Plants like calatheas, ferns and anthuriums are great candidates to move outside.”

Going to Ground

Once you get your pretty plants outside and realize how much beauty they add to your outdoor space, you might be tempted to make them permanent residents in your landscaping. Be careful not to assume varieties that are summer lovin’ will continue to thrive all year ‘round, specifically kept in the ground. “Check their hardiness zones,” Hill says. “I would love to grow my philodendron and monstera in my yard, but they would not survive zone six, so they will remain in a pot outside.”

Adjust Care Accordingly

Of course, your plants won’t do well outside all by themselves. Just as you monitor their health regularly and keep to a schedule of care when they are in the house, you need to take specific steps to keep them looking their best outside your home’s walls. 

“When my plants are outside, they are getting much more light, and outside temps are higher,” Hill says. “That means I’ll need to water them more often. Even though my plants are on a covered porch, shaded light outdoors is still a significant increase compared to indoor lighting. Its 360 degrees of light compared to indoor lighting that comes from just one direction.” Be sure to pay close attention to the plants’ watering needs as well. Hopefully rain doesn’t make it inside your home, but it does drench outside spaces even during the hot summer months. Plants that get rainwater won’t need as much water from you.

Other living things that already live in the great outdoors also present issues. “I also have to stay on extra high alert for pests! To try and prevent them, I sprinkle a little diatomaceous earth on the top soil. DE is a non-toxic pesticide that does not harm pollinators.” 

Add Some Weight

Summer storms often will bring wind as well as rain, and some of your plants are likely to have a tough time standing up to it all.”If they are in plastic nursery pots, it is a good idea to drop them into a heavier decorative pot,” says Hill. “This will help them stay upright when a strong wind blows through. There’s nothing worse than coming outside and your plants are on the ground with broken leaves and branches. If they are in an uncovered area and will be exposed to rain, be mindful of this so they do not get overwatered."