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Moving houseplants outside

Monitor outside temperatures and don't plop them out in full sun the first day

Houseplants appreciate the fresh, warm air of spring after a long dreary winter. Moving them outside to live on the deck or patio is therapeutic for us, too.

Dennis Patton is an Extension horticulture agent at Kansas State University. He says most houseplants are tropical plants, so they’re used to basking in warm sunshine. However, they’re not fond of the cold so the guideline for moving your houseplants outdoors is based on nighttime temperatures.

"We’re wanting them to consistently remain in the mid-to-low-60’s. Anything probably below 60 is going to result in chilling injury on those plants, which means some of their leaves could yellow and drop off," says Patton. "So monitor the nighttime temperatures, and when they consistently stay between 60 and 65, and not going to drop below that, then it’s safe to move those plants outside for the summer."

Plants don’t wear sunscreen, so you have to gradually acclimate them to the sun. Patton says they’ve been used to the low light in your home for months, so even a shady spot can be brighter than the indoor light.

"What happens a lot of times when plants go from the inside to the outside and we put them in too much sun, we sunburn the foliage. And you get this white, burned appearance to the leaf which is unattractive and causes it to drop off," says Patton. "So it’s always a good rule of thumb to start the plants out in a shady location, and then maybe every week or so expose them to a little bit brighter sun until you find their final resting place."

Give your houseplants a good dose of fertilizer, and know that you’ll have to water them more often in warm, breezy temperatures. Patton says this is also the time to do some rejuvenation if they’re too tall and spindly.

Find more tips for safely acclimating your houseplants to the outdoors

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